Friday, March 22, 2019

Foolish Canadian Grit

Proving that dumb knows no national boundaries, Ontario's Education Minister Lisa Thompson this week defended the plan to increase class size by making this observation:

This woman.
"When students are currently preparing to go off to post-secondary education, we're hearing from professors and employers alike that they're lacking coping skills and they're lacking resiliency," Thompson told CBC Radio's Metro Morning on Wednesday.

"By increasing class sizes in high school, we're preparing them for the reality of post-secondary as well as the world of work."

Yessireebob-- what we need to do to toughen students up and give 'em some grit is just c ram more of them into classrooms. Why would the government even want to do such a thing? That answer is also recognizable down here to the south-- it will let them cut a bunch of jobs. About 1,000, by some estimates.

In all fairness to our neighbors to the North, their idea of increasing class sizes is pretty bush league-- high schools would go from an average of 22 students per class to an average of 28. I know. There are plenty of US schools where it would be a huge relief to get only 28 students in a class.

But the reasoning. Thompson is a longtime politician, though in her civilian life she was the manager of a goat cooperative, which seems like fine preparation for running an education system.

In the meantime, if she's really keen on this real world preparation through toughening approach she might consider some other program ideas. Make them all walk to school without coats-- no, without coats or pants! Glue the doors of the school shut and make them claw their way in. Build special roads so that when they walk to school, it's uphill both ways.

Prepare students for being too poor to eat well by closing all school cafeterias.

Prepare students for being mugged by hiring people to beat the children up on the playground.

Prepare students for dealing with tedious bureaucracy by making them go through a fourteen step process just to ask to go to the bathroom.

Prepare students for living with rules written by clueless leaders by letting random strangers from the street make up rules for the classroom.

Emma Teitel at The Star took Thompson to task under the headline, "Bigger class sizes don’t promote ‘resiliency.’ They just make it easier to skip class."

If you’re a fan of evidence-based policy in government, you might want to move out of Ontario. If you’re a fan of populist sound bites about pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps just like grandpa did in the good old days, by all means, stay put.

Teitel also has some thoughts about where Thompson might have gotten the evidence for her educational insight:

Says who exactly? Apparently Thompson heard this “loud and clear” in a consultation with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, from people whose names and credentials she did not provide.

This does not sound like policy by research. It sounds like policy by anecdote. It sounds like Thompson went for lunch with a few business men, one of whom (likely a guy whose kids attended private schools and whose experience with public education is limited to voting Conservative in a school gym) blurted out over frites something to the effect of “I’m telling you Lisa, the kids coming out of school today are soft. No resiliency. No backbone. We had one intern with us a few months ago. The guy couldn’t cut it. In my day …” And voila, a plan for education reform was born.

Oh, Kids These Days. Pampered and lazy and won't even work for me for a crappy wage under lousy conditions. I don't know much of anything about Teitel, but I'm pretty sure I like her.

Just a reminder that other countries are not immune from the same kind of amateur-hour boneheaded leadership that we suffer under in the US. In the meantime, I see that Thompson has a family. May I suggest that she and her husband adopt twenty more children, so that they can all be raised with a proper amount of grit.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

TN: Taxation Without Representation

Tennessee's Governor Bill Lee has set a brick on the gas pedal of the school privatization bus, and that bus is driving right through the powers of democratically elected school boards.

Lee's very first budget proposal was unveiled at the beginning of the month, supported by Lee's deep, insightful observation "Choice is good." The budget has big money for vouchers; Lee is going with the education savings account approach, handing each family $7,300 and saying, "Go spend this on something educationny." Taxpayers will also foot more of the bills for charter facilities. How cool is that? If you were going into business, wouldn't you like the taxpayers of your state to buy a building for you?

A big kicker is Lee's bill for charter school authorization.

Previously, Tennessee made local school districts the authorizers of charter schools. This seems like a sensible approach-- let the decision for a charter rest with the elected representatives of the taxpayers who will foot the charter bills.

This damn guy.
The original version of the bill would have allowed charter operators to simply bypass local school boards for authorization. But a new scaled-back version of the bill allows  charters... to bypass local school boards. Well, now there would be an extra step, a state-level appeals board. The Tennessee Public Charter Commission would have the power to override a local school board's denial of a charter application. The nine members of the board would be appointed by the governor and approved by the legislature-- so there would be another layer of bureaucracy before the governor's handpicked board okays the bypassing of the local elected board.

This system is the very picture of taxation without representation. Tax dollars will go to the charters, and local elected boards will have no say.

Rep. Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis, said what he likes about the charter school bill is that it would allow other districts to see what Memphis has seen for several years now — the state taking away power from local school boards.

"You all get to feel that and see what we have been screaming about for the past several years," he said.

So "choice is good" apparently doesn't man that local taxpayers should get any choice. Is anybody else old enough to remember when the GOP was the party of local control?

The bill has just cleared the House and Senate education committees and still has to come to legislative vote. If you are in Tennessee, you might want to make some phone calls.

What Education Reformers Get Wrong

Hard to believe that it took until now for a big voice in the reformster world to write a post entitled "What education reformers believe," but last week Mike Petrilli (Fordham Institute) did the job. It's not entirely thorough (we'll get to that). To start, Petrilli himself notes that there's been a lot of reformster angst about using the term "reformer," but he's willing to take a shot at clarifying the term and invites discussion as part of a search for the ground on which all the varied members of the reformy tribe can stand. I'm just going to go ahead and explain which of these grounds I believe are mistaken. So here we go.

Petrilli starts with four propositions that he submits as universally agreed upon:

* Every child deserves a good school and it's unfair that some don't get one.
* Strong education is important to individual dream and the nation's future.
* Educators deserve appreciation and more status than they get.
* Not everybody needs college, but they probably need post-secondary something to make a decent living.

Close enough. "Unfair" is a dodge, like undersupported and underresources schools are an act of nature and not the result of deliberate policy choices. I'm not sure everybody agrees that an education opens a great future. When it comes to post-secondary education, most everyone probably does believe it, but we'd be further ahead to verify its accuracy rather than its acceptance. The "more status" thin is demonstrably wrong-- if "everyone" believed that teachers deserved more status, then teachers would have more status. Teachers don't have more status because "most people" don't agree they should (otherwise, we would have to posit some mysterious force, some societal dark matter, that explains how teachers have lower status than everyone believes they should have). It's a sticky point here because one source of the low esteem for teachers would be all those years that reformsters pushed the idea that public schools suck because they are chock full of terrible, terrible teachers who have jobs only because they are protected by their terrible terrible unions. Some (certainly not all-- looking at you, Jeanne Allen and TFA) have backed away from that point, but it's disingenuous to pretend they have no idea who was out there bad-mouthing teachers for all those years.

Where we part ways with some of the status quo organizations is around the following principles:

"Status quo organizations"? The use of the term "status quo"  in reformy rhetoric is a bit ridiculous at this point. The Common Core or some one of its bastardized cousins is embedded in most states. charters are policy in many states, and the business of high-stakes Big Standardized Tests is enshrined in federal law. Even vouchers exist in one form or another in many states. There is nothing in the reformy playbook that is not part of the status quo. Yes, reformsters had fun day back when they could stand outside the education sector and say, "You guys are doing it all wrong. Boy, if we had our way, we'd really show you something." But those days are gone-- reformsters have gotten their way in many parts of the country, they haven't shown us a thing, and they don't get to play the maverick outsider card any more.

So, anyway, what are these principles?

Good schools deliver strong results for students—and all schools should be held to account for their results.

A variation on the old focus on outputs. Yes, Petrilli acknowledges, a decent building and qualified teachers and libraries with books matter, but the school should turn out educated graduates. America has, apparently, some beautiful, safe schools that don't teach students much. "Those cannot be considered good schools, and their failure to meet their foremost educational mission must be made clear to parents and the community and addressed by public authorities."

Okay. I'm curious where the people are who are staunch supporters of pretty schools where nobody learns, but okay. And "addressed" is mighty vague. But sure-- who doesn't think that schools should teach students?

Our schools as a whole could be delivering much stronger results for all their students, but especially for disadvantaged children.

Again, who is this supposed to be different from. Despite the field of straw men built by the reformsters over the years, I don't know a single good educator who would say, "Yes, my school and I have reached the pinnacle, and there is nothing we need to improve." And public education advocates, community activists, and plain old parent have been screaming forever that schools that serve the poorest communities in our need to do more, and need the tools with which to do more. The reformster response has been "Throwing money at schools doesn't help" or "Let's turn that school over to amateurs to run" or "Well, we'll let a few kids out of there to go to a charter school, but the ones who are left will have to make do with less."

One size does not fit all, so we should embrace a pluralistic school system.

Sure. Show me a school district where only one size is offered. Show me a school system where elementary schools don't differentiate or the high school doesn't offer a variety of programs which students can choose from, or even change their mind about, without having to withdraw and re-enroll.  Come to my small corner of the world and see it in action.

But next we are on to the how of embracing these principles. First, standards, assessment and accountability:

Academic standards that aim for readiness in college, career, and citizenship.

Boy, we got over that "one size does not fit all" thing pretty quickly. I appreciate the "aim for" part here, because this is a target that will never, ever be hit. There is no such thing as a comprehensive list of skills and knowledge that certifies readiness for every college, every career, and every manner of citizenship. And in every year (because this will be a moving target). It doesn't exist. It will never exist. Anyone who claims to have found it is either selling something or full of shit or both. It is critical to remember that because the next item is

Regular, high-quality, aligned assessments.

Nothing that reformsters have accomplished has done more damage than the imposition of high takes testing. It's important to know that here Petrilli centers the purpose of testing as giving parents information and helping teachers direct their teaching, and not other old stand-bys like evaluating schools and teachers. The BS Tests we have are not very useful for any of these goals, and that's in part because they are bad tests, both narrow and shallow and generating little useful information for anyone. Is it theoretically possible to create good tests that would be, as Petrilli puts it, worth preparing students to do well on? Not if the goal is to measure readiness for any college or any career.

School ratings focused primarily—but not exclusively—on academic progress and outcomes.

Here we get close to one of the beliefs of education reformsters that Petrilli does not include in his essay, and that's the belief that markets and entrepreneurs can run a school system better than the government. Petrilli argues that these ratings are needed to create pressure on schools to do better, but if that were the sole purpose, we wouldn't need a wide ranging system-- just a locally-determined state of the school report. The point of a rating system is to make comparison easier, the better to drive competition in an open martketplace.

Strategies for intervening in, and/or replacing, chronically low-performing schools.  

All failed strategies. First, they fail because for all the talk about multiple measures for accountability, in most states it still just comes down to test scores. Second, they fail because "intervention" too often means "put some state-appointed person who has no more knowledge about what to do than the professionals in charge." Or sell off the pieces to a charter school. Actual assistance to the school district, such as more resources or engaging the schools and community, seems rare. And those who insist that the power of the market will sort things out absolutely refuse to see the massive problems that come from leaving students and families dangling when a school closes (especially mid year).

Are there strategies that could help struggling schools? Certainly, but we haven't seen much of them.

Next up: Educator quality.

That word. I know "educator" is relatively harmless, but every time a reformster uses it, all I hear is, "You know, we don't need actual teachers to run a school."

High standards for entry into the teaching profession, combined with flexible pathways by which to enter.

As I've often noted, I am not the person to ask to defend traditional teacher prep programs. But reformsters don't have much of an idea about what to do instead (I do-- just ask me). High standards to enter the profession? What does that mean, exactly. Petrilli says reformsters want teachers who "can demonstrate an ability to help students make progress over the course of the school year" and while I believe that's what some reeformsters want, it mostly just means "someone who can raise test scores" which is the saddest, most inadequate description of teaching I've ever encountered.

I get the urge for a clear-cut system based on solid hard evidence of which teachers and which teachers aren't, but you can't have it. It doesn't exist. It will never exist. Read every "this teacher changed my life" essay ever written. Good teaching is fuzzy and personal and unquantifiable, and that's before we even get to the problem that teacher quality varies day to day and student to student. So whatever system you come up with (particularly one based on test scores) will miss thousands of excellent teachers .

Petrilli says reformsters reject the notion that anybody can be a great teacher. True that. But an awful lot of flexible pathways sure seem to be based on the assumption that any warm body will, in fact, be just fine.

Feedback mechanisms to help teachers improve.

You know what one of ed reformsters biggest problem is-- this unending feeling that they have discovered things nobody has ever before thought of and want things that nobody else wants. Seriously. Find me someone who doesn't think this is a good idea. Implementing it? Sure-- that's been problematic. For instance, every single teacher accountability idea that reformsters have created works against this, not for it.

Compensation systems that recruit and retain strong teachers.

This is a reformster value? Really? I thought that ed reform was all about making it possible for the school CEO to be able to hire and fire at will. Most of reform has been consistently built on the notion that teachers are replaceable widgets that wear out after a few years and should be then replaced with shiny new widgets. Petrilli here makes the leap to saying that "recruit and retain" means offer big salary up front with little raises later, because when teachers get older and want to start a family, they get really excited about "You'll never have a decent sized raise again." Clearly the key to holding onto people once they're seasoned and experienced.

Next up: high quality charter schools.

State charter laws that enable high-quality, autonomous charter schools to flourish.

Nice word choice-- "enable to flourish." Because, unlike public schools, charters just need to be left alone to blossom and bloom forth in all their awesomeness. Get rid of regulations. Just enough oversight to incentivize good behavior.

I'm trying to remember if I've ever heard a reformster argue that a public school should be enabled to flourish.

Equitable funding.

I came across a Canadian charter advocate the other day ho was arguing that charters should be allowed because they could do more with less than the public schools. Kind of took me back to the days that US charter fans made that argument. Just remember-- more money for public schools is throwing money at schools, but more money for charters is investing and equitable.

And that's it??!! Seriously? This is all ed reform has to say it believes about charters? No paeans to the free market? No "competition drives improvement"? No thoughts about why charters should be privately owned and operated instead of part of the public system? I feel that Petrilli just accidentally erased a thousand words from this piece.

Next up: high school reform.

A high school diploma that means something.

Once again, please link me to the non-reformy people who do not believe this.

Post-secondary education that starts in high school.

Sure, high school should be the new college because middle school is the new high school because third grade is the new sixth grade because kindergarten is now the new second grade because pre-school should now be about academics and also, we've just about figured out how to use ultrasounds to beam worksheets in to the fetus.

Is there any reason to believe that human development has changed so that the brain now develops earlier and faster? Sure, there are individuals who can do more, sooner, and we should totally support them. But for some students, handling their high school education in high school will be plenty, thanks.

Career and technical education is about post-secondary education, too.

I don't disagree, but is this a widely held reformster policy idea?

Finally: odds and ends.

Petrilli dumps a bunch of odds and ends into his final paragraphs. More standards-aligned materials. Personalized [sic] learning. Improvement to grading practices (again, I'm not sure the whole reformy tribe signed off on this one). Petrilli also notes some areas of reformster disagreement, such as disciplinary issues and the voucher related issues of including religious schools at the public trough.

It is, when you step back and look at it, a pretty small agenda compared to the days when reformsters were going to completely rewrite the educational universe, but of course it skips some of the big issues, like stripping power from elected school boards and turning the public enterprise of education over to private operators (and smashing teacher unions and the profession itself as a way to clear the path). But hey, the Status Quo Privatization Movement is still evolving from its roots in education reforminess; I'm sure they'll sort this all out.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Bill Gates Thinks The Textbook Is Dying. Is He Right?

The annual Bill and Melinda Gates letter features nine "surprises," including one trend sure to affect classrooms--if it really happens. "Textbooks," says Gates, "are becoming obsolete."

What he's really describing is how computer-driven mass customized personalized learning can supplant some aspects of traditional classrooms:

Suppose you’re taking high school algebra. Instead of just reading a chapter on solving equations, you can look at the text online, watch a super-engaging video that shows you how it’s done, and play a game that reinforces the concepts. Then you solve a few problems online, and the software creates new quiz questions to zero in on the ideas you’re not quite getting.

There are several reasons I would not write an obituary for textbooks just yet.
Cost. Schools buy textbooks once and then use them for years. Software, on the other hand, requires schools to buy a new set of licenses annually--in effect repurchasing texts every year. This model is not going away any time soon. In fact, the next time you get an update notice for Windows, stop and read the message. Chances are it starts with "Windows is a service." This is the rising model--instead of buying a copy of software to own and use as you will, companies are continuing to move toward "subscriptions" for a "service." We no longer buy a copy of Office, but instead subscribe to Office. This is good for their revenue stream, but for a school system to, in effect, repurchase its "textbooks" every single year in addition to regularly updating the equipment (netbooks, tablets, etc.) students will use to access the text--that's a big price tag.

Digital natives are unimpressed. Studies keep saying so and I can support it anecdotally based on my own years in the classroom--students would rather read paper. For a literature teacher, online copies of various texts are truly a game-changing resource. But invariably the majority of my students would follow the link to the text--and then print it out. The generation of digital natives is no more likely to be impressed by using a computer screen for a task than older folks would say, "I am really excited to do this work because I'm going to use a ball point pen!"
Instructional weaknesses. Imagine a teacher stands in front of a class and presents a lecture and demonstration for a lesson. At the end, a student raises her hand and asks if the teacher will explain one particular aspect of the lesson. "No," says the teacher, "but I can do the whole lecture and demonstration over again exactly as I did it the first time." That is not good teaching. Basic Teaching 101 says that when students don't understand a concept explained one way, the teacher needs to explain it a different way. But a video clip cannot offer anything except repetition. Trying to reteach a concept by talking over a video clip is more difficult than reteaching while referencing a printed text.

Gates himself points to another weakness of AI-driven mass customized personalized programs. If the student has some problem areas "the software creates new quiz questions." But a quiz is not an explanation. Imagine that your child flunked a math quiz, and the teacher, rather than reteaching the weak areas, just gave another quiz. Would you be pleased?

Technical limitations. Only one kind of text still works when student devices can't get on the network at school.

Overpromising. Gates plugs a free digital course that he funds called Big History, noting in particular that it "gives students immediate feedback on their writing assignments." For well over a decade, tech companies have been promising software that can assess student writing. They have never delivered it--every single attempt has fallen far short of human writing assessment (for more on this, follow the work of Les Perelman at MIT, who specializes in debunking these programs).

In his letter, Gates suggests that software can tell which concepts the student doesn't grasp and how well the student understood last night's reading. Those are really, really huge promises--a large part of a teacher's day is spent trying to determine what's going on inside the student brain, but software will just peek right in there? When software promises the moon and doesn't deliver, it invites the question, "Why did we buy this thing, anyway?" And it casts doubts on future purchases.

There is no question that technology has the power to extend and supplement traditional textbooks. It adds to the variety of instructional avenues available to teachers and allows for an immediate and vivid connection to the world that a textbook does not. Free open-source online texts have, so far, been worth what schools pay for them. There is some large potential is having teachers use online tools to create their own texts, but we aren't quite there yet.

It has been well over a decade since I first heard speakers tell me that the textbook was on its last leg, but old dead-tree textbooks still the preferred tool for the vast majority of classrooms in this country. Let's not write their obituaries just yet.
Originally posted at Forbes

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Play Unlocks The World

I will beat this drum until my knuckles crack and collapse-- small children do not need academic acceleration, they do not need test prep, they do not need soul-sucking worksheets. They need to play. The folks at Defending the Early Years have another excellent video that drives the point home.

Kisha Reid speaks for just a couple of minutes here, but there are a couple of lines that really jump out for me:

When children don't play, they don't understand their own capabilities.

Repeated experience with materials, repeated experience with other people, are not only teaching them about the world around them but teaching them about themselves.

Yes. If education is about helping students become more fully themselves, figuring out how to be fully human in the world (and I'm pretty certain it is) then play is the single most important thing. The Board of Directors here at the Institute are now 21 months, and though I've been down this road before, I am amazed all over again at all the things they have to figure out, all the things they have to learn, and all the times they'll spend, given the chance, to figure these things out. I might argue that the single biggest thing that education policy arguments forget is that babies come into the world knowing nothing. Yes, that seems obvious-- but every argument that pre-school should become the new third grade and kindergarten should become the new freshman year of college assumes that there's a whole bunch of learning we can skip over because tiny humans just know all that stuff automatically. They do not. They need play. Parents these days are being scared into worrying that their child won't be ready for first grade or third grade or college or life unless she is hunched over a bunch of worksheets at age 3. That's backwards. Play, as Reid points out, is the best way to be ready for all that lies ahead. I hope the Board of Directors gets a teacher who understands these things as well as Reid does.

Watch this.

Monday, March 18, 2019

DeVos Voucher Tour Hits Iowa

Secretary of Education Betsy "The Federal Government Shouldn't Meddle In State Education Affairs But I Have This Policy I Really Really-- Oh What The Heck I Can Make Peace With Federal Overreach When It's In The Service Of Something I Want" DeVos has decided to get out there and stump for her Education Freedom Scholarships.

For those of you late to this party-- EFS are one more shade of lipstick to be slathered onto the undead pig that is school vouchers. They exist in several states and, in fact, are sometimes quite profitable for the fauxlanthropists who donate to the funds-- plus, what they're "donating" is actually some of the tax dollars they owe to Uncle Sam. It's a clever dodge on several levels, but at root, it accomplishes what all voucher programs do-- it uses public tax dollars to help finance a private school education for a few select students. The private school in question is usually a religious one.

Most folks seem to think that this measure, like much of the Trumpian budget, has little chance of becoming real. But DeVos actually ventured out into the world to try to pump it up anyway, and last week that meant trekking out to Iowa.

She went to meet with Governor Kim Reynolds, who just a month or so ago was cheerfully proclaiming a Happy School Choice Week to Iowans. State Senator Bard Zaun (formerly a mayor and hardware store owner), stood with DeVos after the meeting; Zaun is a gun-toting, planned parenthood defunding, education privatizing Republican, and he has taken some heat for many of his proposed bills, with some critics seeing a connection between Zaun and ALEC. Sourcewatch finds that ALEC is pretty busy in Iowa, and reports that ALKEC members have contributed almost $20 million to Zaun since he first successfully ran for the Senate in 2004; those friends include the Kochs, Wal-mart, and the NRA.

Zaun and DeVos sort of answered a couple of questions afterwards. The point that keeps getting made is that this voucher program will not take money from public schools, though when DeVos and her friends are making that point, they never say where the money will come from. We're talking about a total of $5 billion dollars in taxes that folks won't have to pay, $5 billion dollars that the federal government will never collect. That has to come from somewhere. And that's before we get to what ever companion law the involved states come up with to let people skip out on state taxes.

I wish I could report more details on how exactly DeVos made her pitch, but, well...

DeVos met with Reynolds, state legislators, education leaders, and lobbyists for faith-based and taxpayer organizations for a roundtable discussion not open to the public or media.

And also...

Rep. RasTafari Smith, the top Democrat on the Iowa House Education Committee says he's disappointed public education supporters were not invited to the closed-door invitation only discussion arranged by DeVos' office.

The plucky folks at Progress Iowa planted themselves outside the meeting and recorded video of the attendees and turned that into a list of the privileged ticket holders:

Drew Klein, Americans for Prosperity Iowa (That would be the Koch lobbying group)
Eric Goranson, Iowa Association of Christian Schools
Tom Chapman, Iowa Catholic Conference
Ryan Wise, Director, Iowa Department of Education
Georgia Van Gundy, Executive Director, Iowa Business Council
Amy Sinclair, Republican State Senator
Brad Zaun, Republican State Senator
Dan Ryan, President, Dowling Catholic High School

So only the cool kids got to be involved, because this is not about democracy or inclusiveness or functioning transparently as a high-level employee of the American people-- this is about using power and clout and connections to make sure that only the voices that you value carry the day. DeVos is nothing if not consistent-- she doesn't want to see or hear from supporters of public education, she doesn't want to explain herself to anyone not already on her side, and she really, really wants to give public tax dollars to private schools.

At the moment, Reynolds and other Iowans have more serious problems to deal with. In the meantime, we'll have to see if DeVos has any more stops planned on her Federal Overreach To Privatize Education tour.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

A Huge Problem With Personalized Learning In One Sentence

You know there's going to be trouble when you see the headline of the article on eSchoolNews-- "Taking personalized learning to scale." But then, this is a business that regularly uses the oxymoron "mass customization" without irony.

But two paragraphs in, Dr. Monica Burns, curriculum and educational technology consultant and founder of,, is quoted from a webinar:

When it comes to student engagement, Burns said, “We want to make sure that we are capturing student attention by having students’ eyes where we want them to be or their hands where we want them to explore.”


Dr. Burns does has some respectable credentials, including six years teaching in South Harlem and actual degrees in education. But she loves a lot of tech programs; she's also an Apple Distinguished Educator.  Maybe the quote isn't an accurate representation of her ideas-- but it's the quote eSchoolNow chose to use, even as they position her ideas as similar to iNACOL, the big Personalized [sic] Learning pushers. The article itself is filled with lots of edu-babble, such as:

Enjoy our new personalized seating.
Through curriculum mapping, school-wide goals, and thematic exploration, school districts can establish norms and clear standards connections for personalized student experiences. Resources should be curated and differentiated and ready for individual students

There is a lot of technocratic baloney going on here, along with this tell about how we really want to scale up:

Resources can be distributed to individual students using digital tools so that students experience content that is relevant to their goals and interests.

So there's the picture. Personalized [sic] education delivered by computer, padded in bureaucratic blather, and-- well, somehow the individual student will follow her own educational muse through instruction geared to here by the computer algorithm, so that she can enjoy a personalized learning experience as long as she has her eyes and her hands exactly where we want them.

If you find personalized [sic] learning kind of creep and unappealing, this may be what you're reacting to-- the notion that we deliver instruction geared to an individual student not because that will allow that student to grow and learn and develop into her own best self in her own best way, but because by delivering a "personalized" lesson, we can better get the student to do exactly what we want her to. The Personalized [sic] Learning that we're being pitched isn't about reconfiguring the whole educational experience to be centered around the individual student, but another tool to get students to behave like good little widgets in a technocratic edu-system. This is not personalization aimed at better serving the student; it's personalization as a tool to get the student to better serve the system. "If we customize the seats and the restraints, then maybe the monkeys won't fight back so much when we strap them into the capsule and send them into orbit."