Harper's magazine rolled in this month with a very exciting article (to me) about the role of Kaplan, a private corporation, in American education post-No Child Left Behind. In the article, Kaplan is compared to Blackwater in Iraq - a contractor with no checks on their ability to write their own mandate (and paycheck). It appears Kaplan was not amused, calling the author a 'disgruntled former employee with a personal agenda'. You can read a significant chunk of the article here.
not to mention their monopolistic stranglehold on postgraduate testing/prep.
and their violation of laws/rules incl. having its agents take the bar exam & smuggle out questions for use in their prep materials.
on Tue Aug 26 22:24:57 2008
Exceptionally interesting. I guess I don't quite understand how a school system justifies spending $50m on Kaplan and not paying their teachers decent wages, continuing to have over-crowded classrooms and elimination of the arts.
on Wed Aug 27 08:27:18 2008
Ah, but that's the beauty of NCLB - decisions don't even have to be made at the school - the Fed can make them instead!
And, of course, since there really isn't any research, just marketing, it must be very easy to convince an administrator who runs a failing school that your 'teach to the test' methodology will get results. It's magic, and sometimes folks in bad straits need magic.
on Wed Aug 27 11:42:18 2008
And now my head hurts just a little bit more.... Having worked (albeit in special education) at a failing school or two, I can say with certainty that the administrators are absolutely desperate and frightened. They know that the parents of their students cannot afford to send their children anywhere else, and who knows who will buy or restructure the school. I have yet to meet (and I will qualify this statement in a minute) a teacher who went into this because they didn't want to teach kids and help them learn (although some get so frustrated with the system and dealing with all of the pressures of being a teacher that they burn right out but continue teaching, an unfortunate side effect which makes them less then good teachers). You can see the desperation everywhere, school districts change curriculum every two years to try to get the newest angle. It really sucks. They have cut out teaching the basics like handwriting, hoping the kids pick it up because it isn't covered by state testing, because all they need to be able to do is bubble in little circles on the scantron sheet. And the money flows out, instead of coming in to the classroom where it is absolutely needed. Every teacher I know spends hundreds of dollars out of their pockets to outfit their classrooms - hell, I do it myself so that my students get what they need. And Kaplan gets rich. Wow, who knew I was so bitter about all of that:) OK, all better now, thanks for the space to vent about that!