Ed-Tech’s Inequalities

A brilliant rant by Audrey Watters

Starts off this way:
“Education is the civil rights issue of our time,” you’ll often hear politicians and education reform types say.
Here’s US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan back in 2010, for example:
Education is still the key to eliminating gender inequities, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, and to fostering peace. And in a knowledge economy, education is the new currency by which nations maintain economic competitiveness and global prosperity. …Closing the achievement gap and closing the opportunity gap is the civil rights issue of our generation.
To the contrary, I maintain that civil rights remain the civil rights issue of our generation. When we see, for example, the Supreme Court overturn part of the Voting Rights Act, when we see rampant police violence against marginalized groups, when we see backlash against affirmative action and against Title IX protections, when we see pervasive discrimination – institutionalized – in people’s daily lives, when we see widespread inequalities – socioeconomic stratification based on race, ethnicity, gender, geography – we need to admit: there are things that, as Tressie McMillan Cottom has argued, the “education gospel cannot fix.”
And yet the dominant narrative – the gospel, if you will – about education and, increasingly education technology, is that it absolutely is “the fix.”

and ends this way:
Education technology simply does not confront systemic inequalities. Or rather, it often substitutes access to a computing device or high speed Internet for institutional or structural change. Education technology routinely fails to address power or privilege. It fails to recognize, let alone examine, its history. It insists instead on stories about meritocracy and magic and claims about “blindness.”

with a lot of provocative thinking in between.

One thought on “Ed-Tech’s Inequalities

  1. Daniel DAlonzo

    Hey – just found your site. You’re on to something big when you discuss systemic inequalities – I hope you keep writing. The world needs more people writing about the need for system redesign and that it is ok to be a stakeholder in your community – you should be at the same table with all other members who make decisions impacting your life.

    And yes, I agree that edtech has little to do with this. Well, not the MOOC version or the purely digitized version of the traditional education system.

    Education innovation can be quite valuable in a time like this, though. The tides are changing. More and more people are realizing they did not sign up for the shitty cards they were dealt. Neighbors are beginning to talk with one another. They are realizing they are both struggling from the same problems.

    This desire to compete with the people we love so one of us gets to be the only person who is no longer realistic. As technology disrupts our institutions it also automates more jobs than it creates. We are experiencing the last remaining breaths of an unsustainable economy.

    Alas. Social problems. The one thing which has not been exploited by the startup culture or edtech or anyone else. We always can count on our nation to consistently exist with deep rooted social problems which have existed for decades and in some cases centuries. Each generation is taught to accept the inequities, reject social justice, and move on with our lives.

    Well, fortunately, the bandaid solutions no longer hold. The levy is about to break. The race to see who is the best at winning all the money in our economy has come to an end. Not by choice. By default. When all the money has been drained from the economy the game is clearly over. However, for some reason we continue to live blissfully as if everything is fantastic.

    The time has come for a new way of life in this country. One that is focused on creating social value as the primary driving force of the economy rather than maximizing profit. We mustn’t leave this powerful opportunity for the same incumbents to sweep in and maintain ownership simply by the leftover reminense of control and power they think they have.

    We must empower our youth to immerse themselves deep within our local communities so they may understand and analyze the complexity of the archaic social issues which continue to plague this great nation. For it is through this immersion will they identify unmet human needs. At which point, they will know how to create social value because they just finished the second two-week immersive at the Action Horizon Institute http://actionhorizon.institute

    We are using education as the engine for driving systemic change which will be felt throughout the country. this generation of youth have one job: create the social enterprises which will lay the foundation of our new economy to employ future Americans for the next 100+ years.

    If you don’t think I’m completely crazy shoot me an email. Would be great to connect.


Comments are closed.