Congressionally Mandating Dialectical Thinking and then Forcing States to Annually Measure and Manipulate It

In the past week there has been a dust up on several blogs as to whether assertions about the purposes of language in the Bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act–ECAA, that has now unanimously passed out of Senate Committee, amounts to conspiracy theories. Now I cannot speak for others, but I too have read every page of ECAA. I recognize what certain terms mean and what other synonyms for the same phrases have been over the decades. We get to talk about those terms and that history without being accused of theorizing when we are having a fact-based discussion with sources. Moreover, the ECAA, whatever the intent of the Senators approving it or those who drafted it, has language that forces all states to abandon the “didactic purpose” of K-12 education because of how it defines “Challenging State Academic Standards” in the legislation.

Likewise, by mandating that states must use assessments that target ‘higher order thinking skills’ Congress adopts what that term has come to mean in education. Lauren Resnick laid it out in a 1987 National Academy of Sciences report explained here. Marc Tucker, her co-director of the New Standards Project and its performance standards, explained it here in 1988 while he was at the National Center for Education and the Economy. Tucker also linked it to the fulfillment of Peter Drucker’s social vision that I explained here The 1968 book The Age of Discontinuity book from Drucker I wrote about is the same one Tucker cited in 1988 as necessitating a new vision of K-12 and the shift from basic skills to “higher order thinking.’

Now I will admit that I have always thought HOTS, as I abbreviate it, functioned like dialectical thinking, but I am a precise person. I do not theorize as to what is going on except in the privacy of my own mind or in speculations with a cat sitting in my lap as I research. We get to tie HOTS in ECAA to the term ‘dialectical thinking’ like we are all back at U of Moscow in the 60s because Educational Leadership published a series of essays in the 80s by Richard Paul where he explained that HOTS, and his concept of critical thinking that was equivalent to it, were also known as dialectical thinking. He cited Resnick and Tucker as I linked to above. Paul also made it clear that all these terms are designed around participation in a new, different kind of ‘democracy’ going forward.This is from an essay called “McPeck’s Mistakes: Why Critical Thinking Applies Across Disciplines and Domains”.

“If you believe in democracy you must believe that citizens have the potential to judge. If you believe that one primary function is to prepare students for participation in democracy, you must agree that helping students refine their ability to judge social, political, and economic questions (and questions to which these subjects apply) as clearmindedly, fairly, and rationally as possible is among the most important and useful functions of education. Use of ‘common sense’ is not inborn, but developed.”

And monitoring that development, and manipulating it as needed, through learning tasks, student learning objectives, prescribed activities, formative assessments, etc is precisely what the ECAA calls for once we track the language in it through to its actual meaning. is an April 2015 report called “Using a Learning Progression Framework to Assess and Evaluate Student Growth.” It is from the Center of Assessment involved in the pilot greenlighted under ECAA except those materials and the Student Learning Objectives Toolkit are in use in districts and states far beyond New Hampshire. The Cognitive Rigor Matrix described also relates to dialectical thinking and HOTS. That is what creates the cognitive complexity being called for.

All the references to “careful study of student reasoning” or “understand student reasoning” or “based on student reasoning” are all trying to monitor the extent to which the student has moved beyond what Ralph Tyler called the ‘right answer’ syndrome into dialectical thinking. The desire to shift the Learning Progression (described in depth in my book) to “cultivating formative practices” comes from the desire to ensure that the student is using the supplied ideas, principles, and concepts desired in their everyday interpretations since that is what guides and prompts behavior. The same reason is also why there is a determination to get at motivation. Thinking and emotions must be integrated and that must control action. Again, thanks to Richard Paul for being explicit and all these intentions attach to these words and practices mandated or allowed by ECAA regardless of the intentions of any politician that votes for it.

Before I go back to the 1960s to show once again just how long this desire to use the bribery power of the federal purse and its regulatory power to change the nature of K-12 education, let’s remember that virtually everyone involved confessed their transformative reasons. That’s why my book has so many footnotes. No need to speculate or theorize. If people say they are coordinating around a particular purpose, they do not get excused from scrutiny because someone yells ‘conspiracy.’ Anyone here ever hear of Guy Fawkes and the 1605 Gunpowder Plot? People conspire around the desire to get or keep political and economic power and to impose their pet belief systems on others. Anyone ever hear of Mary Queen of Scots and the Murder of Lord Darnley? Who a 16th Century Monarch married mattered if the ruler was a she because it affected political and economic power. Who had it and who wanted it.

Only someone being disingenuous or acting as a historical simpleton can look at something like ECAA and not recognize its potential to have a transformative, permanent effect on what individual citizens believe, know, or can do. That’s a great deal of power and if my book and this blog do anything it is track down confessions of using education for transformative purposes, whether “We the People’ acting as individuals would consent or not. Certainly no parent would consent to formative assessment if it were accurately described and understood. To get at what makes assessment of thinking now different I want to go back to the description of Science: A Process Approach created to be an innovative curriculum in the 1960s that would be accessible to all “economic, ethnic, educational, social, geographical” groups without any “marked effects on student achievement.”

Does that sound like an obligation to close the achievement gap and have Equity in learning to anyone else? The Process Approach was not really about facts or concepts and that shift was controversial at the time. It too had a Learning Progression designed to practice specified behaviors. The whole point was to “develop in students the intellectual and investigative skills of the scientist, and hopefully these skills will provide a generalized method of defining and solving problems which can be applied in other subject areas as well.” So in the 1960s there was a desire to look for Transfer to New, Untaught situations and different contexts. A Process Approach called it ‘Generalizing Experience’ instead of Rigor, but it too had what it called ‘Competency Measures’ that employed “content and materials different from those used in the exercises so the student must apply what he has learned in a new situation.”

I bolded those terms because the Common Core has the same stated goals in what it is assessing for. That Learning Progression link and what Student Learning Outcomes means wants the same. Between the early 60s and the 1998 publication of the Assessing Science Understanding and now, the behavioral scientists discovered practicing behaviors was not enough. Students needed to be guided by principles and concepts they acted on arationally. That is what proficiency and competency actually now mean as this post made clear This federal manipulation apparently began with unappreciated language in the 2002 No Child Left Behind that ECAA would double down on.

Cognitive science does not just want to practice behaviors. It needs inside the black box and it needs the ‘thinking’ to be grounded in emotion and dialectical in the sense of HOTS and rigor. Quoting a definition of ‘learning science’ that dovetails with what I call cybernetics, let’s go back to 1998 in what must have been created as part of that New Standards Project that is now the renamed Common Core:

“in the constructivist view, learning science is a process of making connections: connections among experiences with the natural world and mental representations of those experiences; and connections among concepts that result in the generation of principles new to the learner. These concepts and principles, in turn, are connected to events and experiences in the natural world.”

Monitoring and manipulating those mental representations that guide perception of reality and everyday behavior and likely actions is precisely what SLOs, a high quality assessment, Competency-based education, and formative assessment are all about. It’s what led to the Math and Reading Wars as my book makes clear. It’s why Outcomes-based education never goes away. It just gets renamed.

It’s why this post’s title does not impugn anyone or allege a ‘conspiracy’. It simply understands ECAA in terms of the language used and the history of those terms. That statute and the educational activities and assessments to be carried out by states and school districts under its terms has a clear trajectory and purpose, whatever the personal intentions of anyone involved is.

All of these aims are simply too tied to facts with clear purposes of social engineering. We cannot allow the mind and personality to be manipulated into an invisible prison by using the C word to bar rational discussion.

Politicians wanting to expand their authority without either consent or publicity. That’s not a conspiracy. It’s just history properly understood. In a didactic, fact-based, soon to be forbidden, old-fashioned way.



Harnessing the Meaning Making Capacities of the Human Mind and then Assessing for the Tightness of the Fit

We talked about NAEP in the last post so we could begin to appreciate its real purpose as both a driver and a monitor of using education to mentally deconstruct any concept of learning as the transmission of factual knowledge. In fact, whenever we see the phrase “meaningful learning” from now on, let’s just be upfront that it means changes in a student’s mind or personality intended to reliably guide future behavior as desired. The quote at the beginning of that title comes from a 2000 book Assessing Science Understanding: A Human Constructivist View that asserted that science is no longer about a body of facts and information about how the world works transmitted from a textbook or a teacher. No, “science is best understood as a formalized and highly adaptive way of harnessing the meaning making capacities of the human mind.”

To ‘Understand’ then in math, science, history, or while reading a book is to interpret in the manner someone else has stipulated so that students will practice perceiving and behaving as desired until these behaviors become unconscious habits. Locked in at a physical level in the brain’s neural pathways. That is what is being assessed and why we keep coming back to an insistence that the ‘performances’ or ‘achievements’ be action-based. It’s why we are getting such a push for Project-based Learning. When I went through the activities in that book, they were not about learning a body of knowledge. They were training students to view the world in a certain way. Did you know back in the mid-80s as these reforms were being dreamed up there was even a term invented for what would be sought-observational competence? Is the student noticing the themes or aspects desired in a given situation and ignoring the elements we would rather not be the focus of attention?

When I called attention to the idea of that ‘proficiency’ under NAEP and state standards after the adoption of NCLB in 2002 was about Proficiency Standards for Reasoning, I found this document assuring me that the Common Core would meet these action-based concepts of the desired proficiency. The students may not know much, but they will have been trained and primed over years to act in certain ways based on stipulated prompts. And look, there are 3 levels of achievement just like what the Every Child Achieves Act requires each state to have as its “aligned academic achievement standards” that will constitute how the ‘content standards’ will be met. Prescribed behaviors. Harness the mind and then ‘assess’ to see if the harness fits properly and guides behavior as desired. If so, herald the student as performing ‘proficiently’ or ‘competently’ and thus being College and Career Ready. is not Math or ‘science’ but it is the vision for learning to read and write and then what will be the ELA activities using the Fountas & Pinnell curriculum so beloved by the Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of my book on the Learning Progression). Isn’t it good to know these prescribed literacy activities involve “very specific behaviors and understandings are written for each level and built into every individual lesson?” How very harness-like. Get each student used to the jerk of the tether while they are still young and their minds are oh-so-malleable to manipulation. That link also makes it clear that NAEP after 2000 was being used to quietly implement the performance and proficiency standards from the New Standards Project that grew out of that National Education Goals Panel we met in the last post.

No wonder the National Center for Education and the Economy reuploaded the entire NSP body of work back in December 2010. Just in time to pretend it is actually something new called the Common Core and in time for an ESEA reauthorization like ECAA. NSP’s Performance Standards simply get euphemised as ECAA’s “aligned achievement standards” that quickly gets defined away as just “challenging state academic standards” for the rest of the Act. As if we are still talking about the transmission of knowledge brought to us by the Greatest Minds Who Have Ever Lived. No, instead we get ‘sense-making’ from our prescribed activities using the supplied ideas, themes, principles, and concepts intended to function as a politically transformative mental and emotional harness.

I think it is hard for readers of this blog to fully appreciate how confining this manipulative vision of reading, math, and science will be since we all have Axemaker Minds of some type or another. Some minds may be better stocked than others with accurate facts and abilities to infer, but all of us still had some kind of a knowledge orientation to our K-12 and college experiences. That Heinemann language and the fact we are talking about 6 year olds being manipulated should give some idea of just how constraining and invisible this behavioral harness can become. ECAA though wants to push preschool for all as a basic right so we are actually going back even younger than 5 or 6. We also do not have to speculate about what the “early childhood care and education” vision that fits with this competency/proficiency approach looks like.

New Zealand–tied to the Innovation Lab Network and Competency through the GELP-Global Education Leaders Program that we have discussed on this blog (see tag) adopted Te Whariki–the National Early Childhood Curriculum in the 90s to go along with what was then called Transformational Outcomes Based Education (detailed in Chapter 4 of my book explaining Competency and its history). We know that in 1998 the US-based ERIC asked that the Te Whariki papers be submitted to its database. Te Whariki pushes a developmental approach that rejects the old “focus on the learner as an individual, and learning as furniture in the mind.” Instead, learning is the change brought about in the student as a result of “responsive and reciprocal relationships with people places and things.”

Someone obviously hates commas, but they like hyphens as they see the student as an “individual-in-action” interacting in social, cultural  and purposeful contexts. I mentioned Urie Bronfenbrenner and the Great Experiment in the last post. Te Whariki is explicitly grounded in his Ecological Systems Theory that is concisely explained here. So are competency and proficiency-based concepts of learning. They all intend to create ‘dispositions’ or “habits of mind, tendencies to respond to situations in certain ways.” And if those dispositions start being baked in and turned into a harness back in early childhood programs (the quote came from the Te Whariki paper) the adolescent and then young adult voter need not even know the harness and guiding bit are there at all.

Te Whariki gives a definition of assessment that fits with where formative assessments intend to go in the US and elsewhere: “the primary purpose of assessment should be to provide information which can be used to identify strengths and guide improvement.” All that is based on what people with political power decide they want to see in the citizens of tomorrow, not what parents or the children themselves want. This harness view of education also gets marketed as a thinking curriculum and it was laid out, before the 90s controversies, in a 1991 book by Edward Fiske called Smart Schools, Smart Kids: Why Do Some Schools Work? once again financed by the Carnegie Corporation that now sponsors Competency-based Education.

I keep hearing news reports wrongly describing what are now performance assessments or other means of checking for the presence and efficacy of the mental harness as ‘standardized tests’. Fiske’s book complained that “the most damaging aspect of standardized tests, though, is their impact  on the curriculum. Since states test reading and math, this is what schools emphasize. [Horrors!! Let’s revise the NAEP.] But in doing so they focus on basic skills and factual knowledge that such tests measure and direct schools’ attention from the new agenda of teaching students to think.”  The book then quoted Lauren Resnick (who will go on to co-direct the New Standards Project and be on the Common Core validation committee. She also chaired the 1987 committee that produced the report on Higher Order Thinking Skills a/k/a Teaching Students to Think in a Way that Serves as a Harness) and her husband Daniel.

“Current tests are tuned to a curriculum of the past, one that is not suited to today’s social and economic conditions…[The Resnicks advocate transitioning all students to tests grounded in] Goals such as interpreting unfamiliar texts, constructing convincing arguments, understanding complex systems, developing approaches to problems, or negotiating problem resolutions in a group” that sounds just like the learning tasks and means for assessment being touted as part of the Common Core classroom or a competency/proficiency-based classroom. Fiske’s book also pointed out that powerful tests like the NAEP are a “high-stakes game in itself” and that “whoever controls those powerful tests will control a large measure of what is taught and learned in American schools.”

Once again, that’s why the mandate of ‘aligned achievement standards’ in ECAA that forces a behavioral or performance-based, consistent with Universal Design for Learning, approach in every school in every state matters so very much. It’s a way the federal government mandates the construction of a harness while pretending to return control to states and localities.  Specifying the hows of testing is controlling those tests and the curriculum itself. I want to close with what Linda Darling-Hammond said in Fiske’s book since she is the author of the New Paradigm being pushed for what will constitute meaningful learning. Standardized testing back when it was still fact-based and right-answer oriented was supposedly based on the “dubious assumption that there is a single right answer to any question worth asking.”

LDH viewed the old-fashioned standardized test as the “triumph of passive learning. It is testing for the TV generation. We don’t ask if students can synthesize information, solve problems, or think independently. We measure what they recognize.” So back in 1991, when she was still a professor at the Teachers College at Columbia, Hammond, like Lauren Resnick, was very involved in advocating for a thinking kind of curriculum that fits with a Harness Function.

No wonder both professors remain so involved now in guiding the actual classroom implementations both in the US and globally through the OECD.

Meaningful Learning or Internalized Hammer and Sickle Style Habits of Mind and Behaviors?

Let’s go back to that Herbert Marcuse book from the last post. In making a point about a desired new Soviet rationality Marcuse stressed that if certain ‘attitudes and behaviors’ can be successfully internalized, they will provide unconscious “pragmatic directives for action.” That effect has nothing to do with physical geography. Instilling desired habits of mind and practiced behaviors would have the same effect in the West as was recognized in this old post where Soviet psychologist Leontiev called it the Great Experiment. Funny how no one told us about the Great Experiment being conducted on us starting in the 60s with our tax money and education facilities, but filter everything I described in Chapter 6 of my book through that open admission.

I think the “Nation’s Report Card,”–the National Assessment of Educational Progress or NAEP–was always intended to monitor the progress of the Great Experiment. I think that is why the Carnegie Corporation began to finance the development of NAEP back around 1964. Before we talk about the poorly understood, designed always to manipulate, NAEP, let’s get back to the why. Here’s what Marcuse and others believe: obviously false statements about the present do not matter because if people can be made to believe them anyway, they can still become those desired attitudes and habits of mind. People can then be counted on to reliably act in a way so that the “historical process in which the commanded political practice [in the West this gets hidden mostly invisibly in education objectives and little-disclosed mandates like the now omnipresent Positive School Climate] will bring about the desired facts.” (italics in original)

Now if someone actually wants to believe that current reality and the facts about what works is in the way of a desired transformation, it is no wonder we now have education where facts and right answers are to be minimized and concepts and ideas emphasized instead. Sure sounds to me like what Marcuse said was practicing with “the original content of Marxian theory as a truth that must be believed and enacted against all evidence to the contrary [exactly like President Obama and the UN now on Climate Change]: the people must do and feel and think as if their state were the reality of that reason, freedom, and justice which the ideology proclaims, and the ritual is to assure such behavior.” Until it becomes an internalized habit of mind practiced from preschool to high school in an active, engagement-oriented new kind of educational emphasis?

Let’s shift back to the Breakpoint and Beyond book from the last post because it made a similar point. A new kind of society was possible if people could learn the “art of changing one’s mind…After we have put together a new frame of mind, we then rebuild our society by reinventing our organizations.” Without a solid base of historical knowledge, how many people will be aware that we are trying to redesign social institutions around theories? That’s how we get lots of people willing and primed to act with an inability to comprehend the foreseeable consequences. It’s where we are now because none of these pursuits is new as we will see. We have been creating educational objectives around a desire to “devise the means to change our minds about what is real: from a belief in the limits of a rational, past-driven world to belief in the limitless potential of a creative world.”

No one asked us, did they, before embarking on this Bipartisan vision of Creativity, Connecting, and Future Pull? Do the politicians and their all too important staffers actually know why we are now pushing education where the “processes shift from logical and straightforward to innovative and discontinuous. The basic human strategy moves from ‘solving problems,’ by attacking them piecemeal and getting back to normal, to formulating broad and original opportunities. [Maybe by using that appointed regional planning commission so that its edicts are binding and there is no one essentially to complain to]. Attitudes shift from finding and applying the ‘right,’ tried-and-true, traditional answers to energizing the production of unique advances: major breaks with the past. The system moves to creating the impossible [or at least trying while the architects of all this are well-paid with taxpayer funds or foundation grants]; not just doing things differently, but doing different things.”

When NAEP was first being created from 1964 to 1968, Ralph Tyler chaired its development committee. reminds us of why that matters so much. The 1970 “What is National Assessment?” report made it clear that NAEP’s ultimate goal “is the measurement of change (progress) in knowledges, skills, understandings, and attitudes as they relate to meaningful education objectives.” The emphasis is on “objectives rather than content.” In a 1972 paper “National Assessment: Measuring American Education” Ralph Tyler was interviewed and he made it crystal clear that NAEP was about “helping schools get rid of the right-answer syndrome and replace it with learning how to learn.”

I am the one pointing out that this statement fits with what Marcuse laid out as well as the creative mindset amenable to change that the Breakpoint book had in mind. Tyler stated that the NAEP is not a test. “They are exercises that children, youth and young people are given” that show the “public both what children are learning and how many are learning each thing.” The exercises sought to remove any middle class bias and “attempt to measure the youngsters’ thought processes or their ability to perform [behave] in some way.” Making my point that standards are ‘goals’ and are not about content as traditionally understood, Tyler revealed forthrightly back in 1972 that “the objectives or goals represent a kind of standard which is considered desirable to achieve. The exercises, if they are good measures, tell to what extent the goals are being achieved. This approach tells very specifically what a person knows or can do.”

For anyone unfamiliar with Tyler, he was every bit as much an advocate of transformational collectivism as John Dewey or anyone else we have looked at. From looking at the NAEP reports from that 1970 one coming forward, I do believe that the Washington Sunday Star warning that “What the Kinsey Report was to American sex, the National Assessment may be to American education” is an understatement. I could say something more here, but best not in case my mother or children ever read this post. NAEP was intended to radicalize American education and then monitor which groups were changing, by how much, and where. It was chilling then when this NAEP research pulled up a National Education Goals (NEG) Panel report from the March 3, 1993 meeting where then Education Secretary Lamar Alexander was presiding. Apparently Richard Riley had not yet been confirmed.

To bring us up to the present context, that would be the same Lamar Alexander who has now created the Bipartisan Every Child Achieves Act that we looked at in the last post and especially in the comments. It would also be the same Richard Riley who is now Vice Chair of the Carnegie Corporation that is also working with CCSSO in pushing Next Generation Learning and Competency-based education in addition to the Common Core. Back to 1993 though, the notes show now-Senator Alexander as wanting to get the accreditation agencies “engaged in the dialogue about standards.” He wanted a meeting set up between them and the NEG panel. He also reportedly waxed nostalgic about heading the National Governors Association and getting all the nation’s governors to work with him for the entire one year period from 1985-1986 on just the one subject of education.

He was proud of creating a way for Democratic and Republican governors to work together and was pleased that the NEG Panel was continuing the same tradition. The Senate’s Education Committee apparently continued the Bipartisan selling out of America by approving ECAA last week without dissent. Probably best then for those Senators to now remove the American flag from their lapels. They may not be aware of the Hammer and Sickle ancestry of what they are mandating, but that does not change the lineage of these ideas, practices, and objectives in the least. is another good primer for a Congress that is forcing collectivist traditions whether they know it yet or not. We certainly do.

Back to that 1993 meeting because it still affects what is being sought now. It sought to “Establish a National Education Standards and Assessment Council (NESAC) to provide leadership and oversight to the development of national content and performance standards and an assessment system.” The Panel also wanted to “support the continued expansion of NAEP.” Think of NAEP as the enforcer for moving beyond “right-answer syndrome” to assessments that could get at how students think and what behaviors they are ready to perform. Now think of the language in ECAA about “aligned achievement standards” each state must develop to go with their mandated ‘content’ standards as being about what in 1993 was still being called ‘performance standards.’ Behavioral in orientation now and then. Two different terms for the same concept.

I forgot to tell you what sent me down this particular pathway, didn’t I? It was my conclusion that there was some type of connection among the New Standards Project that fits all that the 1993 panel wanted and commenced in 1996, performance standards, and what the NAEP is actually assessing for. Guess what? I was right. Guess what else? All of this ties to what was considered ‘meaningful learning’ in the 90s and in the New Paradigm for College and Career Readiness now.

Oh, and Every Child Achieves Act also ties to what used to be called Proficiency Standards for Reasoning. Because specifying that and then practicing until it’s a habit of mind would get us back to Marcuse’s vision wouldn’t it?

Next Time then we will continue.

Behind the Backs of Individuals: Creating the Well-Trained Consciousness

Fasten those seatbelts because here we go again. In turns out that back in the 1950s, in Rockefeller Foundation financed research carried out at the Russian Institute at Columbia University, Professor Herbert Marcuse laid out the vision of what kind of changed individual consciousness would be necessary for a “society where the realm of necessity is brought under rational control.” I shorthand that vision using Uncle Karl’s term–the Human Development Society–and this blog has been systematically covering all the various announcements of it recently from the Next System Project from the last post or the Larry Summers-led Commission on Inclusive Prosperity from January 2015. Since this power grab is clearly a current quest, even if it is not being widely covered away from this blog, let’s go back to see what Marcuse laid out, especially as it fits well with the announced goals of the new federal education legislation in hearings this week.

This post should have everyone looking at the announced title of the ECAA–Every Child Achieves Act–and wanting to call Congress to protest calling psychological manipulation–student achievement. First let’s go back in time to look at where that title came from. Marcuse was pointing out that in the USSR “individual behavior and values” are “automatically directed by the political agencies” so that there is no such thing as the distinct individual making his own way apart from what is determined to be in the needs of the remainder of society. Marcuse really hated the Western tradition that views the individual as a ‘private person’ instead of merely a ‘member of society’. He called for “the passing of the bourgeois individual…as the autonomous ‘subject’ which, as ego cogitans and agent, was to be the beginning and the end of Western culture.”

All of the emphasis on the Whole Child and social and emotional learning and as I will show today–the “integration of education and mental health” into a single vision of what effective schooling is now to be–makes far more sense if we are aware of Marcuse laying out the preconditions for achieving the kind of social and economic visions we keep encountering. Think of the 21st Century required skill of collaboration as we read the call for “the shrinking of the ego.” Won’t all the data being gathered come in handy in the next Marcuse call for “the administrative regulation of his material and intellectual needs”? What could be done openly in the USSR in the 50s and 60s (my copy of the 1958 Soviet Marxism book is the 4th printing from 1969) was described by Marcuse as “the coordination between public and private existence, which, at the postliberal stage of Western society, takes place largely unconsciously and behind the backs of the individuals.”

Can we just all join together in unison and yell “No More”? Just because all these visions of transformations need the ‘passing of the individual’ as a ‘private person’ to make it so, and even though, the education reforms are quietly trying to arrange the necessary “internalization” that will otherwise “impair the social cohesion and depth of morality,” does not mean any of us have to accede to this vision, for either ourselves or our children. The political theory involved, being implemented quietly, then and even more so now as federally mandated and financed education policy, insists on redefining freedom. Marcuse even italicized redefine to emphasize this crucial point: “it no longer means being the self-responsible architect of one’s life, of one’s own potentialities and their realization…the standards of freedom are shifted from the autonomous individual to the laws governing the society which governs the individual.” (my bolding)

Well, that quote certainly explains why my tracking Radical Ed Reform via its accompanying legal mandates has always proven so prophetic of actual long term intent. Since the needed shifts must occur, per Marcuse, at the level of ‘inner being’ and we know that is precisely the area that the new kinds of Common Core assessments emphasize, let’s come back to the present. First though a wave to Marcuse for being so usefully graphic. It certainly puts the Common Core’s emphasis on creating and measuring desired Habits of Mind into perspective or “normed measures of social and emotional well-being.” A parent concerned about the increasingly widespread use of the PAX Good Behavior Game can add Marcuse’s confessed purposes to PAX’s admission that it:

“is teaching students to self-regulate, reduce impulsive or emotional reactions, delay gratification, and work together for a higher purpose. This is not achieved by lessons on the brain or behavior or some formal curriculum on social-emotional learning. [All of those would be, of course, somewhat visible rather than behind our backs]. Rather, this is achieved in the context of ordinary life at school that mimics the conditions of human evolution.”

Huh? That fascinating remark makes no sense in any biological sense, but it does begin to make sense for anyone who has read my coverage of using education to drive cultural evolution as laid out in my book Credentialed To Destroy. Marcuse also clearly had something similar in mind with his descriptions of targeting ‘internalization’ and an individual’s ‘inner being’. All of these things also become much clearer once we are aware of a desire to Integrate Education and Mental Health in Schools. is from the 2009 conference and shows the actual 2010 publication and Health and Human Services’ interest.

In fact, it is not just a federal agency’s interest in “examining models to better integrate learning and behavioral health” or support at the federal level for a “closer alignment between education and mental health.” It’s not just the citing of the P-20 education agenda “embraced by the National Governors Association and the Gates Foundation” or “other reform efforts (e.g. Next Generation Learners)” sponsored by certain states and the CCSSO or ‘personalized learning’ as good vehicles for this desired integration. All that is bad enough and ties directly to what we have been covering on this blog. No, what ties all this directly to ECAA and this week’s Senate hearings is the call-out for making such integrated education about identifying and cultivating “functional competencies.”

Competency-based education. Where have we heard that phrase before in addition to chapter 4 of my book?   If the new ECAA is about anything it about fostering the shift to competency-based education. As the 2009 paper noted a goal of schools focusing on improved student functioning and “this focus on competency could also create a better alignment between educational and mental health policy.” In fact, the paper concluded with “education and mental health will be advanced when the goal of mental health is effective schooling and the goal of effective schools is the healthy functioning of students.” I believe that would be the healthy functioning of students as ‘members of society’, not so much as private persons anymore. Sure does explain the anti-academic emphasis (there goes that pesky ego) and all the hyping of workforce needs.

I want to close with a quote William James, America’s original psychologist and John Dewey’s instructor, laid out a very long time ago, when so many radicals hoped to change the 20th Century towards collectivism. I wish I could say I pulled this from a long dormant book on him or Dewey. Instead, it is the epigraph at the beginning of a concluding chapter called “A Solid Bridge to the Future” from a 1992 book Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future-Today.”

“Of all the creatures of earth, only human beings can change their patterns. Man alone is the architect of his destiny….Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.”

Perhaps, given what is laid out in this post, we should rephrase that as having those ‘inner attitudes’ changed for them.

Behind their backs. In the name of Competency or Positive School Climate or Effective Schooling.

At least none of this is behind our backs.


Rip Aside the Mask: Society Becomes an Existential and Experiential Lab for Students to Become Citizens

That title comes from combining two different confessional quotes on the purpose of all these education reforms now hiding as the Common Core, Competency, or 21st Century Learning. We are sticking with Marcus Raskin’s book The Common Good we met in the last post. That initial phrase came as Raskin laid out how to “Reorganize the government for the common good. ” The “first task in a program of governmental reorganization which asserts social reconstruction [just like I described in my book Credentialed to Destroy] and citizen participation [no wonder we keep encountering the National Center for Deliberative Democracy] is to rip aside the mask of concern for efficiency to determine which group or class is being served by a particular way of organizing the governmental process.”

Wondering why all of a sudden the word Equity as an obligation is everywhere? How’s this for an open declaration? –“the criteria which are used to reorganize government should be consistently and deliberately discussed according to specific value standards: equity and caring, egalitarian interdependence and cooperation.” Now before I switch to the other quote and the vision of democratic education to create the necessary citizen to get there, some people may be tempted to ignore these declarations as from decades ago. In one of those serendipitous occurrences that remind us just how thoroughly we are tracking what is really coming at us, since I wrote the last post, Raskin and many others from the Institute for Policy Studies signed on to and published .

“The Next System Project: New Political-Economic Possibilities for the 21st Century” features many of the radical names we have already covered on this blog. is the list for those who want to play Recognize that Name and Contemplate the Implications. Since everyone can read those for themselves, let’s get back to the source for the second part of the title.  I also want everyone to keep in mind the ubiquity now of CTE for All (last post again) and authentic, real world, active learning for all students.

“For most students a practical, concrete and non-abstract education encourages their productive and imaginative side. [Think of Creativity as one of the 4Cs of 21st Century Learning] If schools pursued this course the society would become an existential and experiential laboratory for students. Schools would become the central place to bring one’s personal experience, other people’s experience and findings together with human needs. The experiences themselves, the way they were described and understood could and should include the ethical ought and the nurturing of the artistic.”

“…the way they were described and understood” sounds precisely like what the Frameworks Institute from our last post does in education and beyond. Minimizing facts makes perfect sense for anyone who believes “the educational process becomes the central way to bring forth value considerations in relation to actual situations in the lives of people and their institutions and in the way human beings relate to nature.” If we did not already know that the phrase Democracy is usually no longer about candidates, voting, and elections, this should do it:

“Democracy’s project is the sharing of responsibility between the citizenry, finding common uses and ownership of property where that benefits the whole [in whose opinion?]–while continuously recognizing the needs of the person…A modern democracy recognizes the need to generate situations and relationships which simultaneously recognize similarity in the Other…it moves beyond individual and group interest to hammer out shared values which can be located in the whole, the group, but which cannot be found in the individual.”

That alarming project, coming at us like pollen on a spring day in Atlanta–fast moving and everywhere–views education as the means for how “skills…where people share their public and private lives and where problems of everyday life and abstract problems are considered.” That sharing and consideration gets masked behind the non-dictionary meaning of yet another 4C–communication. And if that communication is ultimately about “social regulation which needs and demands alternative modes of thinking and living,” values, beliefs, and thinking itself can be changed and molded with few parents being the wiser as long as “the grades are OK.”

I have mentioned that I have learned enough political theory in the last few years to recognize Marxist Humanism whether it uses the M word or simply attributes the change to sociology or brain science. Yet sure enough, there was Raskin quoting “the Marxist philosopher Roger Garaudy” to hype his point that “authentic esthetic education is also the cultivation of the senses that have become atrophied in our Western tradition as a result of the exclusive emphasis of logic and discursive reasoning.” New modes of thinking indeed. Those who wish to dramatically transform society and the economy hate “the cold, abstract madness that parades as reason and ‘objective reality.'” We can each  contemplate where the madness truly is in this vision.

Now Raskin was definitely not afraid to call a spade a spade and used the M word as an apt description of certain beliefs and hopes and the means to get there. Hint: EDUCATION as my book laid out. He did, however, criticize Marxists by name for having “failed in comprehending the ethical dimension to political power and the role it must play.” Raskin saw the role of the “experience and process of democratic education” as a means for transcending the “type of social science that explains passivity from the dominated and control from the dominator as the natural order of things.” Raskin must be in ideological heaven with all the classroom hyping of White Privilege now as he helps roll out the Next System Project.

What happens when education is seen as the means of making some students feel guilty while others are emboldened to feel entitled to “change the political system by integrating procedural rights with political demands. The demands are meant to get the social, legal [Remember progressive, polyphonic federalism and the Constitution in 2020?], and economic systems to change so that the person forges a set of conditions that guarantees his or her egalitarian interdependence in all aspects of society.” ‘Do for me. I am owed’ has never, ever been a basis for mass prosperity. Heaven help us that this vision is to be locked into place invisibly through little known legal shifts binding all of us.

Such as revamping the nature of citizenship “to allow the person to comprehend in concrete terms the way each aspect of life is related and interdependent.” Substituting supplied concepts, core disciplinary ideas in a ‘domain’, and cross-cutting issues for facts plays right into training students to comprehend things that are not so and misattribute causes in ways that will only make the problems worse. For those of us with Axemaker Minds and a factual body of knowledge from history or science it’s hard not to imagine the tragedy from teaching future educators and their administrators and all those public policy degree holders that “social problems can be framed to yield humane and progressive solutions.” Maybe, but probably not.

Enduring Understandings, Understandings of Consequence, Understanding by Design–all huge components of the actual Common Core implementation and especially the new assessments make perfect sense if you believe, as Raskin stated, that “how we categorize can help us organize energies for the common good.”  Social and emotional learning, role playing as a slave to appreciate the Civil War, and a Whole Child emphasis likewise  makes perfect sense as a necessary component if the goal is to “bring the purpose of equity into lived reality.”

In the world of the same curriculum for all from the proverbial dimwit to the Super Nova intellect and the elimination of tracking, I want to close with how Raskin concluded his book’s vision. He saw a “great struggle” although with all these deceitful terms being used to describe the shifts in purpose, policies, and practices, who will know in time to resist?

“People are not prepared to surrender their present comforts or those knowledges which helped them achieve such comforts either for the protection of humanity, the building of a world civilization–let alone egalitarian interdependence.” That’s not just a chilling declaration of purpose.

It reminds us that a huge component of the means to accomplish these admitted transformations is to destroy fine, well-stocked minds. Anywhere they can be discovered.

What a thing to be implementing blindly while hyping the skills gap and the need to be internationally competitive.