Putting the ‘i’ in School

Have You Heard Episode #20: Personalized Learning and the Disruption of Public Education

Fantastic news, listener. The cure for what ails our long failing public schools has finally been found and it’s personalized learning! Except that as our special guest, Bill Fitzgerald, breaks down for us, a more accurate term for this miracle cure-all is *algorithmically-mediated learning, which is about as appealing as it sounds.This episode of Have You Heard looks at what’s behind the huge push to reshape public education along *personalized* lines, why disrupters like Mark Zuckerburg, Bill Gates and Reed Hastings would do well to revisit the history of #edtech, and the strange bedfellows aligned behind personalized learning, including advocates of religious education (see DeVos, Betsy) who seek to control the content of what kids learn. It’s Have You Heard #20! Note: complete transcript of the episode is available here.

The Plutocrat’s Lament

Writer Joanne Barkan argues that for plutocrats like Bill Gates, democracy is a nuisance…

gates-billionaire.jpg (400×266)Jennifer Berkshire: You’re the author of a recent case study on what you call Bill Gates’ *charitable plutocracy,* his years’ long, and many millions-ed campaign to bring charter schools to Washington State. In the interest of the data to which Gates himself is so committed, can you reduce your argument down to a series of numbers? Oh, and please speak in bullet points.

Joanne Barkan:

  • Number of years required to pass a charter school enabling law in Washington State: 17 (1995-2012).
  • Number of statewide ballot initiatives required: 4 (1996, 2000, 2004, and 2012).
  • Total dollars spent by charter school supporters in the 2000, 2004, and 2012 ballot initiatives: $18.7 million. (Practically no money was spent by either side in 1996.)
  • Total dollars spent by charter school opponents in the 2000, 2004, and 2012 ballot initiatives: $2.04 million.
  • Money spent by the Gates Foundation *to give public charter schools in Washington State a strong start* in 2013-2015: $31 million.

And a few other data points your readers might be interested in:

  • Net worth of Bill Gates in 2015: $76 billion
  • Assets of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016: $44.3 billion.
  • Total receipts of the National Education Association in 2015: $388.8 million.
  • Total receipts of the American Federation of Teachers in 2015: $327.6 million.
  • Average salary of an elementary public school teacher in Washington state (except in special education) in 2015: $60,140.

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