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Peter Greene: Get Your Barf Bag Ready for September 8, When Mrs. Jobs Reveals How to Fix Education

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Peter Greene has a timely warning for us. Laurene Powell Jobs has lined up multiple TV channels and a star-studded cast to tell the world how she is fixing education. Her group is called the Emerson Collective. She hired Arne Duncan to advise her, despite the fact that he wasted $5 billion of federal funds (taxpayer money) on a failed effort to “reform” public schools by privatizing them, closing them, firing teachers and principals, and making standardized tests the purpose of education.

Peter notes that no working educator helped Mrs. Jobs formulate her plans. What do teachers know about education?

He writes:

“Brace yourselves. It’s time for a star-studded ed erformstravaganza.

“Another wave of PR dropped yesterday, touting a four-network, celebrity-packed, media event, proudly trumpeted everywhere from Variety to USA Today. On September 8, a huge line-up (including Tom Hanks, Yo-Yo Ma, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson and (sorry) Common) will present “an hour-long live television special about reinventing American high schools….

“The XQ Institute is an offspring of the Emerson Collective, a Palo Alto-based do-gooding group founded by Laurene Powell Jobs. The organization is dedicated to removing barriers to opportunity so people can live to their full potential in order to develop and execute innovative solutions that will spur change and promote equality. They were one of the first groups to hire Arne Duncan after his Ed Secretary stint (do not miss his hardcore street pic here). Oh, and they just bought controlling interest in the Atlantic which, for reasons we’ll get to, is kind of a bummer.

“Jobs was always a philanthropic power player, and she’s logged time in the ed reform biz with NewSchools Venture Fund (We raise contributions from donors and use it to find, fund and support teams of educators and education entrepreneurs who are reimagining public education), but as the widow of Apple Empresario Steve Jobs, she has a huge mountain of money to work with. She is, in fact, the fourth richest woman in the world. And she has decided she would like to fix education.

“Jobs has said, “We want to make high schools back into the great equalizers they were meant to be.”

“To do that, she launched XQ Institute, which launched a big competition– XQ: The Super School Project.

“The Super School Project is an open call to reimagine and design the next American high school. In towns and cities far and wide, teams will unite and take on this important work of our time: rethinking and building schools that deeply prepare our students for the rigorous challenges of college, jobs, and life…

“Jobs doesn’t use many of the dog whistles or talking points of reformsters, except for one that she really loves:

“Jobs told the NYT, “The system was created for the work force we needed 100 years ago. Things are not working the way we want it to be working.”

“In USA Today: The XQ Institute aims to “rethink” American public high schools, which, it maintains, have remained virtually unchanged for a century while the world has transformed dramatically.

“Schools haven’t changed in 100 years” is the dead horse Jobs rides in on, a criticism that only makes sense if you don’t know what schools were actually like in 1917, and if you haven’t actually visited one in the last century….

“I also note that in all the publicity for the event that I’ve now read, there is no mention of other sponsors, so while I don’t have proof, I’m pushed to conclude that Laurene Powell Jobs just busted out her checkbook and bought a full hour of Friday night primetime television on four networks.

“What can we expect. Well, music and comedy and documentaries are billed. And we’re talking about a SuperSchool live, so presumably we won’t bother with any coverage of those dopey Clark Kent schlubby schools where the rest of us slog away. This special will just focus on Jobs’ own created reality.”

Don’t you wish that billionaire dilettantes would fix health care or save national parks or find some other pet hobby? When do they get tired of failing? Again and again and again…

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