Yesterday Mark Guzdial blogged about a NY Times piece discussing Silicon Valleys influence on education through Code.org.
Mark questioned the validity of the piece. If you don't read Mark's blog and you're in CS Ed you probably should.
I tried to leave a comment on Mark's blog - not about the NY Times article but rather my thoughts on why I think it's important that we remain wary and vigilant to industry and outsiders influence and impact on CS education and on education in general.
I don't know if my comment is sitting waiting for Mark to moderate or if I'm experiencing WordPress weirdness but since it hasn't shown up there, I thought I'd share it here:
While the article might not make a strong case it's important to be wary of outside influences on education policies.
I'm a fan of a lot of what code.org does but speaking about outsiders in general…
Bill Gates and Co. directly or indirecty gave us such delights like stack ranking teachers, improving, I mean evaluating, I mean firing teachers based on test scores of students they don't teach, more and more high stakes nonsense testing for kids, and at least in NY the destruction of neighborhood schools.
They've also pushed the current charter movement that, aided by misleading stats appear successful but in truth are no better and frequently worse than public schools while not sharing back a single "best practice."
Then we have private companies like the College Board and Pearson both of whom have an outsized influence on US Ed policy and curriculum.
I don't doubt the good intentions of code.org - as I said, I'm a fan. I am concerned when they and others take actions that can affect ed policy. I'm concerned when code.org representative pushes students to take an AP exam - not a great CS course with a great CS teacher but the actual exam. I'm even more concerned when code.org offers free PD when a school signs up for the PSAT8/9 - another high stakes meaningless test at taxpayer expense. For code.org it's a means to get more CS ed out there. To me it's setting up a new cash cow for the college board at my expense and at students expense.
I've seen many Ed Tech people, armed with the best intentions, enter the lions den – a school, district, or municipality only to see their best intentions corrupted in the name of cost cutting, profits, or politics.