Lucrative Deceit: Managing Consciousness By Conjoining Social Media & Charter Schools

This post was outlined before the outcry over Facebook’s gathering of data, but the outside in power of all that data on so much of the population should be kept in mind as we look at the Chan Zuckerburg interest in transformative charter schools. It also fits with the interest we have seen since my March 8 post on Parkland and the meaning of that motto of the PROMISE Program in Broward County. I have repeatedly read since then numerous articles from supposedly conservative sources misportraying the clear developmental focus of the required practices. It gets pitched as simply a matter of federal overreach and coercion via funding. Yesterday, the charter-supporting Heritage Foundation https://www.heritage.org/firearms/report/focusing-school-safety-after-parkland joined what looks like a well-coordinated campaign to make Paul Sperry’s derivative and whitewashed description of the Program the official narrative. Mustn’t accurately explain what one intends to use so let’s just mine ISC for information and skip over Robin’s inconvenient interpretations that shine an accurate light on these practices.

After all, we know charters have a likely chance to be deemed effective and gain a right to more federal funding if they have a Whole Child focus that Infuses Developmental Neuroscience into the curriculum and required practices as this link lays out. http://www.jahonline.org/article/S1054-139X(12)00192-9/pdf Likewise, notice how often a private or charter school has language in its mission statement about its purpose “to educate students to be knowledgeable, responsible, socially skilled, healthy, caring, and contributing citizens” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12971193 or hyping their “strengths-based approaches to child and adolescent development…and emphasis on students’ resilience in the school and community” (quoting the National Association of School Psychologists), or Promoting Youth Development (PYD). http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/rulesforengagement/Taylor%20et%20al%20-%20FINAL%20document%206%2017%202017.pdf

All of the linked SEL research matters because they are tied to the PROMISE Program when accurately interpreted using its cited foundational research and not whitewashed for political purposes. The whtewashing is no surprise though as the charter schools use the same developmental template as Broward’s PROMISE program when the latter is properly understood. Let’s switch to something else charters use to ensure their efficacy and are not upfront about. I am quoting from a 2011 book by Duke prof Cathy N Davidson called Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century where Davidson profiled the innovative new forms of learning being implemented by a number of cited charter schools. When we talk about the use of categories, concepts, or guiding principles, recall how useful it will be to have the News Literacy Project we encountered in the last post working hand in hand with the categories of thought pushed as Reading and Thinking Like A Historian or Higher Order Thinking Skills.

This post begins a trilogy and that will be the in-depth topic of the next post. In the mean time let’s appreciate what charter operators all know. “How we use our brain (what we pay attention to) changes our brain. Those things that capture our attention–our learning and our work, our passions and our activities–change our actual brain biology.” That’s a direct confession, isn’t it? Plenty of reason for deceit there. The emphasis on Disciplinary Core Ideas to use just one of the euphemisms or Enduring Understandings makes sense when we all become aware that “once everything is located in a proper category, the category itself (for better or worse) answers a host of unaskable questions. A category is a shorthand.” And whoever controls those required categories of thought can insist all day long that “they are teaching students how to think, not telling them what to think” but that repeated assertion doesn’t make it true. Whoever controls the prescribed categories of thought, controls thought. Period. Especially once it becomes a Habit of Mind.

Quoting Davidson again: “distinctions are normative, sensory, behavioral, social, cognitive, and affective all at once. Learning happens in categories, with values clumped together in our words, concepts, and actions. And this is where attention and its concomitant attention blindness come from.” All the emphasis now on Engagement, activity, and relevance really make sense when we appreciate that a classroom emphasis on these has become required because they “transform not merely our behavior but the underlying neural networks that make attention possible. Every manifestation of attention in the real world begins in the brain” and every successful charter school operator knows that as well as so should we. Davidson went on to call out Canadian Donald O. Hebb by name as the “father of neuropsychology” because:

“he was the first person to observe that learning occurs when neurons streamline into pathways and then streamline into other pathways, into efficient clusters that act in concert with one another. This is now called the Hebbian principle: Neurons that fire together, wire together. This means the more we repeat certain patterns of behavior (that’s the firing together), the more those behaviors become rapid, then reflexive, then automatic (that’s the wiring). They become patterns, habits, groupings, categories, or concepts, all efficiencies that ‘wire together’ sets of individual reflexes or responses.”

Now if your child’s school of any type or online curriculum is grounded in creating such a Hebbian neural web that will ultimately guide their future behavior at an unconscious, but predictable, level, don’t you want to know that? Isn’t all the organized deceit making more sense now? I feel though like those old Ronco holiday commercials when many of us were kids advertising for some useful gadget that we supposedly cannot live without in every house. “But wait! There’s more!” As part of the case after the Parkland shooting for why more social and emotional learning and an antibullying emphasis were needed came this story https://www.educationdive.com/news/creating-schools-that-fit-our-kids/518917/ hyping a report from the Aspen Institute and its panel of educators.

Now I first wrote about that panel back in September here http://invisibleserfscollar.com/capturing-every-thought-captive-and-sculpting-students-as-systems-driver-of-perfidy/ and in several of the following posts. That report and Consensus Statement were always going to come out, but the Parkland mass murder gives gave a chance to pitch the change in emphasis as urgent so that “social, emotional, and academic development” can be integrated. That also fits with the links above that are the basis for how charters really work and what the PROMISE Program was actually designed to change. Now I have written about one panel member before, Linda Lantieri, and how she trains classroom teachers in techniques that are billed as New Age on some days depending on her audience and on others as Positive Psychology. I recognized other names too, but the Council of Distinguished Educators member that really caught my eye was from a chain of charter schools called Valor Collegiate Academies.

That’s where our conjoining reference comes from as we have funding coming from the Left Pincer in the form of the Chan Zuckerburg Initiative and from the Right Pincer that seemingly does not want the PROMISE program accurately understood in the form of the Charter Schools Growth Fund. Now Valor openly trumpets in its materials that it uses required regular group Valor Circle practices that are “grounded in the field of Interpersonal Neurobiology which posits that relationships ‘inspire us to rewire our brains toward integration.'” Well, that’s certainly one way to create change in the student effectively and thus ensure additional funding and opportunities for expansion. Valor has graphics about targeting the students’ “drives for agency and communion, or self-determination and connection… and helping scholars (and adults) create their own ‘inner compass'”.

Now, I am not disagreeing that people need an inner compass, but if a school is deliberately rewiring childrens’ brain in a Hebbian manner, parents should be told that forthrightly before they act like programmed automatons. How many parents appreciate that neural rewiring emphasis when they read language (bolding in original) about “All Members of the Valor Community aspire to balance their Sharp Mind and Big Heart and to live their Noble Purpose through Aligned Actions, all the while accessing their True North” to make meaningful choices in their everyday life. ” That True North: Habits of Center is grounded in Mindfulness research, which is certainly an interesting remedy for preventing another Parkland type shooting.

It’s not just that I recognize what is cited as Mindfulness, but here’s a quote from a draft I downloaded of what was to be implemented in the 2017-2018 school year per “True North ‘standards’ or intended learnings.

“True North practices range in duration and focus. Many of the True North practices at Valor are informed by curricula such as Mindful Schools and Applied Mindfulness: Inner Life Skills for Youth and are attention training activities [remember the Cathy Davidson quotes above on the effect on the brain] to help scholars increase concentration and well-being while reducing stress levels. Practices range in focus from one’s basic goodness to posting attention and from compassion meditations to mindful movement.”

Is that what anyone was expecting to be touted “at a time when the nation is looking for solutions to violent tragedies like the Feb. 14 shooting” at Parkland? Is this why we cannot get accurate reporting except at ISC or in my book Credentialed to Destroy of what competency-based education and frameworks actually aim to change or what the Broward PROMISE Program and Restorative Justice programs really hope to alter? Are charter schools, online providers, and private and parochial schools all afraid they will not get access to public funds if parents recognize that they too are aimed at neural rewiring “to produce knowledgeable and competent adults able to participate as informed citizens in the democratic process”?

We will discuss the source of that last quote and its ties to the School Choice funding campaign in the next post–Part 2 of this Trilogy of Lucrative Deceit.

Outside In: Conjoining Education & Media to Consciously Create Consensus

Do you regard the phrases “public transformation” and “societal transformation” as synonymous? The first, as we saw in the last post, seems interested in transforming who we are at the level of our beliefs and values–our very consciousness. The other wants to transform existing institutions and organizations–the external reality. The coverage of the Parkland mass school shooting and the student activists it has launched makes considerable more sense if we know that Global Education Futures (GEFF) released a report last fall called “Educational Ecosystems for Societal Transformation” that is referenced in other internal reports with a different title about “Education Ecosystems for Public Transformation.” Either title reflects a desire that the “level of challenges faced by humanity today calls us to find answers through a consciously created consensus.”

One side of the media, especially the legacy media, wants us to see the tragedy as a reason for gun control. The other seems to see Parkland as a convenient tool to hype School Choice, on-line learning, and supposed ‘local’ solutions to federal government tyranny. No one seems to want to eliminate the media’s ability to frame how we see Parkland and what we believe the solutions to be. Since the transformation vision relies heavily on misunderstanding the nature of learning standards like the Common Core or Competencies (Inside-Out) and also not reporting the long planned convergence of the media and education to create the narrative driving a perceived need for change, let’s tear away the shroud obscuring this cooperation.

Russian Pavel Luksha, who is a leader in GEFF as we covered here in 2015, also turns out to be involved with Chris Whittle’s new venture called the Whittle School, a global education venture. Back in 2005, Whittle wrote a book called Crash Course hyping the ability to use School Choice globally and private providers of education to drive innovation and a new vision of learning. He created a hypothetical “worldwide leader in K-12 curricula” that had previously been “the first of the world’s major communications and publishing companies to grasp fully that the world of schooling was an extension of the core competencies found in many communications entities.” We need to recognize that now too as that outside-in tool was a huge part of why previous UNESCO head Irina Bokova simply shorthanded the conjunction and its global transformative potential as “media education.”

Likewise, when that GEFF report headlines its “New Horizon” chapter with this Margaret Wheatley quote, think not just of the roles of the media and a new type of learning, but also all the high school students we are now seeing who simply assume a right to redesign the world and existing systems.

“We have only just begun the process of discovering and inventing the new organizational forms that will inhabit the 21st century. We need the courage to let go of the old world, to relinquish most of what we have cherished, to abandon our interpretations about what does and doesn’t work.”

That shift is much easier if, unbeknownst to most parents, the schools have long since shifted from a subject-centered curriculum to an ‘experience-centered curriculum’. Suddenly, topics, themes, concepts, and principles come first to provide students with a means to “intellectualize his experience.” To mine my personal library using a post WW2 book called Reorganizing the High-School Curriculum from 1947 to move away from the school as “merely an instrument for perpetuating the status quo” to one where “our democratic society is to be refined and re-created,” would require a new type of education grounded in a new theory of learning.

“Learning in its best sense involves the ‘continuous reconstruction of experience.’ Learning products are identified as changes in attitudes upon the basis of new or deeper understandings, and the acquisition of general and special abilities, habits, and skills. The learning experiences which the school provides [now online learning can also do this] for students are directed towards changes in behavior in line with democratic ideals and values. [Remember the PROMISE motto from the last post and the role of Restorative Justice programs] The school provides work experience for the student, not primarily to get the work done, but because such experience enhances growth in line with democratic values.”

That’s what student-centered learning is really about and everyone involved with education reforms, except students and parents, is either openly or covertly pushing this same vision. If we miss the planned role of all media in this, we are fighting a battle with blinders on. That was sixty years ago, but only the names and tools change, not the transformative aims. https://ssir.org/articles/entry/using_story_to_change_systems has a similar aim and came out about a week ago. Also recently the Data & Society Research Institute issued a report called “Dead Reckoning: Navigating Content Moderation After ‘Fake News'” that caught my eye. One thing about tearing a tendon in your leg, I have been rather stuck watching bad TV like it or not. A publication like that wanting to define what is Fake News not by veracity of the information but rather or not the source is preapproved by the powers that be simply emboldens the lies I have been forced to watch recently on the evening network news.

The difference though was I was in a position to find out more of what looked like immunity to lie to advocate for the repeatedly announced “public” or “societal transformation” as I was signed up to attend a February 23, 2018 Georgia Bar Media & Judiciary Conference sponsored by CNN among others. The speakers, who included a Morehouse journalism prof, a New York Times reporter, a former CBS reporter, and the managing director of CNN International, kept hyping the role of the “Legacy Media’ to be ‘gatekeepers’, which to me rather smacked of censorship before the fact by approved sources. The CBS reporter,  hyped “the crucial role of the press in shaping American history” and asserted that Facebook and Google’s recent policy changes to prefer the Legacy Media in search results were a good start but were “not enough”.

I thought about how Walter Cronkite had so hyped the Tet Offensive that a generation of Americans thought we lost military ground then. They did not recognize a deliberate use of the news and what gets covered, to steer popular and prevailing consciousness on an issue. When the audience was asked for questions, I raised my hand and asked if their position was that the term “Fake News” was about the source of the information or the quality of the information? That’s when things got really interesting since no one knew education was my area of expertise. The response by several of the panel members was to agree it was about the source and the standards of truth used by the ‘legacy media’ and then begin to talk about the need for new curriculum in the schools to create deference to the Legacy Media.

Another member then mentioned that the real solution to Fake News allegations was “further down the food chain in the schools” and called attention to a News Literacy Project that had been created to do just that. It would aid students to differentiate between Fake News and to know “what to believe.” That continued targeting of the internalized belief system that has always been a hall mark of Tranzi OBE under its various names (see last post and comments) got my attention.

So I came home and looked up the Project and discovered it had been started in Spring 2008 by veteran reporters from the LA Times. The family that had owned the Wall Street Journal before Rupert Murdoch was also involved and Steve Schmidt who had worked in the White House under Bush 43 and who managed John McCain’s Presidential run. Mollie Hemingway, now a Federalist editor and contributor to Fox News is on the Board. Since she is married to a writer at the Weekly Standard I think we can conclude that the Legacy Media as well as the so-called non-establishment media that is supposedly conservative all want to create school curriculum on how the media is regarded.

The really fascinating member of the Board in my mind who thoroughly conjoins media and education, learning standards and media literacy projects, and inside-out vs outside-in filtering to Consciously Create Consensus was Sam Wineburg. Wineburg is an education prof at Stanford who has been active in creating standards for “Civic Online Reasoning”. The Stanford History Education Group or SHEG is where everything comes together as they have created the Reading Like a Historian curriculum that can be used to create and measure the existence of the ‘desired understandings’ that students are to internalize as their required Higher Order Thinking Skills under federal ESSA law.

Doesn’t that sound like an excellent way to Consciously Create Consensus, especially if the curriculum gets used to create formative assessments that few parents will understand if they have not read Credentialed to Destroy? The News Literacy Project presented at both the 2016 and 2017 National Council for the Social Studies annual conference so we know these curricula will be used to create the C3 Framework ‘lenses’ to evaluate how students view the world around them. Turns out the nonsensical slogan that “we are teaching students how to think, not what to think” is actually not true at all.

Suddenly media literacy, new forms of learning, competencies, and the need to control the internalized belief system and values via prescribed standards and Habits of Mind takes us to a view of History that Karl Marx would have recognized. We need to as well to cut through the False Narratives ALL the media now seemed to find so useful:

“History is the ‘precondition of political intelligence’…It allows us to undertake sensible inquiry into the political, social, or moral issues that trouble us…[and] achieve the informed, discriminating citizenship essential to democratic government.”

The Parkland and other high school students then are simply fulfilling the roles SHEG and other experiential curriculum have trained them for. The way out of students who see themselves as Makers of History is to recognize that school has neurally and deliberately rewired them to do, think, want, and act in preapproved ways.

We are, after all, the Public whose consciousness the media, educators, and virtually every think tank I have looked at wants to control. We need to recognize the how and why and that it is not just students being targeted.