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更新时间:2017-6-8 10:43:51 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

The Silicon Valley Billionaires Remaking America’s Schools

In San Francisco’s public schools, Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce, is giving middle school principals $100,000 “innovation grants” and encouraging them to behave more like startup founders and less like bureaucrats.

在旧金山,Salesforce首席执行官马克·贝尼奥夫(Marc Benioff)向若干公立中学的校长捐赠了10万美元“创新经费”,鼓励他们更像创业者而不是官僚那样行事。

In Maryland, Texas, Virginia and other states, Netflix’s chief, Reed Hastings, is championing a popular math-teaching program where Netflix-like algorithms determine which lessons students see.

Netflix的首席执行官里德·哈斯廷斯(Reed Hastings)在马里兰、德克萨斯和弗吉尼亚等州倡导一个受欢迎的数学教学计划,由类似Netflix使用的算法来决定学生观看什么课程。

And in more than 100 schools nationwide, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief, is testing one of his latest big ideas: software that puts children in charge of their own learning, recasting their teachers as facilitators and mentors.

而在全美的100多个学校,Facebook的首席执行官马克·扎克伯格(Mark Zuckerberg)正在测试自己最新的一个宏大创想:一种让孩子们能够自己掌控学习的软件,把老师变为协助和指导的角色。

In the space of just a few years, technology giants have begun remaking the very nature of schooling on a vast scale, using some of the same techniques that have made their companies linchpins of the U.S. economy. Through their philanthropy, they are influencing the subjects that schools teach, the classroom tools that teachers choose and fundamental approaches to learning.


The involvement by some of the wealthiest and most influential titans of the 21st century amounts to a singular experiment in education, with millions of students serving as de facto beta testers for their ideas. Some tech leaders believe that applying an engineering mindset can improve just about any system, and that their business acumen qualifies them to rethink U.S. education.


“They are experimenting collectively and individually in what kinds of models can produce better results,” said Emmett D. Carson, chief executive of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, which manages donor funds for Hastings, Zuckerberg and others. “Given the changes in innovation that are underway with artificial intelligence and automation, we need to try everything we can to find which pathways work.”

“他们正在以集体和个人的方式去尝试什么样的模式可以产生更好的结果,”硅谷社区基金会(Silicon Valley Community Foundation)首席执行官埃米特·D·卡森(Emmett D. Carson)说,该基金负责管理哈斯廷斯和扎克伯格等人的捐赠资金。“随着人工智能和自动化的发展,创新也在发生变化,因此我们需要进行各种尝试,看看哪些方式是有用的。”

But the philanthropic efforts are taking hold so rapidly that there has been little public scrutiny.


Tech companies and their founders have been rolling out programs in America’s public schools with relatively few checks and balances, The New York Times found in interviews with more than 100 company executives, government officials, school administrators, researchers, teachers, parents and students.


“They have the power to change policy, but no corresponding check on that power,” said Megan Tompkins-Stange, an assistant professor of public policy at the University of Michigan. “It does subvert the democratic process.”

“他们有改变政策的力量,但是这种力量没有受到相应的监督,”密歇根大学公共政策助理教授梅根·汤普金斯-斯坦格(Megan Tompkins-Stange)说。“它确实颠覆了民主程序。”

Furthermore, there is only limited research into whether the tech giants’ programs have actually improved students’ educational results.


One of the broadest philanthropic initiatives directly benefits the tech industry.


Code.org, a major nonprofit group financed with more than $60 million from Silicon Valley luminaries and their companies, has the stated goal of getting every public school in the United States to teach computer science. Its argument is twofold: Students would benefit from these classes, and companies need more programmers.


Together with Microsoft and other partners, Code.org has barnstormed the country, pushing states to change education laws and fund computer science courses. It has also helped more than 120 districts to introduce such curricula, the group said, and has facilitated training workshops for more than 57,000 teachers. And Code.org’s free coding programs, called Hour of Code, have become wildly popular, drawing more than 100 million students worldwide.

Code.org与微软公司及其他合作伙伴一起在全国巡回游说,敦促各州改变教育法,并资助电脑科学课程。该组织还帮助120多个地区把电脑科学列入课程,并为5.7万名以上的教师提供了培训讲习班。Code.org的免费代码程序“编程一小时”(Hour of Code),已经大受欢迎,吸引了全球超过一亿名学生。

Hastings of Netflix and other tech executives rejected the idea that they wielded significant influence in education. The mere fact that classroom internet access has improved, Hastings said, has had a much greater impact in schools than anything tech philanthropists have done.


"In our society as a democracy, I think it is healthy that there is a debate about what are the goals of public education,” Hastings added.


Captains of American industry have long used their private wealth to remake public education, with lasting and not always beneficial results.


What is different today is that some technology giants have begun pitching their ideas directly to students, teachers and parents — using social media to rally people behind their ideas. Some companies also cultivate teachers to spread the word about their products.


Such strategies help companies and philanthropists alike influence public schools far more quickly than in the past, by creating legions of supporters who can sway legislators and education officials.


Another difference: Some tech moguls are taking a hands-on role in nearly every step of the education supply chain by financing campaigns to alter policy, building learning apps to advance their aims and subsidizing teacher training. This end-to-end influence represents an “almost monopolistic approach to education reform,” said Larry Cuban, an emeritus professor of education at Stanford University. “That is starkly different to earlier generations of philanthropists.”

另一个不同是,有些技术大亨几乎正在参与教育供应链的每一步,资助改变政策的倡议活动,开发学习应用程序,以推进实现自己的目标,资助教师培训。斯坦福大学(Stanford University)的教育学荣休教授拉里·丘班(Larry Cuban)表示,这种端到端的影响代表着一种“近乎垄断的教育改革方式”,“与之前几代慈善家大为不同”。

These efforts coincide with a larger Silicon Valley push to sell computers and software to U.S. schools, a lucrative market projected to reach $21 billion by 2020. Already, more than half of the primary- and secondary-school students in the United States use Google services like Gmail in school.


But many parents and educators said in interviews that they were unaware of the Silicon Valley personalities and money influencing their schools. Among them was Rafranz Davis, executive director of professional and digital learning at Lufkin Independent School District, a public school system in Lufkin, Texas, where students regularly use DreamBox Learning, the math program that Hastings subsidized, and have tried Code.org’s coding lessons.

不过,很多家长和教育者在接受采访时表示,他们并没有意识到硅谷的特性和金钱正在影响自己的学校。其中包括德克萨斯州拉夫金公立学校系统拉夫金独立学区(Lufkin Independent School District)的职业与数字学习主管拉夫兰兹·戴维斯(Rafranz Davis)。那里的学生经常使用黑斯廷斯资助的数学课程DreamBox Learning,也在尝试Code.org的编程课程。

“We should be asking a lot more questions about who is behind the curtain,” Davis said.