Join Focus on Change in Education and Esolution

Monday, December 30, 2013

Poverty, Potential, Genius.

Ju├írez Correa didn’t know it yet, but he had happened on an emerging educational philosophy, one that applies the logic of the digital age to the classroom. That logic is inexorable: Access to a world of infinite information has changed how we communicate, process information, and think. Decentralized systems have proven to be more productive and agile than rigid, top-down ones. Innovation, creativity, and independent thinking are increasingly crucial to the global economy.
And yet the dominant model of public education is still fundamentally rooted in the industrial revolution that spawned it, when workplaces valued punctuality, regularity, attention, and silence above all else. (In 1899, William T. Harris, the US commissioner of education, celebrated the fact that US schools had developed the “appearance of a machine,” one that teaches the student “to behave in an orderly manner, to stay in his own place, and not get in the way of others.”) We don’t openly profess those values nowadays, but our educational system—which routinely tests kids on their ability to recall information and demonstrate mastery of a narrow set of skills—doubles down on the view that students are material to be processed, programmed, and quality-tested. School administrators prepare curriculum standards and “pacing guides” that tell teachers what to teach each day. Legions of managers supervise everything that happens in the classroom; in 2010 only 50 percent of public school staff members in the US were teachers.
The results speak for themselves: Hundreds of thousands of kids drop out of public high school every year. Of those who do graduate from high school, almost a third are “not prepared academically for first-year college courses,” according to a 2013 report from the testing service ACT. The World Economic Forum ranks the US just 49th out of 148 developed and developing nations in quality of math and science instruction. “The fundamental basis of the system is fatally flawed,” says Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford and founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future. “In 1970 the top three skills required by the Fortune 500 were the three Rs: reading, writing, and arithmetic. In 1999 the top three skills in demand were teamwork, problem-solving, and interpersonal skills. We need schools that are developing these skills.”
That’s why a new breed of educators, inspired by everything from the Internet to evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and AI, are inventing radical new ways for children to learn, grow, and thrive. To them, knowledge isn’t a commodity that’s delivered from teacher to student but something that emerges from the students’ own curiosity-fueled exploration. Teachers provide prompts, not answers, and then they step aside so students can teach themselves and one another. They are creating ways for children to discover their passion—and uncovering a generation of geniuses in the process.

Gopnik’s research is informed in part by advances in artificial intelligence. If you program a robot’s every movement, she says, it can’t adapt to anything unexpected. But when scientists build machines that are programmed to try a variety of motions and learn from mistakes, the robots become far more adaptable and skilled. The same principle applies to children, she says.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Take out the inner-city schools and we lead the world.

The United States has an education apartheid, says 
M. Night Shyamalan, the author of the newly published “I Got Schooled.”  The famed director tells Ali Velshi the five things that could help close America’s education gap: no roadblock teachers, leadership, feedback, small schools and extended time.You gathered a bunch of people together who would know. In fact, you describe this dinner party where it was so obvious. Everybody knew that it was smaller class sizes, get rid of the unions, it is belligerent teachers.  They were all these obvious things, and I guess you were taking mental notes, thinking, "Maybe we've got solutions here."

This is how we need to look at a table of information. There are things, when done together, work. When you do them separately, you're going to get false negatives. Now let's go back at the data and see — when they did this with this, did it always work? Is that a pattern? Can you find that pattern in the data? And that's exactly what we found.And what's interesting is, we always think about Finland, right? Well, Finland, obviously, is mainly white kids, right? They teach their white kids really well. But guess what, we teach our white kids even better. We beat everyone. Our white kids are getting taught the best public-school education on the planet. Those are the facts. 

You've come up with five fixes.  The first one is teachers
Now, the actual tenet, the actual thing that we're saying, is no roadblock teachers, and what I mean by that is that the research supports that the bottom percentage of teachers, the 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent, the very bottom, are pulling such a drag on the system that it's very hard for the other teachers to compensate for it. So, for example, a child that's had one of these teachers, the bottom, 1 percent, 2 percent, 3 percent, for one year, you can't make up that loss with four above-average teachers. So if they get four teachers in a row, which they're not going to, slightly above average, they can't make up for that one teacher.
You talk about leadership in the schools, largely about principals. 
Right. Well, look in the schools that have closed the gap and are closing the gap. It's a very consistent architecture to what the leadership looks like, and by leadership, I mean leadership. So, there's a principal, and then there's another group that takes care of kind of paperwork and fundraising and facilities and all of that stuff. They bifurcate that responsibility, and they have principals. 
So the principal is the chief academic, almost. 
Yes, and they are the coach, so they're spending 80 percent of their time teaching teachers, which seems intuitive. If you're the coach, you can't be in the office while the players are all running around hitting each other. The coach has got to be down there with the players … And they're constantly giving them feedback. 
Which is, by the way, your third point. Feedback.
One of the things that the leader does that's absolutely critical is create a culture that's consistent and specific and loud in their schools. Every school that's closing the gap is screaming a culture. It doesn't even have to be the same culture. It's just a positive, empowering culture. Now, how does a principal do this? They do this with consistency. They do this with feedback. OK, so feedback is the third one, and I use that term in the research to describe a few things. That includes best practices, right? That's the principal's job. They feed back best practices to everybody. 
Let's talk about class size.  There's a general feeling out there that smaller classes are better for kids. You've seen research that says that's not necessarily true. But small schools are good for kids. Tell me why.
This is why classroom size is so confusing to everybody. It's called effect heuristics, which is we go by our gut, right? Your gut says that the smaller the class size, the better the teacher's going to be and the better the kids are going to be off, so that must be one of the things that you do to close the gap.  OK. That's so strong in everybody that politicians can get elected just from saying they're going to reduce class size, which is exactly what happened. In fact, the study that sent the whole country that way was in 1984. It's called the Tennessee STAR study, and it said it had such great results — if you lower the classroom size, everybody wins, and it's huge, huge, huge results. That's never been duplicated, that study, ever, and that study was not done with the rigor that we would say is acceptable. So here's what the end result is when we look at hundreds and hundreds of studies on classroom size. It has some positive effect. It has it mainly in earlier years.
It's not negative, let's put it that way. Having a smaller class size isn't bad. 
But here's where it's negative. To close the achievement gap, it actually has so many ramifications that are negative that you can't do any of the others. So that's why it's confusing. So it would be like if I said, "Ali, the only way you could be healthy is if you swim in an Olympic-size pool," right? Now, you don't have access to it if you're an inner-city kid, right? You don't have access to it, so it's an unrealistic — so by the time he gets in a thing and tries to get transportation and this and that, he can't do studying and he can't do homework, it's an impractical part of anything. In fact, none of the schools that are closing the gap use small classroom size. So, it puts such a burden on everything else that you can't do it. It's not one of the triage things that you do. 
But one of the things you did find is that — and I think this relates back to the whole leadership and feedback idea — if so much goes on to the administration to provide feedback and leadership and go and visit these classes and make sure everybody's doing the right job, a principal can't do that in a school that's too big with too many classes. 
Correct. So the small schools actually turned out to be one of the tenets, and this has been a blurry one for people. Having a small school turbocharges everything else and makes everything else possible. If I need the principal to go in and out of every classroom to know intently every teacher and what they're doing on a daily basis, if I double the amount of classrooms, that's not physically possible, and it's not possible for that principal to give the data on that many kids and do what we need to do. 
Let me get to your final point, because this one really was very interesting, and that is instructional time, the amount of time a kid spends in a school year. 
Now, if you said to me, with a gun to my head, that you'd never do, because you have to do them all together, but if you said, "Only do one," it would be this one, which is extended time, any way you can do it. The challenge that the inner-city, low-income schools have is very different than the ones the white, suburban schools have. This isn't about the kids can't learn, and it isn't about — this is the big surprise — it isn't about the teachers are bad — it really isn't — and the schools are bad. The challenge that they're facing is crushing them, right? So they need a how-to. It isn't about motivation, right? The interesting thing is that you keep the kids in the school longer, no matter how you do it. 
Early childhood, extend the day, and in the summer, in fact, you should do all. They actually close the gap. Now here's the interesting thing. Everyone talks about the summer slide. Summer slide is two kids, and let's imagine there's an African-American, inner-city kid in a low-income school — low-income kid — and his white suburban counterpart and they graduate in June from second grade and they're at the same level. When they return in September, the low-income African-American kid is three months behind where he was in June, and the white suburban kid is one month ahead. So they are four months apart. That summer slide accounts for two-thirds of the entire gap. So you can imagine how important it is.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

PRIVATE "HOME" SCHOOLING is an excuse to segregate our kids.

This privileged rich PRIVATE SCHOOL kid living in Squaw Valley (racist sexist valley) is only 13 and he want's to be 'happy' when he grows up, but he does't want PUBLIC EDUCATION for your kids. He wants "RELIGIOUS and SPIRITUAL" Training for them. Because public education is for getting a job, not happiness.

What really bugs me about this kid's family, he could have gone to public school AND done all the fun stuff, but by doing so he would have been exposed to the poverty and violence that EVERYONE ELSE's kids have to deal with, and he would have learned how to survive in the REAL WORLD, instead of Rich Kid Fantasy Camp. Plus he would have exposed those other kids to his 'hackschooling', benefiting them through the diversity of income experience.

PUBLIC Education is about learning the skills and literacies necessary to survive TOGETHER in our shared environment. That's not possible when one group of kids is 'shredding the spine' with their new ski-equipment up in isolated and wealthy Squaw Valley and the other group is surviving on free-lunches and begging their slum-lord to fix the plumbing. Either we're all in this together, or we'er not. (and if we're not, things just got interesting, cause this kid wouldn't survive a war).

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Program for International Student Assessment, 2012 results.

The Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, collects test results from 65 countries for its rankings, which come out every three years. The latest results, from 2012, show that U.S. students ranked below average in math among the world's most-developed countries. They were close to average in science and reading.
"In mathematics, 29 nations and other jurisdictions outperformed the United States by a statistically significant margin, up from 23 three years ago," reports Education Week. "In science, 22 education systems scored above the U.S. average, up from 18 in 2009."
In reading, 19 other locales scored higher than U.S. students — a jump from nine in 2009, when the last assessment was performed.
The math scores of students in Shanghai showed that they are "the equivalent of over two years of formal schooling ahead of those observed in Massachusetts, itself a strong-performing U.S. state," according to the study.

"While the U.S. spends more per student than most countries, this does not translate into better performance. For example, the Slovak Republic, which spends around USD 53,000 per student, performs at the same level as the United States, which spends over USD 115,000 per student."

"While our scores in reading are the same as 2009, scores from Belgium, Estonia, Germany, Ireland, Poland and others have improved and now surpass ours," Rivkin says. "Other countries that were behind us, like Italy and Portugal, are now catching up. We are in a race in the global economy. The problem is not that we're slowing down. The problem is that the other runners are getting faster." - Harvard professor Jan Rivkin, who co-chairs a project on U.S. competitiveness.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reign of Error makes extraordinary claims

From one of the foremost authorities on education in the United States, former U.S. assistant secretary of education, “whistle-blower extraordinaire” (The Wall Street Journal), author of the best-selling The Death and Life of the Great American School System (“Important and riveting”—Library Journal), The Language Police (“Impassioned . . . Fiercely argued . . . Every bit as alarming as it is illuminating”—The New York Times), and other notable books on education history and policy—an incisive, comprehensive look at today’s American school system that argues against those who claim it is broken and beyond repair; an impassioned but reasoned call to stop the privatization movement that is draining students and funding from our public schools.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

We now have the educational content of the highest level, and the students are hungry.

Poor Students Make Up Majority In Western USPublic Schools

 — Poor students now make up the majority of kids in public schools in the western United States. New Mexico has the second highest rate of low income students after Mississippi.
Over the last decade the percentage of students who qualify for free and reduced meals has dramatically increased. And during that same period the growth of poor students considerably exceeded the amount of money spent per pupil. That’s according to a new report by the Southern Education Foundation.
Fifty-two percent of all students attending public schools in America’s towns (located outside urban and 
suburban areas) were eligible for free or reduced meals in 2011. Credit: Southern Education Foundation.
Fifty-two percent of all students attending public schools in America’s towns (located outside urban and suburban areas) were eligible for free or reduced meals in 2011. Credit: Southern Education Foundation.
“We have to come to grips with the fact that we now have a school system where the majority of public school students are low income and they are not performing at levels that they want and need and that society wants and needs, and we need to do education differently,” said Steave Suitts, vice president of the Southern Education Foundation.
The Atlanta-based think tank works to improve education policy and practice. The report also showed the gap between low income and high income students is as large in private schools as it is in public schools.

Free Online Education Networks

In the beginning information traveled slow, knowledge was confined to a few buildings around the globe that are guarded by high entry fees and standardized test scores. The number of individuals who could gain access to information was kept to a short acceptance list while many were given an Access Denied.

But then like a swift kick in the face, the internet came along and changed everything! From media to commerce, the education system is no exception to the tornado that is the world wide web. Where once higher education was reserved for those who could pay the toll, the internet, in all its divinity has endowed us with a free higher education experience for all those who have a connection to the great and powerful Wi-Fi.

Here are just a few amazing online institutes that offer free college courses for the good people of planet earth, enjoy and never stop learning!
Khan Academy wants to help you learn almost anything for free! Their mission is to provide a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. All of their resources are completely free forever, regardless of whether you’re a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology.

EdX is a non-profit created by founding partners Harvard and MIT. Bringing the best of higher education to students around the world, EdX offers MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) and interactive online classes in subjects including law, history, science, engineering, business, social sciences, computer science, public health, and artificial intelligence (AI).

Coursera is an education company that partners with the top universities and organizations in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take, for free. Their technology enables their partners to teach millions of students around the world rather than just hundreds.

“We envision a future where everyone has access to a world-class education that has so far been available to a select few. We aim to empower people with education that will improve their lives, the lives of their families, and the communities they live in.”

“The idea is simple: to publish all of our course materials online and make them widely available to everyone.”
Dick K.P. Yue, Professor, MIT School of Engineering

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity. Now the wealth of knowledge from one of the most prestigious technology schools in the world, is now available at your finger tips, without the massive tuition prices and near perfect SAT scores.

ALISON is a two million-strong, global online learning community, filled with free, high-quality resources to help you develop essential, certified workplace skills.

“Our mission at ALISON is simple: to enable you, wherever you are in the world, to learn and get certified new skills – at your own pace – using our free, interactive, multimedia.”
There are over 500 free courses for you to choose from at ALISON. Every course is standards-based and certified, which means bragging rights with family and friends, an edge in your first job or new job, and inspiration to be all you can be. originates from Denmark, out of Ventus Publishing, established in 1988. Ever since it was founded, the company has focused on publishing education related books for business professionals and students.

In 2005 the company made a strategic leap and became the first book publishing company in the world to focus 100% on free eBooks. Ever since, the company has been aiming to set new standards in the world of modern publishing based on the readers’ needs.

Open Yale Courses (OYC) provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the Internet. The courses span the full range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences.

It is important to note that for now, the majority of these places like do not offer college credit nor a degree, but it brings up a very interesting question. In the pursuit of knowledge is a degree really the only thing that matters?If you learn a skill or trade is proof by action not enough, or does the piece of paper need to be acquired. There are many people in possession of high degrees because they are good at going to school but are still quite incompetent.

Too much emphasis is put on the degree and not enough on actual skills,talents and knowledge. I don’t know about you, but if i learned how to build a Zero-Point Energy Fuel System from MIT, I’m gonna build that Zero-point Energy Fuel System. It is the experience and knowledge you learn along the way, not the piece of paper at the end of the gift shop that says “you where here” that matters. Let your actions speak louder than a degree

Friday, August 30, 2013

Only Bad people send their kids to private schools

Slate says so ...

If You Send Your Kid to Private School, You Are a Bad Person

A manifesto.

Group of students wearing uniforms
Send your kids to public school, even if you can afford private. Future generations will thank you.
Photo by BananaStock/Thinkstock
You are a bad person if you send your children to private school. Not bad like murderer bad—but bad like ruining-one-of-our-nation’s-most-essential-institutions-in-order-to-get-what’s-best-for-your-kid bad. So, pretty bad.
I am not an education policy wonk: I’m just judgmental. But it seems to me that if every single parent sent every single child to public school, public schools would improve. This would not happen immediately. It could take generations. Your children and grandchildren might get mediocre educations in the meantime, but it will be worth it, for the eventual common good. (Yes, rich people might cluster. But rich people will always find a way to game the system: That shouldn’t be an argument against an all-in approach to public education any more than it is a case against single-payer health care.)
So, how would this work exactly? It’s simple! Everyone needs to be invested in our public schools in order for them to get better. Not just lip-service investment, or property tax investment, but real flesh-and-blood-offspring investment. Your local school stinks but you don’t send your child there? Then its badness is just something you deplore in the abstract. Your local school stinks and you do send your child there? I bet you are going to do everything within your power to make it better.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Sugata Mitra Wins the 2013 TED Prize

As an experiment, a man puts a single computer, with only a mouse, no keyboard, three feet off the ground, in a wall, in a slum, in india. Three months later a group of children have created a SOLE, a Self Organized Learning Environment, and taught themselves English, and how to use all the software on the computer.

Unstoppable Learning may be inevitable, but schools and teachers are crushing our children's natural curiosity and driving them to fail.

Sugata Mitra, faced with the impossible task of educating hundreds of millions of India's youth, without resources like money or technology, without educated teachers, found a way.

 “My wish is to help design the future of learning by supporting children all over the world to tap into their innate sense of wonder and work together. Help me build the School in the Cloud, a learning lab in India, where children can embark on intellectual adventures by engaging and connecting with information and mentoring online. I also invite you, wherever you are, to create your own miniature child-driven learning environments and share your discoveries.”


Recruit technology, architecture, creative, and educational partners to help design and build the School in the Cloud, a physical building in India, designed to try out a range of cloud-based, scalable approaches to self-directed learning.
Contribute to the global network of educators and retired teachers who can support and engage the children through the web.
Engage communities, parents, schools and afterschool programs worldwide, to transform the way kids learn, by sharing the Self Organized Learning Environment’s (SOLE) toolkit, how-to videos, and educational resources.
Work with the TED community to implement various controlled experiments in the School in the Cloud laboratory in India.
Gather feedback from the School in the Cloud laboratory and the global community of SOLE educators to help shape the future of learning. The feedback will be used to create a blueprint, free for others to copy and scale, and a web-based public commons of educational resources.



  1.  Try out a Self-Organized Learning Environment (SOLE) in your home, school or community.
    Download the toolkit & share the results »
  2. Join the School in the Cloud mentor network of educators.Email Sugata to become part of the network »
  3. Make a financial contribution to this TED Prize wish.
    Email »
  4. Spread the word. #TEDSOLE
  5. Help build the School in the Cloud. See the list of current needs below and email to make a commitment.


This is a list of current needs for the School in the Cloud:
Core technology assistance
  • Cloud-based software design to manage laboratory school operations and education resources.
  • Video conference capability
  • Biometric and sensory technology
  • Computers
  • Large monitors
  • Furniture designers
  • Solar air conditioners and heaters
  • Water purification units
  • Innovative display methods (chalkboard paint, glass whiteboards, etc.)
Automated Remote Systems
  • Robotic cleaning machines
  • Remote heating, lighting and cooling systems
  • Other auto-monitoring systems
  • Build experience in the developing world and tropics
  • Awareness of safety, power, electric and storage issues
  • Identity branding
  • Web design
  • Training video toolkit
Email to make a commitment.


Educational researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision or formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest.
In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area). What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.
In the following years they replicated the experiment in other parts of India, urban and rural, with similar results, challenging some of the key assumptions of formal education. The "Hole in the Wall" project demonstrates that, even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra, who's now a professor of educational technology at Newcastle University (UK), calls it "minimally invasive education." 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New SDUSD Strategic Process Plan, 40 years too late.

The district's has so far produced a draft document that lists 12 lofty goals and goes into some detail about what each one means and why it's important.
But the document stops there. So far, there are no plans to create metrics that might inform the district, or the public, how close each school is to attaining each goal. It's a bit like a teacher demanding good grades from students, but without identifying how students should earn them or what the grades are.
District Chief of Staff Bernie Rhinerson said that's by design. The district didn't want to rush into creating a measurement system that would immediately start to brand schools as successful or unsuccessful. The school board wanted to take its time and get it right, he said.

VOSD continues to cover our failing schools, but we've made no progress in four decades. Every few years a new Superintendent comes and the old one goes. The elections of School Board members are a fight between the conservative right and progressive left, and the Teachers' Unions tend to win with both money and votes. We need change, the kids suffer, but the problem is now endemic. Our children are afraid of school, uninspired, and unnourished.

When will we get the leaders we need? I know this should sound cynical, but after watching this all my life, my best guess is we will never find them. The best we can hope for is to save our own children, pay to keep them with quality schools and tutors, after school programs and camps, and try to limit the damage to other people's kids. The system is broken by the very democracy that created it. I suggest we let those who want out of our public schools use some kind of standardized Voucher System, to introduce market like forces into the education system. However, these vouchers must be tempered with strict regulation that doesn't allow schools to pick and choose students based upon uncontrollable atributes: race, religion, economic status, nationality, sexuality, gender, etc.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Project Based Learning

PBS NewsHour Reports ...
A public school district in Danville, Ky., has turned its emphasis away from traditional testing in order to encourage creativity and let students learn by doing. NewsHour special correspondent for education John Merrow reports on "deep learning," and how it requires commitment from educators, students and parents.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Noam Chompsky on Education

Chomsky: Corporations and the Richest Americans Viscerally Oppose Common Good - from AlterNet
The Masters of Mankind want us to become the "stupid nation," in the interests of their short-term gain -- damn the consequences.
Whether public education contributes to the Common Good depends, of course, on what kind of education it is, to whom it is available, and what we take to be theCommon Good. There’s no need to tarry on the fact that these are highly contested matters, have been throughout history, and continue to be so today.
One of the great achievements of American democracy has been the introductionof mass public education, from children to advanced research universities. And  in some respects that leadership position has been maintained. Unfortunately, not all. Public education is under serious attack, one component of the attack on any  rational and humane concept of the Common Good, sometimes in ways that are  not only shocking, but also spell disaster for the species.
All of this falls within the  general assault on the population in the past generation, the so-called “neoliberal era.” I’ll return to these matters, of great significance and import.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

College is a BAD Investment

Federal law protects private banks and denies students bankruptcy rights.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The fight against Creationism in Public Education

This is how you educate your kids to run a political campaign.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wolfram Alpha

I believe the first nation that leaps forward and begins teaching using this new method will lead the world economically. -
(see Estonia)
Teach Kids Math by concept, not by computation. Let the computer do the computation.

Compute Everything with Wolfram Alpha

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Michelle Rhee - Radical

Make sure that every kid has a great teacher in a great school every day.

A grassroots movement to reform America's public education and keep our best teachers in the classroom.