Education officials on Thursday gave final approval to a plan that makes Idaho the first state in the nation to require high school students to take at least two credits online to graduate, despite heavy criticism of the plan at public hearings this summer.
The measure is part of a sweeping education overhaul that introduces teacher merit pay and phases in laptops for every high school teacher and student.
Online education? Check. Laptops in every classroom? Check. It’s like the education establishment in the state of Idaho is trying to give UD a heart attack. When you think about it, though, their plan makes sense in a perverse way. First you get students to ignore their teacher in class. Then they can shut down the school buildings, fire most of the teachers and then the students can ignore the few remaining machine-tending teachers from the comfort of their homes.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s the rationale for requiring distance education from the article:
Proponents say the virtual classes will help the state save money and better prepare students for college.
Buying every kid a laptop only saves money if you make other cuts to accompany the new expense. That expense is inevitably going to be labor costs. Online education not only de-skills teachers, it forces them to teach more students at the same time. Both moves will save labor costs. [I actually agree that this will prepare students for college since too many universities are doing the exact same thing for the exact same reason.]
The problem is that it’s more important than ever for students to have someone to guide them through the online world since they mostly lack the ability to judge the reliability of online sources and large numbers of them are apparently plagiarizing their papers from Facebook.*
Unfortunately, teachers are being treated like every other worker in this economy, as the jobs report from this morning suggests:
“We are very gradually moving to a labor-less society,” said Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at The Economic Outlook Group. Firms, he said, “are making sure that the number of workers they have now are able to produce more if necessary. The problem is that there are going to be a lot of Americans who are going to remain unemployed for a very long time.”
The real shame is that we need teachers on the job now more than ever, for both educational and crass economic reasons. I hope someone explains that to the Idaho legislature before they start down the slippery slope to where the Internet will teach our children all by itself..
* How is it even possible to plagiarize from social media? Are some teachers giving out status updates as writing assignments? On second thought, I’m not sure I want to hear the answer to that question.