Sunday, April 29, 2018

Give Educators a Break Instead

A privately-branded, publicly funded stadium looms over downtown
Minneapolis, while the bank in question pilfers the schools.
A criminal enterprise known as the Minnesota Vikings has extracted a half billion dollars toward the construction of the stadium shown above, from which its kingpin Zygi Wilf will receive $200,000,000 each year in profits. Citizens of Minneapolis will pay $7,000,000 each year toward operating expenses, and will receive no discounts of any kind.

Minnesota's politicians have allowed Wilf to privatize profits while socializing expenses. This is common in professional sports, but this may be a new extreme. It should have been easy to predict the fiscal deficit as well as the people most likely to bear the brunt of this malfeasance: teachers and children. In the United States, children are "our most precious resource" only when making speeches, not when setting budgets.

This drama plays out just as cities across the United States are playing a similar game on an even bigger field. The Amazon HQ2 competition is bringing out the worst in politicians across the USA. This discussion examines several aspects of the pandering that is all-too common, and suggests some remedies. (Hint: JUST SAY NO)

Innovation Hub Journalist Marc Sollinger spoke with professor Nathan Jensen, co-author of Why Cities Shouldn’t Lure Companies With Tax Breaks. The 16-minute interview is well worth a listen:


Meghna Chakrabarti is one of Boston's great journalists; it was refreshing to hear her recent interview with venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith. Like a lot of rich guys these days, he has a lot to say about education. Unlike a lot of his peers, he admits the audacity of this and even more importantly, what he says is based on listening to teachers. He visited every state and interviewed teachers, parents, students, and politicians. I wish every legislator, governor, and education bureaucrat (including those in higher education) could spare 22 and a half minutes to hear what he found out. (Hint: empower teachers more; test everyone less.)

Since I heard both of these interviews, I had the pleasure of listening to a keynote speech by educator -- and game developer -- Lindsey Grace. His focus was on other topics, but he alluded to the problems that have been created by three decades of over-managing and under-supporting teachers. Students that have emerged from Clinton-Bush NCLB regime of hypertesting "are prepared only for a world with explicit rubrics." As I watch higher education respond, I see only a doubling down on the mistrust of educators, especially in schools of education.

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