Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Difference Between Buying E-Curricula (Bad) and Providing Each Student With a Computer (Good)

To provide each student in TUSD with a computer so that it becomes a one-to-one district like Sunnyside does not require purchasing an e-curriculum.  In fact, I am adamantly opposed to large scale purchases of e-curricula, particularly from companies like Pearson.  Teachers should be developing curricula in collaboration with other teachers on sight, based on individual student needs and our community's goals for our schools; multinational corporations do not have the expertise necessary to develop curricula that raise student achievement levels in TUSD.  Well educated teachers know that corporations take part in corporate processes—not educational ones—to form curricula.  Thus, teacher reliance on textbooks to plan curricula is and has always been misplaced.  

Educated teachers know that a textbook, whether online or in-hand, is not a curriculum—it is a political document that reflects publishers’ connections to lobbyists, not the most up-to-date applications of what we know about how people learn. 

Just because multinational behemoths (like Pearson, Microsoft, and Apple) are trying to take over the world of education and turn it into a for-profit venture—quantity at the expense of educational quality—does not mean that we should buy what they are selling.  They are happy with McDonald's-like public schools that are low quality, potentially poisonous, but cheap and easy to sell. 

I am a fiscal conservative, I find business and tax law fascinating, and I enjoy studying strategic for-profit ventures.  I am also aware of the fundamental importance of a high quality education.  Before you join the Pearson-public-schools-can-be-like-McDonald’s brigade, think about what you want from our schools and for our children. 

I believe that education is a fundamental human right for a very good reason—even if corporate giants like Pearson insist on framing that right in terms of their company’s bottom line.  Students do not need e-curricula.  But they would benefit from the enhanced communication with teachers and access to the teacher-created materials that a computer would provide. 

In sum, TUSD should be a one-to-one district—so it should purchase a computer for each student (with grant money, for example).  TUSD should not buy an e-curriculum.  TUSD has a curriculum; if there are problems with it, the District should provide teachers the time and guidance necessary to improve that curriculum.

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