Learning, technology & development
About 2005 Jan Chipcase--who has worked it out so that he gets to think and explore his thoughts for a living--noticed that mobile-phone repair was a service available in developing countries (India, China) but not in developed countries. Phone providers in developed countries worked with a replacement model, rather than a repair model. In developed countries, the phones are valuable enough to warrant repair, and to elicit the emergence of repair supply chains and micro-enterprises.
I was somewhat happy to experience this difference in Syria, where I briefly considered having my t-mobile smart phone repaired in the coastal city of Lattakia.
I didn't do it, because I was only in Lattakia for 2 days and the repair would take 3 (sourcing parts, primaily).Instead I bought a Nokia basic phone (with Arabic characters) for US $15; that phone has worked in 10 or 20 countries since that time (with new SIM cards) and continues to work.
And now, 10 years more or less after Chipcase's observation, I can see that mobile-phone repair has come to my city of Oakland:
At 40th St and Telegraph Ave there is a real, house (not street-based) mobile-phone repair business.
What are we to make of this?
One possibility is that the cost of mobile phones has increased relative to incomes, so that repair becomes an appealing option -- instead of the junk/replace approach or the dispose-of-responsibly/replace approach. But is that true? I don't know, but given sales information for iPhones (Apple reports record sales of 74.5 million units for the first quarter of 2015) I doubt that this is reason.
Instead, I'm going to suggest that slow growth in wages, lack of employment opportunities for youth, and resulting demand for jobs that entail apprenticeships and on-the-job-training all play roles.
In addition, there's something (warning, "something" = "I'm guessing") of a "reverse technology transfer," as 1st-generation and immigrant Americans adopt business models that have worked in other countries. Plus (plus, always plus, ONE of these reasons have to be correct!), supply-chain issues are involved, as even Apple has made it possible for their stores and 3rd-party vendors to get parts for repairs (OK, at least of broken screens). Finally (at last!), demand for smart phones, as they have become essential tools even for the homeless, has risen among the 99% to the extent that there's a market for used, repaired and affordable units.
Which means, if you'll bear with me, that the cost of phones hasn't risen, but that the market for phones has expanded to include people for whom cost is a bigger issue.
Quixotic, Herculean Diane Ravitch takes on claims by charter-school maven Eva Moskowitz that her schools (Success Academy) achieve greater success than public schools, with school #4 the "highest performing school in New York State..." in 5th-grade math:
On the fifth grade state math test, the students at Success Academy 4 are, in fact, #8 in New York City (tied with another school) and presumably even lower when compared to schools across the state. The fourth grade math test scoresare #54 in New York City (tied with six other schools). The third grade math scores rank #63 in New York City (tied with 6 other schools). The school’s rankings are even worse in English. The fifth grade English test scores rank #59 in New York City (tied with seven other schools), the fourth grade English test scores rank #81 in New York City (tied with five other schools), and the third grade English test scores rank #65 in New York City (tied with eight other schools)....
Moskowitz’s interviewers have said that the students at Success Academy 4 are the “most disadvantaged kids in New York City,” to which she assented. She has said “it’s a random lottery school. We don’t know who they are.”
We do, in fact, know who the students at Success Academy are. They are not the most disadvantaged kids in New York City. Harlem Success Academy schools have half the number of English Language Learners as the neighboring public schools in Harlem. The students in Success Academy 4 include 15 percent fewer free lunch students and an economic need index (a measure of students in temporary housing and/or who receive public assistance) that is 35 percent lower than nearby public schools.
Moskowitz’s Success Academy 4 has almost none of the highest special needs students as compared to nearby Harlem public schools. In a school with nearly 500 students, Success Academy 4 has zero, or one, such students, while the average Harlem public school includes 14.1 percent such students....
Moskowitz said, referring to the students in her schools, “we’ve had these children since kindergarten.” But she forgot to mention all the students who have left the school since kindergarten. Or the fact that Harlem Success Academy 4 suspends students at a rate 300 percent higher than the average in the district. Last year’s seventh grade class at Harlem Success Academy 1 had a 52.1 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That’s more than half of the kindergarten students gone before they even graduate from middle school. Last year’s sixth grade class had a 45.2 percent attrition rate since 2006-07. That’s almost half of the kindergarten class gone and two more years left in middle school.
There are many noteworthy bits in this exchange. ONE, however, is that there is a boatload of data that enables Ms Ravitch to take down Ms Moskowitz easily and effectively. Big data and transparency cut in many directions.
Jeez, they're dropping like flies.
There is no American, ever, who has more clearly stated his or her opposition to unjust persecution by hegemonic government. Pete Seeger's life should be taught in every school.
Hang out for the last verse, the new verse, about keeping New York state free from fracking. Go, Pete.
There's more, of course, from this heroic 92-year long life. Pete's testimony before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC):
MR. SEEGER: I decline to discuss, under compulsion, where I have sung, and who has sung my songs, and who else has sung with me, and the people I have known. I love my country very dearly, and I greatly resent this implication that some of the places that I have sung and some of the people that I have known, and some of my opinions, whether they are religious or philosophical, or I might be a vegetarian, make me any less of an American. I will tell you about my songs, but I am not interested in telling you who wrote them, and I will tell you about my songs, and I am not interested in who listened to them.
There's more, of course. Mr Seeger was a distinguished patriot, a world-class lover of freedom, and a world-class musician. (From "This Land is Your Land"):
When the sun came shining, then I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving, and the dust clouds rolling,
A voice was chanting as the fog was lifting,
This land was made for you and me.
One bright sunny morning, in the shadow of the steeple,
By the relief office I saw my people,
As they stood there hungry, I stood there wondering if,
This land was made for you and me.
Was a big high wall there that tried to stop me,
Was a great big sign that said, "Private Property,"
But on the other side, it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.
Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking my freedom highway,
Nobody living can make me turn back,
This land was made for you and me.
We should all be so good.