Diane\'s Blog

Anonymous Teacher, Former Finance Professional

Dear Dr. Ravitch –

I downloaded the pieces you embedded in your blog the other day, and read with horror, but not surprise, Lee Fang’s “How Online Learning Companies Bought America’s Schools.”  I say I read without surprise, because as a former corporate finance person, I remember well how the large investment banking firms would produce so-called “educational” seminars which really peddled new investment arms (derivatives) and mortgage-backed securities as a means of securitizing loans, etc.  What began as a seemingly legitimate extension of business then became an evil, over-leveraged business that should have been brought down by regulation and the Feds in 2008.  (Shocking that the actual bailout bill was $7.7 trillion and banks such as B of A still refuse to negotiate restructuring of mortgages!)

This strong push for on-line education is also upheld by USDE.  A spring grant proposal to USDE required applicants to introduce an Advanced Placement on-line course within the implementation period.  I don’t believe that technology integration as a tool is an “evil” nor should it be ignored by educators.   However, for all the talk about our kids being “native” users of technology, most of it is for gaming, social media and phone apps.  When, as a teacher, you attempt to integrate current programs utilized both in schools and within the corporate world, students are often ill-equipped to use them in effective ways.  Students (at least in our urban, high-poverty area – which I’m not sure is true everywhere) are unable to make connections, delve deeply into questions, or develop effective process – which are things they will be asked to do in the “real” world.  The electronics’ native looks for easy answers and has little discipline related to delving into problems.

My main question out of all of this is:  Will taxpayers actually buy into producing profits for all of these entities?  Will they have to pay tuition at some point?  I fear our public education system devolving into a Mexico or someplace requiring people to pay for their education – leaving many who can’t, out.  However, with America’s love affair with all gadgetry, I’m sure they see no evil behind this movement, and instead, feel those of us who are organizing to resist, and the evil ones.  After all, these powerful people and organizations are working hard to vilify educators and education systems.

Some day, these hedge fund mavens or large investment banking firms will be bored with this all – or more accurately – their profits will flatten.  Then, what will be there next campaign to villanize?  My guess will be more medical reform.

Again, it doesn’t bode well for those of us in the trenches.  Those, who have to put up with their salaries and retirement benefits being publicized in local press.  Or, those who devote time to students immersed in gang, drugs and have no one at home to teach them that there is something different than the way they’re living.  Oregon’s governor, Kitzhaber, now is formulating a super education committee, which will oversee the entire education budget and pre-K to grade 20 education.  Sound ridiculous?  It’s empire building with little actual idea of what will build that empire.  As many are saying, it is taking children practically out of the womb and directing them until they’re 25.  This, to me, is also scary and opens doors for Wall Street to handily step in.

Diane, the Billionaire Boys have seen their opportunity.  So many people kept making so much of Steve Jobs.  Granted, he did some wonderful things, but not all was so wonderful.  The man sent 3 million jobs overseas and sits on billions of dollars of cash.  He felt the iPad should be in every child’s hands.  Where is the public disconnect about him?

It’s all very tragic.  I feel that these forces, as evil as they are, continue to sway the public’s opinion towards their greedy hands.