Win/Win: Why Billionaire Philanthropists are Bad at School Reform

In the latest episode of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack talk to Anand Giridharadas about his best-selling new book, Winners Take All: the Elite Charade of Changing the World. The book offers a SCATHING indictment of billionaire change makers, who seek to *disrupt* public education, even as they leave the structures of inequality untouched. Says Giridharadas: *They’re not willing to have an education system that funds public schools equally and adequately because that would cost rich people a lot of money.* Complete transcript of the episode available here. And if you’re a fan of the high-quality content that Have You Heard serves up, consider becoming a Patreon supporter by clicking the link below.

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Teaching Machines: The Dream of Automating the Teaching Profession Goes Way Back

In episode #43 of Have You Heard, Jennifer and Jack talk to Audrey Watters, expert on all things #edtech, about the age-old quest to automate teaching. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll find yourself reaching for that George Santayana quote about those who don’t know history’s mistakes… Complete transcript is here. And if you’re a fan of Have You Heard and want to help us keep the podcast going, we’ve got a Patreon page now where you can do just that!

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.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Hubris

I talk to Dale Russakoff, author of The Prize, about how Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million *gift* to the Newark Public Schools, turned into, well, just read it…

the prizeEduShyster: As someone who spends a fair amount of time poking around in the smoldering wreckage of urban public education, I often get the sense that education reform advocates don’t have a plan for the kids reform leaves behind—the ones who remain in what’s left of the public schools after the traditional system has been *disrupted.* But in Newark, as you document, this was literally the case. There was no plan.

Dale Russakoff: No, there really wasn’t a plan. What I heard the reformers saying was: *well, it will shake out.* The teachers in the schools that were closing would be laid off but the really good ones would be hired by charters so they’d still be in the community, and the kids would find their way back to good teachers. And I just thought, well, there’s so much in between closing the the schools and kids finding their way to good teachers. How is that going to happen? If you view the world as a business model, an idea like that looks like it makes sense but if you’re on the street living the lives of these children and these families it doesn’t happen so smoothly. I do think, by the way, that there’s some soul searching going on in lots of places about the top-down nature of reform—having outsiders with outside money come in and do reform *to* communities instead of *with* communities. The question of what happens to the other kids is one that’s been missing from the agenda and may now be finding its way onto it. Continue reading →

The Philanthro-Baron Has No Clothes

How mega-foundations are undermining our public schools and eating away at our democracy

Philanthro-barons like Bill Gates have more power and influence than ever before.

Reader: it is well established that the richest Americans have billions of ideas for how to improve our failed and failing public schools. In fact, by the time you finish reading this sentence, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, Mark Zuckerberg and the Walton family will have generated one new school improvement idea each, not to mention a substantial amount of interest on their substantial fortunes. But not everyone is convinced that the growing influence of these “philanthro-barons” over our schools and our democracy is such a great development. In a new article entitled “Plutocrats at Work” writer Joanne Barkan paints a disturbing picture of mega-philanthropy gone wild. EduShyster recently interviewed Barkan to find out why she’s so concerned about the new breed of philanthro-baron. Continue reading →