Questioning the Quandary of Equity: the Quality Education for Minorities Project Lurks in the Shadows

When I said in the last post that we needed to talk about Equity as the constant goal across the decades of those seeking wholesale transformations, I had never heard of what gets abbreviated as the QEM Project. We saw Equity front and center in the Senate’s NCLB Rewrite, that supposedly conservative America Next education report, and as the new responsibility of the federal government mandating a switch to Competency for All. I was also responding to the framing of the purpose for Reinventing Government as being a means to advance Equity and the cause of Progressivism. This is how that book framed Equity in 1992 as the new purpose of public schools:

“they also exist to bring children from all walks of life together. This mixing of social classes and races is extremely important in a democracy; without it, we lose our capacity to understand and empathize with those who are different from us. When that happens, it is not long before our society loses its ability to care for those who need help. We become a collection of individuals,  not a community.”

We have been living for a while in an age where official policy is it’s not OK to function as an individual. Adjust to accepting the new designation as just another member of a community or society goes this stealth mandate. Nobody told us though, leaving us to wonder why we just keep coming across all these pushes for communitarianism as a necessary belief for the 21st century. Would anyone like to guess what change in practice and policy is seen as the premier way to advance Equity, integration, concepts of community, etc? That would be the various school choice schemes like charters and vouchers. In particular, we have these recognitions: “When governments fund programs or institutions directly, equity becomes difficult to enforce…When governments fund individuals rather than institutions, it is much easier to promote equity.” Keep that in mind whenever someone says “Let’s just have the money follow the child.”

That again was from the authors of the bipartisanly touted Reinventing Government. Another relevant, well-known book from that same seminal year was Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education. Sonia Nieto is involved now with Educators for Social Responsibility, Facing History and Ourselves, and the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program that we keep encountering in connection with the actual implementation coming in the name of the Common Core. and the next post confront those visions and Facing History has a tag. Back in 1992 Nieto had this to say about Equal education and Equity (italics in original):

“education must involve the interaction of students with teachers and schools [dialectical would be a synonym for what is envisioned], not simply the action of teachers and schools on students [the revered transmission of knowledge approach]. Equal education also means that the skills, talents, and experiences that all students bring to their education need to be considered as valid starting points for further schooling. Equity is a more comprehensive term because it includes real educational opportunities and also demands fairness and the real possibility of equality of outcomes for a broader range of students. Throughout this book, multicultural education will be considered as fundamental to educational equity.”

Remember that last sentence but in this age when the phrase White Privilege suddenly seems to be coming to every other K-12 classroom and college campus, let’s learn Nieto’s term when she is not complaining about current “economic, political, and social power.” Dysconscious racism is “a limited and distorted view of racism based on the tacit acceptance of dominant White norms and privileges that fails to take into account basic structural inequities in society.” So with Multiculti ed, only a wholesale transformation will suffice as the remedy and that remedy is now to be legally required as a civil and human right. Since Nieto’s vision of good, exemplary teaching for all students is to be our norm in all schools, we need to appreciate its tenets in addition to a mandate of active involvement of “students in real-life situations [that] allows them to reflect on their own lives.” Are you among the privileged or the prey? would be one way to shorthand the desired mindset.

* students are involved in issues they perceive as vital concerns.

* students are involved with explanations of differences in race, culture, religion, ethnicity, and gender.

* students are helped to see major concepts, big ideas, and general principles rather than isolated facts [now called ‘lenses,’ Enduring Understandings, or cross-disciplinary ideas]

* students are involved in planning their education.

* students are involved in applying ideals such as fairness, equity, or justice to their world.

* students are actively involved in heterogeneous groups [no tracking is fundamental to QME].

* students are asked to question commonsense or widely accepted assumptions [all that pooh-poohing of facts now comes in handy].

Problem solvers and critical thinkers just does not sound like such a great goal anymore does it, after that breakdown? Now I joke about tiptoeing through the footnotes, but honestly that’s where the gold pebbles and jewel admissions are. Nieto in a footnote mentions a January 1990 publication from the MIT Quality Education for Minorities Project called “Education That Works: An Action Plan for the Education of Minorities.” The QEM Project turns out to have begun in 1987 with Carnegie funding. Now remember Carnegie is the chief sponsor of Competency-based education now, including sponsoring the 2011 summit with federal officials. Marc Tucker of the National Commission on Education and the Economy (Carnegie-funding) was also involved in the QEM Project, which puts a new spin on all his work in the 90s on School to Work and new types of authentic assessments called the New Standards Project.

Texans need to be aware that MIT was one partner in QEM, but the other was the Marshall Center at the University of Texas. As I have warned, Texas did not actually need to be part of the Common Core to have its K-12 system in the same place as other states, if not ahead of the curve. QEM cared about the following groups by name: (1) Alaska Natives; (2) American Indians; (3) Black Americans; (4) Mexican Americans; and (5) Puerto Ricans. Two vital points about that list. First, Competency education and the Reinventing Schools Consortium involved in the February 2014 Dallas convening is being hyped as coming from work with natives in Chugach, Alaska. Now I know where the funding for all that expensive air travel came from. Secondly, Senator Ted Kennedy was also involved with the Action Council on Minority Education that issued this January 1990 report. That matters because Kennedy had always had an interest in amnesty for illegals.

Open that door and then use the presence to force a remake of K-12 education. Make that the “restructuring” of American education. Remember this report is after the 1989 Williamsburg education summit President George HW Bush called of the nation’s governors. This report came out before the official announcement of the proposed national goals. The idea was that all the restructuring and K-12 plans announced in the 1990 QEM report would piggy-back quietly on the national goals to be proposed later that year. We have the goals for public dissemination and then we have the QEM vision surreptitiously attached.

My question is did anyone unconnected to DC and the K-12 education vision of that time (which would mean that now Senator Lamar Alexander had to have known) know we had this QEM Project vision attached to all the federal pushes in the 90s and what is coming in under the banner of the Common Core now? I have never seen a reference to it before Nieto cited it, but it certainly makes everything make so much more sense. I would seriously love to hear from readers who lived through those earlier reforms on whether this attached Stealth QEM Agenda was ever discussed or even acknowledged.

This matters because the required QEM vision of education for all becomes the necessary type of K-12 education to shift to what I recognize as Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society. In 1991 it was renamed with the much more soothing name of the Learning Society and laid out for all of North America. I will get to that next time. Let’s close with a quote used to lay out the Challenge for Education that Works. Attributed to FDR, it stated that “We seek to build an America where no one is left out.”

Remind anyone else of federal legislation nicknamed as No Child Left Behind that was also based on the vision of education in Texas? How about the sentiment advanced by the UN recently in its Dignity for All by 2030 vision to guide post-2015 restructurings of education, economies, and societies generally?

We have a great deal of commonality here that appears to have been lurking in the shadows. Ready to bind us without any overt discussion.

Not anymore.



41 thoughts on “Questioning the Quandary of Equity: the Quality Education for Minorities Project Lurks in the Shadows

  1. Robin, you have opened a door and I will soon drag some alarming quotes through it! Thank you for providing the opportunity. Got to go rescue my dog from the vet, then will be back on line.

    • CPW-after the last 10 days, it is exciting for me to be able to finally push a door open.

      Look forward to all the revelations we can get.

  2. Robin, 1987–the year you mentioned as the one in which Quality Education for Minorities (QEM) was established–was also the year David Hornbeck, serving as Maryland’s state superintendent of schools, presented his proposal for a new public education system for the nation. In his presentation he said

    “‘The model state law would create a situation in which it’s the school’s fault and not the kid’s if the school is unsuccessful. If it’s not a successful school, you can leave it.’
    The system would let a student cross district lines in search of a better public education. . . . The new rights proposals are directed toward all children, but special measures target those considered ‘at risk of educational failure.’ In the early years, low-income children would be identified as at risk; in later years, achievement would provide the definition. . . . “One of the plan’s goals is to eliminate spending differentials from district to district,’ said Hornbeck. . . . ”

    This was in 1987. Do these proposals sound familiar? David W. Hornbeck has served on the board of directors for National Center for Education and the Economy (Marc Tucker’s organization), Public Education Network, and as a member of the Council on Adolescent Development of the Carnegie Corporation and the Carnegie Task Force on Early Adolescents. He is a past-president of the Council of Chief State School Officers, former chairman of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and co-editor of “Human Capital and America’s Future: An Economic Strategy for the Nineties.” Do we think that maybe Carnegie funding was definitely involved in QEM? Do we think that the inner circle of educational planners was involved? You bet!

    In 1991, an organization entitled Global Alliance for Transforming Education (GATE), at whose annual meeting John Taylor Gatto spoke, published “Education 2000: A Holistic Perspective.” Under the Vision Statement section we find

    “We call for a thorough rethinking of grading, assessment, and standardized examinations. . . . In successful innovative schools around the world, grades and standardized tests have been replaced by personalized assessments which enable students to become inner directed…. We call for an expanded application of the tremendous knowledge we now have about learning styles, multiple intelligences, and the psychological bases of learning….Holism is a re-emerging paradigm, based on a rich heritage from many scholarly fields. Holism affirms the inherent interdependence of evolving theory, research, and practice.”

    There are also sections dealing with “Freedom of Choice,” and “Educating for Global Citizenship,” “United Nations Organizations” and “Business.” Under “Business” we find

    “GATE understands that a working partnership needs to be built with business. Business leaders recognize that the structure and form of today’s education are not meeting the ever-expanding needs of a global society….Example: W.E. Deming is the creator of Total Quality Management (TQM)–a holistic perspective that is transforming the hierarchal nature of the business world. He claims that ‘a long-term commitment to new understanding and new philosophy is required of any management that seeks transformation.’ There is a common thread between Deming’s TQM model and holistic education. At the 1991 conference in Colorado, a group discussing GTE’s interface with business drew the idea of Total Quality Education into their dialogue. This discussion has led to the beginnings of a national TQE movement in which business, government, and education leaders will be addressing holism in education.”

    Has it not been so? Having attended a National Governors’ Association conference in Minnesota in 1992 on the subject of Total Quality Management in Education, I can assure you that it is. During the 1990s there was a great emphasis on “quality,” so it makes sense that Carnegie would have funded QEM during this period. It would not have stood out in the crowd of “quality” products introduced at that time.

    I have many more quotes and information, most of them coming from CT Iserbyt’s “the deliberate dumbing down of america: A Chronological Paper Trail,” which I edited, but I’ll post more later. There is just one more that I have to leave you with. In 1991 the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an affiliate of Heritage Foundation, published “Reach for the Stars: A Proposal for Education Reform in Georgia,” authored by Matthew Glavin but containing a Preface by former Education Secretary William Bennett. In the Preface Bennett credited the Hudson Institute for “sharing much of their original research that constitutes the basis for this plan.”

    “One of the guiding principles of this plan is that government funding for K-12 education should be targeted to the child–not the school district. Each and every school-aged child will be entitled to pubic support for his or her education. Parents can use the child’s public funded ‘scholarship’ at any school where the child meets admission requirements. Exceptions would be schools that fail to meet state performance standards, or private schools that choose not to participate.

    Under the Georgia Public Policy Foundation recommendations the local districts must divest themselves of operating control of the schools [charters].

    Each autonomous public school organizes as a non-profit corporation with a board selected by the teachers and other certified [!] staff of the school.”

    If you’ve wondered where the ideas in the Reauthorization of the ESEA have come from, this is a peek in the window. And I am sure Robin will inform us as to where the present-day “conservative think tanks” actually got these plans.

    More later?

    • Thanks cp. After I read the 1990 paper I went back to the Bush Goals to doublecheck that the goals for public consumption were different from the QME goals, but the QME goals were actually to be what the implementation was all about.

      I am worn out from getting this up, but yes, there did turn out to be quite a consistent paper trail on this issue of choice and I have systematically been acquiring those books over the last month. I used my sick time to quietly go back and make sure there was a consistency. The Left is in fact apologetic in most of them for its recognition that private companies providing the designated public service and a local emphasis is the way to finally get to the social justice, Equity vision.

    • Yeah I remember Bennett. He was all over TV talking about “standards” and convincing middle class parents that he meant high academic standards. But he never said what his standards were — not sure if someone asked him that and he fudged the answer, or if I noticed the question was carefully avoided.

      He was this sort of cult figure at the time. We had lots of cult figures then, Deming was another.

      • More emphasis on project-based learning as the solution to ‘Equity’ concerns.

        Notice the verbiage on quickly apply to new and outside situations. They are referring to that obuchenie, deep learning mindset that will predictably guide perception. “Everyone’ is entitled to ‘enagaing learning experiences.’

        Or as a radical teacher ed book I looked at yesterday on social reconstruction put it–“the feelings and emotion must be involved and not just reason.” Children as programmable ‘bots’ and “cooperative team workers” because it will now take a swarm to hopefully get a single useful insight. Payrolls will thus have to explode and provide those middle class jobs.

        I loved it this week when they rolled out Bennett-buddy Chester Finn of the not conservative actually Fordham Institute to shill that the Student Success Act was too ‘conservative’. This from someone who is on record as working with Michael Barber on the PISA is actually about Equity and social justice to be a high-achieving country initiative. Plus when I did the research on jettisoning high school he is quoted at a forum on being surprised how long it has taken to get rid of the traditional high school. Neither of those things are easy to find out unless we read the small print. Both, beyond all that Gates funding, are pertinent to whether someone’s views on legislation should be deferred to.

        • Of course everyone should have engaging learning experiences. Good students currently have plenty of those through traditional academics. Students who don’t “get” it that way should perhaps have a different curriculum geared for their, um, learning styles.

          But forcing the good kids to go through the curriculum designed for the poor students is a disservice to them (of course, and intended to be so.) And if they’ve first botched the good schools and now seek to extend it to the bad schools, well they are rather clever about how they went about this.

          A certain amount of that document is in wet-dream territory, at least I hope so. For example:

          ” 8. Capacity building: Finally, accountability should be geared towards continuous improvement of school systems. When intervention is necessary, it should be a mechanism for strengthening schools, education professionals and their communities.”

          So it’s not allowed to intervene by lowering taxes and saving money, or by putting the eductational professionals in their place?

          • Anon-I am not quite following your argument. Can you restate it please and I will respond.

            These ads are running in NC and TN and are rather disingenuous given the convoluted actual meaning of quality education.

            Some parents may not know. Given all the duplicity in definitions, most parents will not accurately know how or what or why their child is doing and that’s quite deliberate.

            Continuous improvement, by the way, is yet another term of art. That may be why you and I are not currently on the same page.

  3. The Left is apologetic that the Right will pave the way for their equity agenda! Ha! Snort! And by apologetic do they mean ” completely stoked ” and “Hey Mr ceo of xyz corp., how much are shares selling for your company presently? I have a little spare cash I’d like to invest.”

    I’m sure Patty Murphy is simply beside herself with worry as she and LaMar Alexander hash out the details of ESEA. Simply distraught…….double snort.

  4. Robin: Thank you for your kind response to my initial point on your prior thread. I am thankful my child is an excellent phonetic reader. I just worry about the agendas he will be indoctrinated with before I can pull him out of school. Anyway – on this topic (I hope anyway – I am a newbie at this) I found this link:
    I have never seen a repository so large of documents in one place that are examples of what you describe. My hair would be white and fallen out by the time I read them all so I won’t attempt it.

    • MS-we have an iSC joke that many links are best read with an adult beverage.

      That kind of repository is par for the course once we begin to appreciate what is really going on. It’s why I consistently say there is not a dispute over this. It’s simply not well enough known yet.

      Introduce your 6 year old to Jane Yolen’s Piggins books and Dorrie the Little Witch by Patricia Coombs and Ursula Leguin’s Catwings series and everything Bill Peet ever wrote. Those were all favorites of all my kids at that age.

    • This one that I found on that index is horrifying:

      They literally say that the whole structure of high school has to be changed, so the English Language Learners become fluent in English in all the content areas, rather than first having to learn basic English before mixing in with the fluent and native English speakers. Of course frequent and rich interaction with the native speakers is a necessary part of these ELLs’ education in all subjects.

      I can only hope they are dismissed as nutcases for writing stuff like this. Just . say . no . Especially because Obama just deposited a lot of illegal immigrants into our district, and we reportedly have a lot of those adults (probably near illiterate in Spanish too) saying they’re teenagers and coming to our high school.

  5. Be aware that Rep. Kline has announced his concentration on reauthorization of the Higher Education Act and there is a new Republican White Paper issued today outlining the goals of same. Important because of the WIOA changes, etc.

    Also, remember that when we went in to “liberate” Grenada there were large billboards posted and signs on the sides of public transportation that proclaimed “A job for everyone and everybody working.” Full employment is a Communist tenet. Hello!

    • Don’t you just love how people are now being referred to as “complex systems” as if that makes social engineering of how it works at the level of the unconscious OK.

      Remember the RSA talk of Roberto Unger? Guess who has written the template of the political and economic radical experimentation these ed visions tie to?

      Guess who is reading it today? Ding. Ding. Ding. I saw a reference to the 98 book in a footnote and decided I needed that. Did not know he would gift wrap the ed component and why we only want to nurture “generic capacities” now. Of course instead of phrasing it that way we insist on Excellence and Equity for all students. It seems fair and just and gets to precisely the same place without that being obvious.

        • Would you be able to clarify how the metadata does not need PII. That paper has me thinking how could they ever match each player? Or are they not? Listened to your last women on the wall interview. How is it not indoctrination?

          • If you are trying to get people to using the same generic skills and perceiving and interpreting their experiences from the same desired concepts, the information need not be PII to be what you need. The personal characteristics tell you what other types of students will or will not in all likelihood be susceptible to the same changes from the same experiences.

            PII is bad, but that is not how metadata works. None of these adaptive software experiences are interested in preserving uniqueness.

            You match the players by the reactions to situations where there is no right answer. Several of those responses are close to a fingerprint of what you are likely to do next. That’s what the open-ended, wicked problems are so favored. They are a behavioral science dream.

            It’s worse than indoctrination because it targets the filter that will then be assaulted by propaganda. You know what the propaganda was intended to foster and what the created filter is designed to clue in on vs disregard.

        • I have misgivings about Ravitch. She said our Super is great because his primary focus is “literacy, literacy, literacy”.

          But she makes an interesting point in this article. As someone who has used a lot of technical standards, approved by ANSI or not (e.g. software), the process leading to the explicit CC standards was nothing like that. It would have been interesting to see a proper standard setting process (but it would have more politics than is typical) — the outcome might be interesting.

    • Thought the part about being able to identify “intentional deception and subscious emotions” was interesting. You’ve got to believe and not lie your way through this test. Why would that even be a concern, I wonder?

      It’ll be even more interesting when they get the dynamic content working. There’ll be more programming going on than meets the eye.

      • I think ” identifying intentional deception and subconscious emotions ” in the testing is now built in for the kids whose parents have told them to screw with the programs deliberately. As Johnny DO NOT give them what they want. Feel Free to respond to scenarios differently and inconsistently so that the data is skewed.

        This corners the smart ones. The outliers who resist control.
        Everyone must be captured for the system to work to perfection don;t you know.

    • Really interesting. All this focus on assessment is kind of making me ill. What I found very scary is the use of video monitoring while the students were playing the educational games. My kid plays Dreambox for math practice and it sounds a lot like this kind of system but (I hope) without the video!

  6. Thank you for the information. I am ready for book #2! I feel behind with all this metadata, fine grained data. It is nausea inducing to say the least.

    In addition to the LFA technique mentioned above, which employs the “smooth learning curve” criteria [13], a number of algorithms have been created for empirically evaluating knowledge representations against student performance data including the rule space [18]and knowledge space [8] approaches. The collection and use of on-line learning data will
    further drive such developments. As noted in a major national report “psychometric validation of [on-line] assessments is needed so they can be compared with conventional assessments, and complement and ultimately supplant them” [1],%20Cunningham,%20Skogsholm%20&%20Leber%2008.pdf

      • Thanks LL. You have no idea how often these days I will be reading something from 20 years ago and the description of the activity to be the new vision of educations fits coding and the Maker Movement.

        The coding push always reminds me of Seymour Papert’s work, which we have covered on this blog. I am friends with enough software developers to know just how abtsract that world is once they decide what it is they want to make a computer do. Coding is not the word for it.

        I will read that NESTA paper. Same group that wrote Up from the Swamp last year and that frequently works with Michael Barber of Pearson.

  7. Opportunity Gap Needs Communal Response

    Robin’s Mar 13, 7:29pm post brought forth a link to the Living Cities Initiative.

    The project is a foreshadowing of future efforts to get communities doing communal projects. One wonders if this will go so far as to invent crises or select the social need of the year to tackle — to get people “engaged” ?

    Anyway, the article about community engagement brought up the name of Robert Putnam and his book “Bowling Alone” which documents how disconnected we’ve become.

    Well, just in time, Putnam has a new book — Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis. Already creating a buzz Putnam is hailed as “the world’s most influential academic” ! It will certainly boost the Living Cities efforts.

    See this Washington Post article

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