A while ago (back around the middle of July actually), I saw the following come through my Twitter stream:
So, I responded:
It was a few days after I had seen the stuff that prompted me to write “Worst Online Learning Law in America? Really??” and a few days after I had discovered Another New Virtual Schooling Blogger – Digital Education and the entry on Party Lines in Virtual Schooling? that they had written.
Now this past week the conversation about politics or partisanship and K-12 online learning seems to have exploded.
- The politics of digital learning from Keeping Pace Blog (re-posted on Getting Smart)
- Leftover Political Residue in Virtual Schooling? from Digital Education
- There’s No Room for Partisans in the eLearning Revolution from Brian @ CLRN
- Leave the partisan bickering aside in the online-learning debate from Innosight Institute
- Virtual Ed. Advocates Respond to Wave of Criticism from Education Week
Now I’m here to tell you today that not only is K-12 online learning a political/partisan issues, but anyone who claims otherwise is either naive or intentionally trying to mislead you.
One of the problems with this discussion – and one of the claims made by those arguing that this isn’t a political issue – is the whole bipartisan nature of K-12 online learning (e.g., Bipartisan education plans: former Govs. Bush and Wise announce Digital Learning Day). The problem is that right now in the United States both parties are similar in their ideological position. Essentially there is a center-right party (i.e., the Democrats) and a far right party (i.e., the Republicans). So it is much easier to be bipartisan where there are few ideological differences between the two parties. However, that doesn’t mean that the educational reform movement and the push towards K-12 online learning aren’t political or partisan. It just means that folks on the right both agree that we should allow corporations to begin to take direct control over schools because the free market knows best.
This is an ideological position… One where unions are seen as the problem (and by extension their membership, the dreaded teacher). One where people with no education training – but plenty of experience with reaping profits from the back of their workers – are the ones driving the agenda. One where a common curriculum is necessary because the demands of a perceived global economy trump the understanding that the needs of students in rural Iowa can’t be different than the needs of students in inner city Los Angeles. One where we must test all students in a standardized way because teachers can’t be trusted to cover the content. One where those tests must be used to measure a teachers effectiveness because nothing else actually affects student performance beyond the teacher’s actions.
These ideological positions mirror the observations of Marion Brady in the entry De-legitimizing public education that was posted on the Washington Post‘s “The Answer Sheet” blog. It also mirrors the ideological views of what Michael Apples describes as the neo-liberal/neo-conservative agenda to dismantle public education. Tomorrow I will dive into the ideology of the K-12 online learning movement (and note this is not descriptive of the entire movement, but does describe most of its most focal proponents).
For today, the main takeaway should be that K-12 online learning is a political or partisan or ideology issue. And those that claim it isn’t are either naive or intentionally trying to mislead you (and I’d submit the latter of that group are doing so because they don’t want you to see their true agenda). I also suspect that many of the proponents listed above will be quick to dismiss this entry in the coming days (and I’m sure I will be referred to as uninformed, naive, fear mongering, a conspiracy theorist, and many other things while they are dismissing me).
See also the entry entitled Another Example Of The Politics Of Virtual Schooling and K-12 Online Learning And Educational Reform for more of my writing on this topic or check out the politics tag for this blog.