Principles for School and Teacher Decision Making

  • Students learn best in smaller classes and from personal contact with their teachers.
  • Teachers need time, support, and opportunities to collaborate to do their best work.
  • Student individuality, social experience, interest, and prior knowledge is respected.
  • Teachers should have substantial freedom to make decisions about curriculum and instruction, and the interests, passions, and beliefs of teachers are crucial to the success of their students.
  • The best curriculum is relevant to real issues in the world and prepares students not only for the workplace but for rich personal lives, critical thinking, and global citizenship.
  • Standardized tests are limited measures of what really matters in teaching and learning.
  • Authentic assessment of students and teachers alike arises from localized contexts and learning goals.
  • Teachers should have a significant voice in the spending of educational dollars; the best educational resources are often free or inexpensive.
  • Students need to know how to research, write, collaborate, and publish online, yet online and virtual learning should not replace face-to-face classrooms but serve as tools directed and controlled by teachers.
  • Schools and colleges of education are important to the formation, certification, and continued education of high quality teachers.
  • Teacher professional organizations should play significant roles in professional development.
  • Education is not a business, students are not products, and teachers are not assembly-line workers.

High Standards, not Standardization

  • ICT (Information Communication Technology) companies and the Common Core State Standards are inextricably linked, as ICT continues to develop CCSS-based units of instruction and assessment.
  • There is little evidence correlating common standards to student achievement. (See the recent study by the Brookings Institute for analysis)

Democracy and Civic Engagement

  • In a recent interview, E2020 CEO Sari Factor said, "Technology is game-changing because it levels the playing field and has the potential to break down barriers of inequity, providing access to the best teachers and the best learning experiences." There is little support for this grand claim; instead, there is reason to worry that our most marginalized students will receive the bulk of online instruction as part of alternative programs or blended instruction.
  • Dewey wrote that "A democracy is more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience. The extension in space of the number of individuals who participate in an interest so that each has to refer his own action to that of others, and to consider the action of others to give point and direction to his own, is equivalent to the breaking down of those barriers of class, race, and national territory which kept men from perceiving the full import of their activity." To what degree is online instruction limiting the kinds of "conjoint communicated experience" that Dewey described here, and how will democracy be affected as a result?
  • As a recent article in The Nation pointed out, ICT companies have incredible politic influence at the federal and state levels, influencing government bodies to craft legislation that favors their products. How does the widespread adoption of ICT materials change the way democracy works?

Examples