Staring Down the Sudden PISA & 21st Century Learning Hype Leads Straight to Planned Welfare State

I am going to interrupt our troubling tour into the psychological theories and practices being pushed on our students at our expense. Using euphemistic names like soft skills or student growth or metacognition or ‘innovative practices’ for suburban schools. Including lovely confessions that if it works in achieving desired behavioral changes in students it can be rolled out nationally. Some innovation. Certain school districts really need to stop calling parents anytime there is a school shooting tragedy or potential tragedy claiming that “student safety is our first priority.” Horse manure and lots of it. If that is true then we have a widespread epidemic of administrators and consultants pushing ideas on schoolchildren and parents at great expense and calling themselves “Doctor” without having the foggiest notion of what they are doing.

Which is entirely possible so that leaves it up to we the parents and taxpayers to get to the bottom of the tsunami of fundamental social, political, and economic transformation coming at us in time. We will need to point out to the current Living Large on the Public Payroll recipients that a vast expansion will simply lead to greater dysfunction and a complete loss of overall prosperity.

Now when I hear and read a coordinated push all of a sudden around a topic, I get to fall back on a specialist horde of knowledge that in fact remains quite useful whatever the OECD bureaucrats like Andreas Schleicher have to say. We have discussed what the OECD’s push to monitor subjective well-being globally will mean for education. What I know and may have forgotten to pass along is that everything the OECD pushes in education, and it is a primary driver globally, comes out of its desire for a public-sector dominant social welfare state and planned economy globally.  Especially in the US.

And Schleicher basically says so in this hugely troubling article from 2010. “Shifts in ways of doing business, of managing the workplace or linking producers and consumers” are just the kind of wholesale reimagining of our economy that we just keep encountering as attached to education reform. Like the changed Mindsets and New Worldviews created by humanist psychology theories and practices in the classroom, this is all a means to an end.

If you get a chance to read that 2 page paper you will see that Schleicher is describing 21st Century Learning in language that others have come outright and called dialectical thinking. It is to prepare students for a belief quite useful to proponents of wholesale fundamental transformation into Governors and Governed.

“Promote students dialectical thinking–the understanding that what is ‘true’ now may not be true in the future and may not have been true in the past.” [Professor Robert Steinberg, 2009, ASCD, ‘How to Teach the Other 3 Rs’]

Andreas is quite busy and it was the sudden promotion of his July 2012 TED talk hyping PISA but not mentioning the planned roll-out in many American school districts this fall that is part of what caught my interest. It was called “Use Data to Build Better Schools” and the kind of schools to be remade will of course depend on what data is being collected. Schleicher was kind enough to mention in the 20 minute talk that it was international assessments like PISA that have globalized education. I knew that and it’s time everyone else did too. PISA is measuring student values, attitudes, and beliefs and how they apply knowledge (as in Big Ideas or Concepts like Social Justice) to novel situations. Non-linear, no clear cut solution problems that the students have never encountered before.  Can you say Messing with the Mind or Dialectical again or the more common Higher Order Thinking Skills?

There is another very troubling slideshow on “Learning in the 21st Century-Lessons from Around the World” that was Schleicher speaking last fall at WISE in Qatar, the World Innovation Summit in Education. So good to know that the Muslim world has such an interest in limiting the intellectual and economic capacity of the West. It’s especially interesting given that Schleicher mentions that 21st Century Learning is a way to “avert the risks” of new technology. Is that why Big Blue sponsored his TED talk? No more unapproved competition? If that kind of collusion strikes you as unlikely you might want to read the OECD’s “Better Skills, Better Jobs, Better Lives” detailing the extent of the sought collaboration among government and existing employers around a global skills agenda. With the foundation of the largest education company in the world signing on as a partner.

I could be here all day explaining the elements but it is clear that 21st Century Learning is tied to the OECD vision of the future global society and PISA functions as the means of measuring how schools and teachers are doing in creating the new desired mindsets amenable to such wholesale political change. Hopefully even clamoring for it as expectations for middle class employment are dashed as the combo of government interventionism in the economy and divorcing actual knowledge from credentials creates its foreseeable dire effects.

That’s why the other component of the full-court propaganda press suddenly surrounding PISA caught my attention. It turns out on August 13, 2013 Simon & Schuster (owned by CBS. Think media education and UNESCO) published a book The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way about who does well on PISA and how combining excellence with equity is necessary for being globally competitive. Now we know what PISA measures and that’s not my definition of smart. Is it yours? If you watch Schleicher’s presentation on prezi, you will hear the Ontario Premier touting Ontario’s success. It also has Ben Levin speaking but his authority on education reform has been compromised since his July 2013 arrest on child porn charges.

The Ontario Premier says that 4 in 10 Canadian students are now immigrants and it is important to change education to deal with that diversity. He points out Ontario is now considered high achieving because immigrant children and Canadian born children do equally well on PISA. If that is so, then they are practicing dialectical type, open-ended thinking in the classroom instead of academics and knowledge transmission and that is what PISA is picking up on. It’s Ontario’s business but we in the US and elsewhere need to not blindly jump aboard the PISA bandwagon like we are being led to do. Just look at the endorsements and reviews on Ripley’s book. Talk about the Appeal to Authority fallacy.

Ooops. I had forgotten her name. Amanda Ripley. She does human behavior and public policy stories for Time Magazine and The Atlantic. Since I assumed she knew the book title was deceitful to put it kindly, I looked into her background and discovered she was a fellow at the New America Foundation. When I took a look at what they were pushing with that troubling name, it turned out that shortly after the President’s reelection and through his inauguration, numerous public policy papers were created on the New America vision. That miraculously dovetails with precisely the sorts of things the OECD wants pushed globally. What. Are. The. Odds. The capstone, culmination paper was released in June and is called the Next Social Contract.

The New Social Contract completely remakes the America we have known and turns it into a public-sector dominated economic sewer. Complete with VAT, the federal takeover of Medicaid, turning health insurance into social insurance, eliminating “tax-privileged” retirement accounts, and best of all, federal revenue sharing to ensure regional equity of fiscal resources based on population. How exciting for California, NY, Illinois, and poor mismanaged Detroit. It’s a future that sees education and healthcare and state and local governments as the biggest employers and all at taxpayer expense.

“Privileged Americans should not be allowed to use sub-national jurisdictions as excuses for shirking their responsibility to contribute to minimum levels of public services throughout the United States as a whole.”

Welcome to the planned 21st Century America. I can see why that quote did not come out before Florida’s electoral votes were successfully grabbed for reelection.

That’s what we are dealing with behind all the rhetoric. No wonder OECD has taken up password protecting the pdfs surrounding its global Well-being conferences.

I am going to close with something federal Ed Secretary Arne Duncan said in connection with the 50th Anniversary of King’s March on Washington. He “called on educators and students to advance a civil rights agenda that presses for equal opportunities-and not just equal rights.”

He seems to be referring to the vision of that New Social Contract. But a knowledge of history and economics would reveal that the attempt is likely to destroy what does work. We are questing after a unicorn ride and pretending it is possible and jettisoning our current vehicle as we go a-dreaming. Some dreams are impossible.

How far down this road of creating new Mindsets and a new vision of the future will we go before we recognize we have expensively destroyed knowledge and expertise and social institutions we cannot easily remake?

Where will we be when the epiphany finally hits of all we have deliberately trashed? Ridiculously enough, in the name of education for all.

Some common core.

12 thoughts on “Staring Down the Sudden PISA & 21st Century Learning Hype Leads Straight to Planned Welfare State

    • James-

      I have hope because I know about this, understand it, have it documented beyond belief, and no one was ever supposed to do that on the front end. It is why I write. To try to forestall what is a guaranteed catastrophe.

      Whatever happens in the implementation on any of this. It takes me about 10 seconds to recognize that is not so and go looking for the explanation. I just located that contract this morning as I continued to ponder why Amanda wrote that book. Many conventionally published book like we saw with The Spirit Level or Identity Economics are really all hyping this same vision from various angles.

      All of this needs obscurity to come to fruition and no one linking the components.

      Not. Going. To. Happen. Too. Late.

      • Amandas book will be used as a reference by say the ncea to justify things just like daniel pinks book used by those creepers pusbing this stuff in catholic schools. Becausexthere is no factual basis other than power grabbing they have to create their own body of ” scholarship” what a joke.

        • The definition of education “research’ is something published by someone with an appropriate social science degree including education/

          Found out yesterday that the writer of review of book in NYT is also a New America fellow.

          Judging by yesterday’s substantial traffic that was not tied to any known referrer I definitely have hit a nerve with last 2 posts.

  1. Also quoted in “The Next Social Contract”:

    “In particular, we need to explore ways to expand public and public-generated employment to make up for shortfalls in
    private sector job creation. The best way to create jobs and make the economy more productive over the long term is by
    increasing public infrastructure investment, some of which can be targeted to communities with particularly high rates
    of unemployment. Studies estimate that every $1 billion of infrastructure spending creates on average 18,000 jobs and
    has a 1.57 multiplier effect on GDP. The United States has an enormous backlog of unmet public infrastructure needs,
    and it would make sense to address them over the next five years in order to help return the economy to full employment.”

    But I thought we decided that building public housing projects in poor areas was passe. We did it once, the inhabitants wrecked them, then we were told it was our fault that they were forced to live with each other, bad role models you know.

    This “new contract” is just big government expansion.

    But to give it its due, the Republicans have created the conditions for such a thing to be discussable. Their revenue transfer programs and privatizations are also abusive of the public. For example, following their fascistic example, Obama’s giveaways of money to “green energy” companies that promptly go bankrupt. Maybe he’s intentionally doing it as badly as possible, to drive an agenda later in his term to expand conventional big government. Like his vacations, he could hardly have wasted more money for less result if he had tried.

    • David,

      I have a link that captures the ed component that I thought you would appreciate.

      Notice how many times the article says the tablets are NOT just another way to get at content.

      Yes, it’s a combo of vocational with social interaction while the tablet, per this interview with Amplify’s Joel Klein, is capturing personal motivational, value, and schemes for strategizing info on each student.

      How’s that for personalizing.

      Good thing Amplify is involved with inBloom. No chance of that info being turned into the kind of Personal Motivational Profile Vander Ark mentioned.

      No wonder there’s this vision that school can be used to change so much going forward.

      But not the inevitable consequences of mind arson coupled to crony capitalism joined to government interventionism in areas that are far better left to individual decision making.

      • Joel Klein is gonna make a lotta money if textbooks are all eliminated and everyone has to buy one of his tablets.

        I don’t know how this is going to play out in our district. Due to our low state test scores last spring (everyone’s were low with the new Common Core tests) they are doing some sort of emergency steps with at-risk middle school students. For I guess the rest of us, they’ll finally tell us our kids’ test results from last spring within another 30 days. !? Also in the high school, they’re reshuffling people’s schedules for some reason they haven’t specified, though they promised the classes will remain the same, i.e. if you were scheduled for Chemistry you will still take Chemistry, but maybe at a different time with a different teacher. And it’s been very hard to get hold of anyone at the schools in the weeks before school, it used to be easy. Things are tense it seems, as school starts next week. It’s my hope that plain concern about academic performance will push out experimentation with all this phony baloney stuff for at least a while.

        I think our contract with RTTT is up this year so maybe there won’t be any more changes for a while. If so, we might be OK.

    • Thanks narciso.

      What the actual implementation seeks to do is destroy the academic programs in Forest Hills so that there is no island of genuine knowledge that students can get to.

      We have elite, very expensive privates adopting the Private Schools with a Public Purpose mindset and all the Whole Child emphasis. We have suburbs like Fulton in Georgia using Spence Rogers to push Abraham Maslow’s psychological vision and practices on unsuspecting teachers and schoolchildren.

      With both the Hewlett Foundation and the Aspen Institute pushing it remains the frightening vision for ALL students going forward.

      Taxpayers need to understand how much hatred there is towards the affluent suburbs in these policies plus the need to nurse grievances that see fundamental transformation of all social institutions as necessary.

      It feels a bit like July in Europe 99 years ago.

    • Look narciso. It’s really all about obtaining economic justice in our neighborhoods.

      Just like equity and excellence in education that turns into change the student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings.

      Perhaps the best way to learn what is really being pursued is simply to read the reports the Ford Foundation funds. Van Jones already said that the Green Energy push was all about economic justice and the government being able to decide who benefits and where the benefits go.

      • Robin, I am going to a town hall meeting tonight in a town which is very old fashioned and tradition minded. Lots of guns and ammo in this town, and many churches and a very diverse population as of the past decade anyway.

        This meeting is not hosted by the public schools resident mouthpieces as were the last three “meet the common core” dog n pony shows I attended, but by a school board member, and the town is now my home town. The town high school is the venue, and my most recent (before I retired) principal will be there. I venture to guess it will be a full house, not like the other 3 meetings which drew all of 300 at the max. Not advertised or announced much. Every local school I passed on the way to taking my 8th grader (grandson) to his school had the date and time announced on their marquis. I’m going with my anti CCSS intact, and your last year and a half of writing in mind.

        May I give out your website to any who may ask for it tonight, if I sense their loyalty to the cause of individualism and their will to get up to date ASAP?

        And again, pray for me, as my passion gets me tongue-tied and my heart leaps to my throat. I am known to get red and spray spittle when I’m fired up, hahaha.

        • Absolutely.

          Everything I am saying is extremely well-documented. Most of what I write about I actually understand in even greater depth than I lay out.

          I would suggest taking close to verbatim notes if possible as you will likely find later that the words and phrases used are being repeated from presentations your school board member has been in and the language used almost always has unappreciated meanings. In all likelihhod though I will have documented the real meaning school board is unaware of.

          Be on the look out for the terms competency and outcomes being used interchangeably with standards. It’s the tip off it is behavioral even f school board member does not know that yet.

          Also listen for 21st century learning and skills.

          Good luck and please report back. It is helpful to know what is being said.

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