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

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Relay GSE Wants to Replace Legitimate Teacher Preparation and Professional Development with Digital Merit Badges

In many areas of the country, teachers are disappearing at an alarming rate.  Demoralized, terrorized, berated, hounded, bullied, and just fed up, teachers are increasingly leaving--and sharing their horror stories as they exit the classroom.  Their stories, too, are finding their way through blogs, social media, and into the mainstream, and as a result university teacher education enrollment has plummeted. 

Without any protection from either of the teacher unions, corporate education reformers have remained free to bombard the teaching profession without fear of anti-aircraft fire from union leaders, who have cut deals with the oligarchs to make sure the union home offices are not damaged in the firestorms that result from the continued corporate bombing missions. 

When combined with a recovering economy, the result has been an precipitous drop in teacher ed college enrollment, which has fed the corporate alternative preparations programs, from TFA, TNTP, and the infamous Relay Graduate School of Education--where teacher interns must raise test scores before their teaching degrees are granted.  I have posted here and here on the Relay phenomenon.

There is a new money-making scheme that has been devised by the profiteers who back the Relay chain gang approach to teaching and the penal pedagogy that it entails.  It is based on marketing a concept called micro-credentialing, and it aims to replace legitimate professional development with a series of online training info-bits that teachers can then claim toward their required hours of professional development. Instead of teachers taking college credit courses for ongoing professional development requirements, the hustlers at Relay are now in the business of developing modules based, no doubt, on the "no excuses" bible by Doug Lemov, Teach Like a Robot Champion.  

Relay's first big contract: Washington, DC schools.
Teachers in DCPS must complete 90 professional development “contact hours” every four years in order to renew their teaching license, and DCPS has final approval over what learning counts. The District is exploring innovative options for teacher professional development by piloting a new model, MyPD, which offers more personalized options for teachers to choose from (options that also align with the District’s Teaching and Learning standards). MyPD includes online opportunities such as virtual modules created by Relay Graduate School which are aligned to the the district’s teaching standards — and much like Mozilla’s badges, the strategies covered in Relay’s modules “stack” to convey competency in a larger skill.
Never mind that there is no research to substantiate the use of any of this.  


  1. Anonymous8:10 PM

    Unfortunately, not only is this chapter of Relay a fake graduate school, with no books, no facility, and no real grades, it is also discouraging would-be phenomenal teachers and creating resentment towards the profession. The grading is completely arbitrary, based on the whims of the person visiting the class that day. The paying students are treated as employees rather than students, required to show up to meetings with almost no notice, and countless other incredibly unprofessional tactics. We had hope for Relay, especially considering that Teach for America supported them, but they are truly a joke. We are watching adults, who were 4.0 students at top universities, who have previously excelled in extremely demanding fields and are currently receiving stellar feedback from the schools which employ them, be given failing grades by Relay with no explanation. We very much regret choosing them over the Lipscomb option, and strongly recommend that anyone facing the choice next year choose any other program.

  2. I entered the program this summer. It is an odd school to say the least. I felt weird incorporating their techniques in the classroom. I am withdrawing today because my placement told me that I was slow. Relay GSE is looking for there teachers to be one type of way. I entered the program in poor health and did not want to end up in a casket.