New Jersey union fights blended learning

New Jersey’s biggest teachers’ union is suing to shut down charter schools that use “blended learning,” a mix of online and group learning, according to the Hechinger Report.

Merit Prep opened this fall in Newark with 80 sixth-grade students, “mostly black, poor and below grade level,” and plans to add one grade level each year. Students spend part of the day working on laptops. They’re able to move forward at their own pace.

The online curriculum feeds each student’s answers into a data center operated by Touchstone Education, the non-profit school management group that runs Merit Prep. The data center then spits out reports that (math teacher Ben) Conant can use to monitor his students’ progress, figure out what one-on-one coaching each student needs and adjust what he will teach when he pulls a few kids aside into glass-enclosed seminar rooms for small-group instruction.

However, the New Jersey Education Association has gone to court to shut down Merit Prep and another charter school that uses blending learning, reports Hechinger. “The union’s lawsuit argues that charter schools can’t emphasize online instruction until the New Jersey state legislature evaluates and approves it.”

“Should we be experimenting with students during their academic experience?” asks Steve Wollmer, the union’s communications director. “They only get one trip through the public schools.”

After all, non-blended learning is a proven success in Newark. (Yes, that’s sarcasm.)

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  1. Should we be experimenting with students during their academic experience?

    As if Ed Schools don’t do this every day in schools across the nation, as they promote the latest pedagogical fad.

    • What would you have the union do? Admit that the union’s official position is that it doesn’t give a damn about the kids and that its reason for existence is to secure the best, possible deal for its membership regardless of what that does to the kids?

      • That would be nice.  If they gave up the false concern, we could work on having them create more benefit for what they’re being paid.  If they stay on the same course, the low productivity of their “students” is not going to sustain the pay and benefits they’re getting today.

    • Mmm, yes. The teacher as “guide on the side, not the sage on the stage”, whole language (repackaged as balanced literacy), Readers’/Writers’ Workshop (“grammar should be caught, not taught”), invented spelling, journaling, spiral math curricula (aka repeated partial learning), “literacy” as a skill independent of content knowledge, mainstreaming/full inclusion, peer tutoring (how much do peer tutors get paid?), mandatory volunteering (not at a church or temple), college-prep for all, AP for all… the list goes on.

  2. If only the Ed Schools would stop when the experiment has failed…

    • I’m afraid that too many pillars of PC/MC would be knocked out if empiricism was allowed to gain a toehold in any of the relevant social sciences.