“Public education has been hijacked.” So writes guest blogger Mike Parent in his post What Have We Become on the Dangerously Irrelevant site. He presents some additional point to consider that follow along the same lines as I have been posting in the last two entries. He also has a significant section of the post pondering the nature of schools and some of the struggles with workplace readiness. Unfortunately, he asks some tough questions at the end of the post that don’t have very clear answers. We have lived so long under the current system that our definitions and conceptions of education are made within that frame of reference. Stepping outside of that frame, I think, requires us to completely re-imagine an absolutely new vision of education starting with what we consider as non-negotiable, foundational, ideas. What are yours?
The writer’s strike may be over, but that doesn’t mean there’s much on. After absorbing only so much of the latest round of school violence, I started flipping channels and came across the Nightly Business Report on a local PBS station and caught the tail end of the teaser for a series they are running about the New Business of Education. Tonight they were talking about educational technology. I was excited to see how ed tech would be represented from the business side. What great timing. For the most part it was about the money to be made and spent. I’m not sure I actually caught much of the content; I got lost thinking about the premise behind the book I’m reading, Unencorporating Education by Dr. William J. Cook Jr and all the business connections to education.
I’m almost a quarter of the way through the book. I’m not buying it all and sometimes it seems that Dr. Cook is often more interested in sounding like an intellectual than with getting his points across clearly. He sometimes makes assumptions that the reader has some background knowledge and content and proceeds without giving any additional information. He doesn’t, at least in the initial chapters, explain why the first word of the title of his book is spelled with an “e.” I get it, but I’d like to have read early on about his thinking behind that. I suppose one could argue that’s the point of the book, but I digress.
Like I said, I’m not buying it all (funny, considering the capitalistic underpinnings of all this), but the idea has been planted and I probably have my business-in-education radar running. Besides all his references to the Scans Report, the Educate America Act, and others in the first chapter, I’m noticing it too.
Books Ideas are like that, right? Read the blog entry on the NBR site by the Director of Program Development, Jack Kahn where he asks is education “The next ‘hot’ investment sector.” Yes, I’m sure, just not the way educators would hope. As if I needed anymore reason to pause consider the statistic Kahn sites: “total education spending in the U.S. is now close to $1 trillion — more than any other service sector except healthcare.” He doesn’t indicate his source, so I went to the Digest of Education Statistics on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Sure enough, the estimate for 2005-2006 puts it at about $921.8 billion, or about 7.4% of the Gross Domestic Product of the nation. If you go to the site, look at the footnotes. The numbers are probably higher when those variables are factored in and we add two years to the table. Does anyone else find it ironic that potentially useful data from the U.S. Department of Education is not available in a timely manner?
Does that kind of money surrounding education alone prove Dr. Cook’s point? The discussion of money and kids has a distasteful, almost taboo, stigma attached to it, but we can’t serve the kids without it. Are we really diminishing our kids to corporate servitude, as Dr. Cook suggests? Worse yet, does the collective unconscious of some of our young people recognize this and cast them into despair manifested by acts of violence or general apathy? Doom and gloom, I know, but the mashup of school violence and educational encorporation happened for me in only one push of the channel button on the remote. Ideas are like that, right?
February 14, 2008 Posted by Rick Tanski | Education | business connections to education, collective unconscious, corporate America, Dangerously Irrelevant, Digest of Education Statistics, Dr. William J Cook Jr, ed tech, Educate America Act, Education, educational encorporation, educational system, educational technology, Gross Domestic Product, Jack Kahn, Learning, National Center for Education Statistics, New Business of Education, Nightly Business Report, Scans Report, school reform, school violence, Teaching, U.S. Department of Education, Unencorporating Education | 2 Comments
Currently, I’m a Principal for my district’s online high school. This is my 17th year in the education business. I’ve spent most of those years in a high school (9-12) setting as a Teacher (English, Technology, & Newspaper), Administrator, Coach, Technology Coordinator, and database systems administrator. I’ve presented at several professional conferences on technology and educational topics.
If you would like to read a longer post that follows the thread of my educational career and its formation, check out Frame of Reference.
Below is a modified CV for the curious.
- Principal, December 2007 to present
- Assistant Principal, July 2003 to December 2007
- Assistant Principal, July 2003 to July 2005
- Educational Systems Administrator, July 2000 to June 2003
- Basketball Coach, June 2000 to April 2003
- July 2000 to March 2003 -Junior Varsity Girls
- November 1993 to March 1997 -Freshmen Boys
- Technology Coordinator, July 1998 to July 2000
- Teacher, English and Technology, August 1993 to June 1998
- Newspaper Co-Advisor, August 1995 to May 1997
- Student Council Co-Sponsor August 1993 to May 1995
I should probably add a disclaimer that the content posted here is my own (with the exceptions of those posting in reply, obviously) and should not be construed as representing the views, opinions, policies, or positions of those by whom I am employed.
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