Big (BIG!) Money Behind ESEA Rewrites
All students master all skills.
In April 2015, the following groups signed a letter to Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray of the HELP Committee asking for them to support an amendment to add a separate educational technology program to the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) of 2015 that will be offered by Senators Baldwin and Hatch--money for personalized and blended learning:
And so on and so on.
Also remember: In 2011,the following people were listed as experts advising the Shared Learning Collaborative (SLC), the forerunner of inBloom:
An article in the Alberta Teachers Association Magazine takes a different view:
by Emily Talmage
In March of 2010, Yong Zhao, author, professor, and director of the Institute for Global and Online Education at the University of Oregon, praised the National Educational Technology Plan released by the US Department of Education by saying:
Zhao, who has been celebrated by many (including Diane Ravitch),for his anti-standardized testing rhetoric and warnings that we are moving toward an authoritarian, Chinese-style system of education, must be very pleased with much of the language found in both versions of the ESEA rewrites.
"Personalized learning" is without a doubt the next frontier of educational reform -- not only in the US, but around the world. There is a great deal of confusion surrounding what personalized education really is, but when stripped of the rhetoric that usually accompanies it, the concept is quite simple: students progress at their own pace, moving from one lesson to the next when they have proven "mastery." At its core, it is a theory of learning based on behaviorist theories of B.F. Skinner. Many other terms, such as "blended learning," "competency-based education," "proficiency-based education," "mastery learning," "self-paced learning," and "customized learning," are in fact manifestations of this same theory of learning.
Despite the fact that a 2006 meta-analysis from the US DOE found no studies contrasting KÃ¢€“12 online learning with face-to-face instruction that met methodological quality criteria,and thus no evidence that it is best for our kids, technology and online learning companies have seized upon this concept, and for good reason: wide-scale "personalized learning" is only possible if we have their products in hand.
Ambient Research, a market research firm whose client list includes all the big players in educational technology, including Microsoft, Apple, Pearson, K-12 Inc, and McGraw Hill, uses this graph to show the massive investments that are being made toward "learning technology suppliers." (See graph here)
Check out the circle at about 11 oÃ¢€™clock -- "Education Policies Mandating Online Learning" -- and now read this section H.R. 5, the House version of the ESEA rewrite:
Grants can be used for:
According to this report from Ambient Research, over 25 states initiated high-profile legislative efforts relating to PreK-12 online learning in 2011 alone.
Other states, like Maine, have implemented legislation that is less direct but equally targeted toward an expansion of digital and online learning.
If you are curious as to how your state ranks according to its online and digital learning legislation, you can check out your state's report card issued by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which crafts much of the legislation we find in our states:
The Senate version of the ESEA is also less direct in its push toward personalized/digital learning, but it is there nonetheless in the opportunities it offers states to develop assessment systems based on "competency-based" models of learning.
Is it any wonder, then, that Zhao, who despite his inspiring anti-standardized testing rhetoric is head of an online learning company called Oba and is leading the global push toward "personalized" learning, would hope to find such legislation in the ESEA rewrites and our state policies?
Is it any wonder that he is praising China for their move away from standardized testing toward personalized learning, and touting an online learning company called ePALs, which -- according to Ambient Research -- is leading the globe in investments?
Is it ever about the kids??
Emily Talmage with Ohanian comment
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