Wondering Where Ed Reform is Headed Next? Watch this Video.

Recently, a citizen from Baltimore County posted a chilling video to YouTube about the school district’s 270 million dollar 1:1 technology experiment known as “STAT” (Student and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow.)

The twelve-minute video features footage of Gus Schmedlen, Vice President of Worldwide Education for Hewlett-Packard’s Printer and Personal Systems,  describing the “transformative” power of the program, even though his presentation took place only nine weeks after students in the district received their digital devices.

“A very important man from a very important computer company came to our school meeting in November of 2014 just nine weeks after we got our first laptop computers,” a child’s voice narrates at the beginning of the video.  “Everybody wanted to hear what he said, so we would know what he was going to do to help us learn more. But instead of telling us how he would help us learn more, he told us how important we are to all of his important customers around the world. It all seemed a little strange to me.”

The video then cuts to Schmedlen explaining the “current and future global significance of the Baltimore County Public Schools and the STAT initiative“ by listing places around the world that the nine-week old STAT program is being held up as the “gold standard” of reform – including at the United Nations General Assembly, Croatia, Oman, and Rwanda.

One parent described what is taking place in Baltimore County Public Schools as a “pretendathon.”

“We are touted as an international success 9 weeks after 1st-3rd graders in 10 pilot schools (which is about 6% of our schools) receive their laptops,” the parent said. “We have school executives, principals and teachers flying all over the place, throughout the year, teaching and sharing their knowledge on our school ‘successes’ with this digital initiative which has yet to be proven. We have Pearson, Hewlett Packard, officials from other countries and states traipsing through our schools (only the updated and shiny ones, though).”

“Our school officials have received multiple awards, praises, and positions, and are celebrated by companies such as Hewlett Packard and Intel. We are celebrating non-successes, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars and yet have schools in the system that are literally falling apart. The fact that there has been so much pretending and so much marketing and so much fanfare for something that’s not actually happening feels like we are truly in the middle of one of the biggest school system shams ever in the history of school system shams.”

Lest you believe this sham is only affecting Baltimore County Public Schools, think again. The latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was written to unleash a multi-billion dollar, “personalized” digital learning industry, and corporate experimentation on children is now ramping up across the country.

Yes – this is actually happening. Watch and share.

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 “Wondering Where Ed Reform is Headed Next? Watch this Video.”

  1. Teaching is, and has always been, an activity between the learned and the learners.

    To suggest that there is some new formula, some new combination, some new matrix for educating a new generation is akin to rebuilding the ark because you believe in wood working.

    Teaching is a thoroughly human activity … one requiring spontaneous moments mounded into a pyramid of astonishment. There is no undiscovered Holy Grail. And to suggest that all of mankind has been wandering around in some Dark Age of education since forever is the height of arrogance. And arrogance is exactly what these reformers have in overly-sufficient supply.

    They are classroom-allergic theoreticians who seem to think that learning can be boiled down to some handsome algorithms. They ignore the vast human variables that classroom teachers handle each and every day. Their formulae fall apart when their theories are positioned in the real world, among real children being taught by real teachers.

    No algorithm has the spontaneity required of a nimble teacher … nor the bulging bag of tricks that become so intuitive among the great classroom teachers we have all encountered. The interaction of human beings is what passes along education to the next generation … so that they, too, can make further discoveries and add to the knowledge base of all mankind.

    This new whimsy with the mechanical and the automated is easily imagined. And these reformers think education should be a rather effortless endeavor as well. I wish it were so … but it is not. Human beings are complex creatures … and a classroom full of very different learners is, in truth, a challenge for the most talented and intuitive among us.

    When will this society stops acting as though teachers are priests or ministers in disguise? Or stand-in parents? Or easily replaced educational adjuncts? Then perhaps we will be on our way to recognizing the importance of educators and the mission they embrace.

    The sooner this nation recognizes what other nations have come to know, the better. Teaching is the essential societal glue … and it is time we acknowledge that … and stop with these hypothetical excursions into the absurd. They are no longer just sadly whimsical … they are wounding children.

    Denis Ian

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The point is that they do not care about education–Mark Zuckerberg, Gates, ALEC, other tech companies are pompous and greedy people that think they know everything and only care about their pocket books.

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  2. Emily -thanks for your reseach! Do you have access to the original video without sound effects? I would really like to use it in speaking with our state legislators. I have tied OECD directly to the NGA and of course we know the PISA is the international comparison test via OECD. I would like to add this vido clip too it minus the sound effects. You can send it to lindalearn1@yahoo.com Thanks!

    Like

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