Urgent Note to Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan: Hands Off Our Schools and Our Children!

Reblogged from Diane Ravitch’s blog

Education Week reports on the plans of billionaires Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan to redesign American education. They have launched something called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative–or CZI Initiative–to carry out their plan for “personalized learning”‘( I.e., “depersonalized learning”) to remake education into whatever they think in their limited experience is best. They have hired James Shelton–formerly of the Gates Foundation, formerly in charge of Arne Duncan’s failed SIG program (the School Improvement Grants part of Race to the Top, which federal evaluations found produced nothing of value).

What’s wrong with CZI? First, neither of its founders understands that public education is a democratic institution, in which parents and communities make decisions about their children’s education. It is not a start-up or a venture fund or an app. Did someone elect them to redesign American education without telling the public? What arrogance! Why don’t they pick a District and ask for permission to demonstrate their vision before they spend hundreds of millions to lobby for it?

Second, if they want to help children, why don’t they open a health clinic in proximity to every school that needs one? Dr. Chan is a pediatrician. Children’s health is something she knows about. Mark knows code. Children don’t need code. They need care.

Third, the article describes this as a “high-stakes venture,” but there are zero stakes for Chan and Zuckerberg. If they drop $5 billion, so what? Who will hold them accountable when they get bored and move on?

Why don’t they do what is needed, instead of foisting their half-baked ideas on the nation’s children?

And last, it is beyond obnoxious that they dare to call their tech-based approach “whole-child personalized learning,” which is an oxymoron. What part of “whole-child learning” happens on a computer?

Where are their plans to feed the hungry, heal the sick, create opportunities for play and imagination to run free?

Read more>>