Feeding the Edu-Tech beast
The Common Core school standards' gold rush is on. Apple, Pearson, Google, Microsoft and Amplify all are cashing in on the federal one-size-fits-all standards/testing/textbook racket. But the Edu-Tech boondoggle is no boon for students. It's more squandered tax dollars down the public school drain.
Even more worrisome: The stampede is widening a dangerous path toward invasive data mining.
According to the Silicon Valley Business Journal, the Edu-Tech sector “is expected to more than double in size to $13.4 billion by 2017.” That explosive growth is fueled by Common Core's top-down digital learning and testing mandates.
Last year, the Los Angeles Unified School District dumped $1 billion into a disastrous iPad program. Educrats paid $678 per glorified Apple e-textbook, pre-loaded with Common Core-branded apps created by Pearson.
Students breached the iPad firewalls and made a mockery of their hapless adult guardians. Despite hefty investments in training and development, many teachers couldn't figure out how to sync up the tablets in the classroom. Taxpayers now realize they were sold a grossly inflated bill of goods, but the district wants to buy even more iPads for computerized test-taking.
By its own account, Apple dominates 94 percent of the education tablet market in the U.S. Microsoft is pushing its own Common Core-aligned Surface RT tablet and app suite, along with “Bing for Schools.” Rival Google wants in on the game on the taxpayers' dime, too. The company's “Chromebooks,” which use a cloud-based operating system mimicking the Google Chrome browser, are gaining market share rapidly.
But is this about improving students' academic bottom line — or Google's bottom line?
In one school district, the Google devices are used as glorified whiteboards. A recent news article touting Chromebook adoption in Nebraska's Council Bluffs school district described how kindergartners drew “dots on the rubber-cased tablets clutched in their hands. Then they wrote what they'd done as a math equation: 3 + 3 = 6.” No one explained why pencil and paper were insufficient to do the elementary math, other than a teacher gushing that she likes to “mix it up” and provide a “variety of experiences.”
Google also is building brand loyalty through a questionable certification program that essentially turns teachers into tax-subsidized lobbyists for the company. The Google Apps for Education (GAFE) enrollees are “trained” on Google products.
Google can collect student/family data to target ads through related services outside the GAFE suite, such as YouTube for Schools, Blogger and Google Plus. These are not covered under the already watered-down federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. Under the Obama administration, Grand Canyon-sized loopholes in the act have opened data mining to third-party private entities.
One savvy mom noted, “If you think Google won't be handing over any and all data it gets from your kids using their Chromebooks, you're nuts.”
Let's be clear: I am not opposed to introducing kids to 21st-century tools. What I'm against are bungled billion-dollar public investments in overpriced, ineffective technology. Fed Ed's shiny education toy syndrome incentivizes wasteful spending binges that no school district can afford.
Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2009).
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates win bidding for Korean infielder
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Steelers’ Beachum, Williams hurting but could play vs. Bengals
- Blues-rock singer Joe Cocker dead at 70
- Rossi: Steelers rising fast in mediocre AFC
- Judge holds for trial 1 charge of theft against Pittsburgh homicide detective
- Marcellus driller Vantage Energy to pay nearly $1M for Greene County well problems
- Penguins’ Sutter, Downie, Greiss being tested for mumps, out tonight
- North Korea experiencing severe Internet outages
- North Side drug den can be demolished, judge says
- Steelers offense learning to slam door