Wednesday, February 27, 2008

DOE Plans Billion Dollar ARIS Upgrade

February 27, 2008 (GBN News): The NY City Department of Education announced today a billion dollar expansion of its ARIS computer system. The plan calls for an ARIS terminal in every classroom within the next five years. At a Tweed Courthouse news conference, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein told reporters that the money spent on this system will “pay for itself many times over in creating new efficiencies in the delivery of educational services.”

Critics immediately questioned the appropriateness of such an expensive upgrade at a time of already devastating budget cuts at the school level. However, a high level DOE official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told GBN News that once the new system is on line, it will enable the Chancellor to implement what the source called “his final reorganization plan”.

According to the DOE source, the computer upgrade will save huge personnel costs by rendering teachers “obsolete”. The Chancellor is said to feel that ARIS is “every bit as capable of doing test prep [as a human being] at a fraction of the cost.” While teachers cannot, by union contract, be terminated en masse, the plan reportedly calls for a “phase-out” of teachers over a 5 year period through a combination of attrition, retrenchment as ATR’s, and disciplinary assignment to “rubber rooms”. Students, however, will not be left without a human classroom management component. School Security personnel will monitor children’s behavior through their ARIS computer screens to insure classroom safety by making sure that no cell phones are present.

The DOE official told GBN News that some staffers had questioned whether a computer that has reportedly had numerous problems at the school level can be relied on to exclusively teach a million school children in the system. Some aides warned that if the system went down, the children would potentially be left with no education at all. The Chancellor reportedly bristled at these comments. “There are always glitches in any new system,” he was said to have told his staff. “But the alternative would be to go back to the way it was before our reforms. And you all know what that was like. Why, if you people had jobs at all, you’d never be making the salaries you’re getting now. So get with the program!”

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