Tag Archives: online education

Schools Are Obsolete II

Not long ago, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, as part of a campaign to obtain the support of the United Federation of Teachers, released a report critical of the financial practices of the charter school network Success Academy. A page 21, the report noted:

https://comptroller.nyc.gov/wp-content/uploads/documents/FK15_092A.pdf

“Success Academy invoices to DOE bi-monthly for per pupil funding for general and special education services that it provides to students who reside in New York City. For Fiscal Year 2015, Success Academy was entitled to receive $13,777 per year for each of its students who reside in New York City. Further, Success Academy was entitled to receive an additional $10,390 per year for each student that was mandated to receive and was provided special education services for between 20 to 60 percent of the school instructional week, and an additional $19,049 per year for each student that was mandated to receive and was provided special education services for more than 60 percent of the school instructional week.”

My first impression is that’s a whole lotta money. For non-special education children, that is $275,540 per 20 students and $165,324 per 12 students. On the other hand, I know that this is less than the amount NYC district schools receive. Does that make me think that charter schools are a better deal? In part. But what it mostly does is further convinces me that education needs to be rethought and reorganized from the ground up. For that amount of money, or even less money, a new system, unencumbered by the deals, favors, practices and privileges of the past, could provide far better values for students, younger and future teachers and taxpayers alike. For the existing system, school reform has been defeated and its time to face it. Only by making a clean break will anything get better, or even avoid getting worse.

Continue reading

Schools Are Obsolete: IT and the UFT Have Convinced Me

There is, or at least was until recently, an idea out there in America that every child deserves a great teacher. But that isn’t possible, because not every worker is great. According to FY 2012 Census Bureau data, U.S. public schools had a total 4,659,517 full time equivalent instructional employees for 48,212,483 students, a ratio of 10.3 to one. There may not be 4.7 million “great” workers in the entire country, depending on how strictly one defines greatness, let alone that many available just for public education. So you’ll have some great teachers, some good teachers, some average teachers, and some below average teachers. And thanks to low pay in some areas of the U.S., and union power in other areas, lots of bad teachers the schools can’t get rid of.

There is a way, however, that every child could have access to great teachers. Over the internet. Just as information technology allows the best entertainers and game designers to serve millions of people at a time at a very low incremental per-person cost, so that same technology could allow millions of children access to the best instruction, exercises and practice, homework and tests. In a format that was available on demand at any time. With different teaching styles that might work for different students. And the possibility of each child working at their own pace, rather than being held back by or trying to keep up with the average for a class, and with lots of extra practice for skills they and yet to master. All that would be missing is the possibility of a trained teacher working with an individual child on something they were having trouble with. But that is something the public education doesn’t provide either – despite that student to instructional employee ratio of 10.3 to 1.

Continue reading