Another computer billionaire meddling in education


Move over, Bill Gates, and watch out, educators. There’s another computer billionaire out there who has anointed himself an education expert. The story linked below is about  Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings, who, among other things, wants to expand charter schools and replace locally elected school boards with privately run boards.

He also is suspected of wanting to replace teachers with computers, and earlier this year he pledged $100 million to help accomplish his goals.

Hastings, a former president of the California State Board of Education, apparently has been convinced for years that privately run charter schools are the way to improve education in America. And the more computers those schools purchase to replace teachers, the more billions that he and his techie buddies will amass while the quality of education deteriorates.

In a speech last year to the California Charter Schools Association, Hastings proposed replacing locally elected school boards with privately run boards, such as those that govern corporate charters.

“The most important thing is that they (charters) constantly get better every year…because they have stable governance – they don’t have an elected school board,” he was quoted as saying.

Of course, there are some major problems with that statement. First, a lot of charters don’t get better every year, including charters that Hastings has been associated with. Many charters get worse, and some fail. Granted, as teachers in a couple of school districts in San Antonio know all-too-well, elected school boards can be disasters. But so can privately run boards, especially if they are stacked with high-tech entrepreneurs who know nothing about teaching and learning.

Parents, school employees and other taxpayers, though, can replace elected school board members at the next election, whereas they have no control over privately run boards.

Now, if only we had a way of “dis-electing” billionaires who insist that their fortunes have suddenly given them remarkable insight into the educational process.



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