"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, October 05, 2012

Deasy the Dauphine of LAUSD returns to his "let them eat ebooks" theme

"These "data-driven" investors are not so much interested in students' scores, as in the opportunities to cut costs by using online technology... The central question, says education entrepreneur John Katzman is "How do we use technology so that we require fewer qualified teachers?"" — Jeff Faux

Plutocratic priest of privatization LAUSD Superintendent John DeasyA "RIFed" (laid off) Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) teacher posted a link to an LA Times piece on my facebook page this morning with the following note: "I'm laid off, but let's buy more equipment."

LAUSD's tablet plan doesn't compute was surprisingly critical of the Broadyte Superintendent given they usually treat him with the reverence that sycophant monarchists afforded that Dauphine of France whose flippant attitudes towards the lower classes were much like Deasy's. In fact it might be the first ever Times editorial mildly critical of Deasy and his corporate reforms.

I posted the following comments:

Tablets like iPads are wonderful, but they're a long way from being a reasonable replacement for school libraries and students having access to books.

According to research cited by Dr. Stephen Krashen "ebooks only account for one-half of one percent of school library collections, and this is predicted to increase to only 7.8% in five years."

In other words, the content isn't there, so bringing in technology is an abject waste of funds. Deasy has been on the wrong side of this from the get go. It makes me wonder if he has stock holdings in firms that provide tablets.

For a background on this topic and links to the research see: John Deasy's Queen Antoinette moment: "let them eat ebooks". This isn't about being anti-technology, it's about budget priorities and understanding the limits of both technology and the availability (or dearth thereof) of academic content in digital format. A hipster corporate reformer recently called me a Luddite, I guess he doesn't know what I do at my day job. Let it suffice that I know a little bit about that whole technology thing.

The point is that purchasing technology for technology's sake isn't just wasteful, it's criminal, especially during the budget crisis our district is suffering. LAUSD needs to restore school libraries, classroom libraries, reduce class sizes, hire back librarians, teachers, and other educators first. Then we can talk about introducing more technology when appropriate and when the content is there.


  1. A point I might press you on: would you be amenable to this technology were it "fully loaded?" Technology has always replaced people. We have never stopped it. Why would we now? Rather, this is exactly how technology "grows" into a commonplace. The plow (or plough if you prefer) was a technology that "erased" the Commons in England. It's what happens next that we've never quite understood or been able to control as a community.

    We are socially reorganized and we treat each other according to our social expectations. Without the plow we needed men working fields and they needed to live close together and there needed to be many of them. With the plow, we needed less labor and that "wasted" labor moved to the city for slave wages and became ready for conscription without "hardship." In this way we lost "local" interest, local care, local homes. We lost neighbors and we lost family.

    This has always been called progress and we have always believed, or at least the progressive Prometheans among us have always believed, that the FIRE will set us free. Some of us at least; it will only be a dream to most of us.

    Also, I might argue that I've learned more in the last 10 years by reading one book, Moby Dick, multiple times, than all other texts combined. I'm sure it's "ebook" ready.

    1. Sorry I didn't answer this right away. While not citing a specific percentage of content that would make me amenable to the technology, I will say that it would need to be more than single digits. Therein lies the problem, the dearth of content outside of the neatly packaged corporate swill from Pearson, McGraw Hill, Glencoe, etc.

      Agreed on the change of means of production changing social relations. Agreed on how Melville's opus is perhaps one the most important texts we have. I too have read it more than any other book. Interestingly, Deasy's quest for corporate dominance is not unlike the intrepid, but mad, captain of the Pequod.