Personalizers On the March

Last year, public school districts across the country fell victim to a coordinated assault by next-gen ed reformers.

These billionaire-backed reformers from the upper echelons of Corporate America weaseled their agenda to transform our education system into one that is personalized and competency-based (and thus dependent upon digital technology) into every document that counted in 2015: the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, Obama’s Testing Action Plan, the National Educational Technology Plan, the Teach PLUS agenda, and so on.

Even Mark Zuckerberg (despite my pleas for him to reconsider) jumped on the personalized learning bandwagon in 2015.

Never mind the fact that entire states, quietly used by these reformers as personalized learning labs, have failed to generate these reformer’s desired proof points.  Never mind that the latest Gates-funded “research” hailing the “promise” of personalized learning has been called into question by the National Educational Policy Center.

They are marching ahead anyway.




Now, with the backbone of federal legislation in place and an army of legislators rapidly introducing competency-based and digital badging bills in their respective states, parents, teachers, and students are waking up to find large swaths of their local district’s budgets being siphoned off by corporations to make their dream of digital learning for all a reality.

In this blog post, an anonymous teacher in Baltimore writes that Baltimore County Public Schools has recently undertaken a 270 million dollar technology initiative called STAT for “Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow,” with the goal of setting up a one-to-one computer tablet and online learning program for its 110,000 students in order to offer “personalized learning” for every student.

“No input has been garnered from parents,” the teacher writes, “and the expectation is that teachers will fully embrace the program without question.”

(Maine teachers and parents, does this sounds familiar?)

“This is taking place in a school district that is in desperate need of improvements to infrastructure, transportation, class size reduction, and social programs, issues that have been financially pushed to the side in favor of STAT,” (s)he writes.

“Fifty-two county schools lack air conditioning, and district-wide closures due to excessive heat have become an issue with a school year that begins in August and ends in mid-June. Enrollment and class size have been steadily growing, with school construction lagging far behind.”

In Baltimore and across the country, personalized learning “is being presented to constituents as the solution to close the equity gap in education.”

Meanwhile, in the Land of Reality, reformers continue to suck more money from places it is most needed to line the pockets of those who already have too much.



Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

6 thoughts on “Personalizers On the March”

    1. CBE gets rid of big tests and instead embeds “test questions” within the school day, everyday as students work on their ipad/laptop. Basically, the entire school year is one giant test for the students.


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