from Wrench in the Gears
June 13, 2017
Just weeks before the 2017 Annual Meeting opens in Boston, an article from NEA Today, As More Schools Look to Personalized Learning, Teaching May Be About to Change, makes it clear NEA’s top leadership prioritizes digital curriculum over the right of a student to be educated without data mining and to have unconditional, full time access to a human teacher. For those familiar with NEA’s and AFT’s partnership with Ed Reform 2.0 interests on the Education Reimagined initiative this comes as no surprise, though seeing the propaganda in print is still jarring. If you’re NOT aware of this partnership, stop and read Emily Talmage’s Anatomy of a Betrayal now. Oh, and later check out the NEA’s 2011 Policy Brief in support of blended learning. Here Tom Vander Ark notes the content of the brief is largely drawn from the work of Clayton Christensen’s reformy Innosight Institute.
The general rule for ed-activists is to never, ever read the comments, though I encourage you to make an exception in this case. Over fifty heartfelt statements against digital curriculum have been logged thus far, though you should be aware that at least four other comments were posted and subsequently removed by the site administrator. One was from Emily Talmage and included a link to Anatomy of a Betrayal. Another was from a former NEA member and midwestern teacher “NEA’s motto-destroying public education from within.” A Connecticut teacher and NEA member wrote “What a deceptive article – shame on NEA Today.” And the fourth was submitted by Massachusetts Teachers Association member Mary Porter.
Mary’s comment included the full text of New Business Item 6, MTA Opposes the MAPLE / LearnLaunch Partnership with Massachusetts DESE. The NBI was approved at the state meeting of the Massachusetts Teachers Association on May 20, 2017, and as far as I am aware it is the first instance of a union taking an official position opposing digital curriculum. I am grateful to all who crafted, sponsored and supported this NBI, and I am sharing Mary’s comment below because this NBI is a landmark policy and a model other unions should look to as they develop their own responses to ed-tech’s assault on our nation’s schools.
MTA Opposes the MAPLE/LearnLaunch Partnership with Massachusetts DESE
NBI # 6 Adopted
Massachusetts Teachers Association Representative Assembly, May 20 2017
1.The MTA opposes the MAPLE/Learn launch partnership of the Massachusetts DESE, on the grounds that it reflects a predetermined plan to impose a new, untested “personalized” oversight system on the public schools. This initiative is privately controlled by LearnLaunch, a non‐profit consortium of for‐profit education technology ventures. The MTA will investigate the legality of this partnership and its appearance of being a crony arrangement to guarantee return to for‐profit vendors who would benefit financially from the policies being imposed through collaboration with the DESE.
The MTA will inform the DESE of our position in a letter, accompanied by a press release to the public.Given that the NEA has tipped its hand on where leadership stands with regard to Zuckerberg’s “personalized” playlist education agenda, it’s time to shine a light on what is happening in Boone County, Kentucky. The Boone County School District is exactly the type of environment described in the article, and it’s imperative that teachers, parents and community members understand what reformers REALLY mean when they use terms like “personalization” and “innovation,” because it’s NOT what you think.
2. The MTA will establish a MAPLE/Learnlaunch Toolkit Page, which will collect and review reports from members, describing instances where, in their professional judgement, the educational opportunity of students and the respect for teaching staff are undermined by the products and working conditions demanded by the consortium.
3. MTA members and staff will use our toolkit to share strategies to combat the harmful effects of and unvalidated edtech products on our students, and to defend teachers’ professional judgement and standards against interference by business interests.
1. Office of Digital Learning Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education 75 Pleasant Street Malden, MA 02148-5023 firstname.lastname@example.org www.doe.mass.edu/odl @MASchoolsK12
Digital Learning Advisory Council Meeting Minutes Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2016:
a. MAPLE (Massachusetts Personalized Learning EdTech) Consortium is a public / private partnership emerging between ESE and LearnLaunch as an effort to catalyze personalized and blended learning supported by technology in districts and schools across the Commonwealth. MAPLE is having discussions with some philanthropic organizations to support this effort.
b. There will be a convening of the DCPS (Digital Connections Partnership Schools) Grantees at LearnLaunch Symposium and a second convening of the DCPS later in the spring.
c. The Commissioner set goal of 100% online testing in Commonwealth by 2019. ODL/DLAC will be involved in advising for this effort.”
2. Promotional materials for the Center for Collaborative Education describe its agenda-driven out-of-state backers:
“In 2016, CCE launched the Massachusetts Personalized Learning Network (MA PLN) to work with district leaders, principals, and teachers to design and implement personalized learning plans…
Center for Collaborative Education (CCE) is proud to partner with Massachusetts Personalized Learning Edtech Consortium, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Agilix. CCE is a regional partner with Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) as part of a national initiative to scale up personalized learning schools. PLN is supported by EDUCAUSE through the Next Generation Learning Challenges, the Barr Foundation, Nellie Mae Education Foundation, W. Clement & Jessie V. Stone Foundation, and IBM.” http://cce.org/work/district- school-design/massachusetts-personalized-learning-network
3. Learnlaunch is a “non-profit” consortium of for-profit investors and vendors, which specifically advertises to member investors that it has the capacity to maximize their financial return.
“Investor Path Want to hear from other edtech investors on how they make decisions in such a fast-paced marketplace? Want to see demos from LearnLaunch Accelerator startups and pitches from our pitch competition finalists? Check out these sessions for a closer look into the trends, innovations, and companies that are shaping the future of edtech.” http://learnlaunch.org/investorpath/
LearnLaunch sponsors http://learnlaunch.org/sponsor2017/
Learnlaunch Accelerator for-profit member Companies: http://learnlaunch.com/accelerator/accelerator-companies/
Some supporting links:
Our Children @ Risk – Parents Across America Details the Dangers of EdTech
Follow the Money – Who is Nellie Mae? Save Maine Schools
Overview and Timeline of personalized learning drive in Massachusetts: Hybrid Learning, Cicada Killers & the Next Big Fight
To give you some idea of the problems see the post below (shared with permission) describing a school meeting that took place last October in which parents expressed serious reservations about the implementation of the Summit Basecamp personalized learning platform in their local middle school.