This marks the end of the Trilogy about declarations (insufficiently recognized) to use the powers of governments at every level to close the gap “between the current state of the world and what would be ideal…perfectionism ought instead to inspire a constant striving to make things better. Democracy, in other words, should be viewed as a work in progress.” That vision of making human wellbeing the new purpose of governments needs a particular type of citizen who is a useful mixture of malleable, aspirational, and reliable in their likely future behaviors. That of course is what all these education reforms have really been about and why there has been so much deceit. That quote is from the upcoming inaugural issue of U-Penn’s Journal of Law and Public Affairs on using law and regulation to force societies to provide for the general welfare.
Rule of Law, in other words, needs to join the terms ‘public policy’ and ‘standards-based education’ as transformative tools that few seem to sufficiently appreciate. Let me quote from a second paper that is also cited in books and papers citing the 1990 Politics, Markets, and America’s Schools where we began this Trilogy. It is by two poli sci profs, Jack Knight and James Johnson, but it said not to cite without permission. We will simply discuss it then as it pointed out in 2005 that the ‘problem solving approach to ideas and institutions’ holds that “our ideas, principles, practices and institutions and so forth simply are tools for navigating a social and political world that is shot through with indeterminacy…a pragmatist stance encourages us to place pressure on our cherished beliefs, institutions and so forth. It encourages a broadly experimental approach both to inquiry and, more importantly for present purposes, to politics.”
Now, most of us with experience in adult life and a solid grasp of history, who are not on the Gravy Train to get revenue from being a provider of stipulated services, can recognize that such aspirations will not end well. Maybe that’s why we are not supposed to know what K-12 education reforms have always really been about. After all if someone has an actual aspiration that “political debate must impose restrictions on the structure of individual preferences,” that mischievous, authoritarian goal is best achieved in secret and masked with duplicity if anyone does notice something is up. Tiptoeing through the footnotes of all these papers, pulled up repeated references to a John Hopkins prof, Lester Salaman, and a textbook called The Tools of Government: A Guide to the New Governance .
I guess the students who went through this kind of unappreciated inquiry-oriented assault on their values and conceptions of knowledge when they were younger want to study the theories used on them once they get to university. No wonder they have been so childlike in their responses to the recent US Presidential election. Many have been taught that the “role of government in the twenty-first century” is “more important than ever. The growing complexity and integration of social, economic, and political life virtually guarantees this, as does the need for a keeper of the rules of engagement among various institutions and sectors.” That was me boldfacing that integration since it has been way too unpublicized as well.
Before I explain what Third Party Government is, since the textbook says it is quite advanced in the United States, and that the “last fifty years have witnessed a remarkable revolution in the basic technology of public action in the tools or instruments used to address public problems,” let’s remember that K-12 ‘education reform’ and School Choice are merely tools to effect the desired transformations without any need to get our consent. No need to risk our saying “No Thanks” either. If we wonder why so many supposedly ‘conservative’ and pro-market think tanks have been created at great expense, the language about “bring a wide assortment of social actors into the business of responding to public needs” is a most helpful clue.
Education reforms are definitely needed if the view of government and “the role of public management is not to deliver services but to promote community, to help citizens articulate shared interests, to bring the proper players to the table and broker agreements among them, and to function as ‘proxy citizens.'” Just this past week Greg Forster of EdChoice put out a vision of Accountability that stated what he called the “real goal of education.” It sounded remarkably similar to what is supposedly needed under the requirements of the New Governance and Third Party Government:
“nurturing individuals who achieve and appreciate things that are true, good, and beautiful as faithful citizens of a free and diverse community committed to living in harmony.” The typical family couldn’t even pull that off over an extended Thanksgiving meal and that’s to be the real goal of education that students must “genuinely internalize?” Faithful to whom we could ask? Let’s go back then to the textbook that is being so forthcoming.
“the breadth of the problems government has been called on to address coupled with prevailing antibureaucracy sentiments make this [governments as the dominant supplier of public services] practically, as well as politically, impossible. Government needs its third-party partners both to legitimize and to execute the responsibilities it has taken on. [Note that this is NOT Free Enterprise whatever the Heritage Foundations writes].
On the other hand, however…government simply lacks the authority and independence to enforce its will on other actors the way this concept [monopoly on the legitimate use of force] implies.”
Now I will stop the quote to point out again that this is precisely what learning standards like the Common Core and those previously tied to Time for Results or outcomes-based education sought to do. It is what competency-based education, properly explained, now does–enforce its will for this lucrative conception of Third Party Government on its citizens. Secretly and nonconsensually and hiding behind phrases like School Choice or Internationally Competitive. Under the New Governance tenets and its need for what EdChoice called ‘faithful citizens’:
“What, then, is the role that government should play in the new governance? And how important is it? The answer is that government must serve as the ‘balance wheel’ of the new systems of collaborative problem solving that will increasingly exist. Its function, as we have suggested, is to activate the needed partnerships and to make sure that public values [common good], broadly conceived, are effectively represented in the collaborative systems that result.” Let’s shift away from quoting the aspirations to how it invisibly comes into effect. Following up on all the False Narratives involving the Common Core and who was pushing them I came across numerous references to a 2011 paper I had not previously heard of called Closing the Door on Innovation that was supposedly a response to a March 2011 Manifesto from the Shanker Institute. http://educationnext.org/closing-the-door-on-innovation/
Education reformer Jay Greene wrote the story on Education Next and then the same Greg Forster noted above wrote a piece as well for the Public Discourse from the Witherspoon Institute that is tied to the American Principles Project that has written so many papers and offered up testimony on the nature of the Common Core. https://app.box.com/s/s1q0hmgauyo1t9fafrbh is a capture of what the document looked like as it is now hard to find. To make a long process of discovery short, the Shanker Manifesto struck me as how both sides intended for education reform to work at the local, school level. That Innovation report seemed staged to me to create a narrative about what the Common Core was intended to do that would probably have worked better if I had not been writing Credentialed to Destroy back in 2011 and tracking the actual implementation.
What really caught my eye though was the PEPG-Harvard’s Program on Educational Policy and Governance that was behind the Closing the Door on Innovation. PEPG has sponsors from what were supposed to be two differing sides of the Common Core debate. It clearly built on the work of that 1990 Brookings book on School Choice and had all sorts of players like Greene back when he was a poli sci prof at U-Texas (Austin) and AEI’s Rick Hess back when he was a Poli Sci prof at UVa. Seriously, if education is really the best way to achieve political and social transformation, PEPG’s work and the School Choice meme generally all make so much more sense. We have former Governor Jeb Bush as the Chair of the PEPG Advisory Committee and the Gates, Bradley, Koch, and Friedman Foundations all working together. http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/pepg/sponsors_affiliates.htm
To use one of my favorite metaphors, Harvard is clearly where the Right and Left Pincers surrounding the Common Core/education reform narrative come to play and plan transformations around poli sci and sociology theories. Its first conference was in September 1996 about the same time as Fordham took over the Educational Excellence Network functions, as we saw in the last post. Ed reform can feel like a track relay race with all the exchanges of batons, but PEPG is formally a program sponsored by Fordham, Harvard, and the Hoover Institution at Stanford. If anyone thinks I am stretching, pull up the original Fall 1997 Annual Report and look at the presentation by John Brandl and his desire to “change the way we govern our schools” to “inspire other-regarding behavior in our students.” The omnipresence of communitarianism we keep running into behind the real implementation makes much more sense once we read that ‘communities is a promising policy instrument.’
Here’s the full quote and a good place to end as we mull over what is really being done to us all in the name of education reforms.
“Consequently, using communities is a promising policy instrument to attain social objectives when neither bureaus nor markets can be counted on to do so. Besides producing services, communities nurture and protect us all, cut costs, create social capital, obviate the need for government services and engender civic virtue. We need a constitutional moment, a time when those holding public office reconstruct government to align the motivations of individuals with public purposes. If they do not do so, the grand responsibilities of government, starting with education, will not be met.”
I did warn everyone that the phrase Local Control was essentially like being thrown into the Briar Patch if one has revolutionary social and political intentions.