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Silicon Valley Bigwig's Backyard 'Microschool' Doesn't Go Over Well

Some worry 'learning pods' will simply widen an already-existing gap in education
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 4, 2020 3:02 AM CDT

(Newser) – A Silicon Valley investor's idea to start a "microschool" in his backyard amid the coronavirus pandemic is not going over so well in certain circles. "Looking for the best 4-6th grade teacher in Bay Area who wants a 1-year contract, that will beat whatever they are getting paid, to teach 2-7 students in my back yard," Jason Calacanis tweeted Sunday, adding the hashtag #microschool. "If you know this teacher, refer them & we hire them, I will give you a $2k UberEats gift card," added the angel investor, who has stock in companies including Uber. The problem: As the San Francisco Chronicle notes, "learning pods," while a popular idea amid the COVID-19 crisis, have been decried by many as simply making the already-existing privilege gap in education worse. Some school districts are actually speaking out against them.

"Rethink everything about your family’s priorities," was the reply from the editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, and others were similarly critical. But Calacanis was having none of it, pointing out that half the spots will be given to students in need via full scholarships and that the position could help a laid-off teacher. Not everyone was upset by the idea: "Jason, how can we make this work nationwide? Baltimore city spends roughly 20k/student. If those funds are redirected to the families for microschools this could be a way to positively disrupt education," suggested one commenter. "The state has failed, yet again, so we may have to build a replacement for the school system," noted another. "Combine digital curriculum, physical childcare, and actually-functional safeguards against COVID-19. Ultimately, this should be to 20th century K-12 what email was to the post office." (Read more coronavirus stories.)

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