Where is the Future of Education?: A Pre-ISTE Blog Entry

I was scanning through an infographic the other day from Occupy Educated, called “The Illusion of Choice.” It tells the story of how six media giants control 90% of what we see, read and hear.

Because you’re curious, they are GE, Newscorp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner and CBS.

Is this where the future of education is being planned –  corporate boardrooms?

I could go on and on, as many have already, about the threat this poses to a nation, formerly known as “Democratic.”

But – might there come a time, when we see at the bottom of this infographic how 90% of our schools are controlled by, say, three corporations, three boards of directors instead of local boards of education.

Thousands of educators, from around the world will be gathering in San Diego next week to share, teach and learn, tell stories, celebrate, eat and drink and leave, knowing more about supporting their students in their learning journeys. We’ll be talking about pedagogy, emerging and cool technologies, school and classroom management, creativity and games, and our students – and how to motivate them to want to make learning a lifestyle. We will also share stories about the multitude of barriers we face in promoting a progressive retooling of our classrooms.

But I have come to worry about a greater threat to the democratic foundations of education, a threat so big, so strange, and so insidious, that it is going largely Un-noticed.  It is so large and comes from such high places that I hesitate to do more than whisper it.  I am not a cynical person.  But people whom I admire and respect have gone this far and for some time now – and I will too.  I fear that there is, and has been, an organized and orchestrated effort by people in high places (and low places) to privatize education in America – to take over our classrooms.

Let’s look at this from a corporate entrepreneurial point of view.  According to a recent U.S. Census report, funding going to U.S. “public” schools in 2008-2009 totaled 591 billion dollars, with $55.9 billion coming from the federal government, $276.2 billion from states and $258.9 billion from local sources.  In many powerful circles, that translates to almost 600 billion dollars that are certainly being poorly spent by the “government” – and with zero bankable profits.

We’re being convinced that:

  1. The U.S. is falling behind other nations in education – that  our schools are failing.
  2. The success of schools and education can be precisely measured and quantified by a corporate testing industry and the constant testing of our children.
  3. Teachers, protected by labor unions, do not know what they’re doing.
  4. Business can do it better.

Each of these are so easily debunked.  But exposing their fallacies does not tell a story, and stories are what we need.  Are you a story?  Are you successful in your work and happy in your family and friends.  If so, then YOU are the measure of the success of your education – not the tests you took 5, 10, 15 or 40 years ago.

For me, I’m going to ISTE to find new language and new stories for proving that the purpose of education is not to prepare our children to be weighed and measured at the end of each year, but to prepare them for their future – and in ways that are as exciting as their future has the potential to be.

Oh yeah!   I’ll also be looking for cool new tech.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.