Tag: Education

Education Reform for the Digital Era

By Eric Wearne While many books, websites, and events exist to catalog new concepts in online education, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute’s Education Reform for the Digital Era offers both a discussion and some practical solutions.  First, the editors, Checker Finn and Daniela Fairchild, describe three barriers to change which currently hinder online learning: Interest groups that try to either “capture the potential of technology to advance their own interests or to shackle it in ways that keep it from harming those interests”; The governance and financing structure of the current public school system; and, Issues of organizational capacity within the current public school system. The authors of the various chapters outline ways to address all three issues. First, regarding… View Article
By Mike Klein This summer and fall you will repeatedly hear that approving a charter schools constitutional amendment would steal resources from traditional Georgia public schools.  The idea is that when any money follows a student to a charter school the students left behind somehow suffer. This argument seems to apply only when students move to charter schools.  You never hear public school systems, their superintendents or school board members complain when students move from one public school system to another.  Apparently financial harm is a one-way street. The premise that students moving to charter schools will cause financial quakes in traditional school systems also suggests we should accept another premise that public school systems are so inflexible they cannot… View Article
By Jay P. Greene Jay P. Greene, Department Head and 21st Century Chair in Education Reform, University of Arkansas According to the Global Report Card, more than a third of the 30 school districts with the highest math achievement in the United States are actually charter schools. This is particularly impressive considering that charters constitute about 5 percent of all schools and about 3 percent of all public school students. And it is even more amazing considering that some of the highest performing charter schools, like Roxbury Prep in Boston or KIPP Infinity in New York City, serve very disadvantaged students. As impressive and amazing as these results by charter schools may be, it would be wrong to conclude… View Article
By Eric Wearne Recently Governor Nathan Deal announced a task force to “recommend ways to improve student achievement through the creation of robust digital learning environments, which may include the transition to digital textbooks and the effective use of wireless mobile devices.” In his remarks, the Governor stated that, “Students need to develop technical literacy in order to attain 21st century skills and become competitive in the global marketplace, and our state will invest in that education. We must increase the quality and quantity of our digital learning opportunities to ensure that our students are college or career ready.” Leaving aside the fact that a great many of the students in school today probably already have better “technical literacy” than… View Article
By Eric Wearne Eric Wearne, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation Harvard University Professor Clayton M. Christensen argues in his book Disrupting Class and elsewhere that the best and most long-lasting changes in any market tend to come from new entrants, rather than established players. Christensen argues that, in any field, new entrants gain a foothold into the market by taking on simple or unwanted tasks, often providing them at lower quality than existing players.  Then, after a time, quality, accessibility, and/or convenience increase, providing the new entrants an advantage and changing the market as a whole. Christensen’s idea is currently being put to the test in online education, and two organizations are poised to represent major changes in the… View Article

TED-Ed – More Ideas Worth Spreading

By Eric Wearne Eric Wearne, Senior Fellow, Georgia Public Policy Foundation TED (originally “Technology, Entertainment, Design,” but now just TED) bills itself as “a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.”  Its award-winning TEDTalks site hosts video talks by both well-known (and lesser-known) speakers on topics ranging from “tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data” to ethical questions about bio-engineering to how schools help kill students’ creativity. TED hosts two annual conferences, an award-winning video site (TEDTalks), and several other programs.  TED itself is well worth perusing as an educational tool on a variety of topics.  But the organization has begun to work on education explicitly, with potentially powerful results. TED-Ed is the… View Article
By Sherena Arrington Joseph Califano, secretary of health, education and welfare in the Carter administration declared that “in its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.” That was in 1977. This month, syndicated columnist George Will cited Califano’s warning in a column bemoaning the Obama administration’s latest education intervention through the Common Core Curriculum State Standards Initiative. Almost every state in the nation has rushed to join the Common Core curriculum movement with hardly a thought of the cost, financial or otherwise. In most cases, however, the “states” have barely been involved. Simply put, massive educational bureaucracies have signed on to the Common Core and have expected, and generally received, no interference… View Article
By Eric Wearne In 2011, Sebastian Thrun left his position as a computer science professor at Stanford University. He had offered a course on artificial intelligence, and enrolled 200 Stanford students. But the course was also offered online, for free. One hundred sixty thousand students from 190 countries enrolled in the course that way, and watched professor Thrun and his colleague from Google, Peter Norvig, teach their content through a series of videos and interactive quizzes and homework assignments. The experience proved transformational, for the students as well as Thrun. Of the 200 Stanford students enrolled, most stopped coming to class – they watched the videos and took the quizzes online just as students in Australia, Bangladesh and other countries… View Article
By Eric Wearne In Teacher in America, Jacques Barzun writes that, “In theory, the printed book should have technologically annihilated the teacher, for the original ‘lecture’ was a reading from a costly manuscript to students who could not afford it.” Clearly, that has not been the case. Barzun was talking about new educational technologies (decades ago), and while teachers are not likely to be “annihilated” by new technology in the near future, schooling will likely look very different, and very soon. In his 2011 book Getting Smart, venture capitalist and a former school superintendent Tom Vander Ark makes a case for changing our views of schooling to keep pace with new technologies. He argues for a blend of… View Article

Status Quo 1, Students 0

By Kelly McCutchen The Georgia House of Representatives today voted down a Constitutional Amendment clarifying the state’s role in education. This was in response to the Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling last year giving local school boards exclusive control over education. The amendment would also have rescued the hundreds of students in high-performing public schools authorized by the state over the last few years – schools that are doomed to go out of business without a long-term solution. The arguments against the amendment included concerns about diverting money away from local school systems and that giving parents the opportunity to choose an alternative school would impinge upon local control. Although it sounds like a debate about allowing vouchers for private schools,… View Article

As an employer, and a parent and a graduate of Georgia public schools, I am pleased that the Foundation has undertaken this project. (The report card) provides an excellent tool for parents and educators to objectively evaluate our public high schools. It will further serve a useful purpose as a benchmark for the future to measure our schools’ progress.

Dan Amos, CEO, AFLAC more quotes