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

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Some lyrics of a song released in 1983 by the Fatback Band (written by a very talented Junior High School class and band mate, Gerald Thomas).
 “We can put a man up in space 
But on earth it’s just a rat race. 
Is this the future?”

                                             “We got people workin’ 9 to 5 
                                         While over 10 percent are trying to stay alive. 
                                        Is this the future?”

                                          “Worked years perfecting my craft 
                                           Now my boss is giving me the shaft. 
                                     Is this the future?”

                                     “Can it be? Are you tellin’ me 
                                   This is the future?”
Apparently it is.
FILE-In this Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, file photo, Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of Amazon, speaks at the introduction of the new Amazon Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Paperwhite personal devices, in Santa Monica, Calif. Amazon reported third-quarter results below Wall Street’s expectations on Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, including a large loss that was weighed by its stake in its online deals service LivingSocial and continued investments in technology and distribution centers to grow its business.  (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
Today’s NYT (8/16/2015) reports in detail about the new algorithm Amazon boss Jeff Bezos is using at its “white collar” work places.
“At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others.”
“’You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.’”
Is this the future?
“In Amazon warehouses, employees are monitored by sophisticated electronic systems to ensure they are packing enough boxes every hour. (Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. After an investigation by the local newspaper, the company installed air-conditioning.)”
Is this more like the Triangle Shirt Company prior to the 1911 fire?
Is this the past?
“In 2013, a former Army captain who served in Iraq joined Amazon. After she had a child, she arranged with her boss to be in the office from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, pick up her baby and often return to her laptop later. Her boss assured her things were going well, but her colleagues, who did not see how early she arrived, sent him negative feedback accusing her of leaving too soon.”
“’I can’t stand here and defend you if your peers are saying you’re not doing your work,’ she says he told her. She left the company after a little more than a year.”
“Ms. Willet’s co-workers strafed her through the Anytime Feedback Tool, the widget in the company directory that allows employees to send praise or criticism about colleagues to management. (While bosses know who sends the comments, their identities are not typically shared with the subjects of the remarks.) Because team members are ranked, and those at the bottom eliminated every year, it is in everyone’s interest to outperform everyone else.”
Is this the future?
“Each year, the internal competition culminates at an extended semi-open tournament called an Organization Level Review, where managers debate subordinates’ rankings, assigning and reassigning names to boxes in a matrix projected on the wall. Often called stack ranking, or ‘rank and yank’—it can force managers to get rid of valuable talent just to meet quotas.”
“’You learn how to diplomatically throw people under the bus’ said a marketer who spent six years in the retail division. ‘It’s a horrible feeling.’”
“The mother of a stillborn child left Amazon. ‘I had just experienced the most devastating event in my life,’ the woman recalled via email, only to be told her performance would be monitored “to make sure my focus stayed on my job.”
Is this the future?
1984 and Fahrenheit 451 have nothing on Amazonian practices. Even in the cutthroat world of high tech, Facebook and Google are doing rather well by understanding what humans need to work hard and creatively. Data driven tyranny is not the only way, unless you are a tyrant.
The use of high stakes testing and VAM to evaluate teachers is having this same Amazonian effect on the education workplace. People are quitting in droves after trying their best to succeed in this newly cutthroat world being created in schools. The difference is that because of these very actions and other factors, education is not drawing enough new young teachers dedicated to a lifetime of teaching. Where collaboration was once Queen, it seems competition has become King, especially in States run by Tyrants and maybe even friends of Amazon Emperor, Jeff Bezos.
What else has Bezos been up to regarding Education policy? Alternet reports:
“Bezos gave $100,000 to support charter schools in a 2004 referendum. Supporters raised more than ever before, mostly from a handful of wealthy individuals, and had a 10:1 financial edge.”
“Bezos’s mother and stepfather gave a total of $1 million in 2012 in support of a pro-charter education initiative that narrowly passed. The measure will allow up to 40 charter schools to open in Washington State during the next five years. Supporters raised more than ever before, mostly from a handful of wealthy individuals, and had a 10:1 financial edge.”
Is this the future?
Finally, “Bezos has turned his eye to the latest cause célèbre for the capitalist class: school privatization. The 2011 financial disclosures for the Bezos Family Foundation reveal a $15,000 donation to New York City-based Education Reform Now, a group founded primarily by finance industry titans that advocates for charter schools.”
“There are also significant contributions directly to various charter schools, school privatization groups in Oregon and Washington State, and hundreds of thousands of dollars logged in support of Teach For America, which in recent years has made advocacy for charter schools and high-stakes testing a core part of its mission.”
Now he owns The Washington Post. Will Valarie Strauss still have her job?
Is this the future?


No comments:

Post a Comment