Ed News

I actually have a backlog of education news stories but these two from today rose to the top.  One story is about teacher evaluations and the other is about a high-profit "education summit" going on this week in Arizona.

From Ed Week:
The NEA has filed a lawsuit on behalf of several teachers in Florida against that state's education department, saying that the teacher evaluation formula being used violates their constitutional rights.  They seek an injunction against the state law for teacher evalutions and three districts' policies. 

The state approved formula for measuring student growth on [the state standardized tests] is being stretched far beyond the limited purposes for which it was designed,” the suit argues.

The law requires all teachers to be judged in part on the progress of their students. This growth formula was developed for teachers in those subjects in which the state administers standardized tests: grades 4-8 in math and 4-10 in reading.

But because only a fraction of teachers are teaching in those subjects, the suit contends, districts, with state approval, have essentially fudged the formula for other teachers—for example, by using a schoolwide growth score for such teachers, or by rating them based on scores on a test in another subject only tangentially related to their field, if at all.

As a result, the unions allege that the seven teachers were evaluated based on students they don’t teach or in subjects they don’t teach.

A bill pending in the Florida legislature would require teachers to be evaluated only on the progress of their own students, but Florida Education Association officials said it is not sufficiently detailed enough.

Also to note in the news is the 2013 ASU (Arizona State University) Education Innovation Summit that started this week.  Here's how Ed Surge puts it:

This is a must-go event. Last year, over 800 folks (including more than 100 CEOs) converged to discuss the latest trends and rockstars driving innovation in education (and yeah, that includes money). This year's speakers include Steve Case (AOL), Tim Draper (Draper Fisher Jurvelson), and other notables from ASU and GSV. Betsy attended last year; check out her report from the frontlines here. The only thing it could use? More educators.
You mean the people on the front lines of teaching who might give real-world input on what they need to do their jobs well?

The list of speakers at this "summit" is made up of mostly investment banker types or educational services types.  Not seeing too many educators in this huge list of people.  

Their Facebook page is also fascinating.

Panelist Jose Ferreira, founder and CEO of @knewton says all education will be adaptive, measurable.

Adaptive learning. Gamification. MOOCs. What's the next education innovation?

Here's the Education Innovation website.  Here's how to make money off education.  It's a little chilling to read.

Those of us building ed-tech companies know there are easier callings, but we do what we do because of the love.

Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. We all want to help students, help teachers, improve schools, but how many of us have managed to keep that our focus?

In some ways we at Wikispaces were particularly lucky. We got into education technology by accident. We built a web service and teachers showed up. That was fun, so we paid attention to them and built a business around them.

But if you have big plans, big visions, big ambitions, can you keep the distractions at bay? Is VC funding too tempting to turn down? Is being the center of attention too much fun to turn away from the press? Is wealth, or the score keeping it represents, too tempting to pass on business models you know aren’t in the best interests of teachers and students?
And if you turn down the funding, stay focused, and build a sustainable business that helps teachers and students and schools, will you feel like a success or will you judge yourself by standards that are not your own?

We say, give yourself permission to fail to impress anyone and everyone but yourself. If you want riches and fame, by all means, go for it. But if what you really want is to help teachers teach and students learn, then keep that the focus of what you do.

And we also happen to believe that if you deliver on that promise, you can get everything else you want anyway.

This is how you make money off public education and that net is getting bigger and wider every single day.


Anonymous said…
Many of the public universities are fueling this trend. Degrees in things like Instructional Technology are being handed out to people who think only of the profit they can make, even as they proclaim they want to improve education. I attended a doctoral seminar at a public institution where 2 students presented their ideas on restructuring schooling (which basically consisted of sticking kids in front of computers for more hours - hello Rocketship charters!) and the first thing out of their mouths when questioned about the barriers to implementation - the teachers union. Not a single professor called them on this - I was the only one who spoke up. But then, none of the professors in this particular department had ever taught in K-12 before save one, who at least did student teaching. Ironically, these same professors were also charged with teaching preservice teachers how to use (and supposedly teach with) technology.
(And no - the two are not the same thing.)


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