The Role of the Press These Days
There are a growing number of violent outbreaks taking place in Trump's wake and the blank stare of the news cameras are worrying to say the least. For months, media have been capturing Trump's calls to violence, the racist atmosphere he has created, and his dangerous proposals with little comment. The story being told, of Trump and Sanders as two sides of a coin, both outsiders with an angry message for the political elite is nowhere near reality. They aren't even the same currency. Sanders has been firing folks up - whether you agree with him or not - with a package of policies that are aimed at raising up the tired, poor and huddled masses, while Trump has been feeding the flames of fear and shopping a tax plan to help the wealthy just a little bit more. Media reactions to Trump's racism and sexism have been mild and ultimately wrong-headed in their attempts at neutrality and just a few journalists are talking about it. I mean, even with endorsements from noted white supremacist anti-Semites, ostensibly Pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC feels comfortable inviting him to speak at their annual conference. That's because no matter what Trump says or does the only consequences are being felt by his targets. There are times when journalists need to speak out about what we witness. It's time to act like a free press. That doesn't mean we ought to limit free speech, or present opinion as fact. It does, however, mean standing up for truth in the face of lies, holding up an ethic of inclusion, and naming danger when it is clear and present.
The New Yorker magazine ran a story in its March 7, 2016 issue on a $30,000 a year private school called AltSchool that has sprouted up in Silicon Valley and Brooklyn Heights and leans heavily on technology and individualized learning. It is a for-profit enterprise that is gathering data on kids, which, on the surface, it say is to help quantify interests, and information. There is a serious problem with the idea that everything from personal growth to poetry is quantifiable on a spreadsheet. It's not, and the very notion sucks the creativity out of learning and life. Though the teachers seem have incredible space to be creative with their day to day (something that is seriously missing from most educational spaces), this school has, at the end of the day, a bottom line and part of their plan seems to be to achieve that bottom line by entering the classrooms of the United States public schools and then they want to move on to the learning spaces of the world.
The biggest problem, though, may be that AltSchool's ceilings are filled with surveillance cameras and microphones that they say help teachers look back at "breakthrough" moments throughout the day and learn more about their learners and classrooms. They say they are preparing kids for the workplaces of the future. Far from challenging students to think critically about our societies, this will only serve to prepare kids for the frightening and constant surveillance we all endure in industrialized countries today. Their growth will likely be deeply stunted as they internalize the fact that this for-profit enterprise is deciding whether they pass or fail each step of the way, and given that they are always watching, it is best for the 4 year old or 14 year old to never, ever step out of line.
Here is how the article describes the surveillance: