Austin Dannhaus' recent piece is a perfect example of what David Hursh describes in his new book, The End of Public Schools: The Corporate Reform Agenda to Privatize Education, as a manufactured crisis created by corporate reformers where they "misrepresent data to have us believe that our public schools are failing so that public schools can be privatized."
Dannhous' piece, Technology Won't Save Our Schools appears in various online outlets - I saw it first via Edsurge. Now, why might Dannhaus be interested in privatizing public schools? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that he's the Director of New Ventures at a business called Free Range Studios. Free Range Studios is involved in, from their website:
Research insights brand innovation storytelling content strategy workshops new product market exploration brand & growth strategy campaign & fundraising strategy new brand and growth strategy analytics & optimization ux/ui product experience design.
I'm guessing public school systems are not target clients of a business that does all of that unless they're going to help one district do a merger with or acquisition of a neighboring district. There probably isn't a lot of requests for such 'services' so it's not surprising that they don't list much experience with public education. Dannhaus appears to only have two years in a Prince George County elementary school as a TFAer after which he became a consultant and then a director of new ventures.
One of Dannhaus' complaints is that "So far, edtech has only contributed small improvements rather than the scalable and systemic disruptions to which it might aspire." Who says we need to systemically disrupt our education system? Oh, yeah, the people who want to privatize education; that's who.
What if we were to use technology to actually improve the system we already have? From my experience of more than twenty-five years implementing technology in various education settings, the reason that technology has not changed education very much is that very few people are bothering to train teachers how to integrate technology into instruction and assessment.
It's not easy and quick for all of our teachers to learn how to use all of the great new tools that are available that will improve teaching and learning. Dannahus got this part right - education is complicated. Given the very little, if any, support they've gotten from their administrations or the teacher training institutions, it's not at all surprising that results have not changed. Dumping a bunch of tablets into classrooms without planning and professional development in a scalable and systemic way is obviously going to cause confusion and frustration. It doesn't need to be done like that.
Let's give adequately supporting the great teachers and schools we already have a real chance instead of blowing up the system.