The modern education system was designed to teach future factory workers to be “punctual, docile, and sober”

Allison Schrager: The education system as we know it is only about 200 years old. Before that, formal education was mostly reserved for the elite. But as industrialization changed the way we work, it created the need for universal schooling. Factory owners required a docile, agreeable workers who would show up on time and do … Continue reading The modern education system was designed to teach future factory workers to be “punctual, docile, and sober”

Brain gains

The Economist IN 1953 B.F. Skinner visited his daughter’s maths class. The Harvard psychologist found every pupil learning the same topic in the same way at the same speed. A few days later he built his first “teaching machine”, which let children tackle questions at their own pace. By the mid-1960s similar gizmos were being … Continue reading Brain gains

In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant (reading?)

George Monbiot: In the future, if you want a job, you must be as unlike a machine as possible: creative, critical and socially skilled. So why are children being taught to behave like machines? Children learn best when teaching aligns with their natural exuberance, energy and curiosity. So why are they dragooned into rows and … Continue reading In an age of robots, schools are teaching our children to be redundant (reading?)

Perhaps Re-Thinking ongoing Madison Schools Budget Growth?

Doug Ericsson: She described it as “repurposing” existing money and said the approach likely will be the norm going forward. “It’s a good, positive way of working,” she said. “So rather than continually looking for more funding — kind of piling on each year, adding cost — we’re very strategically looking for the highest and … Continue reading Perhaps Re-Thinking ongoing Madison Schools Budget Growth?

School design through the decades

mosaic: In the decades after the Industrial Revolution, educational reformers led the effort to modernise schools and classroom spaces, and the ubiquitous one-room schoolhouse gradually gave way to bigger and more sophisticated designs. Scholars such as Lindsay Baker at the University of California, Berkeley have traced the subsequent history of these school designs, and have … Continue reading School design through the decades

“More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?

Pat Schneider: Middle schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District have become caring environments for students, but aren’t rigorous enough to prepare them for high school academic work, says Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham. “We know there are quite a few things that highly effective schools do that we have not been doing in both our middle … Continue reading “More Rigor is Needed” – Madison Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham; Possible?

Diane Ravitch: Campbell Brown Shouldn’t Worry Her Pretty Little Head About Education Policy

Jonathan Chait: “I have trouble with this issue because it’s so totally illogical,” says Diane Ravitch, an education historian. “It’s hard to understand why anyone thinks taking away teachers’ due-process rights will lead to great teachers in every classroom.” As for Brown, Ravitch is dismissive: “She is a good media figure because of her looks, … Continue reading Diane Ravitch: Campbell Brown Shouldn’t Worry Her Pretty Little Head About Education Policy

“the analysis shows that in a year’s time, on average, students in Los Angeles charter schools make larger learning gains in reading and mathematics”

Center for Research on Education Outcomes (PDF): Across the country, charter schools occupy a growing position in the public education landscape. Heated debate has accompanied their existence since their start in Minnesota two decades ago. Similar debate has occurred in California, particularly in Los Angeles, with charter advocates extolling such benefits of the sector as … Continue reading “the analysis shows that in a year’s time, on average, students in Los Angeles charter schools make larger learning gains in reading and mathematics”

K-12 Governance Post Act 10: Kenosha teachers union is decertified; Madison Appears to Continue the Status Quo

Erin Richards:

The union representing Kenosha teachers has been decertified and may not bargain base wages with the district.
Because unions are limited in what they can do even if they are certified, the new status of Kenosha’s teachers union — just like the decertification of many other teachers unions in the state that did not or could not pursue the steps necessary to maintain certification in the new era of Act 10 — may be a moral blow more than anything else.
Teachers in Milwaukee and Janesville met the state’s Aug. 30 deadline to apply for recertification, a state agency representative says. Peter Davis, general counsel for the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission, said the Milwaukee and Janesville districts will hold recertification votes in November.
To continue as the recognized bargaining unit in the district, 51% of the union’s eligible membership must vote in favor of recertification, according to the controversial Act 10 legislation passed in 2011.
With contracts that were in place through the end of June, teachers in the three large southeastern Wisconsin districts were protected the longest from the new legislation, which limits collective bargaining, requires unions to hold annual votes to be recognized as official entities, and mandates that teachers and other public employees pay more out-of-pocket for their health care and retirement costs.
…..
“It seems like the majority of our affiliates in the state aren’t seeking recertification, so I don’t think the KEA is an outlier or unique in this,” Brey said.
She added that certification gives the union scant power over a limited number of issues they’d like a voice in.
Sheronda Glass, the director of business services in Kenosha, said it’s a new experience for the district to be under Act 10.

Terry Flores

Contrary to some published media reports, however, the union did not vote to decertify.
In fact, no such election was ever held, according to KEA Executive Director Joe Kiriaki, who responded to a report from the Conservative Badger blog, which published an article by Milwaukee radio talk show host Mark Belling, who said he had learned that just 37 percent of the teachers had voted to reauthorize the union.
In a prepared statement, Kiriaki criticized the district for “promoting untrue information” to Belling.
Union chose to focus on other issues
Kiriaki said the union opted not to “jump through the hoops,” such as the recertification requirement, created by Act 10, the state’s relatively new law on collective bargaining.
The law, among other things required the annual re-certification of unions if they want to serve as bargaining representatives for teachers and other public workers. It also prohibits most public employees from negotiating all but base wages, limiting them to the rate of inflation.
Kiriaki cited a ruling by a Dane County Circuit Court judge on the constitutionality of Act 10, saying he believed it would be upheld.

Interestingly, Madison School District & Madison Teachers to Commence Bargaining. Far more important, in my view is addressing Madison’s long standing, disastrous reading results.
In my view, the unions that wish to serve their membership effectively going forward would be much better off addressing new opportunities, including charters, virtual, and dual enrollment services. The Minneapolis Teachers Union can authorize charters, for example.
Much more on Act 10, here.
A conversation with retired WEAC executive Director Morris Andrews.
The Frederick Taylor inspired, agrarian K-12 model is changing, albeit at a glacial pace. Madison lags in many areas, from advanced opportunities to governance diversity, dual enrollment and online opportunities. Yet we spend double the national average per student, funded by ongoing property tax increases.
An elected official recently remarked to me that “it’s as if Madison schools have been stuck in a bubble for the past 40 years”.

A factory model for schools no longer works

Michael B. Horn And Meg Evans:

The past several decades have seen technology transform industry after industry. Nearly every sector in America has used new technologies to innovate in ways nearly unimaginable a generation before the change.
One sector, however, has remained nearly the same as it was a century ago.
The education system in place in urban school districts around the country was created in the early 1900s to serve a different time with different needs. In 1900, only 17% of all jobs required so-called knowledge workers, whereas over 60% do today.
Back then, the factory-model system that educators adopted created schools that in essence monolithically processed students in batches. By instituting grades and having a teacher focus on just one set of students of the same academic proficiency, the theory went, teachers could teach the same subjects, in the same way and at the same pace to all children in the classroom.
When most students would grow up to work in a factory or an industrial job of some sort, this standardization worked just fine. But now that we ask increasingly more students to master higher order knowledge and skills, this arrangement falls short.
Milwaukee and Wisconsin as a whole have felt this pressure acutely. Between 2011 and 2012, Wisconsin had the biggest six-month decline in manufacturing jobs in the nation after California. According to a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel special report, the city’s pool of college-educated adults ranks among the lowest of the country’s 50 biggest cities. To become an average city among the top 50, Milwaukee would need another 36,000 adults with college degrees. Since 1990, it has added fewer than 1,000 a year.

Spot on. Much more on our “Frederick Taylor” style K-12 system and its’ focus on adult employment, here.

Macmillan Knows Publishing Is Doomed, So It’s Funding the Future

Erin Griffith:

Even if the dominant players in a staid, legacy industry see the writing on the wall — that the Internet will eventually kill them — it’s not easy for them to do much about it.
Some publishers are merely waiting for Amazon to put them out of business. (See “We’re in Amazon’s sights and they’re going to kill us.”) Others have taken to suing startups which threaten their business model. (See: Publishers accuse textbook replacement service Boundless of copyright infringement.)
Macmillan Publishing has taken an entirely different route altogether. It’s one that, until now, has remained relatively under the radar. The company hired Troy Williams, former CEO of early e-book company Questia Media, which sold to Cengage. Macmillan gave him a chunk of money and incredibly unusual mandate:

Substantial change is underway in education. Yet, most of the players continue to emphasize our Frederick Taylor, agrarian model.

Administration Memo on the Madison Superintendent Search

Dylan Pauly, Legal Services:

Dr. Nerad recently announced his retirement effective June 30, 2013. Consequently, over the next few months this Board will be required to begin its search for the next District leader. While some members of the Board were Board members during the search that brought Dr. Nerad to Madison, many were not. A number of members have asked me to provide some background information so that they may familiarize themselves with the process that was used in 2007. Consequently, I have gathered the following documents for your review:
1. Request for Proposals: Consultation Services for Superintendent Search, Proposal 3113, dated March 19, 2007;
2. Minutes from Board meetings on February 26,2007, and March 12,2007, reflecting Board input and feedback regarding draft versions ofthe RFP;
3. Contract with Hazard, Young and Attea;
4. A copy of the Notice of Vacancy that was published in Education Week;
5. Minutes from a Board meeting on August 27, 2007, which contains the general timeline used to complete the search process; and,
6. Superintendent Search- Leadership Profile Development Session Schedule, which reflects how community engagement was handled during the previous search.
It is also my understanding that the Board may wish to create an ad hoc committee to handle various procedural tasks related to the search process. In line with Board Policy 1041, I believe it is appropriate to take official action in open session to create the new ad hoc. I recommend the following motion:

Dave Zweiful shares his thoughts on Dan Nerad’s retirement.
Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.

The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.

Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.

Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.

Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

Madison School Board rates Superintendent Nerad barely ‘proficient’;

Matthew DeFour:

If Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s job performance were judged like a student taking the state achievement test, he would score barely proficient, according to the Madison School Board’s most recent evaluation.
The evaluation, completed last month and released to the State Journal under the state’s Open Records Law, reveals the School Board’s divided view of Nerad’s performance.
School Board President James Howard said he expects the board to vote later this month on whether to extend Nerad’s contract beyond June 2013. The decision has been delayed as Nerad’s achievement gap plan is reviewed by the public, Howard said.
Soon after that plan was proposed last month, Howard said he would support extending Nerad’s contract. Now, Howard says he is uncertain how he’ll vote.
“It’s probably a toss-up,” he said. “There’s a lot of issues on the table in Madison. It’s time to resolve them. All this kicking-the-can-down-the-road stuff has to stop.”
Nerad said he has always welcomed feedback on how he can improve as a leader.

Related: Notes and links on Madison Superintendent hires since 1992.

Madison Superintendent Art Rainwater’s recent public announcement that he plans to retire in 2008 presents an opportunity to look back at previous searches as well as the K-12 climate during those events. Fortunately, thanks to Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web, we can quickly lookup information from the recent past.
The Madison School District’s two most recent Superintendent hires were Cheryl Wilhoyte [Clusty] and Art Rainwater [Clusty]. Art came to Madison from Kansas City, a district which, under court order, dramatically increased spending by “throwing money at their schools”, according to Paul Ciotti:

2008 Madison Superintendent candidate public appearances:

The Madison Superintendent position’s success is subject to a number of factors, including: the 182 page Madison Teachers, Inc. contract, which may become the District’s handbook (Seniority notes and links)…, state and federal laws, hiring practices, teacher content knowledge, the School Board, lobbying and community economic conditions (tax increase environment) among others.
Superintendent Nerad’s reign has certainly been far more open about critical issues such as reading, math and open enrollment than his predecessor (some board members have certainly been active with respect to improvement and accountability). The strings program has also not been under an annual assault, lately. That said, changing anything in a large organization, not to mention a school district spending nearly $15,000 per student is difficult, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman pointed out in 2009.
Would things improve if a new Superintendent enters the scene? Well, in this case, it is useful to take a look at the District’s recent history. In my view, diffused governance in the form of more independent charter schools and perhaps a series of smaller Districts, possibly organized around the high schools might make a difference. I also think the District must focus on just a few things, namely reading/writing, math and science. Change is coming to our agrarian era school model (or, perhaps the Frederick Taylor manufacturing model is more appropriate). Ideally, Madison, given its unparalleled tax and intellectual base should lead the way.
Perhaps we might even see the local Teachers union authorize charters as they are doing in Minneapolis.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: College, There’s an App for That: How USC Built a 21st Century Classroom

Derek Thompson:

“Everything about this program pushes definitions about what is a semester, what is the university, what is a classroom, and where do the faculty belong?”
In the spring of 2008, John Katzman, the founder of the Princeton Review, approached the Masters of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program at at the University of Southern California with a revolutionary idea. USC could increase its graduates by a factor of ten without building another room.
Every year, California adds 10,000 new teachers. And every year until 2008, USC graduated about 100. The school felt “invisible.” How could it build influence without new buildings? Katzman said his new project, 2tor, Inc, an education technology company, promised a solution. Forget the brick and mortar, and go online, he said. USC was skeptical. Surely, no Web program could possibly deliver an in-classroom quality of instruction.
Katzman disagreed. I have something to show you, he said.

I thought about this (the accelerating move away from Frederick Taylor [Blekko | Britannica | Clusty] style 19th Century education that we still seem to spend buckets of money on) while attending this week’s Madison School District Strategic Plan 2 year review. More on that meeting next week.

Our Changing World



This graphic, from Boeing’s Current Market Outlook (2009-2028) provides a very useful look at the changes our children are facing. The Asia Pacific region is forecast to take delivery of more airplanes than North America, with Europe close behind. We should substantively consider whether the current systems, curriculum and organizations, largely created in the Frederick Taylor model over 100 years ago, are up to the challenge….
Locally, the Madison School District’s Proposed Strategic Plan will be discussed Monday evening.
Related: China Dominates NSA Coding Contest.

Hacking Education

Fred WIlson:

Last fall I wrote a post on this blog titled Hacking Education. In it, I outlined my thoughts on why the education system (broadly speaking) is failing our society and why hacking it seems like both an important and profitable endeavor.
Our firm, Union Square Ventures, has been digging deeply into the intersection of the web and the education business in search of disruptive bets we can make on this hacking education theme.
My partner Albert led an effort over the past few months to assemble a group of leading thinkers, educators, and entrepreneurs and today we got them all together and talked about hacking education for six hours.
The event has just ended and my head is buzzing with so many thoughts.
We will post the entire transcript of the event once the stenograpger gets it to us. That usually takes about a week. In the meantime you can see about ten or twenty pages of tweets that were generated both at the event and on the web by people who were following the conversation and joining in.
But here’s a quick summary of my big takeaways:
1) The student (and his/her parents) is increasingly going to take control of his/her education including choice of schools, teachers, classes, and even curriculum. That’s what the web does. It transfers control from institutions to individuals and its going to do that to education too.

The Economist recently published a piece on Frederick Taylor “The Father of Scientific Management”, whose work had a significant effect on our current education system.

Be Quiet and Rejoin the Herd

Ed Wallace:

The easiest way to demonstrate that our education system is designed to create order instead of embracing creative chaos is the morning traffic jam. Let’s take the people traveling on Interstate 35 E into Dallas: Every morning they’ll find that starting somewhere in Oak Cliff the traffic will come to a virtual standstill, until the last 3 or 4 miles into Dallas often turns into a 20- to 30-minute drive. And every morning you will find thousands upon thousands of drivers wasting gas, fuming in their cars that something needs to be done about congestion. Yet there is an easy answer: All they have to do to zip into Dallas quickly is take the South Marseilles exit, go 1.5 blocks north and turn right on E. Jefferson Boulevard. It’s that simple.
Crossing the Jefferson Street Viaduct with the 30 other drivers who have made that same quick critical decision to improve their morning commute, you can look south and see, extending for miles, a traffic jam that avoiding took you only two quick turns and cut 15 minutes off your commute. So why do thousands of intelligent people each and every day go through the same frustrating and wasteful ritual, when an easy and satisfying answer to the problem has always been there? That’s how we were taught.
Stuck in your car, waiting impatiently in traffic is exactly like being in sixth grade when your class filed into the cafeteria; you were told to stand there quietly without complaining, no matter how hungry you were. It’s this ingrained habit of non-critical thinking and unquestioning acceptance that makes morning traffic jams worse than they need to be. It makes ideology — obedience to a concept, as opposed to reasoning through a solvable problem — the basis for our daily decisions.

Related: Frederick Taylor. Britannica on Taylor.

Dane County Transition School Fights for Survival

Andy Hall:

To try to save his high school, student John Kiefler took an unusual approach this month that revealed both his commitment to the school and his level of desperation.
He contacted Oprah.
“Now I know that because I am a student that had problems in a normal school that if this place closes down that I will have problems getting a diploma,” wrote John, a junior who rides a van 45 minutes north from Milton to Dane County Transition School in Madison.
“I hope you can help us.”
After 15 years of educating students with fragile futures, Transition School itself faces a test of survival.
The publicly funded alternative school is in danger of closing as early as this summer.
“Our school system was set up for a factory model that has not changed in 100 years and it’s growing more and more distant from what we need,” said Deedra Atkinson, United Way of Dane County senior vice president of community building and an Oregon School Board member. Her daughter, Audra, is a graduate of Transition School.
Alternative education programs are part of United Way’s countywide strategy to curb dropout rates, which according to the state Department of Public Instruction ranged from 1 percent in Belleville to 15 percent in Madison during the 2006-07 school year.

“The Factory Model” of Education via Frederick Taylor’s “Scientific Management”. A teacher friend lamented some time ago that we’re still stuck in this model, making sure that our students are in and out of school around the milking and field work schedule….
Dane County Transition School Website.

Learning from Milwaukee: MPS Leads the Way on High School Innovation

Marc Eisen: The much-reviled Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) could be a surprising role model for the Madison school district as it begins formulating a plan to refashion its high schools for the demands of the 21st century. MPS, which educates a student body that is overwhelming minority and deeply ensnared in the tentacles of poverty, … Continue reading Learning from Milwaukee: MPS Leads the Way on High School Innovation

The Teacher in the Grey Flannel Suite

The Economist: The second argument had to do with the rise of knowledge workers. Mr Drucker argued that the world is moving from an “economy of goods” to an economy of “knowledge”—and from a society dominated by an industrial proletariat to one dominated by brain workers. He insisted that this had profound implications for both … Continue reading The Teacher in the Grey Flannel Suite