Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What Is Our Children Learning from Ersatz Education Experts?



We learn from the 2mmnewsletter (Nov. 23, 2009) that entrepreneur Robert Compton has bootstrapped his investment in the film 2 Million Minutes (which, he claims, "reveal[ed]' the decline in American education"!) into a new career/venture as a “global education expert.” The newly-launched 2mm website features his prescriptions for an educationally competitive America, endorsed by notable educators Al Sharpton, Newt Gingrich and former Intel CEO Craig Barrett, and listed in a Children for Change petition that so far has garnered a whopping 53 signatures. Compton’s bright new ideas are the usual mix of “assessment and accountability” measures, pay-for-performance, and limitless expansion of charter schools and of teaching by TFA recruits and private-sector professionals; details are, of course, available by clicking the “Shop my store” tab. School systems will also no doubt be shopping—largely without any public scrutiny--for software and other products sold by companies in which Mr. Compton has an interest.

Let’s not quibble about “global”—the man has at least been to India (four times, he tells us, and “…the sights and sounds are familiar and comforting to [him] now.”). (See “call me Bob” above (with mustache) looking very comfortable indeed at the Taj Mahal). But, you might ask, what qualifies Compton as an “expert” in the field of education?

According to his biography on robertacompton.com, he is or has been an “IBM Systems Engineer, Professional Venture Capitalist, Angel Investor, President/COO of NYSE company, Entrepreneur and Filmmaker”; and “active in over 30 businesses including software, telecommunication services, healthcare services and medical devices.” One of those businesses is Indian Math Online, an on-line learning program in which children “go through a virtuos [sic.!] cycle of mastering mathematics.” They clearly won’t be mastering English from Mr. Compton: the same document informs us that “How a student spends their Two Million Minutes…….. will effect their economic prospects for the rest of their lives. How a society’s teenagers spend their Two Million Minutes collectively will effect their country’s economic prospects.”

Mr. Compton does have an MBA from Harvard (curiously, so did another notable mangler of the English language, G.W. Bush). His biography also lists an “honorary doctorate” from the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology—a remarkable achievement given that Rose-Hulman is an exclusively undergraduate institution. Upon receiving his honorary degree, Compton gave a speech entitled “Fortes Fortuna Juvat (Fortune Favors the Bold)." Actually, in the world of US “education reform,” fortune favors the shameless self-promoting huckster.

4 comments:

Michael Paul Goldenberg said...

You bet. This guy is more full of it than the average bear, and the right-wing pundits and bloviators love him with good reason. Of course, probing a bit beneath the surface of propaganda like TWO MILLION MINUTES shows what a crock it is, but who has time to probe when there are points to be made against teachers' unions, public schools, and our "slack" American way of life? :^)

caroline said...

I discovered from reading about this dude on Education Notes Online that his other amazing miracle secret to running a successful school is kicking out the kids who don't succeed. It's a miracle! (Of course, this is the same amazing magical strategy used by the widely hailed miracle SEED charter school in D.C. and by many KIPP schools, except that the latter insist that the unsuccessful students just kind of float away on their own rather than being forcibly expelled from KIPP schools.)

But the question is: In that case, why can't our existing public schools just kick out all the unsuccessful students and be hailed far and wide as amazing miracle successes? Think how much trouble and expense would be saved if we didn't create new schools to do that.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

NADIA ANN