background preloader

Education , Reason, Lack Thereof

Facebook Twitter

Choice page. Who Controls Our Schools? How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and Enriching the Charter School Industry. Photo Credit: (Editor's note: AlterNet has covered the school privatization story in great detail. Over time, we became alarmed at what we were seeing. The Independent Media Institute, AlterNet’s parent organization, has published an ebook, Who Controls Our Schools? The Privatization of American Public Education, the full text of which you can access for free online with this link. What follows is a summary of its findings and recommendations.)

The Problem America’s public schools, which over the 20th century came to embrace the promise of equal opportunity for all children, are at a historic crossroad. The growth of charter schools nationwide (whose numbers have increased exponentially since 2000) would not have occurred without a handful of heirs to the world’s largest family fortunes and other billionaires directing their tax-exempt foundations using their wealth to remake public schools in a corporate image.

The Findings. Betsy DeVos is all smiles as she endorses states’ rights to discriminate against children. Betsy DeVos is loving life right now. In a Wednesday hearing with the House Appropriations subcommittee, the Secretary of Education gleefully defended her school-choice philosophy from Rep. Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, who asked DeVos whether charter schools that refuse to admit students of certain demographics would still get federal funding. Clark used Bloomington, Indiana’s Lighthouse Christian Academy as an example. The school currently gets more than $665,000 in state funding through a school voucher program, Clark said. DeVos didn’t say yes or no. “You are the backstop for students and the right to access a quality education,” Clark continued. The U.S. “This isn’t about parents making choices,” Clark interrupted. In the final moments of the exchange, DeVos delivered what she must have imagined to be an inspiring call to arms on behalf of American children.

DeVos calls what she’s endorsing “state flexibility.” Secretive Foundation’s Blueprint for Spreading Right-Wing Ideology. Documents Reveal a Powerful, Secretive [...] North Carolina millionaire and political operative Art Pope, who received $1.5 million from the Bradley Foundation for two conservative groups he founded. (Photo by Ted Richardson/For The Washington Post via Getty Images) This post originally appeared at AlterNet. The billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch get a lot of press coverage about their vast, conservative political spending network that helps elect right-wing officials at the federal, state and local levels and advocates for policies that increase the profits of their fossil fuel and manufacturing conglomerate, Koch Industries. The Bradley Foundation, which has historically supported taxpayer-funded “school choice” initiatives and work requirements for welfare recipients, is named after Lynde and Harry Bradley, two brothers who founded the profitable factory automation manufacturer Allen Bradley Co.

3 Ways Exponential Technologies are Impacting the Future of Learning – SingularityU – Medium. Exponential Technologies Impact What Needs to be Learned In a 2013 white paper titled Dancing with Robots: Human Skills for Computerized Work, Richard Murnane and Frank Levy argue that in the computer age, the skills which are valuable in the new labor market are significantly different than what they were several decades ago. Computers are much better than humans at tasks that can be organized into a set of rules-based routines. If a task can be reduced to a series of “if-then-do” statements, then computers or robots are the right ones for the job.

However, there are many things that computers are not very good at and should be left to humans, at least for now. Levy and Murnane put these into three main categories. 3 Main Things Humans Are Still Better at Robots 1. Humans are significantly more effective when the desired outcome or set of information needed to solve the problem are unknowable in advance. 2. 3.

Future-Proof Skill Sets What are these skills exactly? How The Systemic Segregation Of Schools Is Maintained By 'Individual Choices' : NPR Ed. Sixty-three years after the Supreme Court's ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, many schools across the country either remain segregated or have re-segregated. Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that when it comes to school segregation, separate is never truly equal. "There's never been a moment in the history of this country where black people who have been isolated from white people have gotten the same resources," Hannah-Jones says. "They often don't have the same level of instruction. They often don't have strong principals. Still, when it was time for Hannah-Jones' daughter, Najya, to attend kindergarten, the journalist chose the public school near their home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, even though its students were almost all poor and black or Latino.

Before she joined The New York Times to cover racial injustice, Nikole Hannah-Jones was an award-winning reporter at Propublica. Toggle caption Kathy Ryan Interview highlights Brown v. How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics. On election night 2006, Dick DeVos, the bronzed, starched 51-year-old scion of Michigan’s wealthiest family, paced to a lectern in the dim ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel in Lansing to deliver the speech that every candidate dreads. The Michigan gubernatorial race that year had been a dogfight of personal attacks between DeVos, the Republican nominee, and Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm. Gloomy, bleached-out b-roll of shuttered factories in anti-Granholm ads made the governor’s sunny economic promise that “You’re gonna be blown away” sound less like an aspiration than a threat. Anti-DeVos ads cut closer to the bone, with one depicting a cartoon DeVos cheering a freighter hauling Michigan jobs to China.

It was an unsubtle reference to DeVos’ time as president of Amway, the direct-sales behemoth his family co-founded and co-owns, when he eliminated jobs in Michigan while expanding dramatically in Asia. Story Continued Below At the Lansing Sheraton, the mood was grim. Who’s Behind the Right-Wing Assault on Public Universities? Who’s Behind the Right-Wing [...] Public universities including the University of Virginia are the targets of a new demand that they should be treated as any corporate entity, judged exclusively on its bottom line. (Photo by Stephanie Gross/FTWP) This post originally appeared at The Nation. The conservative movement in the United States has long been wary of higher education. This is understandable given the fact that survey after survey demonstrates a positive correlation between education and progressive values.

Conservatives tend to attribute this phenomenon to mass brainwashing by elite liberal professors coupled with a conspiracy to blacklist anyone who tells what they consider to be the truth. More recently, however, the far-right has turned its attention away from these elite-oriented universities to public ones. The documentary Starving the Beast: The Battle to Disrupt and Reform America’s Public Universities, which opens this week, seeks to tell this story. What Could Go Wrong With Asking Teachers To Monitor Kids for ‘Extremist’ Beliefs?

Why Preschool Suspensions Still Happen (And How To Stop Them) : NPR Ed. Something's wrong in America's classrooms. According to new data from the Education Department, black students — from kindergarten through high school — are 3.8 times more likely to be suspended than white students. Now the really bad news. This trend begins in preschool, where black children are already 3.6 times more likely to be suspended than white students. In all, 6,743 children who were enrolled in public pre-K received one or more out-of-school suspensions in the 2013-14 school year. Glass half-full: That number's down slightly and relatively small considering the 1.4 million kids who, according to the Education Department, attended public pre-K that year. Glass half-empty: That's 6,743 kids too many, say several top child development experts. "To be clear, preschool suspension just shouldn't be a thing for any kid," says Maryam Adamu, who until recently studied early childhood policy at the Center For American Progress.

Training and pay for preschool teachers are often abysmal. Upheaval Amid ‘Alarming’ Revelations at William Koch’s Florida School. The former head of school, Robert C. Parsons, whose official title was president and chief executive, is a former chief financial officer at the United States Naval Academy. Mr. Parsons started at Oxbridge in 2011 with a compensation package worth $1 million, tax records show, seven times his academy salary. Eventually, he made about $600,000 a year at the school. But in interviews, former employees questioned Mr.

Photo Mr. Other billionaires — such as Bill Gates of Microsoft; Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook; the music mogul Sean Combs; the filmmaker James Cameron; the philanthropist Eli Broad; and Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla — have poured parts of their fortunes into education. Their experiences underscore the pitfalls that confront business leaders whose professional success does not always translate into the education field. Mr. He said he founded the school to give his own children a better academic experience than he had. In the past, Mr. Mr. Mr. Ms. Mr. Mr. Texas Candidate Who Claimed Obama Was Gay Hooker Loses... AUSTIN, TX -- Texas just let out a collective "whew. " Mary Lou Bruner, State Board of Education candidate from East Texas, on Tuesday lost the runoff election in the Republican nomination race for the State Board of Education District 9 post. The eyes of Texas were on East Texas Tuesday night focused on a race for a relatively obscure post that may have otherwise gone largely unnoticed until Bruner's entry in the primary contest and ultimate runoff election.

The reason: Bruner's unconventional beliefs. The woman who came thisclose to being elected to the State Board of Education -- the government body that sets curriculum standards and adopts textbooks for the state's 5 million-plus school students -- believes (as she has stated both out loud in public, with people around, and on her prolific string of social media posts): Had she won, Bruner would've represented the East Texas region in the 15-member State Board of Education.

From May 5: Texas, our Texas. Extremists want to control textbooks - Texas. Mary Lou Bruner (Mary Lou Bruner for State Board of Education) Mary Lou Bruner stood before the Texas State Board of Education in 2010 to talk about textbooks. She was concerned, she said during her testimony, that the state’s curriculum was being controlled by outside forces.

Her statements were introduced by board member Lawrence Allen (D): “You believe…people from the Middle East are buying, using their dollars, to persuade textbook publishers to put more —” “I think the Middle Easterners are buying the textbooks!” Bruner said, wide-eyed. “They’re buying everything else here.” “So, they’re buying the, the morality of the —” “I think they’re using their influence to get what they want in the textbooks,” Bruner nodded. That was more than five years ago, and the tables have since turned for the 68-year-old retired schoolteacher from Smith County. The chosen Republican candidate is expected to beat her Democratic opponent in the general election, the Houston Chronicle reported. Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD.

The War on Reason - Paul Bloom. Aristotle’s definition of man as a rational animal has recently taken quite a beating. Part of the attack comes from neuroscience. Pretty, multicolored fMRI maps make clear that our mental lives can be observed in the activity of our neurons, and we’ve made considerable progress in reading someone’s thoughts by looking at those maps. It’s clear, too, that damage to the brain can impair the most-intimate aspects of ourselves, such as the capacity to make moral judgments or to inhibit bad actions. To some scholars, the neural basis of mental life suggests that rational deliberation and free choice are illusions. This conception of what it is to be a person fits poorly with our sense of how we live our everyday lives. “Pig valves.” I bristle at that just, but the evidence is overwhelming that Charlie is right. Another attack on rationality comes from social psychology.

Such statements have produced a powerful backlash. Knowing that we are physical beings doesn’t tell us much. You’re More Ignorant Than You Think You Are. By Steven Mazie Quick: Are you at all familiar with ultralipids, cholarine, or plates of parallax? All of them? One of them? None? Read on, and in a couple of paragraphs you’ll see what your answer means for your personal level of ignorance.

“The trouble with the world,” Bertrand Russell quipped, “is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” In a recent article in Pacific Standard, Dunning proposes that “we are all confident idiots.” That assured ignorance can be extremely dangerous. "In 2012, the National Financial Capability Study, conducted by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (with the U.S. Dunning’s most intriguing idea is that we don’t even have a grasp on what “ignorance” really is.

"The way we traditionally conceive of ignorance — as an absence of knowledge — leads us to think of education as its natural antidote. Here, Dunning’s primary example is driver’s education courses, which “tend to increase, rather than decrease, accident rates.” Politically-Challenged: Texas Tech Edition. Poverty Disturbs Children's Brain Development and Academic Performance. Income inequality is growing in the U.S., and the problem is much worse than most people believe. For children, growing up poor hinders brain development and leads to poorer performance in schools, according to a study published this week in JAMA Pediatrics.

It has long been known that low socioeconomic status is linked to poorer performance in school, and recent research has linked poverty to smaller brain surface area. The current study bridges these converging lines of evidence by revealing that up to 20 percent of the achievement gap between high- and low-income children may be explained by differences in brain development. Using a sample of 389 healthy children and adolescents from age four to 22, psychologist Seth Pollak and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin–Madison compared scores on academic achievement tests with tissue volume in select areas of the brain. An Interactive Map from EdBuild Shows How School District Funding Enforces Poverty Rates. The upholding of the Fair Housing Act’s “disparate impact” standard was one of many major victories for social justice dispatched by the Supreme Court this June. But the road to equal rights and opportunities remains long and thorny.

“Disparate impact” is the notion that housing policies that create “artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers” for minorities (for example, housing projects that are built only in high-poverty, minority neighborhoods) are a form of discrimination, even if discrimination is not the explicit goal. Therefore, SCOTUS ruled, such policies are unlawful, and can be challenged in court. Yet poor, minority families face another, more literal set of “artificial, arbitrary, and unnecessary barriers” to opportunity, according to EdBuild, a new national nonprofit focusing on public education. Those barriers are school-district boundaries.

EdBuild writes: And though more than 50 years have passed since Brown v. Public School Teacher Banishes 7-Year-Old Boy For Not Believing in God. Success Academy undercover video shows no-excuses discipline at its ugliest.