Learning Pods - Are They The Future Of Education?

David Trammel's picture

I don't have children, and the ones in my immediate tribe are all grown but I've been seeing the discussion on the subject of small groups of students, taught online but with a in group educator, what's being called "Learning Pods" because several of my friends are teachers. If you didn't catch it, our governor in Missouri is a complete idiot, and many teacher, including my friends are not going back to schools this Fall. They are looking at Learning Pods as a way to use their training and still make money in a safe manner.

Yet, learning pods are something which takes resources to set up, and resources are something low income families don't have. This is certainly going to increase educational inequality by income. Rich families will be able to educate their children, who will go on to get good paying jobs, while poor families will have children whose economic pathways will get smaller and smaller.

Not a good thing for a functional society.

The Learning Curve: The Dystopian Future of ‘Learning Pods’

For writers this is one more thing to toss into your Post Oil stories though.

mountainmoma's picture

I have seen families with no money and low parental education successfully homeschool. And, this whole POD thing, and they are advertising for workers on Craigs list now and then for this out here, this is not homeshcool.

What they are looking for is a daycare provider that can, in addition to taking care of the kids, make sure they log in to class time and then do their homework. Quite frankly, looked like they were asking for too much for not enough $$.

Most people are doing this for no money, this I have heard of more. And, they have been doing it all spring once the schools shut down. Just a couple families combining kids so someone is home with them. The lower income families have been doing this from the start. The parent or other family member whose turn it is is supervising the kids, which includes the whole "online learning" thing. Which is a joke, the online learning, and you dont need an education yourself to see that, which is likely why some families just had them stop doing it.

But, what they need to do is sign up with a public charter homeschool instead who can provide more suitable actual homeschool materials for the children. A licensed teacher meets with the child/family once a month or once a week, and funds are available for more tutoring help. So this is free, and this model has already been working and is proven to work and has access and experience using materials that young people can learn with. I am NOT talking about the bad online homeschools, I am talking about the real family choice public homeschool charters, where funds are available for materials to use at home hands on, and for tutoring or field/trip classes. ANd, this is how families with no money out here have their children take piano lessons, or gymnastics, have the loan of a microscope or other equipment for the school year, etc...... ( My children were part of one) The family and the assigned teacher consults on what materials or activites would suit the particular child, the funds available per family does have a limit.... so one child may have piano lessons and waldorf style paints and crayons and papers made available, while another might have a weekly math tutor and surfing lessons. For broke families too.

The person quoted in the article assumes money makes a difference and conflates a lack of a high school or college degree with stupidity or lack of intelligence, which the 2 do not correlate. He is telling them they cant possibly do it. And, some of them will believe it. We would be better off empowering people that they CAN do it ! And, they can. I have seen this. What it does take is parents to value that the children should learn and help them with discipline and organization. But, the public school monopoly does not want families empowered, they want needy clients and they want their organization to grow and to take care of it all

Families with money have always hired outside tutors to make sure their kids get thru public school, so this is no different. The real point is that public schools are often just not very good to begin with. It is not a money problem, it is an attitude problem. The solutions they come up with ( for kids that need extra help whose families do not hire tutors) cost more than the others families pay for tutoring and are not as sucessful as they should be. They have kids for -- sorry I will not go into it more

David Trammel's picture

Thanks MM, just the kind of comments I was looking for.

I saw this additional article which talks about the different options, some of which you mentioned.

There Are Other Options Besides Reopening Schools

"In ordinary times, K–12 schools offer valuable services to two distinct populations, and arguably get far more credit for serving one than the other. School famously provides kids with an education—as well as socialization and, in many cases, support (in the form of meals and medical and mental-health services, to name a few). At the same time, with decidedly less fanfare, it provides their parents with some eight hours of daily child care, five days a week, for most of the year, freeing up time for adults to earn the money it takes to raise kids for the remaining 16 or so hours of the day. For families, economies, and societies, schools have been reliable, helpful partners for generations."


I agree, society has really overlooked the role schools play as babysitters. Well maybe society did but I suspect capitalistic corporations didn't. Seems like alot of those understand all too well how to offload costs onto society and government while keeping the profits for themselves. Just like Walmart paying their workers poverty wages, then handing out brochures on how to apply for government assistance.

Don't over look the benefit corporations get from state sponsored indoctrination, and the molding of children into a compliant workforce either.

Of course, those of us who don't have children, don't need to rely on the government to babysit our children. Our reliance on using property tax on homes and things we already own, to fund schools is a sore spot with me. One of the ways government could take away my home is through the failure to render unto Caesar his tax.

I do fault the article in one way, too many of its suggestions seem to be just "how do we continue what we are doing now? as opposed to rethinking if the way we do things even makes sense anymore. Does having three months out of the year where schools are out and parents have to try and find child care even make sense? It did when we needed the young to help with farm duties but that's not the case anymore.

It also makes the same mistake MM pointed out, that the asumption is that all solutions just need more money from the government or parents to work. I wonder if revisiting Greer's suggestion that one parent in a household drops out of the moneyed economy doesn't make more sense? Many people have come to realize that what they thought was needed to live on, is alot more than you do need if you live with less.

I suspect this issue is going to be with us from now on.

My best friend (while her kids were still in school) got active with the local township. They had a committee to look into ways of paying for the schools without using property taxes.

Her group worked regularly for about a year and they -- who all DESPISED their property taxes -- could not come up with another system that would work as well for less money. Everything else had issues, including being deeply penalizing to poorer residents such as sales tax.

Anne and the gang just couldn't come up with a better solution and they tried!

I have no idea what could be done to replace property taxes. Everyone wants things that other people pay for.

Out of curiosity, did they look at a land value tax, where they tax just the land but not any improvements? There are some... enthusiastic... supporters of it, and it sounds intriguing, but I don't know if has non-obvious flaws when actually put into practice. (Maybe the valuation is even harder, since you can't just take actual sales prices directly, you need to separate them into land/everything else.)

David Trammel's picture

Not to derail the discussion on schooling...

I've not really had to deal with property taxes, since I rent. I do get to hear all about them though from my sister, who owns a home. Here in St Louis, the process of coming up with the value of your home, seems to be very arbitrary and non-transparent. Many people think the government raises the value over what it actually is, and then hopes you either don't contest it, or makes the process of contesting it very hard so you give up.

Also I understand it, that school boards get to raise the rate themselves. There was a lot of complaining in the 2008 downturn, that values went down in the Recession but property taxes went up to make up the loss of revenue. With evictions again making the news, and with them, the decrease in the number of remaining home owners I'm expecting that next year's taxes will see a upward jump.

My complaints are that not paying the tax isn't an option. The government can literally take your home (and has to many) over the failure to pay a tax bill of a few hundred dollars. And second, you have kids at home for perhaps a decade and a half, but continue to pay the tax your entire life. Especially in your retirement years, having this hanging over your head seems wrong.

I know how we fund things we need, like road repair, is a choice of bad or worst. It just seems property taxes are in the later category.

ClareBroommaker's picture

I think at least a few states have tax abatements or credits for seniors. Missouri does, depending on income. It is available for renters, too, as renters no doubt pay enough rent to cover the property taxes owed by the owner. https://dor.mo.gov/personal/ptc/

David Trammel's picture

Thanks Clare

David Trammel's picture

Here's another one. Seems the topic is getting much attention.

Some parents want to hire tutors, start mini schools this year. Most can't afford to.

Links along side the article are helpful too.

Should we take a year off from school and use it to reform the mess we have?

The pandemic is an extraordinary opportunity to reform US education - We should allow kids to take a gap year and waive standardized testing before it’s too late.

mountainmoma's picture

First, even though CA has a law on record for low income seniors and property taxes, they have not "funded" it at the state legislature level for decades, so we effectively do not have one. They will defer the taxes and charge interest on it. And this is not minor, property taxes and home owners insurance take 1/2 of my monthly income to pay ! Half of my social security check, and I have an average check, not a minimum.

Second, in some ways the concept of a tax per lot or homestead seemed fair compared to other methods to pay for schools. But, in many parts of the country it has gotten out of hand. The amount is too high, it is just a money grab. This has to do with the assessments mostly. And, why should a property tax be levied on a pretend value of a home ? This is not real money, it is theoretical ! We should never be taxed on money that is not incoming money that we actually have ! So, if you are to tax property, and the tax is low, then yes, anyone could reasonably be able to scrape up that much cash by saving from the pension check or earning a little. But, the amounts in my area and many others are so high, it could easily be even more than the 1/2 of my check that I pay !

Look at it this way, in California, where I live, I will pay the state taxes when I sell my house, a tax based on the actual selling price, and I will have to pay the Feds too. But, as egrarious as that tax is, it is at least a tax on actual money you have, so you can pay it. To tax me every year on a made up potential selling price, a tax I do not have the cash on hand to pay is wrong. SO, lets say they think the house is worth 800k, and tax based on that, but you bought it for 600k, and who is to say that when you sell you might have to sell for 500k. Are they going to refund all that excess tax they collected ? And, why should they tax based on pretend home value at all ? Why not just per parcel ? It should likely be $1000 or less a year for property taxes to not be burdensome. This is why we have things like prop 13 property tax limits, your rate is based on purchase price, so it is at least based on a choice you made in what cost home to buy. Except, they have found work arounds ! Exceptions to keep adding per parcel taxes such that I pay over $1000 in per parcel addon costs, in addition to the state mandated property taxes. And, they cannot reasses you but they can raise it every year, I forget the limit 3% ? , for inflation, and they do, and that compounds every year, so that even with protections, I am paying double what I paid when I bought the house for property taxes ( 20 years) , it does certainly go up ! Also, it turns out, they will re-asses based on improvements, so if you pull a permit to do work, you will have a huge jump in assessed value. I know a young family who put in a pool, the county reassessed 100k more to the house value, in a very moderate low income house location. So, no-one gets building permits.

Renters pay the property tax, and fire insurance. It is built into the rental price. This is actually why it is so expensive to rent here. Some renters think, hey I shouldnt be paying that tax, but why would anyone rent to them at a loss ? So, all renters, including low income renters are paying for the property taxes.

Hi MM.

It's a mess. No question. And it seems that California has it worse than most.

I regularly read Johnny Sanphillipo's blog, Granola Shotgun. He lives in San Francisco and he regularly talks about exactly the issue you are dealing with.

He is always worth reading, his posts are lavishly illustrated, and even more amazing, the commentors on his site are worth reading.

Here's the link: https://granolashotgun.com/

Johnny is definitely worth your time. He talks about complicated, provides pictures, and is calm. Very rare, these days.

mountainmoma's picture

yes, I have read his stuff for some time now. He is also into preparedness, shows how to store alot of stuff in a SF flat, while they also own a house with a small amount of land further out