NYT Sunday Two-Fer

The New York Times sunday edition today has two very relevant articles, one on our robot futures and the second about education and accountability.

Starting with robotics, Mark Bittman- yes, the same Bittman who writes many an NYT recipe column- presents his own take on the chronic underemployment problem served to us by our future robots being developed today: Why Not Utopia. His underlying argument, that we need to rethink the fundamental social formula governing how we humans achieve equity and meaning in a future age with few jobs, hits the mark.  Well done Mark.

Now for education. The National section has a long-format report by Motoko Rich and Tamar Lewin, Fate of Education Law Generates Hope and Fear, that cuts to the heart of several issues I discuss in Parenting for Technology Education.  The authors points out how No Child Left Behind did its best work by forcing statistics to make educational inequity between race and gender entirely clear across the U.S. But the same act created negative feedback cycles by forcing increasing proficiency in an age of ever-redefined proficiency measures. Schools began, and continue, to react to the wrong stimuli, trying to force greater federal spending instead of focusing on the authentic well-being of the students. This article is right in line with my discussions, and points out a depressing current-day reality: the most recent federal budgets are about to further decrease funding in school districts, such as Philadelphia, where lack of funding is already causing chronic problems that will not be served at all well with more sticks in the form of budget reduction. Our children face a challenging technology future; making their everyday educational experience poorer is no way to help them in the face of this uncertain future.

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