Self-efficacy, Cultural Proficiency Training, Critical Reflection, and Change Agency Development

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.


How Much Innocent Blood Will It Take to Stop SEL Manipulation for Political Gain?

That rather graphic title should probably include “or financial gain” to cover all the motives. But that would have made for too long a title. Honestly it is difficult to fathom how after the horrors of the Columbine High murders in 1999, which actually started as a desired bomb plot to blow up the school, anyone involved with Transformational Outcomes Based Education would not have begged for forgiveness. OK, that’s not realistic in our litigious day and age. No one would want to acknowledge their pushed SEL practices might have had a role in initiating the tragedy.

But at least we could have hoped for a Cease and Desist from continuing to actively cultivate the emotions and trying to alter the student’s consciousness. Why continue the practices Columbine was already notorious for before that tragic April day? In an effort to profitably create a Consciousness for Revolution as we discussed in the previous post, some of these manipulated students, usually bright boys, seem to be getting stuck in the cultivated horror and fracturing into the evil school officials and education professors unwisely pushed on students. We will never know the actual causes but we have too much correlation with SEL not to be careful in continuing these deliberate pushes for psychological and emotional transformation in students.

I do not want to linger on such tragedies. But the memories of these SEL connections seem to be fading enough that the manipulative practices are coming back into classrooms and common practice. As part of the implementation of Common Core just like they were part of the 1990s push for comparable radical transformation. And in a substantial percentage of cases with these horrific school shootings where the place seems to be part of the rage, we  find an active policy of pushing SEL and an affective orientation and changing fundamental values, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs as a core function of the targeted school.

Since the typical reader of this post will not be in a position to recognize the names associated with the creation of the Transformational OBE political and social change theory, know the various euphemisms associated with OBE core practices, or be able to put back together the Transformational OBE template even when all has been renamed and broken into parts, I am going to have to share a personal story. I am not doing it to try to get anyone in trouble or point fingers of deliberate intent or malevolent neglect or even negligent disregard of crucial facts from the past. I honestly believe people never knew or have forgotten the links. And we still need that Cease and Desist.

That all these tragic practices are now being pushed again all over the world may be because it is what the accreditation agencies want or because it is now the road to a lucrative next promotion or because it seems superficially like a noble, utopian refocus for the schools to help all students. It is certainly what UNESCO wants as part of its Education for All transformation of the West. Perhaps there is a naive sense that this time there will be no further tragedies because the motives for good results are deemed pure. Whether it is called Student Wellbeing as in Australia now or the Positive Behavior and School Climate now in Canada and the US, it has the same common genesis in the pre-Columbine Transformational OBE when motives were openly discussed and the emotional elements at the core were the feature to be touted. Euphemisms were not yet necessary. That’s where we need to go back to.

My story was generated by an IB High School in Fulton County Georgia informing the parents that some of the faculty had been sent for summer training in Colorado called “Performance Excellence for All Kids (PEAK).” The Principal who had come from Charlotte-Mecklenberg the previous year had brought PEAK with him. He sent out a letter wanting to raise $120,000 for the training this year for all the school’s teachers. On the first day of orientation this past week, he eagerly announced the redirection of everyone in the high school towards the IB Learner (Change the Student) Profile, is a link to the 10 Attributes if you have never seen it, and the Relationships, Rigor, and Relevance push I have already written.

Oh, and instead of PBIS as in Positive Behavior Intervention System, the high school will now have a Positive Behavior Incentive Program with an everyday emphasis on whether students are demonstrating the 5 Desired “P’s.” Polite and Punctual were two mentioned before I dazed into Oh. No. Not  Again shock. First no content and now this?

Fellow Parents at the high school presentation would have heard the word “success” almost as often as the word “engage” but are unlikely to know that in the 90s William Spady and Spence Rogers called their Transformational OBE push for schools the High Success Network. Here’s a 1994 discussion from the insider industry publication Educational Leadership explaining the different Levels of OBE and the goals of the High Success Network.

Careful readers will notice the 10 Life Performance Roles described for Transformational OBE basically dovetail with the 10 from the IB Learner Profile. That’s how breaking up, renaming, and finding a new more palatable vehicle works. I think that is the UNESCO influence showing. I can also look at an Australian middle school that adopted the Coalition for Essential Schools template and the ATLAS-Authentic Learning for All Students-template that came out of US reforms in the 90s and their rhetoric and programs also dovetail with that IB Learner Profile. Probably the Benjamin Bloom influence on the models UNESCO has pushed all over the world since the early 70s from the Summer Institutes he did for them.

PEAK’s “Teaching for Excellence” model says explicitly it is grounded in what was previously called OBE. It also proclaims its incorporation of Mastery Learning, Bloom’s baby. For those of you keeping track, Bloom was a student and close friend of Ralph Tyler who created OBE in the 30s to obscure the real transformative, anti-academic aims of the Progressive Education Association’s Eight Year Study. I explained that here and here

The links are necessary to fully appreciate just how closely tied in all these ideas and people are and why they keep recurring. Plus the teachers have enjoyed their summer and are now back to deal with the troubling implications of the real Common Core paradigm. They need this information and so do the parents, like me, who are being forced to put children into schools using practices with such a tragic past and a political aim to gut this country’s current economic system. Plus a deliberate targeting of our political system grounded in the importance and primacy of the individual.

Both aims are being sought  by using the schools to remake the child’s personality and filtering mindset. I have little doubt this template is being replicated elsewhere in the Fulton County district and in Charlotte where PEAK came from and in school districts all over the US. Since you are unlikely to know where to look to figure out what is going on, here’s Spence Rogers’ published definition of the SEL dynamic behind “Relationship-Driven Teaching”:

“Fostering positive feelings as a motivational strategy in the classroom requires creating a learning context that enables students to value the activities enough to want to learn and to achieve. Learning occurs only when what is being presented is meaningful enough to the student that he or she decides to actively engage in the learning experience. People often judge an activity as meaningful when it satisfies deep-rooted human emotional needs. When those needs are met in the classroom, students want to learn and to achieve to the highest standards.”

The very idea that the teacher who cannot teach a Chemistry course grounded in knowledge is now going to engage students at a deep emotional level is both atrocious and absurd. This is also manifestly the Marxist theory of the Mind where only physical activity and social interaction count or are wanted. No private, personal thinking allowed.  Especially the logical, abstract, Axemaker Mind kind. Now there is hopefully no way either this pushing principal or his boss, Robert Avossa, who also came from Charlotte, have any idea of the tragic history of Transformational OBE or its nefarious purposes. Although I am greatly concerned with what Avossa meant when he told the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2011 that he wanted  a “level playing field in American education.” That is not the spiel he gives parents and taxpayers back home.

This was long with links because this matters. This is a totalitarian template that is to go into operation to attack students’ minds and unconscious emotions to try to change behaviors starting this Monday, August 13. If all these facts are not sufficient to get the super, his central office staff, and the just-following-orders principal to change their minds and back off, well at least the now well-informed parents and taxpayers will know how to treat them. Like you would any adult wanting to live off your tax money while risking bloody outcomes in order to foment a political transformation of this magnificent country that they apparently do not appreciate.

Let’s teach them better values and attitudes and beliefs. We have Gypsy Principals and Supers everywhere now in the US. These two are just the symbols of a very full ship of Change Agents. Perhaps the ship could take a field trip to Cuba to have a hands-on learning experience with the full template being pushed for profit.