Thursday, September 13, 2012

Selling Online Education to the New Jersey Legislature

I think the members of The Joint Committee on the Public Schools thought they were going to be educated about online education at yesterday's hearing.  Instead, what they got was a sales pitch.

In my previous blog post I was pretty clear that all three presenters are very cozy with K12 Inc., the for-profit online education behemoth that stands to gain the most financially if NJ starts rewriting our laws, allowing them to get a foothold.   Check out this testimonial letter Susan Patrick wrote for Ron Packard, K12 Inc.'s CEO.

I’ve known Ron for many years and his passion for education is contagious. He believes that education reform must be a priority so that American students are ready for the challenges in an increasingly competitive world. Ron is an effective spokesperson for the benefits that online learning brings to students and the limitless potential it holds to change public education for the better. 
Guess we will have to agree to disagree.  I don't see how allowing K12 Inc. to siphon huge profits out of the already stretched taxpayer dollars available for public ed will "change public education for the better."

And most of the legislators at the hearing yesterday seemed to agree.  Check out my twitter feed for some choice highlights.  This was nothing like the cakewalk I witnessed at Cerf's confirmation hearing, which I suppose was a fait accompli, so no one really bothered to put the screws to him.  

Yesterday I got an idea of what Senator Rice, co-chair of the committee, would have done had he been given the opportunity to question Cerf.  In fact he had some choice words for Cerf as he questioned the presenters about the ongoing "privatization agenda."

He pushed all three presenters to disclose who funds their efforts and does their research, until at last Michael Horn threw out Gates' name.  

Oops, twitter typo, that should read funded...
Rice pointed out that what they are proposing isn't terribly new...

And then he wrapped it all up with a bow.

And in case you're thinking it was only Rice that had some choice words for these folks, you're wrong.

Chair of the Committee, Assemblywoman Wagner, cited the National Education Policy Center Study which found that students in K12 Inc. schools are falling further behind in math and reading than students in brick and mortar schools.  

Lots of stammering ensued from the presenters.  

She asked the presenters why NJ shouldn't adopt a no-growth policy until K12 Inc. and others can demonstrate success in other states.  

More stammering. 

Assemblyman Ramos raised a host of salient issues, including that NCLB was based on what Diane Ravitch calls the Texas Miracle but now Texas is asking for a waiver from NCLB.  He said that Texas was the guineas pig for NCLB; let other states be the guineas pigs for online learning.  


And Assemblyman Caputo simply stated that the NJ Legislature was not going to mandate online learning without the support of the education community, parents, and students.  

Why do yesterday's presenters want to see NJ adopt laws that will allow online and blended learning?  Perhaps a map from Susan Patrick's presentation is the most telling.
Check out NJ, one of a handful of states that have not submitted to any kind of state wide online school, despite Cerf's attempt to ram not one, but two down our throats.  

And when problems are already cropping up with K12 Inc. in state after state, I don't see why in the world we would.  And quite frankly, the salespeople presenters didn't make a terribly strong case as to why we should.



    Yes, the more state evidence that pours in, the more we see that K12 is NOT an option for our NJ students. Also, Sen. Rice is correct, our highly skilled educators can create these types of courses themselves. It's not easy or fast, but once designed, they can roll. In fact, by the end of this year I will also be able to design, develop, and teach virtual or blended courses. Funny thing is, I'm not totally on board with the concept yet looking at the reviews. Our kids deserve better.

  2. Keep up the fight! Thanks for doing what so many of us believe in but don't have the time for!

  3. These people creating this stupid online world just don't get it! One of the biggest complaints from business owners hiring young people is that their communication skills are horrible, so let's let kids do their education online where they become even more secluded from the world and day-to-day human interaction. The kids in school are already so disconnected from society and most lack common sense, how will sitting behind computers all day be any benefit any single child? What the education world doesn't realize is that everytime something is posted online for a kid to learn from, a teacher is closer and closer to losing their job and being replaced with automated online learning systems. Teachers are actually replacing themselves by using online learning, posting assignments and collecting homework online. Eventually one teacher could replace 20 where all that one does is grade handed in assignment and tests, and that returns me to no human interaction. Sounds like a fantastic plan to me to help these kids with 21st century communication skills!!!!!!

  4. "Crusader" has religious "Christian" undertones. If public schools are all inclusive, why Crusader? Does that suggest intolerance? Don't let some middle east county read your blog.

    Why not talk about a Chicago teacher's strike. The 7% guaranteed over 3 years and 300k kids on the streets for a week.

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