Here’s the pun of the day…well sort of…and it’s mixed with much magical pixie dust.
Who does a College of Education, meant to prepare teachers to teach, teach when they partner with a private school that celebrates no teachers? It’s a mystery.
These are transformational schools. But transformation doesn’t always work. Psst. Pixie dust is, well, simply dust, and Tinker Bell is make believe. Sorry to break that to those of you who believe in what the Kochs and all their corporate friends are selling.
The son and daughter-in-law of Koch Industries Charles Koch are starting a pre-K-through-12th grade private school called Wonder on the campus of Wichita State University (WSU)—a public university.
But the school won’t have teachers. They will have “guides” and “coaches.” We can assume it will be mostly online. Students will be in multi-age groups, but what will that matter when they have mastery learning on the computer?
They have a stamp of approval of Kahn Academy founder Sal Kahn. And they will slip in a little Montessori if you’re concerned about paying $6,500 for your preschooler or $10,000 for an elementary student.
But what’s really strange is that the WSU COE who prepare teachers to teach are endorsing a teacherless school.
Shirley Lefever, dean of the College of Education at WSU, said she’s excited to partner with the school, which will serve as a kind of living laboratory for teaching students.
“I think they have an incredible vision, and we just feel very privileged to be a part of that conversation,” Lefever said.
An incredible vision with no teachers? Poof! It doesn’t sound like a living laboratory without living teachers.
If you’re burning the night oil at WSU to be a teacher I’d stop and think. What are you preparing yourself for if your Dean is all in for schools without teachers?
Think seriously what this means.
Mastery learning is a child sitting and pecking at a keyboard, like a pigeon trying to get some food, only they will be trying to hit the right answer key. When they hit that right key they will be able to move on. Mastery learning is made to sound like it isn’t testing, but it is actually nonstop assessment.
How will parents know if they’re children are learning? Students will make projects and take them home to their mom and dad, or show them to the community to judge. There will be no grades. With magical learning, who needs proof?
Annie Koch says, We want to allow our students and our families to be able to help us really build this school. So when we have a question, we might put it to them: “What do you guys think? What works?”
It seems like parents shouldn’t have to pay for doing all that work.
Annie Koch is partnering with Zach Lahn, a former fundraiser and state director for Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed conservative political advocacy group. She says, We’re not inventors. We’re just parent catalysts.
Those who worry about public schools might say, so what? It’s a private school and I care about public schools.
It matters! Why? You’re up against Tinker Bell! Poof! Lots of magical money.
But mostly because Betsy DeVos and the Koch brothers see private schools as the wave of the future. With school vouchers, the Koch school could soon receive tax dollars in the form of vouchers.
Furthermore, WSU, a state university, is working with them.
According to a lease agreement between Wonder and the Wichita State Innovation Alliance, signed in December, the school [Wonder] will pay $90,000 a year for the space and pay for the renovations, which are underway.
They are investing about $1.1 million in the building. Total launch costs are estimated at about $1.5 million including the renovations and equipment.
Annie Koch envisions sharing ideas and encouraging other startup schools. She says: We want other people doing this. We want competition. We want somebody else to open another one of these, because we feel like that would make us better.
How about competition with a real public school that has teachers? What about in two years we compare Wonder with a real public school, one that gives teachers resources to work with, in a building that isn’t falling apart.
As flimsy as this school sounds, it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because it is pretending to be something it’s not and it’s getting validation from a reputable public university.
Just because someone has a lot of money and people look at them and say, Wow! doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing. Think Bill Gates and all his failed school projects.
Koch also says, Most of the private schools (in Wichita) are college-preparatory academies, and we are not that. People who are really passionate about having a college-prep academy might not be as passionate about what we’re doing. So they’re not intent on preparing students for college.
These initiatives and schools have the agenda of changing the face of public education into tech schools (or no schools) without teachers. Many believe Gates knew his initiatives would fail all along, but his plan is still flourishing.
Schools with technology and no teachers.
Schools where children teach themselves.
Schools where anything goes.
Schools where data about the child is collected nonstop.
Schools where children may not learn anything worthwhile, but business will profit nonetheless.