Wednesday, July 24, 2019

John Thompson: Corporate, data-driven education has been an 'Epic' failure

Corporate, data-driven education has been an 'Epic' failure

Corporate, data-driven education has been an ‘Epic’ failure

Growing up in Oklahoma, physical evidence of corruption was always in plain sight. Riding down the highway, my father would tell me how the road’s surface just changed from one type of asphalt to another because that was all the contractor’s bribes paid for.
When I became old enough to work blue collar jobs, I realized how the disregard for safety laws repeatedly put workers like me in life-threatening positions. On my first professional job, my supervisor told me about the time he asked a consultant, “What does two plus two equal?”
The consultant locked the door, pulled down the window shades, and whispered, “What do you want it to equal?”
Today’s scandals aren’t as readily apparent as the crimes of the past. They are hidden in “the cloud,” in complex computer systems. For that reason, the rapidly unfolding Epic Charter School scandal is both a case study in the dangers of today’s data-driven economy and the failure of corporate school reform.
When I became a teacher, corruption seemed nonexistent in public education (and today’s OKCPS clearly respects the law.) Back then, schools didn’t seem to engage in more or less gamesmanship with numbers than similar institutions. In my first teaching jobs, I was warned about the danger of not complying with special education law. In contrast to more typical violations, breaking disability law could cost your teaching license as well as your job.
Twenty-something years later, I sought to return from retirement and was hired at Seeworth Academy, a now-closed charter school that is being investigated for its special education practices. I was frequently warned than any questioning of special education procedures would result in immediate termination.

Education reforms open door for subtle corruption

Even as the public face of overt corruption in the old industrial world receded, the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 spurred new statistical tricks so that two plus two equals “transformative gains.” It had always been clear that attendance and graduation CONTINUE READING: Corporate, data-driven education has been an 'Epic' failure