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Virtual Education: More Assault on the America's Public Education System

by: KathyinBlacksburg

Sun Mar 14, 2010 at 11:50:54 AM EDT

Virginians have barely awakened to the nightmare that is their own public school system under the dominion of the dominionists.  Thanks to Bob McDonnell and the Party of No, schools upon schools will ultimately close. NCLB has already rendered 1/3 of all US schools as "failing," based upon its rigged measure. Buildings paid for with our tax dollars will be given away via Mickey D's charter "initiative." What then?

Thanks to new legislation, "virtual schools," and their virtual "education," enabled by one of their own literally writing a recent bill to "regulate" such "schools," are poised to proliferate even as public schools are shuttered.  One more governor refuses to get that starving public education hurts Virginia and the nation.  But the incessant tax-cutting monster must be served (sarcasm).  See Elaine in Roanoke's article here and numerous diaries by teacherken's for more on this subject.  According to the Roanoke Times, Carroll County, VA is now the "model" for the entire state.  (Bet NOVA thought it was.)  "Virtual school" get virtual results. Education is not packaged online "curricula." The PC is no substitute for teacher-student and student-class face time and cooperative learning.  But the educational bloodletting via the massive cuts to education will likely never be overcome in our lifetimes. The evidence for this mounts...  

KathyinBlacksburg :: Virtual Education: More Assault on the America's Public Education System
Real teachers are being forced from workplaces for two reasons: 1) to de-fund the perceived left (never mind teachers aren't necessarily liberal); and 2) to drastically diminish staff and salaries.  Did you know that some online outfits pay only $60 a course to college teachers.  Yes, the pay scale varies widely.  But the growing trend to extract near-slave wages reveals one of the main objectives of the charter movement as well.

Traditional schools face problems of their own.  One Rhode Island School fired its entire staff. We were told they deserved it.  We were told that schools, which have high rates of failure on engineered tests; who have high percentages of kids speaking English as a second language; or many kids without parental support, supervision, and involvement, must achieve anyway--or else. We were even told that our president approved of the firing of 100% of the staff of that school. I object.

Listen for the galloping horsemen of the apocalypse.  The privateers ride again.  Never did I believe that this country would be so craven as to disembowel public education and put profits above children to the extent that "we" have.  But it has happened and happens again nearly each and every day as the horror that is our de-funding of public education in America. And then come the roaring headlines, half of the public schools in St. Louis MO, will close. Closed.  Half of St. Louis's public schools.

In 40 years, flight (to private and charter schools)reduced the student population from 75,000 to over 17,500.  This is an education disaster in the works.  A part of America's school systems died this week.  Let the reality of that sink in.  29 of 61 schools in St. Louis are closing.  And the American public education system entered new terrain this week.  Its infrastructure, like the old Middle School in Blacksburg, perennial source of disagreement regarding its disposal, will become political footballs.  The battle between those seeking community buildings v. privateers will play out all across the St. Louis area.  Or, the schools will be bulldozed altogether by developers. Whatever the decision, the waste of taxpayer resources is staggering.

Not that long ago, Michael Bloomberg and his Billionaire Boys Club friends, fire-saled away nearly 2 dozen NY City schools to privateers.  NY City Public School "Chancellor," Joel Klein is a former prosecutor, btw.  And yet he presides over the massive school district, supposedly as its protector and advocate.  He is nothing of the sort.  And not surprisingly, he runs it in ideological fashion, the more charters the better. He's one of the nation's leading apologists for the educational takings movement:  Our property into theirs with the wave of a wand.  There are many possible descriptors of this movement, some more virulent than others.  But two words are most appropriate: Separate and unequal.  

Three Billionaires' foundations underlie the current push to shutter and hand off America's public schools: Gates, Walton and Broad.  Americans are wont to proclaim what a great guy is Bill Gates.  

For decades, he built a mighty monopoly, playing worse than hardball with other high tech firms.  And then, (playing reverse Robin Hood), he overcharged us all for decades.  Hundreds upon hundreds of dollars of overcharges to each of us for his open-door, virus-plagued (too many open doors and vulnerabilities to count)operating systems and "productivity software" .  How much productivity have you lost trying to fix the Blue Screen, or tie up your machine with endless scans, updates, troubleshooting and back ups all necessary because of Bill Gate's overpriced products? We endure numerous other inconveniences because the house that Gates built takes too much of our money for rushed-to-market products which must be updated over and over and over.  

And now, playing the patron saint of the Billionaire Boys, he works behind the scenes to destroy the NY City public school system.  He lures in Oprah Winfrey, who never-met-a-millionaire --or billionaire--she doesn't admire.  Her show to gave him education "credibility" among America's Moms. And you wonder at the arrogance of a man and the company he once chaired, who think they should control the educational content of the world.  There are others (including Google's CEO), but probably none so good at persuading Moms and grandmas that, where education is concerned, he's the boyish-looking good guy.

It's not a coincidence that even as this happens, the Billionaire Boys Club (Gates Foundation, Walton Foundation and Broad Foundation) has persuaded NY City's Mayor and top education honchos to hand over citizen paid infrastructure to billionaires and hedge fund managers, as if they can run a school.  Education is not and never should be a business, but exploitation.  The minute it is, it is no longer education. If this is Bill Gate's idea of how to change the world, we could use far, far less of his notions of change.

Finally, the news broke this week that Texas has approved the Newt Gingrich history curriculum.  Radical con revisionism is now enshrined (probably for decades to come) in one of the largest states.  We are told to watch for these same radical conservative curricula to invade textbooks in a state near us.  God help us.  (And ,no this was not founded as an officially Christianist nation, Gingrich's revisionism notwithstanding.)

I have some questions, brought home by Virginia news items this week: At what point does education become virtual rather than real?  At what point does the mis-education of America's children render our nation an empty shell? At what point does the exploitation of schoolchildren for profit become our worst learning nightmare.  At what point does de-funding education; ripping off communities of their education infrastructure; saddling them with phony "education" systems," and, worse, debt, become a crime against humanity?  Don't look now, but that time approaches, and indeed may already be here.

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What schools are closing ?

I meant to say "What schools in Virginia are closing" ?

No specific schools have been announced yet, but...
The extent of the cuts will lead to closures.  How can they not with the massive cuts outlined by the governor?  Some school boards have already begun such discussions (Roanoke, for example).  One county recently discussed whether or not to sue the state for failure to support adequately local schools.  

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

[ Parent ]
Some Valid Uses for Virtual Education
As a life-long educator, I can see a few wonderful uses for virtual education:

*A student with a chronic illness will be able to keep up.
*Students who need assistance and remediation can receive that help without a whole class having to wait for him/her.
*Students who have been suspended can keep up with classmates and avoid spiraling down into failure and dropping out.
*Advanced students in small divisions can receive instruction in subjects that otherwise would be unavailable to them.

However, if McDonnell and friends think that virtual education will take the place of schools, they are crazier than I believe they are.

BTW, anyone willing to accept $60 for a college-level class is frankly crazy and deserves to be exploited.

The best news in a long time regarding education was announced this week: President Obama is in favor of dropping No Child Left Behind with its built-in favors to test makers.

We will just have to see what replaces it.

he's not proposing to drop it entirely, just to tweak it here and there. And not everyone -- including the teachers -- is happy:

[ Parent ]
What worries me is textbook pollution
The absolute worst news is that Texas is condoning Newt Gingrich's outlandish view of history. Texas is such a large system it pretty well commands the textbook field: if Texas orders it, everyone else gets it. Do you realize what this means? Control of history is control of the future.

Yeah, it's a wretched situation
The only ray of hope I can see is in the possible CA counterbalance. CA is as large (population-wise) as Texas and, for that reason, as important. If CA rejects the Texas (sub)standards and sets its own, the right-wing robots of Texas might not be able to take over the entire (national) textbook market. Especially if the national standards (recently proposed by Obama) are accepted (and, hopefully, expanded, beyond just English and math) get approved.  

[ Parent ]
Agree with all of this, but
that is not what some pols and corporate hacks have in mind.  

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

I was referring to Elaine's comment about
legitimate uses for virtual ed.

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

[ Parent ]
Virtual Ed = No More Snow Days?
The are some benefits to offering online public education classes. Colorado has been offering it for a few years. The classes work well as an alternative for students who, for a variety of reasons, cannot maintain regular class attendance.

Jefferson County CO includes their "virtual academy" as part of their public school system.


One wonders why schools haven't used websites for login on
school snow days.  That might be a legitimate use of "virtual" schools.  But in most cases, they are no substitute for real schools, except in extreme circumstances.  Although I am a strong supporter of public schools, and a former teacher at three different levels of education (over the course of many years, pre-school, high school and college-level), I also recognize that private schools and home schooling have a place at the table too.  Home schooling done right can give a child an outstanding foundation. There are many ways to afford home schooled children social opportunities too.  And it is particularly useful for gifted students who are several years, or more, above their grade-level.

Conservatives outnumber moderates and liberals among home schooling populations, probably by 60-40 (or maybe even 70-30).  However, I predict that if the current trends continue, increasing numbers of progressive families will seek to home school in order to teach real history and science to their children.

Meanwhile, we must fight to protect public schools so that isn't necessary.  Our nation's children need us to stand up for them.  This is especially so for those who are older.

Unfortunately some older Americans refuse to support schools and school bonds.  So those of us in this age group have a special responsibility.

"One person, one vote" died at the hands of SCOTUS, January 21, 2010

[ Parent ]
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