Anatomy of a Betrayal

In 2015, the heads of the National Education Association (NEA), received an invitation from a newly formed group known as “Convergence” to attend a series of meetings sponsored, in part, by the  Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative.

When Becky Pringle, Vice President of the NEA, looked at the list of attendees, she thought to herself, “I don’t think so – and by the way don’t take any pictures or tweet it out or I won’t be sittin’ here next year!”

But within only a few months, the presidents of both major teachers unions had signed their names to a document, along with representatives from Samsung, Microscoft, LEGO, Disney, and a variety of corporate-sponsored foundations, that all but pledges to do away with the very professionals the unions claim to protect.

The document reads like a promotional handbook for the decades long push toward “personalized,” competency-based learning, which puts a child and their electronic device at the “center” of the learning experience, while moving teachers aside in a new role of “facilitator.”

Gisele Huff, a member of Jeb Bush’s Digital Learning Now leadership team who has dedicated her foundation’s fortune to driving the “personalized learning agenda,” said of the Convergence meetings: “It was amazing to me the ability of the facilitators to make us shed our paradigms… We weren’t allowed to say ‘This isn’t possible.”

Meanwhile, in the New York Times, David Bornstein wrote that Convergence’s work in education may “provide clues about how we might confront today’s hyperpolarization, a problem that underpins many other problems in the nation’s politics and policy making.”

But Huff’s and the Time’s positioning of the Convergence meetings as visionary, cooperative experiences belies the fact that the agenda they developed matches – to a tee – the technological takeover of our schools being pushed by some of the world’s largest and most influential corporations, as well as the U.S. Departments of Education and Defense.

(Be sure to check out: “How Exactly Did the Department of Defense End Up in My Child’s Classroom.”)

Pringle, however, seems to have been unfazed by the implications of this vision for the millions of teachers that her organization represents.

Said Huff: “At the end of the last meeting, Becky had to leave a little early, and she tapped me on the shoulder and asked, ‘Will you walk out with me?’ She embraced me and said, ‘You changed my life.’ And I said, ‘You changed mine.”

“It means something,” said Huff, “when two presidents of the national unions who represent three million teachers are willing to put their names to a document that doesn’t have anything to do with unionism.”

Indeed.  What it means is that teachers have been deeply betrayed by the very people whose generous salaries are paid by our monthly dues.

Time to” tweet this out” far and wide.

becky pringle.png

 

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.

2 thoughts on “Anatomy of a Betrayal”

  1. ‘The document reads like a promotional handbook for the decades long push toward “personalized,” competency-based learning, …’
    And with math it will be the same old stuff, but PERSONALISED!
    I hate to think of the mess in English.

    Like

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