Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community
There is no war on teachers, proclaims the Wall Street Journal. But teacher and public sector unions remain the largest and last non-corporatist voice in politics and society, and the union pension fund the largest and last pool of money not in corporate hands. Opponents may claim to be against the union only, not the teachers, but it is the teachers' wealth and influence they will plunder. And I think that it is ironic that those complaining about the 'power' of the teachers' unions are themselves the most powerful people in society. Via Education Next.

Just as an aside, it really bothers me that the anti-education people have laid claim to online learning (as we see again in this article). Finn announces that "Online learning and hybrid schools are beginning to come into their own, for both quality and economic reasons," as though this is another weapon in the war against public education. It is not. The role of online learning is not to replace or disempower teachers. It is to extend their capacities, to help them increase access and success rates.

This is an important point The emphasis on "achievement" iin education is a complete red herring. Finn writes, "America may finally face up to the fact that over the past half century we have reduced the student/teacher ratio from twenty-seven-to-one to fourteen-to-one with no matching gains in achievement." Really? If you count achievement on a per student basis, then maybe grades have not gone up. But if you count the number of people who have succeeded you see a substantial difference in the drop-out rate, from 14 percent in 1980 to 8 percent in 2008.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Mar 30, 2021 10:30 a.m.