Local ISD Focusing on Equity-Based Computer Learning

Enter To Learn above doorway
Enter To Learn above doorway | Image by Highland Park ISD

Highland Park ISD is allegedly sending its principals to be indoctrinated at a professional development program that favors equity-based computer learning over local control of teaching and curricula, according to at least one concerned resident.

Meg Bakich claims the Texas Association of School Administrators (TASA) and the Texas Education Agency (TEA) are enacting a plan to transform the education system in Texas into a uniform technology-led system funded and promoted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Dallas Express spoke with Bakich, whose five children matriculated through Highland Park ISD and who herself once ran for the district’s school board, about what she decried as an effort to replace “teacher-led learning” with “computer-led learning.”

Bakich said that Highland Park ISD is sending principals to a professional development program called the Principals’ Institute, which she claims is a vehicle to promote an outcome-based education (OBE) system previously adopted by TASA.

OBE is a system that orients education systems towards helping students reach predefined and personalized goals. However, its detractors argue it necessarily dispenses with traditional lessons on reading, math, and learning to write cursive in favor of Common Core objectives.

“In Texas, we have College and Career Ready/Common Core aligned Standards,” Bakich explained. “It is a philosophy of education that shifts away from giving children an academic education of equal opportunity so they can freely succeed in life to an education of equal outcomes. This is being done on a device and will lead to the next generation being monitored and controlled by data collected.”

Bakich explained that such shifts towards equity have consequences for future generations.

“It’s a shift from providing these children an academic education so that one day they can defend their own freedom to looking at our children as human capital for the workforce,” she said.

Bakich said that parents and voters at the local level are opposed to OBE taking over curricula across the state, arguing that the State Board of Education, which is the only state-wide education regulating body elected by voters, has slowly ceded its power to the TEA. She noted that the appointed commissioner of the TEA, Mike Morath, is a software entrepreneur, which she connected to the modern OBE emphasis on technology.

“What we have now with computer-led learning is every ‘educational’ application that children are on” is based on a non-cognitive foundation “that is social-emotional learning,” Bakich said. “Common core is not about a set of standards. Common Core is a philosophy of education. And that philosophy is the shift away from academics to the non-cognitive equity.”

Bakich explained that this plan to transform education across the state reached Highland Park ISD through Dawson Orr, who was part of the TASA superintendent commission that devised the plan in 2008, which was dubbed the “Public Education Visioning Institute.”

As a consequence of this shift, school districts that implement this educational system de-emphasize traditional math facts, spelling tests, reading books and book reports, cursive, and learning phonics —- skills that she calls “basic education.”

In place of that basic educational structure, students are allegedly now given assessments that are predominantly behavior-focused, Bakich said. Furthermore, she claimed such assessments are administered through computer programs based on values and objectives that are increasingly disconnected from teachers and local communities. Bakich argued that this process would eventually eliminate the function of teachers altogether.

“Teachers will become facilitators for computer adaptive software programs that nudge a child to a singular behavioral outcome. Whoever controls the algorithm controls the facilitator and the children’s values, beliefs, world views, and behaviors,” Bakich said.

With these concerns in mind, Bakich has confronted the Highland Park ISD school board in an email asking them whether they support TASA’s “New Vision for Public Education in Texas” and why principals from the district are being sent to a training program for the initiative called the Principals’ Institute.

“Traditional public schools must return to traditional pedagogy,” Bakich summarized to DX.

DX also reached out to Highland Park ISD Superintendent Mike Rockwood and the Principals’ Institute for comment, but responses were not received by the time of publication.

The latest iteration of the Principals’ Institute, which was “designed by N2 Learning,” “offers facilities, operational, and curriculum experience that can help [principals] develop a new vision for facilities through customized:

  • Digital by Design
  • Spaces that encourage student/teacher collaboration
  • Spaces that encourage student ownership for learning
  • Flexible spaces (including furnishings)
  • Safety and security
  • Sight-lines for teachers and staff
  • Integration of technology into the instructional process
  • Educational specifications.”

Support our non-profit journalism

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Continue reading on the app
Expand article