Friday, May 27, 2022

The Public School Versus Technology...

 "Bureaucracy destroys initiative. There is little that bureaucrats hate more than innovation, especially innovation that produces better results than the old routines. Improvements always make those at the top of the heap look inept. Who enjoys looking inept?" -- Frank Herbert, "Heretics of Dune"

Yesterday's post on the horrific events in Uvalde, Texas generated something of a strange response, but not quite the one you would expect.

The responders, and there were three of them, all took issues not with what was said about the shooting, itself, but rather to a link I provided to an older post, written pre-COVID, about the utter failure of the public education system on a variety of levels.

Curiously, and sadly, that post was also written in the aftermath of a school shooting.

Now, the point I made above -- about the older post being written pre-COVID -- was front-and-center of the discussion about my solution to the problem of public school shootings. 

Which is: if there are no public schools, no one can get shot in one.

COVID is a salient point in this discussion for the following reason: when I wrote that post, I was thinking that technology had made the public school an anachronism, or at least., had the potential to do so. I have had much experience with distance learning projects in my time, and I know that when they are done correctly, they work very well.

The problem my respondents have is that none of them, so far as I can tell, and I did ask, has any experience whatsoever with the problems of technology and education, and conversely, no means of knowing how the proper application of tech can improve the educational experience.

Their "experience", if one can call it that, is with the disaster of distance learning regimes  that were hastily thrown up by the educational establishment as a response to the epidemic.

According to two of these, the distance learning systems used by their school sucked harder than Kamala at a job interview. In addition, they were aggravated and astonished by what passed for "curriculum", and were absolutely flummoxed and confused by what they were seeing on a daily basis. The biggest complaints -- after the difficulty of gaining access to these systems, the expense of additional hardware and software, and the crappy product that many were seeing for the very first time -- was that they were so lost in what passes for elementary education that they were unable to understand what their children were being taught, nor could they help them complete their assignments when they needed help.

They also made arguments about how "studies have proven" that the lack of in-person learning during the last two years seriously affected the quality of the education their children received.

Therefore, they postulate, replacing the public school with a technological web of distance learning options doesn't work. The proof, they insist, is in the last two years' worth of pudding.

To which I respond: BULLSHIT.

The experience of the last two years is not to be completely discounted: that is valuable for the series of mistakes and failures it produced, which should be studied intensely.

The basic fact is that distance learning has been used for the better part of two decades now, at every level of education, and it works very well, provided the systems are efficient, user-friendly, engaging, and actually dedicated to the subject being studied (i.e. they aren't polluted by the stupid ideals of the social justice warriors, radical feminists, the trans- and homosexual agendas and the race baiters. None of these things has any bearing on whether a kid learns algebra or phonics well, but they always pop up in curriculum, anyway).

If COVID-era distance learning was good for anything, it was the following:

1. It showed what utter dreck is being taught in public schools.

2. It showed what happens when a government bureaucracy is unprepared by aversion to modern methods, the needs of efficiency, undeterred by cost constraints (or, alternately,  operating under artificial cost constraints), unfamiliarity with technology, and then forced by expediency to create an ad hoc system on the fly.

3. It showed that the same people who create functional illiterates for a living and send them off to college or into the workplace afterwards, are incapable of doing anything but continue to do so, no matter what system you hand them or they create. If distance learning failed in COVID-times, it failed because the same people who failed the public school systems were the people who created the distance learning programs.

4. It showed the complete lack of technical knowledge that exists within a government framework.

5. It showed that the biggest opponents of any change to the system as it currently exists, successful or not, are the government unions that extract a living from that system. The biggest obstacle to re-opening schools during the last two years have been the teacher's unions, for example. The second biggest obstacle to same has been the political establishment, and they both have been joined by the so-called "Medical Experts" who brought you ineffective vaccines, lockdowns, perpetual masking, and who originally funded the virus.

That is to say, the biggest obstacle to creating a functional distance learning system to serve the masses is government.

In my capacity as a technical dude over the years, I have been involved in literally dozens of distance learning projects, at all levels of education, and in some very particular areas of the field, as well (ex: Home Schoolers and the especial problems of educating sick children who cannot attend a school for a variety of reasons).

To give an example -- from my own experience -- of how government stands in the way of any idea that may prove beneficial in this realm. I choose this one because it is the best and easiest to explain:

My company was contracted (by a Big City Department of Education) to submit ideas to help solve a perpetual problem, which revolves around textbooks. The city spends immense sums on textbooks, but never seems to have enough of them. In some schools, the shortage of textbooks is so severe that school authorities don't even bother to hand out the ones they have. Textbooks sit in closets and warehouses collecting dust, only to be replaced by a new batch the following year -- which also don't get distributed.

The city is also responsible for providing textbooks in 17 (I shit you not) foreign languages for ESL students. It also can't tell you just how many Korean or Arabic speakers are enrolled, what schools they attend, and so cannot tell you how many books in specific languages you require, because that information has either never been compiled, was compiled but no one can find the paperwork, or a closely-guarded secret for reasons no one can explain.

The solution offered was a simple one: a central server system which served as an online library for all textbooks, in every required language, and the student could be supplied with an e-reader (something like a Kindle) that cost roughly $40. The system could be up and running in about 1 year, and would save the city (my memory is a bit fuzzy on the exact amount) several tens of millions of dollars every year.

The project was cancelled. The primary reason was because the unionized fucktards who simply moved unopened boxes of brand new textbooks around warehouses complained that without tens of thousands of boxes of undistributed books to put on forklifts to move 25 feet and re-pile, they'd be out of a job.

Then came the "poverty pimps" to cry that not every one has access to WiFi or the internet, and so they would not be able to access the system, and would rather rely on a spotty or even non-existent supply of textbooks. Of course, the system would have had it's own FOR FREE WiFi element, and the "smart phone" is ubiquitous, even in the ghetto, but none of that mattered (actually, it was more like the warehouse workers who would lose their jobs were of a certain racial sub-group).

The same city that spent billions to put "free" internet kiosks on street corners so that homeless degenerates could view porn and masturbate in public could have easily been redirected towards those efforts, too.

Then the bean counters showed up. The very people who can't tell you exactly how much they spend on textbooks (within a few million), who don't know how many schools they operate, have no idea of how many students are in the system, nor where the ESL's are or how many of them, decided it was "too expensive" to implement this solution, and so they'd rather continue to spend money on books they weren't distributing in the first place. 

But, I still got paid six-figures for four months work.

(It would later turn out that there was a major kickback scandal involving some administrators and the textbook publishers).

Another problem exposed by the COVID-distance learning regime was just how bad America's Public School teachers generally are. The greatest benefit of the current system in many places -- from the teacher's point of view -- is that they have a captive audience who have been denied any other viable alternative. They know it. 

They know it so well that they don't necessarily care about educating children. They get paid, regardless. Anyone who is familiar with social media posts made by schoolteachers during this time should remember the comments made by supposed educational professionals about how they view the kids and their parents.

It wasn't complimentary.

If you missed all of that, then the last year of battles between school boards and angry parents should have left you in no cloud of doubt about how school systems regard their clientele...or is it slaves? Whether it is covering up rapes, pushing radical agendas, making asinine decisions about safety -- like the one in Uvalde, where the school district allegedly opted out of stricter  or tougher security measures - the best interests of your children are nowhere near the top of the list of their priorities.

A good distance learning system -- run outside the realm of government -- gives parents and students OPTIONS. The primary options being that if you don't like your (online) school, you could go to another one with no administrative or legal bullshit, or you can choose an instructor or pace that better suits the student. And it's far cheaper than paying a unionized dipshit who only has a job because she managed a 70 on a licensing exam.

(I'll get to teacher quality in a moment).

The government educational establishment does not want you to have options. It's why they vehemently oppose charter schools and voucher programs wherever these are even so much as thought of. It's why the Homeschoolers and their parents are continuously targeted for harassment and their methods (generally successful) routinely derided and declared a danger.

The system, as currently constituted, serves the interests of politicians, unions and government employees very well. It does not serve the greater mass of schoolchildren in this country, at all. The technology is there. It is tried and tested, and at this very moment, millions are currently enrolled in online courses at accredited universities (you can even get a degree from MIT online!), or professional qualification courses offered by established and reputable outlets. Homeschoolers have been using it for a decade-plus, with great results.

Distance learning hit the mass market many years ago. It has been a resounding success.

Except for the elementary school population. It hasn't been tried here on a greater scale, and just when it was needed, the apparatus of government was unable to provide it in a timely, efficient or cost-effective manner, with deleterious effects on the children's educational outcomes.

Another excuse thrown about by many is that the school serves as a "socializing" experience for the student.

When one stops to consider how many kids get shot, stabbed or molested in the schools, how many are driven to suicide by ruthlessly and relentlessly cruel schoolmates, the 'socialization" angle seems rather thin, if not invisible.

The schools have become cesspits of unsocial behavior, and because of things like discipline regimes being conditioned by racial considerations, the amount of time spent teaching kids not to be racist by first teaching them how to be racist, the feminization of curriculum, the dumbing down of curriculum to improve statistics, the deliberate "teaching to the test" formula that has nothing to do with education and everything to do with funding, abominations like Common Core math and Whole Word spelling systems that leaves everyone dumber than a Biden, it is no surprise.

At the root of all of these problems, however, is the quality of the people who make such school systems up. You can look this up (University of Wisconsin did the definitive study a decade ago), but the typical "education major" is generally drawn from the lowest-performing 20% of any collegiate graduate class. They are likely to have switched majors at least once before plunking for "Education", which indicates that they either failed at their previous field of endeavor, or quit it before they did so.

Here in New York City, roughly 20% of our school teachers are drawn from the City University system, where approximately half of the student body is engaged in remedial classes.

Add in affirmative action, union protections, affiliations with politicos, and you can see the problem: the worst get hired, they get rewarded for failure, they are protected from failure, and they get rewarded some more, but feel no compunction about complaining how hard it is to have a job that only requires you to show up 180 days a year, and which in New York City pays $75,000 a year after five years on the job, and hands out tenure after completion of a "Master's Degree" that the system pays for and will give you time off to complete.

As if the stockbroker who works 250 days a year, or the doctor who works 300, or the police officer who faces down people with guns, mental illnesses and bad attitudes every day is living a life of leisure?

So, maybe my idea is far-fetched to many. That's your opinion, and you're entitled to it. But I'd like you to consider the results the current system -- which is still geared to last century's industrial needs and poisoned by social and political crap that leaves children uneducated and indoctrinated -- have produced.

Does it seem like any of it is working?

Do you believe that your children are safer inside a government-run school run by people who ultimately don't give a fuck?

Do you think the average person should, at the very least, have a greater say and more options when it comes to educating their children?

Does my idea sound a hell of lot easier than confiscating guns all over America, or identifying every mental patient and potential school shooter and locking them up before the gunfire erupts?

And just to give one more example of the "whattabout" response the wiseacres always seem to have ready, there are those who will state that working mothers can't stay home with their kids to make certain they're following the distance learning program, and my response to that is: so what? Are you incapable of getting together with other working moms, or...gasp! God forbid, the stay-at-home ones -- and working out a system of your own?

Your reliance on government to provide your kid with food, medical care, education, babysitting services and safety inside a government-run building run by bureaucrats who have incentives and bad ideas that don't necessarily involve your children's best interests, is one of the reasons why some of them unfortunately get to catch bullets inside a schoolroom -- where the doors get locked and a textbook (assuming you have one) is considered body armor, but no one bothered to lock the front door or post a guard there, in the first place.

You don't have to agree with me. I understand why you might not. But would you at least consider what I've written honestly?


GMay said...

I'm all for it. To my mind, it's that last bit that's the biggest obstacle from the parent side. Without launching into the social changes that led to the situation, of which you are no doubt fully aware, it's not just single moms who've got to work out how to homeschool their kids, it's dual income families too. Working out a system is doable, but it's no easy feat. There are a ton of practical, legal, and regulatory hurdles, all of which vary from state to state.

I'll be moving to my future empire way down south in about a year and have been checking out the homeschool situation there. The public education system is perennially last in our once-great nation, but one of the local homeschool co-ops near the empire tries to do exactly what you ask: work it out. I'm looking forward to some in person meetings in the next few months for duer due diligence.

My second youngest has just finished Kindergarten from a tiny little rural public school out in the middle of nowhere flyover country, able to read at a third grade level. Her math is at second grade level. Of course, a not-insignificant amount of this is because mommy and daddy work with her at home, but I'm going to miss this little school. Even though I trust the faculty there, I watch them like a hawk.

But that was just kindergarten. I'm not even sure I trust the current school to provide a good education past the third grade. All the ladies are very dedicated, sweet, and love the kids, but there's not enough resources to help accelerated learners. And the moment some dipshit comes in talking about diversity, I'd yank my kid out same day. Why wait for it to happen?

So we'll see how the co-op is and if I need to take it over upon arrival.

By the way, couldn't stand the accents. I couldn't shake the image of two guys in sweat-stained wife-beaters swilling PBR and smelling like cheese, or whatever it is you weirdos smell like on Staten Island.

Matthew Noto said...

First off, it's garlic, not cheese.

Wife beater season is not yet upon us.

I'm now wondering what brand of horrendously-accented flyover you speak. ;)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, well that's the rub, isn't it?

I keep hoping that the opening of eyes caused by the coof is going to lead to some massive reform of education, but who knows?

The problem isn't the idea of central schools. The problem is that, like any other system, it can be co-opted by parasites, and if the people who are actually expecting results from the system don't stay on top of it, well, you get now.

So even if I were to stipulate that complete remote learning was not only possible, but superior, we're still going to have the parasite problem.

I don't know what the answer is. I do know that any answer MUST include the complete removal of what we have running things now. And since that only comes about via "VOTE HARDER", it won't happen.

The only thing left is for parents that have the ability to remove their children from the government schools and pay double freight to educate their kids. Which will last until the parasites realize that they can use that as a cudgel to compel those people to send their kids back to gulag.

So the real question is "how do we get rid of the tyrants?"


Matthew Noto said...

Like the removal of any other pest -- you destroy their nests and take away their food sources.

Free markets can go a long ways towards doing just that. Already we're seeing parents "vote with their feet" and abandon the government-run school. The panic from the educational establishment is palpable: schools are already screaming about declining enrollments.

GMay said...

A nice neutral accent that no one can place, despite originally hailing from Mississippi, thankyouverymuch. Used to do some announcing/narrating awhile back. You couldn't handle my dulcet tones.

But back to the topic, I think that if you focus more on selling the single moms and dual income families, the other shit will fall into place. The Donks will see it happening, ratchet up the threats from the state, piss off even more parents, and it's all downhill from there.