That’s what Success for All under the Common Core actually embodies. Tucked away in a 2010 Framework for Equity and Transformative Improvement in Education we have a statement on why “deeper learning” strategies had to be added as a primary goal as we discussed in the last post. And why we needed the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the first place. And why it is really about a limited number of essential skills. You see, school is now to really be about “a broadened definition of what we mean by ‘success.” All students are to build precisely just those skill sets I listed in the title. Why? Well, they will:
“equip citizens with the capacity to engage more fully in educational settings, in our ability to more fully understand life, and to create more effective public institutions. The ‘critical reflection and change agency’ skill area in particular is vital for building deepened understanding around the complex relationship between our economic, environmental, and social well-being, and participating in helping to improve these arenas and ensure that practices within each are just.”
Let’s mull that over for a minute. That would explain how all students, whatever their background, can learn. It would also increase graduation rates as everyone can become an active change agent in the society they feel is unfair. To simply redesign society to be more just. Except society was never designed in the first place. Our Western institutions evolved out of need and survived because they worked. If not perfectly, well enough not to be toppled in a wholesale search for something that might be better. This idea that school is now to be about priming students to help build better government institutions is nonsensical. Who will staff these better institutions? Better trained public employees to be of better service to the citizens seeking justice? With those sets of Skills?
The Framework calls the skills in the title a pivotal choice and italicizes the sentence. I will too.
“Hence, to make a collective decision to narrow the overall goals of skill-building in educational systems is to limit how well we prepare current and future generations to participate in and transform our institutions and social structures.
I wish we would quit talking about skill-building altogether and get back to actual knowledge. But those skills? Participating in and transforming public institutions and social structures is not the purpose that springs to mind when you put your 6 year old on the school bus or when you proudly sit there waiting for the diploma names to be announced. “Capable of organizing a march for equity without supervision” is not my idea of a 21st century skill that makes you diploma worthy. But those are in fact the listed deeper skill sets and reasons for broader notions of student success. Why? The stated reason is It will allow credentials to go to “those from low-income backgrounds, who are students of color, who may live in extremely challenging home and community environments, and who may have been struggling severely in their academics for many years.”
But they will not know anymore and the only economy that can take care of young people without genuine knowledge and skills is a stagnant state-run one with no actual growth. Which means no revenue to pay the costs of the government and its aid to the miseducated Change Agent Generation it is creating. Even in the popular delusion that we are going to retreat to some type of equitable post-carbon economy with a Land worship agrarian existence like the Native People had before Westerners showed up with the oppression of private property, there is no prosperity anymore. Not to mention a terrible set of misguided beliefs about what tribal life was like. Self-sufficiency means no surplus and no reserve against famine when natural disasters strike. I have been reading the Bioregional Plans all this week and none of them indicate they were written by anyone with a modicum of sense.
This education goal is delusional at so many levels. Which is why we need to be talking about it now. As this nonsense is going into place. As the high school Honors Lit teachers are jettisoning real book discussions in favor of Mind Mapping ideas with drawings. The 2010 Hewlett Education Program Strategic Plan we quoted from in the last post even acknowledges that the Common Core State Standards Initiative was just an excuse to get “states and schools to revisit assessment, curriculum, and instruction.”
Because this kind of a Perceive Need to Change Society and then Plan How to Do It Curriculum just does not score well on tests of actual knowledge and skills. So the 2009 ARRA Stimulus Act funded those new ways of measuring students first. One impediment down. The curriculum is what goes on in the classroom which is part of the reason to push digital tablets and computers and I-Phones and Kahn Academy tapes at home. It leaves the classroom for social interaction. The students themselves essentially become the curriculum.
Examples of Cultural Responsiveness listed for each student go beyond “appreciation for and tolerance of diversity” although that is listed as the first level. The second involves “uncovering individual conscious and unconscious bias, how these play out at classroom, school, and district levels, and beginning to draw on the backgrounds and knowledge of students and their communities as strengths and assets.” I guess the Second Level could be called the Getting to Know and Appreciate You, All of You, Curriculum. No wonder there has been a move to get rid of Honors and Gifted classes. They interfere with this new “overall educational environment” of personal interaction as the primary point.
Finally, the Third Level of Cultural Responsiveness is to “focus on structural inequality and how power differentials among demographic groups, conscious and unconscious bias, and decisions about how to structure public institutions and deliver services have created predictable barriers and stratified outcomes for people of color, low-income people, and other specific groups.” As the Framework bluntly puts it:
“Without knowledge of structural inequity and how to remedy it, we will not have the capacity to become true agents of change for a more just society.”
The assessments then are designed to be formative–changing the student and measuring the extent of the changes in these skill sets and values, attitudes, and beliefs. That’s the purpose of the learner-centered classroom instead of the teacher-centered one we traditionally associate with education. It still had content as the focus. And content would not be equitable. As the Framework said at another point: “if we do not develop deep knowledge of the past and how we created our present social conditions, we will be doomed to continue them.” So instruction also had to be targeted and was.
There are apparently to be lots of tales of racism and oppression and exploitation to create the spirit of Transformation desired. To instill it deep within each student’s core beyond the range of conscious thought.
Is it too late to stop this vision for American education? I hope not because this National Equity Plan is a prescription for widespread disaster. And the resulting death of the America we know and most of us love and the loss of the freedom to make our own decisions and widespread prosperity like the world has never seen before will not be an accident. And it won’t be manslaughter.
This is intentional. The only possible excuse for what too many adults living at taxpayer expense are pushing is that they do not know the likely consequences of what they are deliberately pushing.
And that’s not much of an excuse. And I for one am taking names.
So our question for most of these Principals and Supers and Professors and some of the Teachers needs to become: “Are you an Inadvertent Insurrectionist of this fine country with a few warts that can be fixed? Or an Intentional One?
We taxpayers and parents have every right to know. And we need to know soon. Like last week in some districts.