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Sat Oct 15, 2016, 03:07 PM

Why For-Profit Education Fails

Interesting article but no mention of Gates or the need to include actual teachers in education.

Why For-Profit Education Fails
Moguls’ good intentions too often betray them.

Earlier this year, LeapFrog Enterprises, the educational-entertainment business, sold itself for $1 a share. The deal came several months after LeapFrog received a warning from the New York Stock Exchange that it would be delisted if the value of its stock did not improve, a disappointing end to the public life of a company that had the best-performing IPO of 2002.

LeapFrog was one of the very last remaining of the dozens of investments made by Michael Milken through his ambitiously named Knowledge Universe. Founded in 1996 by Milken and his brother, Lowell, with the software giant Oracle’s CEO, Larry Ellison, as a silent partner, Knowledge Universe aspired to transform education. Its founders intended it to become, in Milken’s phrase, “the pre-eminent for-profit education and training company,” serving the world’s needs “from cradle to grave.”

<snip>

Milken was far from alone in the belief that education could be revolutionized through radical new business models. In 2012, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch and the former New York City schools chancellor Joel Klein established the Amplify division within News Corp. At the time of his initial investment, Murdoch described K–12 education as “a $500 billion sector in the U.S. alone that is waiting desperately to be transformed.” Their idea was to overturn the way children were taught in public schools by integrating technology into the classroom. Although inspirational, the idea entailed competing with a series of multibillion-dollar global leaders in educational hardware, software, and curriculum development. After several years and more than $1 billion, with no serious prospect of ever turning a profit, Murdoch and Klein sold their venture for scrap value to Laurene Powell Jobs, Steve Jobs’s widow, last year.

More:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/11/why-for-profit-education-fails/501140/

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Reply Why For-Profit Education Fails (Original post)
QED Oct 2016 OP
QED Oct 2016 #1
Igel Oct 2016 #2

Response to QED (Original post)

Sat Oct 15, 2016, 03:10 PM

1. Hank Green had an interesting take on this article on his facebook page

"Whenever I talk to rich people about the success of Crash Course get really excited really fast. They often see it as a path into something they want very badly, which is to address the extraordinarily broken system of education in America. This system that hasn't had significant innovation in a hundred and fifty years. A system that is leaving students behind because of nothing more than bureaucracy and stagnation. A system that they, if only they had the power, could fix with their brilliant vision and ambition.

The problem is, education in America is sub-optimal because it is an impossible thing to optimize. It necessarily has to be local because different schools face different problems. There are no one-size-fits-all solutions. You can't innovate your way into the kind of traditional cost-savings the internet brings because, ultimately, you need TONS of high skilled employees...teachers. And teachers are expensive despite actually being cheaper than they should be.

I once asked a teacher of mine why trees never evolved the ability to walk. Now, her reply was maybe not the most scientifically accurate one...but it is a very good one: "Why would a tree need to walk?" she asked in return.

Education in America has innovated over the last 150 years. Yes, teachers are doing really interesting stuff right now. But there's a reason why it hasn't changed a lot, and that's because classrooms don't need to grow legs and start jogging around and doing tricks."

Link to his post.

https://www.facebook.com/hankgreen/posts/10157523155380487

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Response to QED (Original post)

Sun Oct 16, 2016, 11:09 AM

2. There are many ways to reform education.

They all fail, and all have failed. Because the problem is that those in charge--many teachers among them--are idiots who let their idealism get ahead of their knowledge. Or, possibly better put, let their idealism filter out dissonant knowledge.


1. It's expensive to have a high-quality product that suits all ideologies' demands for high graduation rates. If you make it hard, you get a high drop-out rate. For-profit schools are niche industries and always will be--it's when they expand to include a lot of people (for-profit) that their drop-out rate soars. This, BTW, is just as true for non-profit community colleges that are all-inclusive. Some CCs make a lot of for-profit tech schools look like models of education (but we don't notice these because they suit our ideologies).

Even most other colleges have made a lot of rigor classes into "relevance" classes to change society and make kids who want to change society feel empowered. Instead of well-rounded, you still learn your major but now you're not made into an educated citizen but a properly socialized citizen. Lose the music, lose the geography, lose this, but make sure you're sufficiently empathetic and a world citizen. Socially active, academically narrowed. Not a good combination for policy makers.

2. It's impossible to have a voluntary public education system that's academically rigorous and has high graduation rates. We don't. We struggle to keep standards high, and fail. We struggle to get graduation rates up--and they're higher than before, but that's not a huge amount. Charts like this tend to leave out important numbers (like the y-axis labels) or look at funny percentages.


We're up less than 10 percentage points since the '60s when all the hyper-interest in education kicked in. For some groups it's higher, but note that in some cases it's cultural forces operating and in other cases it's NCLB's forcing high schools do show that they've done a better job. (It never forced them to do a better job; many states have ways of showing to be true in a narrow what isn't true in the broader sense.)

Even then, notice that with public education (a) teachers are often treated as slaves, and many progressives who object to factory workers being treated according to unfair standards have no problem with both supporting teacher unions and ripping their own kid's teachers to shreds for the least transgression. (They're "progressives in principle," like born-again Christians are "Christlike in principle." You can't motivate a kid? It's your problem. Kid doesn't study? Your problem. Kid skips school. Your problem. Kid's in need of special ed services and the parents say 'no', it's your problem.

The kids who fail have sucky families that can't help to support their kids' education, or lack motivation for whatever other reason, lack discipline, or had some calamity strike them so they missed a chunk of knowledge and never filled in that gap. If they're sufficiently below average in terms of general intelligence, that makes it all the more important for the kids to have motivational and self-discipline support at home, and educational help from their parents. But since about 1/2 of intelligence is acquired, those with sucky families usually don't have kids who rank high in the "acquired intelligence" area.

At the same time, it's illegal for kids not to go to school in most states unless they're 16 or older, at which point they can drop out. But to drop out requires their parents permission. So they're hostages. Imagine what for-profit attendance rates would be like if we had truancy laws.

For non-profits we still often have a very high drop-out rate, something we bemoan only when the wailing's not going to undermine ideological arguments we want to win for ideological reasons. "Us right, them wrong." While the numbers vary, this isn't too different from most such graphs.


Keep in mind a few things. These are 4-year schools with 6-year graduation rates. We used to just look at 4-year graduation rates, then at 5-year graduation rates, but they were just too embarrassing. "Send your kid to us for her education, we have a 40% non-graduation rate over 4 years, so when we say what college will cost for 4 years we're really lying!" Really? This would be considered a failure for most ventures. That it's that high even considering the dilution of general education requirements and making them "relevant" so those most disadvantaged should have an easier time in seeing themselves in the curriculum is truly shameful.

The numbers are far higher for some groups. The lowest quintile for any given university or college tends to take a lot of damage--often they lack academic skills, but those include organization and planning and commitment. Sometimes there are family or financial problems behind that academic insufficiency. But they're the kind of student most likely going to CC and for-profit schools.


All those whistles and bells, all the initiatives coming out from consultants making money as education advisors and offering silver bullets, all those ideas from Gates and other think tanks, all those solutions coming from professors and academic researchers mean little when the kids show up unmotivated and tuned out. They mean nothing when the kids lack organizational or linguistic skills and recite things without engaging their brains. And when you're told that you need to just teach the essentials, so a 100/100 on a test is just over essentials, perhaps 60% of the content or less (when it would have been a 60, and failing, 4 years ago), and then you're told to test, retest, retest, and retest until they've "mastered" it at 70 or 75% ... What you do is look at all those high standards and then say kids are successful when they've learned 75% of 60% of the content, or 45%. So today's C in my class = 45% or a rather low-ranking F in my class 5 years ago.


But my pass rate is up and that helps the graduation rate so my school looks good and, well, public education doesn't have any of the problems of private education. What with compulsory attendance, annual teacher whippings, and processes for celebrating mediocrity as excellence.

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