Uncloaking Mandarins, Oxymorons, and the Leap Frog Straight to Wave 4 Education Reforms

Let’s go back in time again to pertinent facts that prominent people do not bother to mention in describing whether they are “pro-Common Core” or “anti-Common Core”. In the 80s, it turns out, most everyone that matters now had a common vision for the “reinvention” of public education and where and how it should be carried out that still controls the actual implementation today. Now it is firmly mandated by federal law that is far better understood with some of these old quotes taken from the the Educational Excellence Network created by the well-known Diana Ravitch and Chester Finn back in 1981.

I thought I had used juicy quotes in my book Credentialed to Destroy explaining the links between the Common Core and competency-based ed now and what were called the Reading and Math Wars in the 90s. Maybe that legacy is why people pretend to be for (or against) something that functions precisely as what they once funded or advocated for. Never pointing out those relevant links. I do think everything gets put into the accurate frame though when someone in charge acknowledges that ‘Curriculum Frameworks’ (someone should have told the Catholic Schools that that term actually was in use long before ‘standards’) are always about “fundamentally new notions of school curriculum” and that the implementation therefore:

“will be complex. They require paradigm shifts in understanding math and science, shifts that basically require a brand-new view of mathematics and science. The good news is that teachers and local educators are responsive to these new views. But full, deep, and complete implementation of them is likely to take at least several years of concerted effort.”

Public controversy over what was usually just thought to be Outcomes-Based Education threw off the full implementation in most places and the real purpose of the Common Core was to get everyone in K-12 education anywhere in the United States (actually the world, but this is a post not another book) on the same page as what was laid out first in the 80s. It appears to me that much of the anti-Common Core organized effort has been coordinated and financed by groups with ties to both the pro-Common Core effort as well as that Educational Excellence Network (EEN) and its vision.  The Internet and the computer servers it accesses can be purged, but not all the old books that were written crowing about that new vision. Once the details are laid out, it has not been hard to get copies of enough verifying sources to prove the consistency of the vision to what federal law now requires and what is being pushed as School Choice on President-Elect Trump.

Old books then are almost as good as HG Wells’ Time Machine so let’s consult them in earnest. California was the first state to roll out Curriculum Frameworks and it started with math and science with language arts (what we know as the infamous Whole Language) and history in the following year. Diana Ravitch was co-author of that California History-Social Science Framework while she also served as Director of EEN. Chester Finn left to be an Under Secretary of Ed under Bill Bennett between 1985-1988 (during Project Education Reform: Time for Results) . Here’s a short overview of the shift away from facts and towards what we now call in statutes “higher order thinking skills” and “challenging academic standards” in ESSA that must be assessed annually for ALL students.

“Subsequently, concern about the technical core shifted toward a curriculum that emphasized concepts rather than isolated facts, thinking and the creation of meaning rather than passive knowing, and problem-solving and expression so that knowledge could be used to address meaningful problems. There has been a corresponding shift in instructional strategies away from just direct instruction on a narrow view of issues to a complex set of instructional strategies that promotes inquiry, active learning, group cooperation and social cohesion in a heterogenous classroom.”

That’s the real reason academic tracking had to go away. The Wave Theory has nothing to do with the beach unfortunately and was a means to lay out the phases of state education reforms since 1983. The 1987 California PACE Study found that the needed change in teacher practices and support for the kind of “demanding curriculum” laid out above (Wave 3) needed a new conception of schools and how they would work (Wave 4).  Wave 4 then is what now goes by the euphemism School Choice and it presupposes and is designed to accomplish that kind of wholesale transformation of school content and what is to now constitute knowledge.

Here’s the money quote–“Wave IV involves a restructuring of school organization  and resources to support fundamental changes in curriculum and instruction. The restructuring typically involves shared decision-making, site-based management, major curriculum reform and a renewed sense of teacher professionalism. But rather than seeing these reforms in isolation, Wave IV involves linking these reforms to changes in the schooling experience for students.” Being an Education Advocate, Insider, or a nominee for the Department of Education who claims to be “Anti-Common Core” and “Pro-School Choice” is to either be deliberately disingenuous or to fail to understand the factual history of these education reforms.

That is not a tear at Ms DeVos and other discussed nominees are even more tainted by these ties to EEN. The same Bradley Foundation that helped finance the book in the last post also financed EEN as well as the 1987 Bradley Commission on History in Schools. Let’s quote from a 1989 book published by EEN as it sounds remarkably similar to the California vision and Wave  3. “To develop judgment and perspective, historical study must often focus upon broad, significant themes and questions, rather than the short-lived memorization of facts without context. In doing so, historical study should provide context for facts and training in critical judgment based upon evidence, including original sources, and should cultivate the perspective arising from a chronological view of the past down to the present day.”

A less convoluted way to say that would be to cultivate a Worldview to guide each student’s future perception and their interpretation of daily experiences. That is what curriculum reforms and learning standards now like the Common Core have in common with what California and the EEN pushed in the 80s with common financing of both EEN and School Choice, then and now. In his 1991 book We Must Take Charge, Chester Finn thanks both the Olin and Bradley Foundations for their support of EEN as well as special shout-outs to both Lamar Alexander and Bill Bennett. Since both of these men would also serve on the Education Policy Committee of EEN in the early 90s with so many others who are well-known School Choice advocates, before EEN closed up shop formally and rolled into the Fordham Institute in 1996, let’s look at that book. I will note first though EEN’s path. Columbia U, then Vanderbilt where Finn was an ed prof, then the Hudson Institute, and now Fordham.

“Conservative’ is another adjective that is an oxymoron when applied to public policy think tanks engaged in advocacy for this transformational view of education. Let’s think of how useful it has been in obscuring this actual agenda to pretend it is conservative or locally-based. In a 1986 paper, “American Schools and the Future of Local Control,” that points out that School Choice will allow per student spending to no longer be tied to property taxes which vary community to community, Finn and his co-author Denis Doyle from yet another think tank, AEI, that likes to cloak its advocacy behind that ‘conservative’ oxymoron, admitted that School Choice was actually ‘radical’ and that local control was an “antiquated doctrine.” Not in today’s rhetoric when the School Choice lobby wants taxpayer money.

In the “New Constitution for American Education” chapter, Finn said in italics that “in the United States in the 1990s the outcome we must concentrate on and gauge our success by is cognitive learning.” In other words, governments at all levels, cloaked by declaring their intentions to be a matter of public policy pursued by think tanks, decided that the internalized functioning of each student’s mind was theirs to dictate, control, and assess. Since that reality would never be sanctioned by informed parents and taxpayers, this actual vision and intention gets obscured by rhetoric about standards, Excellence, School Choice, and a ‘thinking curriculum’. It’s not just the mind being targeted either. Finn reiterated that: “let me say it again, if we are serious about guiding the moral, spiritual, and emotional development of all our children, we cannot limit ourselves to government.”

All institutions and people connected to education must subscribe to the same vision that seeks to build a desired Worldview into Habits of Mind. In reality that is what School Choice has always been about. It’s why homeschoolers will need to take ‘high-quality assessments’ to check for the presence of the desired Worldview and motivating values as a condition of accessing Education Savings Accounts. It is how this contagion that wants to design, monitor, and control human thought itself gets put invisibly in place. Supposedly as an aid to better decision-making. Finn stated that America needed a “universal mastery of a common core is what will hold us together as Americans, equalize our opportunities for happiness and prosperity, and revitalize the nation’s civic, economic, and cultural life.”

In reality, it puts governments at every level in charge of all these areas, using education as a transformation process, for what each student must internalize as the basis and motivation for future action. It turns out that my old books made it crystal clear that ‘public policy’ is just a euphemism for governments assuming control instead of individuals themselves. Market-based public policy then is just another oxymoron cloaking who is now to be in charge and what they intend to do. I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then started this blog with its prescient title because I wanted to try to make the hidden, but provable, transformation visions visible in time. Transformation is just another euphemism for a revolution. This one is quite nonconsensual and intended to be invisible and permanent at a neurobiological level.

I will close with another Finn/EEN quote that also explains why controlling Worldview is so important. Think of the anti-Common Core/School Choice coordinated manipulation as being about cloaking the reality below the treeline.

“In any real revolution, only the treetops are visible. The roots, trunks, and branches that support them are concealed in the minds and hearts of the populace. This is why revolutions only succeed when a revolutionary spirit invades people’s attitudes and actions…”

That would also explain the Deceit and False Narratives surrounding Social and Emotional Learning Standards, wouldn’t it?

 

Once Again Being Grateful for What We Know and Appreciating Why It Matters

And immediately recognizing what we are dealing with and its actual antecedents throughout history is what I am once again grateful for this day before Thanksgiving. Because as outlandish and unexpected as some of what I write about may initially be to you, it is true and I can prove it. If I had not pulled all of these facts together, 2014 would be the year in which so many political and social institutions and their leaders globally decided to go for broke. With our lives, children, future, and tax money. And no one on the outside of these schemes without a lucrative grant or rich employment contract would know how all these pieces fit. Before I let the remainder of the post be the popular philosophical essay from last year, let me add a few updates that I am thankful for.

I am thankful my book Credentialed to Destroy: How and Why Education Became a Weapon is now available on Amazon and for kindle and that I let it simmer on a shelf for more than a year while as I started this blog. The events that left me so alarmed and the unexpected intensity of the psychological focus of the real implementation helped me properly frame what I was dealing with when I went back early last summer. Those of you waiting for the sequel or for me to tell the story through the blog will need the foundation I lay out in the book to appreciate what the blog encounters weekly and what I now know but have not written up yet.

Another thing I am immensely grateful for is the unbelievably confessional nature of certain used books I have obtained in the last year. And that various people had the wisdom to get those still relevant plans and intentions off of library shelves but left them still available for sale for an enterprising, not so young, lawyer trying to piece together the why of what she had located. I hope each of you get much of what you cherish over the next few days and avoids as much as possible that which drives you crazy. No, please do not take  that as an indication I will try to hide from any of my children. I can’t anyway. I am cooking the main meal.

One more update to the previous post. I can promise that together we will be able to piece together and properly interpret every machination and theory and intended policy change anybody comes up with in 2014. Game on, ears open, eyes observant, and mind fully engaged. Typing still hunt and peck but speedier. Here we go…..

I had actually outlined another barnburner story but the day before Thanksgiving is no time to serve up indigestion. So I thought I would write a tale of appreciating why individual liberty has mattered in the past and why Freed Markets resulted in mass prosperity would be a nice tribute. And I do not mean that in a Pollyanish sense. One of the books I am tackling this holiday week is Robert P Moses’ radical equations: Civil Rights from Mississippi to the Algebra Project. I want every child to learn to the best of their ability. I want to really appreciate the desperation that is driving this Equality for All even if it guts the economy philosophy. It is why I read what attracted Van Jones to the Green Growth Economy as a manifestation of his self-confessed preference for Communism.

I think the history lessons of the Predator State declaring its Goals for People and then using its powers to coerce are too easy to forget. It’s not an ideological preference. It’s a factual story. A repeated pattern once government reaches a certain size of the economy. I think history consistently bears out the truth of what Nobel Prize-winning economist Friedrich Hayek said in his 1945 lecture Individualism: True and False. I give extra credit for people who have first hand experience in what led to most of the great tragedies of the 20th Century. It’s called Walking the Walk and there is great validity to the hard-earned wisdom it imparts.

“There is all the difference in the world between treating people equally and attempting to make them equal. While the first is a condition of a free society, the second means, as De Tocqueville described it, ‘a new form of servitude.”

There is just no getting around the fact that government officials and their Business Allies deciding they get to fine tune personalities and reset Values, Attitudes, and Beliefs to guide an Individual’s Future Behavior is a 21st Century form of servitude. Especially when the inappropriately named Positive School Climate is now a tool to retrain each student’s filtering Mindset. The worldview they will use from now on as they encounter daily reality. With their preferred non-Axemaker Mind and habits grounded in emotion. All quite consciously cultivated and monitored.

But we now know all this up front and that really is something to be Thankful for. As an active pursuer of these plans and blueprints this is decidedly unauthorized knowledge that was not supposed to become available. A 2012 Deerstalker Gold Star Award for Me. The most common question I get from frustrated parents especially is Why? What I am saying simply rings too true with their daily reality to discount it. But why the Deliberate Operant Conditioning towards a Future that’s not really about prosperity?

Like I have said, I take great comfort in putting all this in its Historical Context and its real Self-Dealing Context. Because honestly that is where it belongs. So I am going to quote you a passage from Hayek’s 1944 book The Road to Serfdom (page 176 in my 2007 copy). He really nails the drivers behind making education miseducation. Notice he also nails down the frequent unholy alliance between government and the media. Simply refusing to report or cover accurately anything that might caste a poor light on desired government policies. My bolding and snark is in the brackets.

“Facts and theories [Sustainability, Man-made Catastrophic Global Warming, Diversity, Social Justice] must thus become no less the object of an official doctrine than views about values. And the whole apparatus for spreading knowledge–the schools and the press, radio and motion picture–will be used exclusively to spread those views which, whether true or false, will strengthen the belief in the rightness of the decisions taken by the authority; and all information that might cast doubt or hesitation will be withheld. The probable effect on the people’s loyalty to the system [Peter Senge just swooned that we so understand the essence of Systems Thinking and Why It Must Be Pushed] becomes the only criterion for deciding whether a particular piece of information is to be published or suppressed. [Benghazi; Actual Employment Numbers] The situation in a totalitarian state is permanently and in all fields the same that it is elsewhere in some fields in wartime. Everything which might cause doubt about the wisdom of the government or create discontent will be kept from the people. [Hard not to think of Candy Crowley and that 2nd Presidential Debate]. The basis of unfavorable comparisons with conditions elsewhere, the knowledge of possible alternatives to the course actually taken, information which might suggest failure on the part of the government to live up to its promises or to take advantage of opportunities to improve conditions–all will be suppressed. There is consequently no field where the systematic control of information will not be practiced and uniformity of views not enforced.”

There you have the incentive of Government officials for using education for merely Competent, Mentally Hobbled Citizens. Especially ones who are being bred to see a Duty to the State. And the Business Angle. They are politically connected and want special privileges and protections from their Cronies. That’s not Capitalism though. It’s Mercantilism where there is no mass prosperity. It is what Adam Smith rejected as he accounted for Britain’s phenomenal 18th century economic growth.

So enjoy your friends and loved ones on this cherished American holiday. Whatever happens in education in 2013, we WILL understand what is really going on and what the likely consequences are actually going to be.

And that really is something to be Thankful for.

 

What Happens When a Charter Pillages Minds and Wallets?

Raise your hand if you remember to substitute the words “binding contract among the parties” every time you hear the word charter in education. A charter school. Now charter districts. In life your intentions may make you a fine person or an evil one or somewhere in between. But as a legal matter intentions cease to matter when you sign a contract. Its words now control. They dictate the relationships among the parties. Now those of you who have joined me as readers from the Get Schooled blog know I have a running joke about Attentive Parent’s Glossary of Words. That I should publish it as a dictionary because so many of the commonly used terms and slogans in education actually have far different meanings than what is commonly appreciated.

Now think about the implications of that for a minute when those words get put into a formal education statute or regulation or a charter. It’s bad in all three instances because the side providing the money is not really going to get what they think they are getting. That’s the beauty of Orwellian Newspeak–the duplicitous use of language. It makes it a whole lot harder to detect the problem. If you do though, at least you can lobby politicians to change or repeal a law. Where do you go to appeal a legally binding contract that was intended by one side (has the accurate knowledge and is in charge of daily operations) to operate differently from what the other side (providing the money and children) thought they were getting from the charter?

Welcome to the dangerous world of charters in education. And yes I was a corporate lawyer in charge of negotiating contracts in an earlier version of my life. Contracts to me are close to living things. I never forget that the only time anyone ever reads a contract is when the parties have ceased to agree. So it needs to be written accurately while everyone is still getting along. In education charters though one side may not have any real effective means of appreciating that there was never a point when both sides were in agreement about what was supposed to happen in that school or district. In fact the charter becomes an effective weapon for making the deception over intended results legally binding. And to accelerate the speed at which radical education  reform is being brought to a public school or district you are financing with your taxes. That money you must pay annually that then limits what else you can buy. Which limits what other people in turn make from sales. Which limits their income. But not their property taxes that finance so much of education.

On June 1, a 93,000 student school district with an over billion dollar annual budget became the largest charter school district in Georgia. A state that seems determined to pilot cutting edge radical ed reform. Usually because there is some poorly understood federal grant of money involved. It’s not alone in that category of destructive fundraising though so don’t gloat too much if you live somewhere else. EdWeek did a story on the charter calling it a “gamechanger.” Yes I have no doubt it was intended to be a national model. The language is simply too tied in with some of the most controversial or nefarious schemes in using education as a social and political weapon. What  do I mean for example?

Well if you have been reading all along you know I mention something called Transformational Outcomes Based Education as the end game. Fundamentally change the student from the inside-out. What she values, believes, and how she behaves. Make responding from emotion a habit and logical, abstract thinking a rare, maybe even impossible, event. Cultivate a sense of being part of a group instead of being an independent individual. My nickname for Transformational OBE is intellectual totalitarianism. But then I love history and recognize the characteristics and dangers of a government officially limiting what its future voters may know or be able to do.

So when I see language in the charter that I recognize as coming from the OBE scheming it is alarming. When I recognize tools that the designers created to use education as a weapon to change American society or its economy or quietly shift its political structure that’s unacceptable. Contractually mandated policies and practices that track back to what a long dead schemer believed would make it much more difficult for the US to prevail against the Soviet Union in the Cold War. That’s a problem too. You get my drift. If education is a legal, social, economic, and political weapon, charters are a dangerous and poorly understood major means for going on offense. And very intentionally so.

You see it turns out that schemers back in the 1970s first began to appreciate that charters could be used as a stealth weapon to force schools and districts to implement radical ed reform with fidelity. No deviations allowed. Legally bound to the script. In 1988, getting ready for the 2nd attempt at national ed reform, one of the regional ed labs (that’s your money) formalized the charter plan for radically restructuring the mission of schools. A new transformative vision quietly placed in those unassuming counterintuitive words of the charter.

A vision that could not be legally altered for 5 or 10 years of finally actually piloting  the political theories. Even the national unions became involved in 1988 behind the idea of using charters to make education about reaching the 80% of students who did not thrive in a traditional, transmission of knowledge approach to schooling. Except the new approach would bind 100% of the students. Finally and successfully using public education for a levelling purpose. To finally create equality. Even if all were left in an intellectual basement together. Socializing and feeling and being guided.

Now I wish there was humor in this post about a lethal vision. I think we will have to settle for irony this time. At almost the precise moment of victory. As this vision to use charters to radically transform education in a binding, untouchable way in high-performing suburban districts finally got under way. The tax paid schemers got caught. Thoroughly. Spread the word. It’s the primary weapon we have for fighting back.

 

Is Accreditation the Enforcer for UNESCO’s Vision of Solidarity?

From its beginning UNESCO and other UN affiliates refused to see education, science or culture (the “E, S, and C” in the name) as most of us would. And do as we pay those property taxes and income taxes and tuition and student loans. Things to be cherished and nurtured and transmitted and built up. To the best of each of our abilities. Instead each of these treasures of the ages is viewed as a tool to create social change. In order to build up a new vision for what people could be like in the future.

Now a knowledge of history tells us that this has never worked well. It was behind many of the tragedies of the 20th century and before. UNESCO’s designers though believed they could create new norms of moral responsibility and human conduct and then find allies to enforce them. Leaving all of us unsuspecting of course since none of us like to feel we are being managed by others. Especially at our own expense. But since the late 1940s UNESCO has dreamed of using education to promote the intellectual and moral solidarity of mankind. All of us.

And not as individuals either. The dream has been to foster human values, beliefs, feelings, and attitudes that promote collective norms, collective behaviors, and collective patterns for action. Apparently UNESCO and the other UN agencies in its orbit weren’t listening when Karl Popper said in 1957 that:

“Even the emotionally satisfying appeal for a common purpose, however excellent, is an appeal to abandon all rival moral opinions and the cross-criticisms and arguments to which they give rise. It is an appeal to abandon rational thought.”

Well we know from the previous post on what Quality in education really means that individuals abandoning logic and reason and any real ability to think abstractly is precisely what certain utopian or just greedy schemers have been targeting for 100 years. Since John Dewey and then Ralph Tyler and Professor Bode and their 8 Year Study we discussed on May 15 and May 16 in previous posts.

So in all the UN activities involving education we have talked about in the last several posts–Educations for All, MDGs, and Education for Development, the vision for the basic education that everyone is to get does not really vary in its purpose. It:

“should equip all people, women and men, to be fully participating members of their own communities and also citizens of the world.”

That’s in the fundamentally reoriented and restructured world where UN agencies and their employees will take the lead in integrating “social, economic and environmental policy” at the local, national, and global levels.  And that aspiration is from the March 2012 State of the Planet Declaration getting ready for the Rio Conference in mid-June so the ink is barely dry.

Does that aspiration seem silly to you? Impossible? Something that should earn a ticket to a Mad Hatters Tea Party? Me too. Here’s the thing though with these aspirations that involve using our money and political power to Try to control us and our behavior. It doesn’t have to be possible for it to be tried. And great, expensive, difficult to fix harm can still flow from simply attempting bad ideas and impossible feats. That’s why we are talking about this now. Before Rio. Before Common Core’s full implementation. While the accreditors like AdvancED or New England are moving their devoted Gypsy Principals and Gypsy Supers and others into place to enforce this vision.

Whether anyone involved truly appreciates or is even aware of the full vision behind what they are promoting and requiring. As I have mentioned before, we have an autopsy to perform as to what happened and why with education. Right now we need to slow and stop any more damage from these misguided but official policies and practices. Coming to a school and district near you right now.

So the UN agencies like UNESCO and others use the so-called Quality Assurance process to systematically review education programs around the world for compliance with its vision. In fact in 2002 UNESCO created the Global Forum  on International Quality Assurance, Accreditation and the Recognition of Qualifications in Higher Education to act as the coordinator of that vision. We in the US and my readers in other countries thus have a real problem. The regional accreditors we think are local and checking to ensure academic excellence are using accreditation and their almost dictatorial power over the schools, including many private, and higher ed to pursue a much different vision for education.

Some of it we have already talked about. More will come out. None of it is good. Some of it may feel treasonous. All of it though is part of a group of people we are largely unaware of actively coordinating to implement a common global purpose. And no one told us or asked our permission and it absolutely cannot work as envisioned. And the attempts may wreck us all. It really is past time for school officials and the accreditors themselves to be forthcoming with the public that pays all the bills.

 

 

 

Why Quality Learning May be the Last Thing You Want for Your Child

Pulitzer Prize winning historians, Will & Ariel Durant, have written extensively about what makes civilizations prosper and what has destroyed them. They make the point that “morals are the rules by which a society exhorts its members and associations to behavior consistent with its order, security, and growth.” Oftentimes though those morals are not explicit. Most of us are not even aware of many of the Things that Work. They are embedded in the traditions and knowledge of the past transmitted through schools and social interactions. As our educators shift American schools and schools globally away from the transmission of knowledge model, I think their lack of much familiarity with the lessons of history and economics is showing.

Starting anew and pushing theories and practices that are untried. Making “research-based” about noting the effects on actual students of these new theories. Or even worse reintroducing political theories that have been tried with a tragic result.  Renaming them as learning theories to “give remaking human nature another try” means rejecting much hidden knowledge that most of us are unaware of. The practices and knowledge that generate prosperity and stable societies even if we do not quite understand why. That’s why change should be piece by piece to allow examination of consequences.

Not to wholesale change the entire System of education completely and the purpose to boot. Especially since no one is being honest with the parents and taxpayers about what is really going on. No rational being would reject the transmission of knowledge and replace it with a primitive “sense-making” if they were using their own money. Why on earth are we supporting people who want to do that while living on our tab? While we pay their bills? Who want to be called “Doctor” because they agreed to push this vision.

Most of us hear the word “quality” attached to education and immediately think of excellence or a superior product. Have you ever noticed it has become the descriptive adjective of choice in education? Magically all over the world? With similar timing? We have AdvancED’s Quality Standards for accreditation. Cambridge Education’s Quality Review (remember the “teachers are teaching and that’s not allowed” push?). Georgia has just enacted a statute connected to its NCLB waiver from the feds that makes Quality Learning the measure of student achievement (Do you remember that learning means changing attitudes, feelings, values, or behavior, not knowledge?). Finally, the monitoring internationally of the level of fulfillment of the UN’s Education for All initiative lives under the reassuring banner of Quality Assurance.

Perhaps “Quality” in ed world has an unappreciated meaning? Why yes, it’s pretty apparent something is up when we line up our paid political vision enforcers like that, isn’t it? Those of you who have lived through the integrated math fiasco in Georgia or any other state or PBIS introduction to foster a better school climate and nurturing culture will find this fundamental point to be a revelation. John Dewey, that utopian philosopher extraordinaire, hated the idea of schools doing anything to cultivate rational, logical thought. He believed it made the students who were good at it too full of themselves and got in the way of what he saw as the socializing purposes of school. What Dewey wanted and what his modern-day disciples are pushing all over the world is his vision of basic skills coupled with promoting emotional, instinctive, unconscious responses. And they do it in the name of “Quality.” Or as one of Dewey’s most influential current disciples put it: “Character is higher than intellect.” Perhaps but we should get to talk about such a radical meaning of understanding.

I think history shows us how dangerous education to promote malleable, emotional citizens can be. The quote at the top of the blog is from a French intellectual, Julian Benda, in 1927 predicting that a similar push in Europe in the 1920s would end in a catastrophic world war. Why? Using the schools to cultivate an emotional herd instinct that responds without reason or even conscious will always means that there is nothing to block bad ideas.

Have you heard yet how the Common Core seeks to cultivate a “deep understanding?” That’s straight out of Dewey’s push that Quality means feeling. It’s explicitly not a result of conceptual or intellectual processing and that was the deliberate goal then and it is now. To quote a 2007 Teachers College Record essay on Dewey called “Beyond Control and Rationality” that certainly seems to be anticipating Common Core’s classroom implementation:

“Qualitative meaning is that which is intuited rather than deduced, felt rather than described, and is immediate to the situation rather than removed from it.”

To reenforce this critical distinction between qualitative sense and conscious reflection, the essay goes on to tell us:

“What Dewey is saying is that we sense or feel the situation we are in without thinking of it per se, without it becoming an object of reflection.”

Ah! Sense Making! A return then to the international standards of the caveman and a rejection of all we have discovered and our best minds have developed in the interim.

Now I understand why a group of people wishing to force others to go along with their wishes would try to push such a modern version of Mind Arson. It’s politically powerful. Just ask the serfs who could not leave the land or the slaves who must not be taught how to read. The question for us now though is why are we going along with such a use of our schools to destroy everything that works, creates prosperity and individuality, and a realistic chance for a better tomorrow for most of us?

 

If Facts Won’t Cooperate, There is Always Pedagogy

So why do I keep mentioning the UN? Am I perhaps a jingoistic (think Rah! Rah! with flag decals) American who sees a loss of national sovereignty behind every meeting there by the East River in NYC or in Paris or Geneva? No. I think history shows they have stirred up great mischief. They give legitimacy to national leaders who cause great harm to their people in their own countries. I mention the UN repeatedly because they have great plans for global education and using it to transform the global economy and what people value and how they behave. When international bureaucrats living at our expense aspire to use the social sciences and education to  create unconscious emotional habitual responses we are not to even be aware of, we should be able to know that is what is up. And talk about it among ourselves. Several times. If we are being told we must “transcend mere economic considerations” shouldn’t someone in charge be honest with us?

As I mentioned in the previous post the stated goal is that we should have a post fossil fuels (cheap, efficient energy)/post-consumerist (we make the choices on what we want to buy)/post materialist economy (friendships and people matter more than things). All those approaches are strikingly naive and ignorant but this Green Economy and attaining such control is what is driving education globally. It is ultimately what the Common Core is all about. Let’s use their own words, shall we, so there is no confusion?

“Developing the workforce for transformed or new green jobs requires a new set of skills and knowledge different from those promoted in the past. This requires reorienting current formal and non-formal education at all levels to mainstream sustainable development, as promoted by UNESCO as the lead agency for the Decade on Education for Sustainable Development. It also requires technical and vocational education and training to train and retrain the existing workforce.”

That’s from a recent official, logo on the cover, UN report. And in case your invitation to the UN’s Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) decade got lost, it started in 2006. Like Education for All and those Millenium Development Goals, this is all supposed to be in place in the developed world countries like the US, Europe, and Australia by 2015. Now you know why these gypsy principals and gypsy supers and politicians are mandating changes in a hurry and all at once. And behaving like someone with diplomatic immunity wanting a night of partying around town.

This is going to be a quoty post because if I just summarize you probably won’t believe just how ridiculous and grasping these goals really are. Once again, this time from the UN’s current Higher Ed Sustainability Initiative (my bolding for emphasis):

ESD “aims at enabling everyone to acquire the values, competencies, skills and knowledge necessary to contribute to building more sustainable societies. This implies revising teaching content to respond to global and local challenges. It should also promote participatory teaching methods that allow students to acquire skills such as interdisciplinary thinking, integrated planning, understanding complexity, cooperating with others in decision-making processes, and participating in local, national and global processes towards sustainable development.”

Ouch! Out the window goes the Western tradition of the autonomous individual. You get to be a managed cog in a managed world in this vision. A modern day serf conditioned to accept your assigned role in a world where you have little control or liberty to go your own way and pursue your own dreams. That’s a world of no prosperity unless you are in the politically connected class. It’s a world where technology and knowledge and living standards regress. Just ask the 15th Century Chinese. Their bureaucrats so feared change and the resulting loss of control that they stopped innovation and individual initiative just like ESD and EFA seek to do today. And the greatness disappeared for centuries.

Facts and knowledge foster individual independence. Logic defeats bogus explanations. Outcomes Based Education is always the approach of the political schemers because it stealthily gets at what drives behaviors in most people most of the time–their values, beliefs, and emotions. Here once again in their own words:

“ESD seeks to impart trans-disciplinary understanding of social behaviour, cultural attitudes, sustainability principles and ethical values. . . [ESD] looks holistically at the interdependence of the environment, the economy, society and cultural diversity at the local to global levels. The aim is to nurture a common understanding of sustainable development and how daily activities in the economy have significant,  long-term material consequences for humans and the environment.”

There’s no freedom there. The whole idea is to use education to prevent awareness of servitude while ensuring predictable behavior. The long sought after goal of a would-be controlling class to make the social sciences as predictable in terms of cause and effect on people as the natural sciences like chemistry and physics.

If you have long wondered why those ClimateGate email revelations never seemed to matter to policy direction or the real global temperatures or whether the glaciers were actually melting and when it started. If the fact that the famous hockey stick graph from An Inconvenient Truth was actually a scam and the IPCC Reports are full of errors but nothing derails these initiatives makes no sense. Remember. There was always control over education.

Reality and facts don’t matter when you have access to children for hours each day at the level of the classroom. ESD targets those “curricula and learning materials” explicitly and “ESD concepts must be fully integrated into learning and teaching processes in all types, levels and settings of education.” Now you know why Michael Barber matters so much to our tale.

Oh my. Grab your wallet and hard hat. With those intentions and goals, we have a bumpy ride ahead in our summer of disclosing the Common Core Deception.

 

You Mean I Can’t Teach Because the Economy Should Not Grow?

Well the US economy that is. And economies in the developed West in general like the UK, Europe, Australia. Because the yellow brick road behind Michael Barber’s recommendation to NYC to use Cambridge Education and Cambridge’s own activities, and the activities of its owner all take us quite quickly somewhere else. To a world where international bureaucrats and other “policymakers” who somehow claim to magically Know Better live at our expense. They generally work for one or more of the various UN agencies eager to plan and then manage our very existence and make fundamental life-altering decisions FOR us.

Not to worry though about this attempt to move beyond and away from GDP (Gross Domestic Product is what the nation produces economically in products and services) to a holistic growth in our Well-being as the focus. (Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge Towards Solutions, a March 2012 conference in London)

Now do you feel better about the Gypsy Principals and Gypsy Supers, and whatever it is that the accreditors are actually pushing? Me neither but then I think they have the advantage on us. Not knowing much history or any economics would definitely make you more likely to push these troubling ideas. Especially if there’s a taxpayer funded lucrative job or stream of revenue as a result. But its our country and our money and our future at stake here so it is time for us over the next several posts to examine where They are taking us.

Who is Michael Barber for starters in pinpointing some of our “They”? Well right now he is the Pearson conglomerate’s Chief Education Advisor. At the time he pushed Cambridge in 2007 he was a consultant for McKinsey heading their global public policy practice. He was pushing his ideas on how the world’s best school systems keep getting better except it is tied to the OECD’s practices on education and PISA. Measuring selected and open-ended problem solving competencies as the international standard of education for all seems like a bad idea to me. But I think we were not supposed to read the actual reports or policy briefs. Or the fine print in footnotes. Sir Michael Barber as he seems to prefer being called in the US to bolster his statements is the person who hired Georgia’s State School Super, Kathy Cox, away suddenly after nominations had closed but before her primary back in 2010. That’s how he came onto my radar screen. He was an education advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair when the UK adopted education reform in the late 1990s that has functioned quite differently from its sales pitch.

Barber has been and is quite busy trying to push global policies to obtain the UN’s Millenium Development Goals and its Education for All (EFA) initiative by 2015. Yes we will unfortunately get to know those well. Here’s a link that lays out the UNESCO vision of a “basic quality education is an essential human right.” Barber is presiding over this 2011 meeting.   http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001905/190537e.pdf

And no I am not a Scrooge. I just know that basic skills in literacy, numeracy, and then life skills is all EFA wants for any student. Anywhere. Plus the desired attitudes and values. That’s the real common core and it is an international attempt to limit what American students can know or do. It is far less about bringing barefoot children in the plains of Africa up or girls in the Middle East than it is about finally shifting American schools away from a focus on knowledge and academics. They do intend to make the world equal in wealth and income even if the attempt impoverishes most of us.

And Cambridge? Well inspecting for the pursuit of that EFA vision seems to be what it is ultimately looking for in its Quality Reviews. But it is also heavily involved with the UN push for a life skills focus for education. You know how I have mentioned vocational and life roles and career pathways as a key component of Transformational OBE? And how other countries are pushing skills development and Qualifications Frameworks as a means of interconnecting education and work in a way that means little new job growth? Like using BBC and government agencies adoption as Proof It Works? Well here is Cambridge Ed from last week heading up the project to bring this vision to India.  http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx  is the news release. There is Cambridge Education in the 5th paragraph leading the consortium of EU government agencies.

Because none of those countries would have any interest in trying to make India’s dynamic economy less competitive and more stagnant like theirs. Countries NEVER engage in practices of spread our dysfunction. The last player that will make Cambridge’s practice of telling US school teachers and schools and districts they must move away from teacher delivery of facts and content clearer and put it further in context is its parent company. It is owned by a huge British consulting group, Mott MacDonald, that gets its large revenue stream representing various governments around the world and UN agencies and the OECD and the World Bank.  Moving to get those Millenium Development Goals in place in time. Changing the nature of the world’s economies to Green Growth. Forgetting to tell the masses that behind the global green economy and Green Growth is No Growth for you or me.

We are supposed to just make up for our greatly diminished prosperity by cultivating better relationships with each other. Yes they really do say that sort of a thing. Explicitly.

I think it makes far more sense to get to the bottom of all this nonsense and pull it out by the roots. Now that we have a better sense of the players and why, next we will look into what they wish for education to make us Believe.

 

 

Gypsy Principals, Gypsy Supers, and Engrenage: 3 More Superb Things to Know

Education reform doesn’t have to be doom and gloom. Unfortunately, we will have to know what doesn’t work and why before we can get to what I call ed reform for growth. Changes in instructional policies and practices that can get us back to widespread literacy (hint we aren’t actually even trying to teach reading effectively) and create graduates who have knowledge and skills employers actually want to pay them for. Or who can create their own jobs because they have the spirit of genuine innovation and the deep expertise to fuel it. Maybe then we can look back on these dark days of the Common Core Deception and laughingly play a new game.

I’m calling it the “You knew you had a Gypsy Principal when [ Fill in the blank]. I’ll start. You know you have a Gypsy Principal when they announce at their first meeting with parents that they are there to be a Change Agent. And then in almost the same breath, they mention “while I am here.” In other words, they are just passing through to impose radical change in classroom practices and to gut the transmission of the cultural knowledge of the ages. No sticking around long term to deal with the real consequences of such mind arson. The willingness to impose such policies and practices on a school then becomes the resume empowering stepping stone to a bigger school or a central office job. More money. Bigger title. And once you become a vision enforcer at these central offices committed to change, layoffs due to budget shortfalls are for the classroom teachers. You have successfully joined the protected class of visionary, enforcing, overcompensated for what you know and do, bureaucrats.

There is a slight variation of this game we can see in school districts all over the US. ” You know you have a Gypsy Super when [ . . .]” For the Gypsy Super version you look at the instructional practices and philosophy of the school district they are coming from. Then compare it with what was going on in the school district that just hired them. Usually based on a sales pitch to the school board where the candidate miraculously Knew Just the Right Things to Say to fit with the Board’s current concerns. The previous school district will always have a more radical version of outcomes-based education (OBE) than the new school district. The old district thus provides the operational game plan for what is about to happen to the schools, teachers, and taxpayers.

Like it or not. Consensual or not. Unappreciated, ambiguous, misunderstood terms like “effective schools” or “continuous improvement” abound. Not known to the school board. But a required understanding and commitment to act for anyone with an advanced education degree. Especially an Educational Leadership doctorate. Created specifically to be in a position to enact the John Dewey/Professor Bode political vision for education.

So here are some specific examples of the Gypsy Super phenomenon. Please feel free to leave comments or send me a covert email if you have a district or super you think also qualifies. These are just examples I currently have my eye on where I have read the plans in the home districts and new districts. Fulton County, Georgia and Cobb County, Georgia (large school districts in the metro Atlanta area) hire new supers from Charlotte-Mecklenberg and Dallas, Texas. Looking at those districts we can see the practices and policies that made up Transitional OBE in the old William Spady/Spence Rogers template from the 90s. New names. Broken Up but still same function and overall outcomes.

So what happens then in Charlotte and Dallas? Well, miraculously enough, if we look at Washoe County, Nevada (Reno) we find a plan where Charlotte’s new Super laid out the vision, mission, Core Beliefs, and Theory of Action. All together it looks strikingly like the Transformational form of OBE from the 90s. Likewise, when we read the new Dallas Super’s Destination 2020 Plan from May 10, 2012 we find much of the same plans we just saw in Washoe. And the announcement this is to be transformational. And the reliance on principals to be the adopters and enforcers of these reforms on classroom teachers. In fact the Dallas plan says principals only have ONE YEAR to prove they can move teachers to a student centered approach. And the super came from Colorado Springs which had a more radical version of OBE than Dallas already in place.

Colorado school districts always do. It was where the various forms of OBE were piloted in the 80s and 90s. It has the ed lab, McREL, which hatches and renames many of the OBE core principles. Especially when notoriety strikes. It also has something called the Colorado Partnership for Educational Renewal that also drives radical views for politicizing the purpose of education.

And engrenage? I borrowed that new to me but most excellent term from a British think tank worried about the piecemeal steps that together shut down economic growth in the name of maybe, possibly, influencing the environment. Radical ed reform in the US is based on changing the nature of our economy so I have to keep my eye on Green Growth as well. Lucky me. They define engrenage as gearing. It is the process by which a body, local, state, national, or international, racks up laws or policies or regulations that appear separate and stand alone and harmless on their own. They actually fit though perfectly with other measures also being adopted. You end up with something you would never have gone along with if you could have seen the whole picture.

The whole picture I operate from since I have the guidebook. Transformational OBE presented itself under its own name in the 90s. The popular outcry prevented the adoption in the US although it did get adopted in other countries then. It’s back under new names and pieces, engrenage style. Being pushed and adopted by Gypsy Supers and their cooperating Gypsy Principals.

If the System Seeks to Destroy the Ability to Think, Can James Madison Save Us?

When I was writing the book, it was my firm hope that the real story would get out just as implementation was beginning to occur. The most aggressive states and districts would have to deal with the Truth of education reform once and for all. We would finally have scrutiny of the political and social theories it was designed to quietly enact. And my own children would be safely tucked away in schools in a district I believed was firmly committed to content first. That was not to be.

Unfortunately for me an unexpected district super retirement and a sudden principal departure meant that I was suddenly dealing personally with the radical ed reform I had been researching and describing. Up close and personal. I guess in the end we should all be grateful. I honestly do not think I would have fully appreciated how crucial Accreditation had become to fully implementing the current version had I not been pondering why a new Super would feel privileged to be openly rude. Or why a new principal would loudly proclaim that he was “here to be a Change Agent” at a well-regarded high school and that everyone would just need to adjust.

I had never heard of Cambridge Education until I heard that the new District Super had hired them to do “School Quality Reviews” just like they had done for each of the schools in the Charlotte-Mecklenberg district. I already knew “Quality” was a term insiders used to obscure real changes away from academic content and instruction. Then a middle school principal described the Cambridge recommendations. I heard the kind of insistence on student centered work that had previously caused the district to reject participating in the federal Race to the Top competition for grant money. I came home looking for a connection between Cambridge and UNESCO. What I had heard reminded me of the Education For All basic skills movement. That now established link will be what we discuss in the next post.

So I already knew quite a lot about Cambridge when the new high school principal proudly proclaimed in a meeting with parents that he was “a constructivist”. Thereby immersing himself thoroughly (but unknowingly I hope) in practices and beliefs that actually track back to the Soviets and how they used education to try to control their own citizens. I gulped. He then excitedly went on to announce that the high school’s Quality Review report was back. He said he had told the faculty there was too much emphasis on teachers teaching and students listening and learning. I know. What a shockingly inappropriate thing for teachers to be doing. I smelled a SCAM report designed to change the emphasis of the school away from the transmission of knowledge. I had an advantage. I knew that “learning” was yet another redefined term. It actually now means changing a student’s beliefs, values, feelings, or behaviors. And bringing in a 3rd party to proclaim that facts were no longer to be the primary staple of the classroom and to bemoan the school’s “climate in which academic achievement is valued above all else” was very useful to me.

It was time to do some more digging. We had definitely crashed through the barrier of deference to education officials “Trying to decide how to best teach the kids.” It turned out that Cambridge’s work in the US dated back to 2007 when Michael Barber recommended them to New York City officials.  A little searching took me back to frustrated NYC teachers in 2008 being told by Cambridge in Quality Reviews that they were no longer to be focused on teaching the material to the students. Next to Charlotte where their Quality Review reports showed the same pattern. Cambridge comes in to shift the classroom practices. That meant that the new Fulton Super who had come from Charlotte hired Cambridge  precisely for that purpose. Reviewing the actual Quality Review report with factual knowledge of the school plus the glossary in my head of what these terms actually mean and what these practices actually are designed to promote and the conclusion is unmistakeable. It is a planted report designed to radically transform school and classroom practices while allowing a 3rd party “professional” evaluation to take the blame.

The crash through the barrier moment goes back to the reason for making the student the focus of the classroom. It is not a better way to learn knowledge and skills. It is unquestionably the fulfillment of John Dewey’s announced dream to use the school to change the student. And the reason he wanted to change the student and keep facts to a minimum was he wanted to use schools and education to transform the US socially, politically, and economically. A shift away from the traditional autonomy of the individual to a collectivist focus. The 8 Year Study and Professor Bode’s quote from an earlier post were pushing Dewey’s vision.

I am afraid I have terrible news for the school principals quite certain they now get to be My Liege Lord Principal to whom Resistance is Futile. Or district Supers presuming to be Your Grace Lord Super to whom all students and taxpayers and teachers must swear an oath of Fealty and Loyalty. Or the Omnipotent Accreditors assuming that all school boards must act as commanded or sanctions will be decreed. In your obnoxious behavior and loud declarations of what you were targeting and restricting and why, you have walked straight into the restrictions and embracing power of the US Constitution. Which actually trumps charter agreements and state statutes and AdvancED edicts.

When the Constitution was written, property was not just something you could touch or hold, like real estate or your horse. To quote the actual architect, James Madison, a man also has “a property in his opinions and the free communication of them.”  He has “equal property in the free use of his faculties and free choice of the objects on which to employ them.” In other words, what John Dewey was targeting and what Cambridge is attacking and what these principals and supers and accreditors seek to monitor and change is constitutionally protected Property. Sacrosanct. Not to be touched without justification. So precious in fact are personal beliefs in the US system that we tolerate pornography and flag burning.

I know it is a shock that as government employees and licensees there are in fact limits on what can be done under the banner of education. Education professors and their graduates actually do not have the unfettered ability to decide what kind of country America will be in the 21st Century. And then to use our money to finance the transformation.

The next post will describe in more detail just what that radical change was to look like. And how I know.

 

Is Common Core a Coordinated Effort to Mislead?

Some of my readers have started sending me articles and news stories asking me to respond. In this post and the next one, that is precisely what I am going to do. If you see something that appears to push a story about Common Core or any other issue in education that indicates to you somebody is spreading inaccurate information, send it on. We will talk about it.

In case you skipped some of my postings that are more focused on economics than education specifically, I am greatly concerned that the education policies and practices that have been adopted in the US (and globally for that matter) cost more overall than what is being produced of value. The emphasis we are just starting to chart where the school’s focus is to be more on desired values, attitudes, and amenable personality traits simply makes what is being spent potentially more destructive. Neither Professor Bode or his colleagues seemed to have any idea or appreciation for what personal characteristics drive prosperity or foster individual independence. And that is putting it kindly.

Long term education spending that does not add and preserve knowledge and skills and that actually seeks to undermine the values and beliefs and spirit that drove current levels of prosperity is a guaranteed prescription for social disaster. It will cause (or already has)  either economic stagnation, which is bad, or actual declines in average living standards. Even worse. I want to have the discussion of where these education policies and practices are actually taking us now. Before the momentum and amounts spent and decrease in actual relevant knowledge and marketable skills gets any worse. The typical policy maker has not spent anytime contemplating what creates genuine widespread wealth and prosperity in a society. Or what destroys it. Me? Thinking that way is reflexive so here we go.

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/mayjune_2012/special_report/transcontinental_education037193.php?page=all&print=true is a link to a recent story in a DC magazine pushing what I call the Common Core national standards. Interestingly enough the author, Robert Rothman, refers to standards with a small “s” and common core with two lower case “c’s”. Every reference in the article to standards works just as well if you substitute outcomes or objectives or even learning goals in its place. Gone is any sense of a body of knowledge or content each child should have nestled firmly within their own mind.  No Mr Rothman describes a world where facts are supplied or gathered up after a prompt, not embedded within each person’s every day functioning available for their own spontaneous use. Or available for sale to a potential employer.

It has never made any sense to me how one can be expected “to think critically and solve complex problems” without a tremendous amount of accumulated cultural knowledge. Or at least deep personal targeted knowledge relevant to someone’s particular commercial problems. If no one would voluntarily part with their own money to pay you for what you actually know or can do, that should be an alarm bell going off. What education and schools and higher ed are creating in the common core Outcomes Based Education/ Competency world has no real value to either private employers or potential customers. Continuing to spend if that’s the case is both mind arson at the level of the student and cultural arson at the level of the dollars, time, and other resources being spent. Taking out less than was put in. All this rhetoric about common just means that the ship will be long past its sinking point by the time anyone realizes where the hole is and what caused it.

Anyone looking at my picture of the serf’s collar and the name of this blog can tell I love a great metaphor. I also have very little patience for poor ones. Images and comparisons that simply do not fit the actual facts. Those kind of metaphors by education industry insiders do create the impression of an intent to mislead. In this situation the metaphor was the creation of a standardized transcontinental railroad in the US. The article is called “Transcontinental Education”. This is the tagline from the intro:

Soon, nearly every state in the union will have the same demanding standards for what students should know. If history is any guide, a burst of innovation won’t be far behind.”

I am not going back through my previous posts on innovation or why the standards are not in fact demanding since they must be accessible to ALL students using a variety of methods. I have also written already about how little factual knowledge there is to Common Core. The so-called knowledge is either how to do the desired generic skills like communicate or problem solve or be part of a team. Other knowledge is presupplied politically useful issues or topics or concepts. Past basic skills most of the real Common Core emphasis is once again on personal attributes of each student and not just looking for deficits. It’s more of a “this is the desired characteristics we want in each future voter and employee and citizen.” It is the approach a lord would have taken to his serfs or a king to his subjects. It is simply not the approach one takes in dealing with free independent human beings who will eventually need to make their own way and pay their own expenses as adults. Who may be capable of creating the Next Great Idea that benefits us all.

In the lower case world of “standards” and “common core”  where would the locomotives come from? What would propel them? Where would the ingenuity that created refrigeration cars and pressurized storage cars come from? Who will create ever swifter, more fuel efficient, engines in that world of uniform skills, values, knowledge, and attitudes?

Innovation is more than a marketing slogan or a PR campaign.