I was not surprised to see the NCGA Repubs were holding a closed meeting Thursday on education issues. Held behind closed doors In Kannapolis and not open to the public, they had several presentations, mostly from entities that favor the privatization of public schools.
I sat in on the NCGA Education Oversight committee meeting last Tuesday, where only one bill was brought forward. That draft bill will fix a situation where a retired educator is asked to come back to work temporarily, but IRS regs forced the school system to give them a bronze-level health care plan, whereas in retirement, they have a gold-level plan. Many were not heeding the call for temp employment so they did not lose the higher level of health insurance. The proposed bill (no number for it yet) will fix that situation.
I was surprised that this was the only bill. The committee had heard testimony on several other issues: UNC tuition, vocational training for individuals with intellectual disabilities, Elizabeth City State University, Race to the Top, the AP United States history class standards, and the pilot virtual charter schools. Not to mention the desire to expand vouchers. Then, the only bill they proposed was reasonable and actually needed. It felt as if something was being kept under wraps.
One of the presentations mentioned in the news articles on this private meeting for the GOP caucus was a guest speaker from the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. http://www.christenseninstitute.org This is an overly simplistic explanation, but the concept of disruptive innovation says that technological advances have a disruptive affect on existing businesses. Christensen took that idea and pointed out that the disruption was because the business model could not adapt, not necessarily because of the technology.
What, you ask, does a business term like disruptive innovation have to do with education in North Carolina? The presupposition is that our traditional public schools have not been able to adapt advances in technology into their ‘business model.’ Technology in this case seems to refer to on-line classes. Some tout a ‘blended education’ which would allow students to take some classes in a physical school building and some classes at home on line. (This model is often discussed but no one mentions how these students wold be transported from home to school, and that could be terribly complex). And others are interested in a total on line education experience. Those people put a requirement to open two virtual on line schools in our state into last year’s state budget. Sen. Jerry Tillman talked about virtual education quite a lot in last year’s committee meetings.
‘Disruptive innovation’ is one of the tools to be used for the destruction of public schools as we know them. If you had any doubts as to the ultimate goal of the right wing in regards to education, you can put them to rest now.