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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Super-mugging" at Tweed?

See today's discussion on the Juice Analytics website between information and data professionals, about the huge waste of money that the DOE purchase of ARIS appears to be, described as the result of "consulting companies ...preying on clients’ lack of expertise".

Another professional in the field writes: "It amazes me the price tag on this “super” computer. I mean, this could probably be done with MS Access…"

Visioactive has more commentary, agreeing that the whole thing is a “super-mugging” and then makes the following observations:

"...the real key to success is more relative to the investment in people who can turn that meaning into actionable insights. Beyond that, success is also dependent of investing in the infrastructure to act on the insights. I don’t see where the NYC school system is buying much more than custom software and perhaps a little maintenance training. If Mayor Michael Bloomberg means it when he says, “Every child in this city deserves a quality education and we will spare no expense“, I wonder how much they will really spend on the people side of the equation."

I guess we know the answer to that question. When most middle and high school teachers in NYC have five to six classes of 28 or more students a day, very little if any of this information will be "actionable." Most testing experts believe that the results of the standardized interim assessments are inherently so unreliable as to be useless in any case.

Teachers tell me that in most instances, they know all too well their kids' weaknesses, but simply don't have the opportunity to spend the individual time with them that would be necessary in order to address their needs. Nothing in this system will make this any easier to achieve.

As I've said before, anyone who's helped their own kid with their homework knows that teaching is a very time-consuming, labor-intensive process.

Someone just sent me this great quotation from John Dewey's The School and Society, written in 1907:

Individual attention. This is secured by small groupings -- eight or ten in a class -- and a large number of teachers supervising systematically the intellectual needs and attainments and physical well-being and growth of the child. ....It requires but a few words to make this statement about attention to individual powers and needs, and yet the whole of the school's aims and methods, moral, physical, intellectual, are bound up in it.

Too bad no one over at Tweed appears to understand these words, written a century ago. Until we can make robots into teachers no amount of machinery will help.

The question remains who is getting mugged here -- the officials at Tweed who have bought into this wrongheaded notion of education, the NYC taxpayer, or our kids?

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