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Today in Our Tech Bro Betters

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NBC NEWS EVENT — Pictured: (l-r) New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker — NBC News hosts EDUCATION NATION, an educational summit on Rockefeller Plaza – Photo by: Charles Sykes/NBC

Our tech betters sure are awesome, conning towns into handing over their education systems to them with predictably disastrous results:

Eight months earlier, public schools near Wichita had rolled out a web-based platform and curriculum from Summit Learning. The Silicon Valley-based program promotes an educational approach called “personalized learning,” which uses online tools to customize education. The platform that Summit provides was developed by Facebook engineers. It is funded by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician.

Well, they are rich and thus obviously should be able to do whatever they want despite knowing nothing about education, right?

Many families in the Kansas towns, which have grappled with underfunded public schools and deteriorating test scores, initially embraced the change. Under Summit’s program, students spend much of the day on their laptops and go online for lesson plans and quizzes, which they complete at their own pace. Teachers assist students with the work, hold mentoring sessions and lead special projects. The system is free to schools. The laptops are typically bought separately.

Then, students started coming home with headaches and hand cramps. Some said they felt more anxious. One child began having a recurrence of seizures. Another asked to bring her dad’s hunting earmuffs to class to block out classmates because work was now done largely alone.

“We’re allowing the computers to teach and the kids all looked like zombies,” said Tyson Koenig, a factory supervisor in McPherson, who visited his son’s fourth-grade class. In October, he pulled the 10-year-old out of the school.

In a school district survey of McPherson middle school parents released this month, 77 percent of respondents said they preferred their child not be in a classroom that uses Summit. More than 80 percent said their children had expressed concerns about the platform.

“Change rarely comes without some bumps in the road,” said Gordon Mohn, McPherson’s superintendent of schools. He added, “Students are becoming self-directed learners and are demonstrating greater ownership of their learning activities.”

John Buckendorf, Wellington High School’s principal, said the “vast majority of our parents are happy with the program.”

The resistance in Kansas is part of mounting nationwide opposition to Summit, which began trials of its system in public schools four years ago and is now in around 380 schools and used by 74,000 students. In Brooklyn, high school students walked out in November after their school started using Summit’s platform. In Indiana, Pa., after a survey by Indiana University of Pennsylvania found 70 percent of students wanted Summit dropped or made optional, the school board scaled it back and then voted this month to terminate it. And in Cheshire, Conn., the program was cut after protests in 2017.

These silly kids and parents are surely passing up on some serious pedagogical innovation, right?

In September, some students stumbled onto questionable content while working in the Summit platform, which often directs them to click on links to the open web.

In one class covering Paleolithic history, Summit included a link to an article in The Daily Mail, the British newspaper, that showed racy ads with bikini-clad women. For a list of the Ten Commandments, two parents said their children were directed to a Christian conversion site.

Uh….

By winter, many McPherson and Wellington students were fed up. While Summit’s program asks schools to commit to having students meet weekly in person with teachers for at least 10 minutes, some children said the sessions lasted around two minutes or did not happen.

Wait, what? Weekly interactions with teachers for 10 minutes? At best????!!?!?!! Disruption, baby! Look at how NEW and INNOVATIVE this is! Why have teachers at all? And now, for the encore:

Silicon Valley has tried to remake American education in its own image for years, even as many in tech eschew gadgets and software at home and flood into tech-free schools. Summit has been part of the leading edge of the movement, but the rebellion raises questions about a heavy reliance on tech in public schools.

“We know our product is shitty and would never use it on our own children, but you suckers out there in Kansas, you look like good guinea pigs for to us bilk so we can pay for our children to have a good education. Enjoy your lifetime of robot numbness and undeveloped social skills or critical thinking after never interacting with other people in school.”

American “innovation” in education is almost always nothing but grifting from people who want to take our nation’s best public good–the public school–and find a way to profit from it. That very much applies to higher education as well, as this hot garbage shows.

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