Friday, December 04, 2015

BATs Educators Survey: USING TECHNOLOGY IN OUR SCHOOLS + a Lexicon of Buzzwords from the pending ECAA reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB

from Badass Teachers Association ::

Sunday, November 29, 2015  ::  BATs – there has been much concern about the impending ESEA Reauthorization (aka Every Child Achieves Act of 2015) coming out on November 30th.  This new education law will be voted on by the House on 12/1 or 12/2 and by the Senate the following week (12/7).  When it left a joint committee the vote was 39-1 to accept it.  Lately, there has been concern about what is in the bill.  At this juncture the directors of BATs are discussing the direction we want to go but we will be waiting for the final bill so that we can comb through it and offer a firm direction for our network.  We will have to mobilize quickly for the House vote.

There is large concern that the bill has components in it that will allow Wall Street (through the Social Impact Bonds) to pillage public education funds and will allow tech companies/testing companies to turn our classrooms into online learning centers.   We are not sure as the bill has not been released but we will be looking hard at the new language that could  have been inserted. 

To stay ahead of the bill, we want your opinion on what is happening  with technology in your districts.  What are technology programs that are working or not working?  Are you required to use technology? Are there tech programs you are required to use that you feel are detrimental to teaching and learning?  

Please take the BATs Educators Survey:   Using Technology in Our Schools

As an organization we feel strongly that the education of our children should be kept in the hands of humans and that funding needs to go to children, not Wall Street or technology companies. 

Before you take our survey please read the definitions of some of the items we will be asking you about.

Keep in mind some of the new reformy buzz words that we will be looking for in the Reauthorization of ESEA:

Pay for Success (through the Social Impact Bonds, or SIB)

A lot of buzz has suddenly come up with the Pay for Success tie in that is rumored to be included in the new ESEA rewrites. But what is Pay for Success and Social Impact Bonds? According to Nonprofit Quarterly, these bonds are simply a way of making the government pay investors that invest in social programs that will also include a return on their investment. In other words, the government will give money to high profiting organizations for their social financial contributions, and pay them more money on top of it; all with the premise of making these organizations look good and allow them a say in the decision making process. Many of these initiatives are already targeted at programs that are successful and begs the question, “Why not just directly finance the program?” The answer lies in the greed of the for-profit sector, wanting to profit from social justice, and to look good while doing it.

Chicago has had a Pre-K SIB to increase enrollment at the Pre-K level within the city. The initial cost of this initiative included funding from private investments, state grants, and city capital funds. What occurs after the initial investment, is that the government is left paying for costs that the private financiers refuse to fund (opening the door for the private organizations to control decision making through the tying of purse strings), as well as the heavy return on investment after completion of the project.

The ultimate question remains of these bonds...why are we making the government pay more for programs that are already guaranteed as a major platform? Basically no one can argue with the need for high levels of pre-K enrollment. Why are we tying more government funding into this that goes into the pockets of for-profit companies, such as Goldman Sachs, and then allowing these companies control of the decision making? When you take a look at the companies that are involved in the Pay for Success network, more names beyond Goldman Sachs raise additional bright red flags. Names like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, America Forward - a coalition that includes KIPP, Educators 4 Excellence, TFA and the New Teacher Center.

Competency-Based Learning/Personalized Learning/Student Centered Learning

Yes, they have co-opted Student Centered Learning.  This definition is taken directly from the USDOE and how it defines CBE, PL, and SCL

Transitioning away from seat time, in favor of a structure that creates flexibility, allows students to progress as they demonstrate mastery of academic content, regardless of time, place, or pace of learning. Competency-based strategies provide flexibility in the way that credit can be earned or awarded, and provide students with personalized learning opportunities. These strategies include online and blended learning, dual enrollment and early college high schools, project-based and community-based learning, and credit recovery, among others. This type of learning leads to better student engagement because the content is relevant to each student and tailored to their unique needs. It also leads to better student outcomes because the pace of learning is customized to each student.

By enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems help to save both time and money. Depending on the strategy pursued, competency-based systems also create multiple pathways to graduation, make better use of technology, support new staffing patterns that utilize teacher skills and interests differently, take advantage of learning opportunities outside of school hours and walls, and help identify opportunities to target interventions to meet the specific learning needs of students. Each of these presents an opportunity to achieve greater efficiency and increase productivity.   

Blended Learning

According to the Glossary of Ed Reform, the term blended learning is generally applied to the practice of using both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students. In a blended-learning course, for example, students might attend a class taught by a teacher in a traditional classroom setting, while also independently completing online components of the course outside of the classroom. In this case, in-class time may be either replaced or supplemented by online learning experiences, and students would learn about the same topics online as they do in class—i.e., the online and in-person learning experiences would parallel and complement one another.

Also called hybrid learning and mixed-mode learning, blended-learning experiences may vary widely in design and execution from school to school. For example, blended learning may be provided in an existing school by only a few teachers or it may be the dominant learning-delivery model around which a school’s academic program is designed. Online learning may be a minor component part of a classroom-based course, or video-recorded lectures, live video and text chats, and other digitally enabled learning activities may be a student’s primary instructional interactions with a teacher. In some cases, students may work independently on online lessons, projects, and assignments at home or elsewhere, only periodically meeting with teachers to review their learning progress, discuss their work, ask questions, or receive assistance with difficult concepts. In other cases, students may spend their entire day in a traditional school building, but they will spend more time working online and independently than they do receiving instruction from a teacher. Again, the potential variations are numerous. 

Community-based learning

And yes folks they are also rebranding and using the word for Community Schools.  We know that the real version of Community-based learning is: Community-based learning refers to a wide variety of instructional methods and programs that educators use to connect what is being taught in schools to their surrounding communities, including local institutions, history, literature, cultural heritage, and natural environments. Community-based learning is also motivated by the belief that all communities have intrinsic educational assets and resources that educators can use to enhance learning experiences for students. Synonyms include community-based education, place-based learning, and place-based education, among other terms. Proponents of community-based generally argue that students will be more interested in the subjects and concepts being taught, and they will be more inspired to learn, if academic study is connected to concepts, issues, and contexts that are more familiar, understandable, accessible, or personally relevant to them. By using the “community as a classroom,” advocates would argue, teachers can improve knowledge retention, skill acquisition, and preparation for adult life because students can be given more opportunities apply learning in practical, real-life settings—by researching a local ecosystem, for example, or by volunteering at a nonprofit organization that is working to improve the world in some meaningful way.  


Reformers have now co-opted that language and we need  you to know that Community-Based Education/Learning could mean “Learning Hubs”, or areas where students can go to get an online education in their community. 

At the same time, we need to be mindful that community based learning is in no way substituted for community schools that are built around the  control of the local educational authority with development and integration of community partnerships that work together to provide services for the families of the community.

We will be watching for anything in the language of the Every Child Achieves Act that is leaning towards the new buzz words for reformsters:  Compentency Based Education/Personalized Learning/Student Centered Learning/ Blended Learning/Community Based Education/Learning.

With all of this in mind we want to make sure that your voice and ideas about technology in the classroom will be known should we find these buzz words in the Every Child Achieves Act.  Please take our survey so that we are prepared to answer  with your voice.


No comments: