By recent I mean within the last week. Either as an early Christmas present or to give us cause for giving thanks at the complete lack of any ambiguity whatsoever we have explicit cites, open proclamations, overt coordination with federal agencies, a veritable cornucopia of intentions that should eliminate any dispute as to what is going on. Only an electronic color billboard in Times Square could be more explicit. It is indeed slam dunk time in our effort to show that the education reforms known as Common Core or 21st Century Skills or social and emotional learning are actually a means of gaining much broader transformations.
And to show that this is truly a bipartisan attempt to make political power the harness for anyone seeking economic power in the 21st century, the first paper I am going to cite came from a blog run by Jay P. Greene tied to a number of what are considered to be Republican think tanks. Not exactly where you think you would encounter a recommendation that would lead to a “truly democratic consciousness to guide the process of socialist development itself.”
On Monday Jay posted a cite to a new NBER Working Paper called “Fostering and Measuring Skills: Interventions that Improve Character and Cognition” from U-Chicago Profs James Heckman and Tim Kautz with a blurb about state achievement tests not getting at these types of important skills. Pulling up the actual paper since I knew what can lurk under such euphemistic names I discovered lots of troubling sponsors but especially the Institute for New Economic Thinking. Founded and funded by George Soros among others including Drummond Pike from the Tides Foundation and Amartya Sen of capability as a human right and other famous names who decidedly do wish to move economic thinking away from anything other than Statism and economic planning. Bad enough connections to be troubling when cited as guidance on what should be going on in the K-12 classroom.
But that’s actually not the big reveal. In footnote #6 if you pull up a copy you will see the cited authority backing up the statements about skills to now be cultivated in classroom and measured via new assessments. The second sentence says “the modern literature traces back to Bowles and Gintis (1976)…” Now I am familiar with that book and I first wrote about it back in February http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/promoting-alternative-thinking-strategies-is-this-really-mental-health-first-aid/ so I immediately recognized the significance of saying that the Grit Perseverance push (yes that Glenn Beck program on the DoEd report last March that raised such a ruckus), Growth Mindset, non-cognitive skills, positive behavior, character education–all the various names these mandates hide under including College and Career Ready go back to a book written by two self-proclaimed Marxist profs of their future vision of education to transform the US away from capitalism. That’s the cite and that’s the purpose of all this and the book again is Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life.
So all these programs are ultimately grounded in gaining that new consciousness that will promote Gintis and Bowles’ belief that “Capitalism is an irrational system, standing in the way of further social progress. It must be replaced.” G & B also hope that via education the sought revolution can be mostly without blood shed. So of course these intentions now get pursued stealthily with excuses like an anti-bullying agenda and Positive School Climate. How ironic.
Last Wednesday Harvard Law Prof and Brazilian Leftist politician Roberto Mangabiera Unger gave a most alarming lecture at the Royal Science Academy in London. It sent me scurrying for his 2007 book The Self Awakened: Pragmatism Unbound which sure enough laid out his determination to use education to:
“accelerate and direct the permanent invention of the new that we are able to overthrow the dictatorship of the dead over the living and to turn our minds more freely and fully toward the people and the phenomena around us.”
Oh I hope Unger is not the professor who taught US Constitutional Law to President Obama or the First Lady when they were all at Harvard Law together. Not with his expressed intentions “of ambitions for the transformation of humanity” or “direction for the development of the moral experience of mankind under the reign of democracy and experimentalism.” Although that kind of experimentation does rather fit in with a HUD presentation two days ago, November 18, by Gar Alperovitz’s Democracy Collaborative. Now don’t worry. The Annie E. Casey Foundation provided the funding for the actual Anchor Institution reports. Don’t pay any attention to the fact that the Anchor Mission Dashboard lays out a Womb to Tomb Transformative economic Vision that keeps mentioning the words “equitable” and “minority.” Nor that it fits with the Regional 21 or the new Promise Zones 2nd term initiatives. Purely coincidental.
Just like it’s entirely coincidental Unger describes his education vision like this:
“Education, beginning in childhood and continuing throughout the working life, must nourish a core of generic conceptual and practical capacities to make the new out of the old. It must also equip the mind with the means with which to resist the present. For this very reason, the school should not remain under the control of the community of local families, who tell the child: become like us.”
We could make that a goal for all students and call it a common core. Excellent means to invisibly and gradually transform the present to alter the future. And I know just the overpaid consultant who will use the School Governance Council concept and a school district conversion charter to make that vision so. While the high-achieving suburban communities with high taxes to benefit the schools remain entirely ignorant of the real aims. Perhaps if more parents and taxpayers read this Unger quote they would better appreciate the last word they may want to hear is “innovation” in connection with schools. This is certainly innovative:
“democracy grants to ordinary men and women the power to reimagine and to remake the social order. That is why under democracy prophecy speaks louder than memory. That is why democrats discover that the roots of a human being lie in the future rather than in the past.
In a democracy, the school should speak for the future, not for the state or for the family, giving the child the instruments with which to rescue itself from the biases of its family, the interests of its class, and the illusions of its epoch.”
Honestly I think Professor Unger should be the last person criticizing people led by illusions.
Can’t you see now why it is so important to create no effective recourse to a local school board or politician from all the initiatives coming in as education reform?
I don’t go looking for these things. Just monitoring the actually required classroom changes keeps turning up all these self-proclaimed radicals hollering the whys behind their policies and practices to anyone who will listen or read their words.
May enough parents and taxpayers recognize all this in time.