Sunday, February 3, 2013

* Digital Diva Rhee Regiments Education While Guru Gates Measures It

The Deluded Digital Merchants Who Would  Regiment the Human Spirit in Order to Measure It

Bill Gates and Michele Rhee believe everything can be measured. 

This is a convenient financial fantasy for a man who invented  digital devices which in fact have as their digital DNA the attempt to measure everything.

Self-appointed  mother of the educational regiment, Michele Rhee, former chancellor of Washington D.C.'s school system, can be seen  in the video clip below establishing her credentials with 156 school principals in her reign of digital delusion, as she fires a principal on national television.  

Nothing sadistic there, mind you.

I recently sent the following letter  to my former school superintendent, principal, and the assistant superintendent (after watching their January 24th School Board meeting on local access television), expressing my concern about invoking as an authority the wealthiest foundation in the world which regularly  injects the merchant mentality into educational decisions.

HI Tom, Joe, and Julia;

I just watched this week's  School Board meeting on CATV8 and I want to enthusiastically support Julia's insight that Teacher Leaders should never be put in the position of evaluating other teachers because it immediately taints the Teacher Leaders'  authority as role models when they are perceived as judges by their colleagues.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as beneficent a philanthropy as it is, has a very definite agenda. which consistently elevates the use of technology in the evaluation process.  

NOTE: A lawyer might call such a technology-validating  agenda a self-interested bias, if one's "Foundation" received its funds from the profits earned from the sale of technology devices and software.

I recall Bill Gates last year advocating that class sizes in America should be INCREASED in order to reduce the cost of education.  That is only one of his many ideas which is grounded not as much in educational research  as in the utilitarianism of a business mentality.

Videotaping teachers for evaluations is another such idea which he and Mrs. Gates  advocate. 

I wonder if the School Board would like to be evaluated based on the CATV videotapes of its procedures, especially when the coke machine is rattling away in the background  and half of the Board's deliberations are lost in the sound?

Likewise with classroom videotapes: Coughing, chairs scraping on the floor,  books being opened and closed and pulled out of book-bags and from under desks, phones ringing, announcements coming over the P.A., hallway noise, noise from the next classroom: All of these distractions intrude on a videotape in a more dramatic way than they do the actual classroom and therefore compromise the videotape as an instrument of evaluation in the eyes and ears of an evaluator.

In addition some teachers are natural hams and love the camera (I'm one of them).  Others are terrified of the camera and clam up.

I think it might be prudent to take the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's educational ideas with a grain of salt, rather than be wowed by its status as the wealthiest Foundation in the world.

I hesitate to sign my name here with my academic background and years of teaching in the District, since the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has further concluded,  in the report cited in your meeting tonight,  that holding a master's degree  or having twenty years' teaching experience may not be related in any significant way to being an effective teacher.

Inverting that logic, I fear I must have been in jeopardy of being a very poor teacher indeed with three master's degrees and quarter century of teaching experience. 

I have no agenda in writing this letter,  since I am retired and completely out of the loop of this latest unfolding educational trend. 

I simply urge caution.  And I praise Julia for her extremely important insight about the need for Teacher Leaders to remain neutral.



Paul D. Keane
(HHS  1988-2012)
M.A., M.Div., M.Ed.

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