CCSSI is the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Nominally state-led and thus constitutional, CCSSI is an initiative pushed and embraced by the Obama Administration to supposedly create consistent areas of content knowledge for students that will no longer vary from state to state. That’s the rhetoric and political story being sold to parents and taxpayers and school boards and legislators and members of Congress. About 45 states and the District of Columbia have officially adopted CCSSI. Generally to get and keep federal funds. In my previous post I pointed out that the Hewlett Foundation had acknowledged that CCSSI was really just an excuse to alter classroom assessments, curriculum, and forms of instruction and classroom interaction. Hewlett, of course, as a major education funder, gets invited to meetings not open to mere taxpayers. We will have to take their word for it but it does fit with the known facts we have systematically uncovered.
Long-time readers of this blog know I have been showing all summer how the real implementation coming to a classroom near you looks much different and is dominated by practices intentionally engaging feelings and emotions. Plus policies attempting to alter student values, attitudes, and beliefs. Especially with respect to shifting to a non-fossil fuel new planned economy around Sustainability and altering the traditional respect for the legitimacy of the individual in Western thought. The Common Core implementation we have tracked is full of the communitarian ethos that the individual submit to the consensus of the group and its beliefs about the Common Good.
I created this blog to try to get that vitally important information widely disseminated in time since the implementation begins this school year. That’s 3 weeks ago in some districts. Last week President Obama gave a speech at a Nevada high school where he seemed to say that federal officials led the common-standards fight. He appeared to want to take credit for it. Now that would create Constitutional problems if true so an Ed Week reporter, Catherine Gewertz, swooped in to apparently try to put the President’s statements in a less troubling context. So she wrote a story called “Common Standards: Blaming and Bragging in Presidential Campaign” and made the issue of the federal involvement far worse. Her extended quote tied President Obama far more tightly to the altered consciousness form of education reform than she ever dreamed she was doing when she went for the save. Here’s why.
What President Obama actually said was this:
“almost every state has now agreed to raise standards for teaching and learning–and that’s the first time it’s happened in a generation.”
Now Catherine Gewertz takes that phrase I bolded “standards for learning and teaching” and immediately treats it multiple times as synonymous with the “common-standards” and the “common-standards” movement. I think that is true. But the “common-standards” she and President Obama are talking about is not CCSSI. You see “standards for teaching and learning” is what we lawyers call a term of art. It has a precise meaning. Moreover, it is a precise meaning that was created in Chicago about the time of the President’s reference to “in a generation.” It was created to be a national template for change. And President Obama is linked to its creation via its primary funder, the Joyce Foundation, where he served on the Board from 1994 to 2002. He is also linked through leading the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, another listed funder.
And no I am not going off some List of Contributors and jumping to conclusions because of the time periods involved and Board membership. You see when I was following up on the curriculum and instructional practices used at a paradigm shifting California high school supposedly redesigned for the 21st Century, I noticed first that the announced School Profile looked just like the IB Learner Profile except it wasn’t an IB school. So IB clearly fit into a broader education template. Then the school itself said they wanted all faculty to adhere to the curriculum and instructional practices laid out in a particular cited book, Best Practice: New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools. The school cited the Second Edition published in 1998 so that is the one I tracked down used. As an aside to show its continuing relevance for what is coming to your schools and classrooms, I noticed that the Fourth Edition came out in February 2012.
There in the Preface is the whole history of “Best Practice” (and the “generous grant” from Joyce) and how it is a means of altering the nature of the curriculum and the types of instruction. What the book calls the “day-to-day teaching and learning” that needed to change “key classroom activities and practices that embody a new paradigm.” What the book calls Best Practice or “standards for teaching an learning” was supposed to create “the strongest and most enduring school renewal in this century.” If that sounds like it harkens back to John Dewey’s vision, it does.
“What is recommended across all subjects can only be called a neo-progressive transformation virtually all the authoritative voices in each field are calling for schools that are student-centered, active, experiential, democratic, collaborative, and yet rigorous and challenging.”
Those listed classroom Criteria are basically the “common-standards” movement. Which is why companies like Cambridge Education build their revenue stream around pushing this vision in the classroom in unlucky cutting edge Best Practice districts like Charlotte-Meck and now Fulton County in Georgia as we discussed in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/you-mean-i-cant-teach-because-the-economy-should-not-grow/ . The book proceeds to lay out the reading practices now known as Whole Language which created the Reading Wars in the 90s and the math practices and policies that would ignite the Math Wars. Which were erroneously treated by most parents as distinct, unrelated controversies. As the 2nd edition, the book even complains about how the “conservative” California governor and “his appointed school board” had “recently eviscerated” the state’s innovative Best Practices math curriculum to “return to computation-based, skill-and-drill mathematics curriculum.”
Oh My. The horrors. So what we are implementing in the name of the Common Core is actually what was so controversial in the past except this time the new methods to measure “progress” were funded first. Plus as we saw in the previous post, Critical Race Theory (by name) is now being explicitly directed into the mandated classroom dialogues so we can expressly create Social Change Agents in the classroom. The deliberate cultivation of feelings and emotions completely saturates Best Practice precisely because that level of unconscious engagement is more lasting and memorable and altering.
But no where for federal government officials to be. Or any elected official or bureaucrat or district super or principal. Not even an elected President. Or a caring Teacher unless the reasons for such emotionally intrusive and manipulative interventions are widely known and agreed to.
President Obama’s advisors may have come into office infamously declaring they were “ready to rule.” But we are not subjects yet and this level of federal intrusion into the psyche should be Out of Bounds.