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

Monday, June 05, 2017

Chavous, Personalized Learning, and Real Indy Voices


By Doug Martin

The end game … is personalized learning.  We are going to get to this place where as opposed to every child being shepherded into a schoolhouse where they sit in a classroom and where a teacher stands and delivers, and then they regurgitate back … those days are not going to be the future.”  KEVIN CHAVOUS

When Kevin Chavous joined the Indianapolis-based Mind Trust board of directors in late 2015, it was a sign of more bad things to come.  Chavous, as I discuss in Hoosier School Heist, has been a paid spokesperson for corporate ed reform from day one, working for the Democrats for Education Reform, the DeVos/Walton clan, the Black Alliance for Educational Options, and even the digital/virtual/personalized learning movement invading the United States. 

Since charter schools and online learning companies have used blended and virtual learning for years, the billionaires’ plan now, to kick "the end game" in gear, is to dupe local public school districts and teachers to buy into the edtech arrangement, seeking to dismantle public education from inside the schoolhouse itself.

It is working, and Chavous’ voice is a part of it. 

Chavous’ edtech/virtual learning promotion goes back at least to 2010, when he sat on Jeb Bush and Bob Wise’s Digital Learning Council,” an ALEC promoted outfit, alongside representatives from Google, Apple, Connections Academy, Carnegie Corporation, K12, INC., the Gates Foundation, Rocketship, Microsoft, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and many others.

The Digital Learning Council also included Michael Horn from the Innosight Institute, now a separate consulting group and connected to the Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, a leader in the personalized learning movement.  Horn will be in Indianapolis at MSD of Warren Township Schools next month as a keynote speaker (along with Tom Sayer, Head of School Transformation and Change for Google for Education).  I have much more on Horn (and privacy issues surrounding Google for Education) to say at a later date. 

In January 2016, Chavous began chairing a new "charity" started by virtual learning company K12, INC. entitled Foundation for Blended and Online Learning, which promises to give out scholarships and grants to students and teachers, or in Chavous’ words, "to advance the field of blended and digital learning with an emphasis on giving back to schools, students and communities."

When the Lindsay Unified School District (LUSD) in California, with a beginning $499,860 grant from the Gates Foundation for the California Consortium for Development and Dissemination of Personalized Learning, took its big step in letting the corporate school/edtech promoters inside of its schools in 2016, adding later in June of that year a partnership with Facebook’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and another $2.5 million grant from Gates (for LUSD’s connections to the edtech movement and more on the Gates grant, read this by Alison McDowell), Chavous was included in a book entitled Beyond Reform: Systemic Shifts Toward Personalized Learning by the Lindsay Unified School District, published in February of this year by Marzano Research in Bloomington, Indiana, which was devoted to praising LUSD’s digital upgrade. 

 In the book, Chavous writes: "The Lindsay Unified School District story represents one of the most amazing success stories in American public education history ... I have visited hundreds of school districts around the country, and none has been able to do what Lindsay has done."

In October 2016, Chavous, in an editorial in The Detroit News, called on Detroit schools (in shambles, crumbing, and many rat-infested at the time of Chavous' article) to change to a personalized learning system,  where he tried to sell Detroit the Indianapolis Innovation Network Model and the Mind Trust, writing that “The new leaders for the reconstituted schools are trained through a fellowship program administered by the Mind Trust, a highly regarded education nonprofit group. Indy parents and students love the new and improved schools.”

But parents and students and the community in Indy rightfully  don't trust the corporate narrative that Chavous and others are selling.   That is why tonight, June 5th at 6 PM, concerning the three high schools set to close in Indianapolis,  an open community meeting (not sponsored by the Indianapolis Public Schools or the Mind Trust, but sponsored by Concerned Clergy, Parent Power, Community Voice for Education, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, Baptist Ministerial Alliance, and Education-Community Action Team) will take place at the Purpose of Life Ministries at 3705 W Kessler Blvd North Drive, at the corner of 38th and Kessler. 

It will be good to hear real voices for a change.   

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