Category: Education

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The Measure of Chromebook’s Success

Last year, I disputed ridiculous assertions, based on widely misquoted NPD data, that 2014 would be “year of the Chromebook”. It wasn’t. But that designation does belong to 2015—at least in the United States. Measures: Number of new models; adoption by K-12 schools; and overall sales, which are surprisingly strong. Read carefully the next paragraph.

Through U.S. commercial channels and retail, Chromebooks accounted for 14 percent of laptop sales last year, according to NPD, which released data at my request. That’s up from 8 percent in 2013. Commercial channels, largely to educational institutions, accounted for about two-thirds of 2014 Chromebook sold. Year over year, sales soared by 85 percent, and the trajectory continues to climb. 

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Google, Give Thanks!

It wouldn’t be U.S. Thanksgiving without my writing about gratitude, and why some tech company’s executives, employees, and partners should prostrate and pray “Thanks”.

This year I to Google, which continues a great run that started with Larry Page’s return as CEO in April 2011. If he’s not all smiles this Turkey Day, someone should slap that man aside the head. I could tick off a hundred things for which he should give thanks. For brevity’s sake, so you can get back to the big game and bigger bird, I select some things that might not come to mind. 

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Conspiracy of Debt

We’re doing the worst thing people can do: lying to our young. Nobody, not even this president, who was swept to victory in large part by the raw enthusiasm of college kids, has the stones to tell the truth: that a lot of them will end up being pawns in a predatory con game designed to extract the equivalent of home-mortgage commitment from 17-year-olds dreaming of impossible careers as nautical archaeologists or orchestra conductors.

One former law student I contacted for this story had a nervous breakdown while struggling to pay off six-figure debt. It wasn’t until he tapped into one of the few growth industries open to young Americans that his outlook brightened. ‘I got my life back on track by working for a marijuana delivery service in Manhattan’, he says.
Matt Taibbi

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Where the Rubber Room Meets the Road

I have a suggestion for Joel Klein, chancellor of New York City schools: Publish a teaching offenders list.

I must be a slow learner, because until Saturday I hadn’t understood New York City’s losing battle with the powerful teachers union. Once teachers achieve tenure—after 3 years—they are employed for life and damn near undismissible, even for cause. Journalism professor Samuel Freedman wrote about the situation for the New York Times two years ago: “Where Teachers Sit, Awaiting Their Fates.” I missed that one, but not Steven Brill’s shocking “The Rubber Room: The battle over New York City’s worst teachers” in Aug. 31, 2009, The New Yorker.

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No Class, No Reunion

My 30-year high school reunion will take place this year—if it hasn’t already. But, sigh, I have no high school where to return. During my junior and senior years, my mom moved the family from the town where I grew up to Maine’s second-largest city in the south. While other kids wallowed in the memories, I walked the hallowed halls like an odd duck. I was a stranger among strangers. I left my memories and friends 300 miles away, in the town where I was born and there the school system that educated me. No memories. No prom. No graduation parties. No fun.

I regularly cut classes in the new school, which was quite unusual for me. I had bulked up on extra classes through junior year and was one-quarter credit shy of graduation going into my senior year. I only needed to sustain grades for college. 

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Homeschooling as a Lifestyle Choice

Yesterday’s New York Times story, “The Gilded Age of Home Schooling“, looks at the practice from a lifestyle choice. The lead gets right to the point: “In what is an elite tweak on homeschooling—and a throwback to the gilded days of education by governess or tutor—growing numbers of families are choosing the ultimate in private school: hiring teachers to educate their children in their own homes”.

Well, that sure blows the hell out of homeschooling as a religious or philosophical choice. And I agree with the Times take. The tutor approach often is about lifestyle, such as people who travel. “Many say they have no argument with ordinary education—it just does not fit their lifestyle”. 

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You Are Here

Uh-oh. Young adults may know their way around MySpace, but National Geographic says they don’t know New York from Iraq. Half of 18-24 year olds can’t find New York on a map and only 37 percent know where is Iraq. Uh, don’t we have a whole lot of troops there?

Oh my. Forty-eight percent of young adults think—OMG—India is populated by Muslims! And I suppose they think the same Indians who live there are Native Americans. 

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Cogito Ergo Sum

Newsweek has ranked the top high schools. The first Maine high school, in Yarmouth, showed up 289 on the list. Cape Elizabeth high school snatched 764th place. Bangor high school came in 948. The local high school, here in Kensington, Md., ranked 648.

What makes a good high school is a good question, but it’s not the right one. I say: What makes a good education? I recall the recent study that found many graduating college students couldn’t manage basic tasks, like comparing ticket prices (ha, the real reason rock concerts cost so much!) or figuring the cost of a sandwich and a salad (ah, the real reason for the popularity of McDonald’s Dollar Menu).