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Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:12 PM

Can Rocketship Launch a Fleet of Successful, Mass-Produced Schools?

So-called 'innovative' schools created by an entrepreneur with 3 years teaching experience offer no art, no music and an hour a day on a computer in a 'learning lab' with no teacher.

JEFFREY BROWN: Now we look to a California education experiment called the Rocketship Model that involves teachers, kids and parents and aims to expand one day to serve a million students.

NewsHour's special correspondent for education, John Merrow, has our report.


JOHN MERROW: The Model T was the first, the first innovative and affordable car available to the masses. Others had built good cars, but Henry Ford figured out how to build a lot of them. He and his moving assembly line proved that quality can be mass-produced.

Mass production is a problem the auto industry solved over 100 years ago, but it's an issue our education system has yet to figure out. America has lots of terrific schools. People open great schools every year, but typically open just one. Nobody has figured out how to mass-produce high-quality, cost-effective schools.

John Danner is the latest to give it a shot. He created an innovative charter school model with replication in mind. Charter schools receive public funding, but are privately managed and operate outside of the traditional public system.

JOHN DANNER, Rocketship Education: Our public education system's not really set up for change.

JOHN MERROW: Before going into education, Danner founded and ran a successful Silicon Valley startup. He designed his new education model after teaching for three years in a traditional public school.


more plus a video: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/education/july-dec12/rocket_12-28.html

23 replies, 1998 views

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Reply Can Rocketship Launch a Fleet of Successful, Mass-Produced Schools? (Original post)
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 OP
MichiganVote Dec 2012 #1
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #2
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #7
Starry Messenger Dec 2012 #13
LWolf Dec 2012 #18
duffyduff Dec 2012 #3
mbperrin Dec 2012 #4
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #6
savebigbird Dec 2012 #5
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #8
savebigbird Dec 2012 #11
duffyduff Dec 2012 #9
Smarmie Doofus Dec 2012 #10
savebigbird Dec 2012 #12
Smarmie Doofus Dec 2012 #15
sulphurdunn Dec 2012 #21
savebigbird Dec 2012 #23
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #14
QED Dec 2012 #16
proud2BlibKansan Dec 2012 #17
mbperrin Dec 2012 #19
savebigbird Dec 2012 #20
sulphurdunn Dec 2012 #22

Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:14 PM

1. Short answer: No

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Fri Dec 28, 2012, 10:55 PM

2. McSchools for the poor

Filet Mignon schools for the elite. That's all any of this was ever about.

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Response to Starry Messenger (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 10:30 AM

7. Anyone else bothered by the idea of mass production in our schools?

What are we mass producing? Kids? Cars?

That part really creeps me out. Is it just me?

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:19 PM

13. I absolutely hate it.

The thought of corporate chain schools keeps my rage stoked. This whole movement has been to turn children into commodities. It was probably inevitable considering that the US financial sector has hollowed out every other sector they could drain, but it still shocks me that they actually went there.

This is a product of Silicon Valley, so it is bring branded as groovy and progressive--but the rest of the article tells the tale. Most of the teachers are TFA and non-union. The "schools" are being run on the "start-up" model: people who live here in SV will admit that most start ups fail, or fold being bought up by a larger company into their business plan. There is an excellent chance that little chain schools like Rocketship could end up all being owned by one big corporation like Google or Microsoft.

That means $500 billion in public education money eventually being turned over to the 1% of this country, just like everything else. Capitalism fucking sucks. Teachers are going to have to get as militant as dockworkers to shut this crap down.

Otherwise in a few short years teachers are going to be minimum wage workers supervising large rooms full of kids on computers all wearing shirts with the company logo.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 05:52 PM

18. It's not just you. nt

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:07 AM

3. Another attempt to pilfer taxpayer money

Instead of more "innovative" schools designed to rip off taxpayers, it's long overdue to shut down charters or at least cut off public funding.

Let them operate as the private schools they are and charge tuition. Of course 99 percent of them would shut down overnight.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 01:53 AM

4. Three years of experience. Just about enough time to start calling on about equal numbers

of boys and girls automatically, instead of having to remember not to reward boys for their scene-stealing behavior.

Just about enough time to start automatically allowing wait time for student responses - 15 seconds at the minimum.

Just about enough time to figure out different cohorts of students require different classroom layouts.

Just about enough time to realize that real lesson plans are important, rather than just "winging it" or reading a script.

Just about enough time to realize that some kids have no one at all in their corner, ever, and just the tiniest support will make that rock bloom.

Enough time to open and run a school? Nope.

Totally developmentally inappropriate to imagine that elementary kids have enough agency to work for an hour unsupervised on a computer.

No art or music? Heck, cut out lunch, too - everyone knows that digestion makes you sleepy, and sleepy kids can't learn; also by no means allow them any time out in the open to run and play and learn social interaction.

Majority of teachers have 2 years or less on the job? Wow. Let's completely reinvent the wheel - after all, those oldtimers never learned anything worth knowing after 30 years, right?

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Response to mbperrin (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 09:03 AM

6. +1

I still didn't know much about teaching after only 3 years. Certainly not enough to start my own school.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 08:26 AM

5. I saw that particular program segment recently.

I have multiple major problems with this school model.

1. The creator has a background in business, not education, and has only three years of teaching experience. Truly successful schools are not run like businesses, and three years of teaching experience typically doesn't qualify anyone to run one school, much less multiple schools.

2. This school model is over reliant on automated, self-teaching via computerized games with insufficient guidance and adult supervision. In addition, students' classroom teachers do not receive data related to students' progress in their online learning games. Therefore, their teachers cannot correlate what occurs in the classroom with the gaming.

3. Students are not given opportunities to study music or art. Music and art compliment cognitive growth and provide for career opportunities later in life and simply make humans happier. Denying students the opportunity to study these subjects deprives them of cognitive and affective growth.

4. Their understanding of differentiated instruction is flawed. They see differentiation as allowing students to move at different paces through a prescribed set and order of levels and concepts in computerized learning gaming. This is NOT adequate differentiation. Differentiation is so much more complex than this business allows for. Please see http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-differentiated-instruction for more information on differentiation if you're interested.

In my opinion, we need to stop taking the attitude that our public education system is broken so it needs to be replaced as a whole. There are many, many terrific things public schools do that we can build upon. There is no need to throw out all of the work and development public schools have done.

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 10:40 AM

8. They need it to be broken. They've been at this for over 30 years now.

Diane Ravitch says the 'schools are broken' claim goes back several generations. In the 60s they were broken so we were going to lose the race to the moon if we didn't fix them. In the 70s it was integration that broke our schools. Now all of a sudden they're broken because we aren't educating low income minority kids as well as we could be.

And the reality is we are graduating more kids, fewer are dropping out and ACT scores have gone up. That's not broken. But if they aren't broken, then we don't need any radical reforms that take away art and music from our kids who need those classes the most. And there's no money to be made on 'fixing' the broken schools. Darn.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #8)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:12 PM

11. When will the American people open their eyes...

...and see what is truly being done to their children and their schools? It's time to put experienced educators back in charge of our educational system. Politicians just aren't making the cut.

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 11:04 AM

9. It isn't about public education. It's about the taxpayer money.

It's about legalized bank robbery courtesy of the taxpayers. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:11 PM

10. Strikes me as another gimmicky ( yet profitable!!!) miracle. Also...

... Danner says ( circa 2.58 into the clip) that the "parents often work multiple jobs". Then less than thirty seconds later he ( or someone else) says success hinges on getting the parents involved.

Gosh. I had NO idea.

Anyway... that's as far as I got in the video.

The News Hour's accelerated interest in corporate school "reform" lately is a little curious.

Who's funding them these days?

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:15 PM

12. Bill & Melinda Gates, Among Others!

From http://www.pbs.org/newshour/aboutus/funders.html

FOUNDATION FUNDERS
S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Gruber Family Foundation
William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Joyce Foundation
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
National Endowment for the Arts
National Science Foundation
John and Wendy Neu Family Foundation
David and Lucile Packard Foundation
Park Foundation
Poetry Foundation
Rockefeller Foundation
Skoll Foundation
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
Starr Foundation
Wallace Foundation

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #12)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:27 PM

15. One would think that list would be worthy of a public disclaimer.

There was none at the beginning. Was there one at the end?

If you can't trust PBS who can you trust?

No one, I guess.

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Response to savebigbird (Reply #12)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 03:04 PM

21. These folks

don't give money without strings.

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Response to sulphurdunn (Reply #21)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 07:45 PM

23. Yep! n/t

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Response to Smarmie Doofus (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 12:21 PM

14. Yes, they work multiple jobs but have time to take their kids to art and music lessons!

Plus volunteer for umpteen hours at the school. I'll bet they have parents monitoring that learning lab.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 03:18 PM

16. Merrow is a big fan of Kipp

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Response to QED (Reply #16)

Sat Dec 29, 2012, 03:20 PM

17. Obviously.

That chanting nonsense is positively ridiculous.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 01:39 AM

19. Yep, it is. I was still working in the private sector when all the attaboy

crap was popular.

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Reply #17)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 06:07 AM

20. I think that is meant to replace P.E.

They didn't mention P.E., by the way...

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Response to proud2BlibKansan (Original post)

Sun Dec 30, 2012, 03:11 PM

22. A point rarely mentioned

about these national school chains is that they are not confined to the public school districts in which the public schools must remain. Also, they can solicit funding from a sympathetic private sector because they can freely and willingly bind themselves to the funding demands of the vulture philanthropists and still receive compulsory funding from the public school districts where they operate. That's what passes for choice and competition in the "heads I win tails you lose" doublespeak of corporate educational reform.

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