Will Public Education Survive the Next Administration?

Donald Trump has called Common Core a “disaster.” The leaked DNC emails refer to the standards as a “political third rail.”

At this point, however, the controversial standards may be more of a red herring than anything else.

While the public remains largely in the dark, a massive upheaval of our public school system is well underway, and recent proposals from both major political parties indicate that the transformation will move full speed ahead regardless of who is elected president this fall.

The new system is designed to expand the education market by allowing out-of-district providers – including  online programs, non-profits, local businesses, and even corporations- to award credit for student learning.  At the same time, it doubles down on workforce development by aligning educational outcomes to the needs of industry leaders.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, students will “no longer [be] tethered to school buildings or schedules.” Instead, the system will require students to earn “digital badges” that they will display in individual competency-profiles accessible to potential employers and investors.

“By collecting skill-based badges, the record of achievement begun in secondary school becomes the foundation upon which workers build their capabilities and tell their stories to employers,” explains the infamous testing-behemoth, Pearson Education.

Knowledgeworks recently described the new learning system as an “ecosystem,” in which the role of the traditional teacher will soon be obsolete.

With major investments from Wall Street, leaders in the online learning, ed-tech, and student loan industries, and even celebrity billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Reed Hastings of Netflix, the transformation has recently been picking up speed. Meanwhile, political groups on both the left and right are moving the system forward by lobbying for “personalized,” competency-based policies and “innovative” assessment systems.

(The American Legislative Exchange Council and the major teacher’s unions and their associated networks are encouraging states join the innovative assessment pilot program designed by the International Association of K-12 Online Learning and the Gates-funded Knowledgeworks Foundation and now allowed by the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.)

Now, both major political parties have put forth proposals that will kick the system into high gear.

Three years after the Clinton Global Initiative partnered with Mozilla, the MacArthur Foundation and “a consortium interested in virtual learning” to expand the use of digital badges, Hillary has unveiled a “New College Compact” that calls for federal funds to be used “to build on experiments allowing federal student aid to be used for high-quality career and lifelong learning programs with promising or proven records.”

“Many students are rebooting their careers and improving their economic prospects through innovative on-line programs offering badges, nanodegrees, and certificates,” the Compact states.

(In 2009 Bill Clinton, who was paid 16.5 million between 2008 and 2012 by online learning giant Laureate Education, honored CEO of the Lumina Foundation, Jamie Meristotis, for his work in the advancement of digital badging systems. Meristotis’s foundation is a spin-off of the student loan behemoth Sallie Mae, whose profits skyrocketed after the Clinton administration advised them to become a private corporation beginning in 1994.)

On the other side of the aisle, the Republican Party – known for its support of vouchers and school “choice” – appears ready to move forward with the same agenda. The recently unveiled plan calls for states “to allow a wide array of accrediting and credentialing bodies to operate.”

“This model would foster innovation, bring private industry into the credentialing market, and give students the ability to customize their college experience,” the platform states.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has recently called for an expansion of “community schools” – a concept that may sound like music to many parents’ ears, but likely means something quite different than many assume.

Across the country, Knowledgeworks has teamed up with Target, United Way, and Wall Street investors to create data-sharing networks where the “community” actually is the school. In Salt Lake City, parents are actually being encouraged to waive their FERPA rights by the United Way. In Pittsburgh, a partnership with the MacArthur Foundation, Common Sense Media, and Digital Promise, called Remake Learning Network, is currently attempting to turn the city into “a campus for learning.”

Where will all of this transformation leave traditional brick and mortar schools? Will teachers still have a profession eight years from now?

Only time will tell.

There’s no question, however, that no matter what happens in November, defenders of public education are going to need to be prepared to fight.

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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.

19 thoughts on “Will Public Education Survive the Next Administration?”

  1. I do not believe what needs to be done will be done regardless of who gets elected BUT I do know Hillary will make it worse. Trump is a good man but he is listening to the wrong people about education. I know if he knew what we know he would shut down the US Dept. of Education the first day in office or at least try. There are so many ways to put an end to this even if we don’t shut down the department and I am trying to get a meeting together with Mr. Trump’s national education policy Director. Trump needs to get the truth from folks that have no professional, personal or financial stake in the game. Hillary will be out to take total control of our children. She has been a huge supporter of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. If that treaty ever gets passed the UN will own your children. You will have no parental rights at all.

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      1. Trump is by far a much better person than the murderer that is the presidential candidate for the Democratic party.

        Like

  2. I believe Emily was trying to say, that either way, public education is at risk. I hope the comments here don’t pit one candidate against the other, and miss the big picture of what she was saying. Neither one is a champion of public education. People will have to choose who they vote for based on other issues, and simultaneously fight hard for public education every step of the way, and at the local level, both before and after the election. I believe the threat of online competency-based education has the potential to destroy public education in the U.S., and has a very real chance of further diminishing empathy and social skills in our youngest by forcing them to spend far too much time with computers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Mister Journalism: "Reading, Sharing, Discussing, Learning" and commented:

    Will Public Education Survive the Next Administration?
    by Emily Talmage
    Donald Trump has called Common Core a “disaster.” The leaked DNC emails refer to the standards as a “political third rail.”

    At this point, however, the controversial standards may be more of a red herring than anything else.

    While the public remains largely in the dark, a massive upheaval of our public school system is well underway, and recent proposals from both major political parties indicate that the transformation will move full speed ahead regardless of who is elected president this fall.

    The new system is designed to expand the education market by allowing out-of-district providers – including online programs, non-profits, local businesses, and even corporations- to award credit for student learning. At the same time, it doubles down on workforce development by aligning educational outcomes to the needs of industry leaders.

    According to the U.S. Department of Education, students will “no longer [be] tethered to school buildings or schedules.” Instead, the system will require students to earn “digital badges” that they will display in individual competency-profiles accessible to potential employers and investors.

    “By collecting skill-based badges, the record of achievement begun in secondary school becomes the foundation upon which workers build their capabilities and tell their stories to employers,” explains the infamous testing-behemoth, Pearson Education.

    Knowledgeworks recently described the new learning system as an “ecosystem,” in which the role of the traditional teacher will soon be obsolete.

    With major investments from Wall Street, leaders in the online learning, ed-tech, and student loan industries, and even celebrity billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Reed Hastings of Netflix, the transformation has recently been picking up speed.
    Meanwhile… (follow the link to read the entire post)

    Like

  4. Hi Emily I happen to read one your articles about charter schools in NYC . My son started 5th grade at KIPP on August 22nd I’m getting ready to pull him out he told me everything what you talk about in the article. He says that during lunch they can’t speak to other kids from other classes it has to be with their classmates, he also told me that during gym time they are not allowed to speak. They are not allowed to speak up in the classroom neither and if they do they get detention. I was one of the parents that was always against charter school but then my idea changed because I had friends and relatives telling me how great the schools were etc. I totally disagree with the charter school discipline and structure where are the kids social life. How can these charter school act like a robot where students can’t hardly interact with a teacher and are in fear to speak up or say something if they feel is not right because they are afraid they would get punished. Thanks to your article my son will go back to his old school. In his old school my sons interactions with his teacher and with the principle was great. KIPP uses SLANT just like the Brooklyn charter school
    you worked at. A parent told me last week her son got detention due to he told the teacher how he felt and he laid his head on the table.

    Thank you for your article I wished other parents would open their eyes and truly see what goes on in these charter schools.

    Like

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