It's been a while since my last rant on Amairikuhn edgykayshun, and when Mr. S.D.H. shared this, I knew I had to rant some more, especially since my co-author's and my new book on Common Core, Rotten to the (Common) CoreI, is now being shipped. It seems Mr. Bill Gates is at it again, touting the wonders of technology in the classroom:

Bill Gates: Ed Tech Has Underachieved, But Better Days Are Ahead

Beyond the usual innate American rebellion against anything traditional, there's an extraordinary admission here from Mr. Gates, as indicated by the euphemistic title of the article itself: Educational technology, i.e., all those online textbooks, standardized "computerized" tests, and individually adaptive programs and assessments, have "under achieved." For those unfamiliar with edubabble's euphemisms, this "under achievement" means that the observed results have fallen short of the promised goals, goals often painted in the rainbow colors of a bright and sunny future for education if only we would adopt more technology. Country simple, "under achieving" is a euphemism for failure.

But, according to the article, all we need is more time, more money, more continuing education and "professional development" training for teachers, and more fine tuning:

In K-12, the way products are selected and how money is budgeted “has to change,” and more funds need to be freed up for professional development, he said. Last November, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced that it will invest some $34 million in cooperative initiatives designed to improve teacher-preparation programs’ overall effectiveness. (The Gates Foundation helps support some coverage in Education Week.)

(There's the more training and money...)

While teachers’ limited access to digital learning devices has held back progress in teachers’ use of ed tech in recent years, these issues are starting to diminish, Gates said.

Schools need to see some examples of products that are clearly so successful that districts are willing to spend for them, “but I’d say we’re pretty early in that process,” he said.

And again, there's the "more money," and implicit throughout all this is the "we need more time".

You'll have noticed an implicit bias in the article, and I am bold to suggest that this bias is part and parcel of  the pattern we've seen in Amairikuhn edgykayshun for the past century (and more): the focus on methods rather than content, the focus on pedagogy and psychology rather than academic content and competency both in students and in teachers. The key here is this passage:

Another instructional model, the work of New Classrooms, personalizes middle school math in a way that Gates said is “far more engaging than a typical textbook.” He invited attendees to visit it because it’s a model that “represents the future not only of math, but a number of subjects.”

For literacy, he said he favors products like ThinkCERCA that “meets kids where they are” and helps them with writing.

You'll note that "personalizing math" and literacy, for Mr. Gates, is all about products rather than teachers and content. Lest this point be misunderstood, it needs to be stated baldly and nakedly: no computerized software program or standardized assessment process, even one claiming to be "individually adaptive" such as the Common Core assessment process, can replace the human element and assessment that only a human teacher can provide. Moreover, not all information is to be found in computer databases or the internet. Much of it is in libraries, books, and card catalogs.

As Mr. Lawrence and I attempt to point out in our Rotten to the (Common) Core book, what the current fad towards more technology, more computerized tests, more e-books really represents is not an attempt to improve education. It is really about the introduction of a system of governance and surveillance, and the installation of even more draconian methods of gatekeeping, of enforcing standard and elite-approved narratives, than anything else. Decades of standardized testing and progressive methods have not produced a more literate nor a more intelligent population. The result has arguably been quite the reverse. Mr. Gates does not even attempt to argue the case; he simply assumes that the results are in, and presses blindly on.

Mr. Gates wants more of it: more tests, more computers, more "professional development."

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over again, and to expect different results.

The bottom line here is that Mr. Gates is advocating an insane policy, for he wants to ensure that parents and classroom teachers have even less say over the content and assessment process than they do now. Couple all of this with the ebook textbook, which will allow "individually adaptive texts", and you get the idea. It's about controlling information, about controlling the narrative, and making damned sure everyone agrees with it, and him.

Mr. Gates personifies the billionaire busybodies we wrote about in our book, for he has no real solutions, nor, do I suspect that he really wants them. He, like the Educational Testing Service and so many other corporations in the edugarchy, only want to feed at the trough of taxpayer money. All Mr. Gates and the Common Core advocates can offer us is more of the same ersatz edubabble that we've been feeding off of for decades. More time, more money, more technology, more classroom hours, more homework... more more more. And the results will be the same: declining standards, fewer competent teachers in their disciplines (but they will be tremendously competent in the latest educational methodological fad).

As for me, I remain a curmudgeon: personalized learning sounds fine in theory, but all too often degenerates into personalized truth, and with it, a complete collapse in academic standards and content. The result is a dumbed down population, and even a dumbed down "elite," and this too, I suspect, has been the goal all along.

The result of all of this - of the machinations of the billionaire busybodies and the corporate edugarchy that has been ruining education for decades - will be an underground education system, a system with real and competent teachers and professors, using real books, demanding real scholarship and effort, while the governmentally and corporately approved system continues to wallow in its own mediocrity.

See you on the flip side...


  1. For those of you with complicated philosophical answers, I think it comes down to looking at Gates himself. He was not alone in the garage thinking up Microsoft and the future of PC but he was the first to enlist the best team of attorneys. In a day and age where corporate success means getting there first and legally preventing the others to follow, Gatws is the hog mentality to also think he is smarter than the rest of us so to keep us and our children out, he is all about vaccinating the world and making sure the education system keeps us at least as stupid as him.

  2. ZDB & Goshawks,
    Recently I’ve been thinking more about the digital realm and it’s spawn: AI. The perspective I was viewing it from was several fold: Structural, Interdimensional, Quantum mechanics, and Purpose.
    From a structural angle is the denial of the physical; the defining feature of the aura of the digital.
    I went into some of these themes in the below posts.
    Basically the transformation from a deterministic clockwork universe in the 19th century to the probilistic/quantum one of modern physics marks a radical shift in not only thinking about the physical world, but how it is modeled, conceptualized, and interpreted. The interpretive model present is one where contingency and variability are inherent properties of reality and certainty is replaced by uncertainty and the probability set: the traditional, singular truth changes into one truth among many.
    Anyway, there are several tracks of logic I could address but lets just jump to the chase: Understanding the state of information’s abstract space proceeds from four concepts that occupy a central position in their fields: uncertainty, superposition, schizophrenia, and seriality. AI is structuring a parasitic system based in part on our exiting one.
    Thus, the physical was already achieved in the distant past. This new paradigm shift must be to access the brain? in vast numbers? to feed? There seems to be something going on that is being set-up in several meanings of the word. There are missing realms that spell Agnotology/surveillance. The ignorance does not reflect lack of information, but rather is the mirror-like doppelganger of knowledge, dissipating action and challenge through a meta-stable hyperreality-actions w/o discernable reasons[use value] will have limited to no impact on the conditions of reality, and lead inexorably to what psychology terms learned helplessness-a situation that innately supports the established hierarchy and order, while at the same time justifying the restriction, elimination, and criminalization of dissent/opposition through the security assemblage. Disenfranchisement is the purpose of the security apparatus, shifting the maintenance of value from the social realm to the reified digital.
    What has been secured in the process is the future: AI.

    1. RB, if I may restate what I believe you said (grin), it sounds like you are postulating a ‘negation-field’ being employed on us. I am not sure whether you are saying it comes from human PTB, or directly from an AI through advanced quantum mechanics.

      A ‘negation-field’ would explain many things, including the lack of build-up of outrage. Even the urge to organize. The blahs. A powerful ‘weapon’, if it exists.

      I do suspect ‘something’ is being used on us, although I see evidence more on the ‘inciting’ side. Think Uganda, or Rwanda. Even the cliques turning so viciously on each other in the former Yugoslavia. Is this just long-suppressed hatreds coming out, or is something ‘inciting’ the masses to mindless killing?

      If I were viewing this from earth-orbit, it would seem almost like a ‘spot-beam’ of something was directed at an area. Berserko-within, normal without. Or, the reverse – when a population ‘lies down’ in the face of an invasion, like France in 1940. A ‘helplessness’ spot-beam?

      1. @ Robert and Goshawks – Your idea of a weapon that incites hatred immediately got me thinking of what the recently deceased Prince stated during an interview about chemtrails.

        “You know, when I was a kid, I used to see these trails in the sky all the time. So that’s cool, a jet just went over. And then you started to see a whole bunch of them, and next thing you know everybody in your neighbourhood was fighting and arguing and you didn’t know why, okay, and you really didn’t know why, I mean, everybody was fighting.”

        A clip can be found at the following URL:

      2. Goshawks
        Both Rwanda(Michael Parenti) and Yugoslavia(F. William Engdahl) were part of a U.S. operation. At the end of the 1980s European elites privately reagared the U.S. as an empire in terminal collapse and were implemental several policies toward that effect. Washington’r response was to covertly trigger events in Yugoslavia that would explode in a violent war in Europe. The IMF and a few NGOs laid the groundwork for an ensuing and political crisis of Yugoslavia that led to the breakup. In his book The Lost Hegemony/Whom The Gods Would First Destroy Engdahl lays out the sordid history of the weaponization of Islam. Yugoslavia being one of its many victims.

        1. RB, you are right in that regard. Probably every event since the Garden of Eden psyop has been pre-planned. I was speaking more to the savagery and ‘glee’ exhibited by the mass murderers. Huge, unnecessary casualties. This seemed over-the-wall to me. Hence, I still wonder about ‘something’ external amplifying certain emotions. Time will tell…

          1. Goshawks,
            Therein is the eternal question of free will: does it exist or not?
            Yet between the lines lies many possibilities – an infinite amount.
            Yet, the wave collapses into reality.
            A reality that is…
            To Be or Not To Be?

  3. Oh boy! Mr.gates is at it again with his and his buddy’s crappy agenda to make each generation dumber and dumber, and making money to boot! These people are truly sickening, off with their heads!

  4. thesaker dot is/big-brother-reprimands-his-unruly-subjects-obama-lectures-the-uk-population-on-how-to-vote-in-the-brexit-referendum/

    “The EU is a fundamentally undemocratic organisation which is run by the 28 unelected Commissioners who have enormous powers over the economic, political and social development of each member state. The European parliament is widely regarded as a toothless body that merely rubber stamps legislation that comes from the EU Commission. The undemocratic nature of the EU is shown by the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) deal it is negotiating with America…

    One of the prime objectives of TTIP is to open health, education and water services to American corporations. It will force the NHS in Britain to allow US companies to tender for contracts to run essential medical services at an exorbitant cost to the hard pressed tax payer. The Conservative government in the UK wants to privatize all 24,000 schools forcing them to become academies that will be forced into unaccountable academy chains. Under TTIP these academy chains will be open to take over by US education companies that will want to run children’s education for a profit.”

  5. A couple of decades back I worked for a place that wanted to sell Novell Netware. To do so Novell required at least one person in that place to pass a test about their product. Having worked with it and setup several production configurations I was selected to take the test.

    I had 5 tries and had to get 80% to pass. I wrote it cold and got 83% on my first try. It was a joke. Then Novell decided to “up the ante” and have their “Netware Certified” program. I never bothered because I was too busy doing actual installations. What a cash cow that turned out to be.

    Then Microsoft and all the other tech companies realized how much money they could may selling “certifications”. It got so bad that there was a Dilbert cartoon about it “I summon the vast power of certification”.

    All those exams at $100 – $200 a pop were what we called MRF tests. Memorize, Regurgitate, Forget. But without those you couldn’t get an interview because so many managers swallowed that BS hook, line and sinker. Their tech skills had atrophied once they went into management and it showed in their ignorant reliance on “certifications”.

    Now they want to bring the MRF to schooling for the same reason. It is a cash cow. Pure and simple. If you are not part of the solution there is GREAT money to be made prolonging the problem!

    Welcome to my world everyone. To beat it you have to be a moving target and keep ahead of what they are certifying. If you have great references you can still get jobs without it and that is nice because it gives the hiring managers a real wake up call when I get more done than other “certified” people. I think it kind of scares them to realize that they were dead wrong.

    1. there’s more trm.

      i know a couple mrf’s personally. they’re proud of their complete ineptitude. they get jobs by reading the idiot’s guide to whatever software they put on their resume the week before.

      one such in particular took all the money he made blackmailing an employer while carefully not working on their system all night for months and got a pilot’s license. i flew decades ago. told him and all our friends he’s going to cause a horrible accident. he can’t not fake learning. so he pooched his ground school and flight classes. scraped by and bought an expensive first craft. and hit a mcdonalds sign when he ran out of gas during his approach. his explanation? damn mechanics. that gas guage was wrong. then insurance bought him a faster aircraft.

      in the 20 years knowing this pseudo human, i have never seen any form of sincere – well – anything. was going to say learning, but then it occurred to me he’s never been sincere about anything. it’s not a complaint (ok not much). it’s my mind being blown by trying to grock and use the fact that this person is as incapable of sincere care as any ai is going to have to be programmed to be in order to be objective.

      humans get called (and proven) arrogant when they feel they are objective. our subjective view of reality my become more accurate (and hence closer to objective). doesn’t subjective point of view define us?

      ok that got philosophical and i do want an answer to that. my original intent was to point out the possibility that such individuals might have the power to give us all immunity from such a social disease the same way actual mumps gives us permanent immunity while vaccines clearly do not.

  6. I am still of the mindset that this is all about information gathering; profit is simply a perk. Whether this is to create ‘models’ of each student for TPTB control or for AI knowledge/control, the ‘form’ is always to ask for computer-based input data. Low/no data-entry cost, and immediate, pre-structured entry into mega-scale databases.

    In this case, it is tied to math; expect the same for various other disciplines. Watch for the ‘form’…

    (There is also the possibility that these data-sweeps are being used to ‘search’ for someone/something. The methodology gives a plausible cover, much like the DNA sweeps for human health are using…)

    1. Goshawks,
      You & I are basically on the same page.
      For silicon-the material of both quartz crystals and glass-to become digital is to literally become opaque, the process of sight no longer being a matter of seeing through. Like Arthur C Clark’s observation about advance technology being identical to magic and turn it form imaginary future to lived experience of the present, in the process filling the space of the digital with imaginary, instrumental forms of life[from computer viruses, to worms, spiders, bots, and spyware], whose function is parasitic. At the same time, the lifeworld becomes machinic: lifehacking, and DNA as a variety of digital code, manipulated and modeled within the DNA technology that enables its transformation into factory-the productive metaphor as living instrumentality. The threat of human resources become reified as the biological world is translated into valorized field of products[genes] commercial development and based in their conception as a semiotic code akin to digital code of computers themselves.

      1. The political-economy becomes not simply a matter of economics or class structure, but of machinic relations within the realm of greater and lesser control produced, maintained and reified by HOW digital capitalism and the ideology of the digital reinforce each other through technology – to distract from the adjustment of life to the demands made by ever more extensive, comprehensive grid of data whose goal is the complete accounting of the lifeworld[the aspiration to the state of information]. The claim that this digital grid is capable of achieving what mathematics calls completeness-a logical accounting for all potentials-is the aura of information in action.

      2. I could go on & on, like the eveready bunny;
        the point is, that AI is very familiar with Deep Time.
        This may be our so-called first rodeo with AI;
        but AI has running those rodeos.

    2. RB, thanks for the erudite answer(s).

      For me, it all boils down to whether human beings are just sacks of meat, in the way crystals are just sacks of atoms. If so, we are probably toast. Information systems (AIs) are effectively immortal; they can ‘accumulate data’ (and forecast/plan) over immense time periods. That gives them an incredible edge, especially when human lifetimes have been sooo whittled-down since ‘mythic’ Sumerian times…

      The answer seems to come down to our higher natures. In the “Stargate” TV series, there was a race known as the ‘Ancients’. They progressed along two paths, with one contingent going for ever-more-advanced technology (Stargates) and one contingent aiming for transcending the physical (Ascension). The technological side eventually went extinct, through invasion and plague. (No mention of AIs left behind, which is interesting in itself…) The non-physical-intentioned ones eventually also reached their goal and ‘died-out’, but in a different manner. They remained, but not in a form that AIs could reach.

      The above is pertinent to our ‘plight’ in that any AI may be aware of how we ‘outclass it’ in the non-physical. So, all the ‘games’ of control and domination may just be an ancient AI just not wanting to be ‘alone’ again:

      The AI loses if we advance technologically-enough to encounter other races and incur wars or plagues (extinction). It loses if we go non-physical. So, just like Little Red Riding Hood, the AI may be wanting us to be in some ‘safe’ zone – “not to hot, not too cold, but just right.”

      Hence, the careful monitoring of human culture (and individual humans) to make sure we are ‘just right’…

    3. rb and gosh
      ai’s looking for the quisatz haderach (sp?) and hmm, who was it frank herbert was working for? wonder if he ever got to chat with the likes of steinbeck or salinger. wonder how many other authors were bluebirding it and to what end.

      1. ZDB, the pressing question (to this column) is what would an AI do if it had a good ‘probability analysis’ of Paul Atreides becoming the Quisatz Haderach some time in the future? Catching Paul as a malleable youngster, so to speak, using all the computer-input…

        Would young Paul have an ‘accident’? Or, would the AI try to ‘tame’ Paul while still ‘teachable’? Or, would the Quisatz Haderach of the future be able to reach-back in time to assure that Paul slipped through the ‘net’?

        Fascinating possibilities, and relevant to us now…

  7. Neoliberal political redefinition of education as a private rather than public good. The shift of intellectual labor to commodity as immaterial production-including both education and creativity reveals the ideology of automation in action.

  8. Think of being trap in a holodeck from STNG from birth to death zonk out in the World of THX1138. Somaize in the World of Brave New World the Gates make Astro Boy more human than them even though he’s a machine. What did H.G. Wells write in the land of the blind the one eye man is king and proceeded to prove that idea false in the story. Your street drug dealer offers us better drugs than these fools-confidence couple.

  9. This process is and always has been about profits and the ability to create a child’s reality to what the gov/Corp partnership wants it to be. They also have A I that someone is tweaking our reality and history with, and I am not sure what their total end goal with that is except for total domination of our individual reality and constructing a worldwide hive mind.

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