Subservient and Malleable Students: DeVos Federalizes Our Moral Obligations

With former President Obama his means were sometimes shadowy, but his goals and views were quite forthcoming. Remember the openly announced “fundamental transformation” before his first election or the “you didn’t build that”? Neither was a mistake in his mind. In his early days in politics he openly expressed his annoyance that courts interpreted the US Constitution as imposing ‘negative liberties’ of what government could not do. Instead, he hoped for a more ‘positive liberties’ vision laying out what governments must do to meet the needs of all citizens.

The Transgender Ruling that the Trump Administration overruled last week involved a federal agency deciding to read statutory language prohibiting discrimination based as ‘sex’ as also prohibiting discrimination based on a student’s perception of their gender. I keep warning that internalized perception is the new favorite bullseye in education, K-12 and after, because it can invisibly alter likely behavior going forward. No need to give the manipulated student a head’s up as to what is actually going on. Let them simply wonder later why no one is ready to hire them simply because they have a college degree.

The Obama Administration simply said that the student’s perception of who they are is more important than the physical reality of penises in girl’s bathrooms and group showers. It’s who people are on the inside that matters legally. What got put in place solely by broad, creative interpretation though can disappear the same way, which is what happened last week. Maybe like me, you heard on the TV or radio that “all President Trump and Betsy DeVos did was leave this delicate matter in the hands of the states or localities.” That may be what President Trump and his Attorney-General meant to do, but Mrs DeVos issued a separate statement laying out the “moral obligation no individual can abdicate.”

That’s quite broad, isn’t it? What does the Education Secretary acting apparently in her imagined benevolent despot role impose as our new federalized moral obligations to each other? To return to that gossipy phrase from our childhood, “Do Tell.” Here goes:

“We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate…We owe students a commitment to ensure they have access to a learning environment that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment.”

Now that broad assertion of such a mandate is about so much more that “New Title IX Guidance.” It was controversial when President Obama began to sneak in such a mandate to model desired behaviors and control interactions among students to create a so-called Positive School Climate.  If the verb ‘sneak’ sounds too strong, this is a controversial area and it was pushed via regulation with little public discussion. Mrs. DeVos and fed ED are quietly continuing this very alarming declared right. The affirmative, ‘evidence-based’ remedy is to control each student’s internalized values, personal attributes, and emotional dispositions all in the name of a declared moral right “to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”

In the name of that goal, we get a new global emphasis called Positive Education that is supposedly “based on the science of well-being and happiness.” Each student has personality traits that are malleable to changes in instruction and classroom experiences. Do parents get a heads up as to the change in emphasis? Not really when it gets embedded in subject areas and class discussions that are really about moral dilemmas.

Your child is Succeeding. Your child shows Growth. Your child has met the school’s Learning Objectives. All of our students are showing Improvements in Achievement.

What parent will recognize the shift in what is actually being measured or what these terms now mean? How many parents will ever see the actual statement instead of some commentator’s false statement of what it did? Will students as adults recognize that education was used to manipulate, under force of law, the essence of who they are and how they view the world?

Next we will explore the nature of this new mandate. If there is to be an unknown “major paradigm shift in education,” the only way to avoid being its victim is to know it exists.

Does Mrs DeVos even know what she has declared and the history and purpose of these controversial ideas? I do and I am really hoping she simply put her name to a Statement someone else drafted because she thought it sounded nice and noble. The ramifications and likely remedies of her declared federal legal mandate to control the very bases of behavior simply never occurring to her.

Careful. Careful. Every progressive and tyrant in history sought to control this same internalized focus now declared a “federal mandate” in a release with an erroneous title that few are likely to read.

This is no way to get the feds out of the local classroom.



Pitching Personality Predation But Redefining It as Student Success, Achievement, and Learning

Nothing like a little mental break to help clear out the cobwebs and blow away the fog impeding clarity of thought. As is typical for me when I recognize the connectedness of initiatives that have been announced since my last post, I went back to my bookshelf for a little perspective. In this case it was to a short story Ayn Rand published in 1970 called “The Comprachicos,” where she wrote about the effects of the progressive education in the 60s grounded in John Dewey’s philosophies. This was education designed to cripple the mind and undermine its ability to accurately deal with reality. Sound familiar? Rand created a superb metaphor for what this type of Competency/Ideas first, instead of facts, education could do to the mind of a high school graduate by comparing it to the faculty of sight.

“Try to project what you would feel if your eyesight were damaged in such a way that you were left with nothing but peripheral vision. You would sense vague, unidentifiable shapes floating around you, which would vanish when you tried to focus on them, then would reappear on the periphery and swim and switch and multiply.”

Now that is a good example except this type of manipulation of Ideas, beliefs, values, and emotions starts in preschool now so there would be no memory of any other way to see. Peripheral vision would become each student’s idea of what it meant to “see”. Likewise, a mind taught to use ideas first to filter experiences is being trained “to use concepts, but he uses concepts by a child’s perceptual method. He uses them as concretes, as the immediately given.” [Italics in original]

It is a bit unnerving, isn’t it, to know that Rand was worried about where the behavioral sciences wanted to go with the mind even back in 1970? She even had a term for it–the student’s “psycho-epistemology.” So our student would be trained to use words and concepts like a parrot and believe they had ‘understanding’. To be willing to transfer those ideas and concepts to new situations where an expert would know their use was inappropriate–the Inapt Analogy we can call it. Without facts though, the student will not.

In the Trilogy I just finished I argued that it appears to me to be a consensus about what education should be in the future and that politicians and think tanks from the so-called Right and Left, admittedly Progressive or declaratively conservative or “for limited government and markets,” seem to be describing a common vision. That vision again takes us back to John Dewey as Steven Rockefeller described his vision of Democratic Humanism. It would act as a religious faith best implemented through the schools and other social institutions. So when someone pitches education grounded in Conceptual Understandings, Guiding Ideas, Cross-Cutting Themes and Concepts, or other ways to describe the same general instructional practice, remember why John Dewey wanted this technique to become the core of education. This is true even if the pitch person insists this technique is actually a form of classical education or intended to mold character in desirable ways.

Dewey “proposes that ideas are guides to action in concrete problemmatic situations, that is, ‘plans of operations to be performed or already performed.'” The antipathy we have found towards lectures and textbooks makes far more sense as we switch to education where “ideas are not correctly conceived as reproductions of what already exists, but as plans of something to be done and anticipations of some result to follow. They are tools, instrumentalities.” Fits with the Maker Movement and Project-Based Learning now, doesn’t it? Especially when we add on this quote: “The validity or truth of an idea can only be determined empirically by putting the idea to use and observing the consequences of the actions to which the idea leads.”

Remember all the current emphasis on relevance and real world problems? Evidence-based policy making using data? In Dewey’s vision for an education that can lead to a reconstruction of society, emphasizing moral issues plays a crucial role. Students are expected to regularly identify “the causes of moral and social problems in concrete situations and on framing ideals with reference to the available means for overcoming such problems.” So ideals need to be connected to real world action. Otherwise, “ideals that are framed apart from the study of problems and possibilities in concrete situations are dreams, wish-fantasies, and useless as instrumentalities in directing practical affairs.” Anyone unclear as to why the new federal Every Student Succeeds Act requires not tests per se, but that states use performance assessments that involve activities and tasks to see if the stipulated learning is occurring can simply reread those two sentences.

If it’s not action-oriented it may not guide or motivate future behavior. Likewise, if school is merely intellectual, the desired future behaviors may not occur. Social and emotional learning, whatever the given rationale, a Whole Child emphasis, Head, Heart, and Hand, as well as soft skills, are all consistent with what Dewey also recognized–the Role of the Heart in Moral Life. That way “prizing and appraising unite in the direction of action.” Dewey and every other progressive since culminating now in where Deeper Learning (pushed by the Hewlett Foundation as part of 21st Century Learning) is going recognizes that “Reason divorced from emotional involvement has no moving power.” Can you say student engagement as a necessary 21st century classroom practice to be an effective teacher?

Dewey’s conception of education and learning fits perfectly with what ESSA now requires and Competency education generally. It fits with the kind of effectiveness that will get a school charter renewed and allow a CMO (Charter Management Company) to expand. It fits with what will make online learning an example of Best Practices for Student Growth. In none of these instances though is the Learning about the transmission of knowledge in a traditional sense. No, it’s about what kind of person the classroom activities are helping to create. “Growth means reinforcing those habits that contribute to human well-being and reconstructing those habits that do not.” Since none of us can even get an honest answer from most of the advocates for the Common Core as well as against it as to what they really envision for 21st century education, do not expect to be the arbiter of what constitutes your own or your child’s well-being.

For Dewey then and for any school or other education provider wanting access to taxpayer money now (federal, state, or local), “learning means an increased perception of the meaning of things that leads to a modification of character (i.e., of basic dispositions and attitudes). In short, growing and learning involve the reconstruction and transformation of the self leading to an improved capacity of the self to adjust to its environment and to control and direct subsequent experience.

The concept of habit is the fundamental idea in Dewey’s psychology of the development of the self or character. Dewey insists that the self is essentially identical with its active interests, purposes, and choices. There is no self apart from these activities. The core of the self is formed and defined by the concrete things about which it cares and by the choices it makes in pursuit of these things.”

Guess what? If, like me, you are an expert on the actual implementation it is easy to read that biography of Dewey and recognize the actual current significance. For those of you with more of a life than I have managed since I started researching and writing on all this, first of all I congratulate you. Secondly, let me call everyone’s attention to two examples in just the past week quietly putting Dewey’s vision into widespread effect without even using his name.

First, many of the elite institutions of higher education have joined together to redefine what they intend to look for in an admitted student. The initiative is called Making Caring Common and it looks for non-minority students for whom acting on behalf of others and for the common good and to transform existing institutions and local environments has been shown to be a way of life.

How’s that for an effective means to change the behaviors and practices at every high school with aspirations of of Ivy League admissions? Anyone reading that report can recognize it will result in a change in emphasis to what Dewey wanted for the schools. The creation of a “free person who is able to form his or her purposes intelligently, evaluating desires and goals by the consequences which will result from acting on them, and one who is able to select and order the means necessary to realize chosen ends.”

A similar end result comes from this paper except it admits it wants to restructure the emphasis in primary and secondary schools. The omnipresent rationale, as usual, is that this personality and psychological emphasis is necessary for future success in college, career, and life. The real reason, as is true of anything emanating from a Rockefeller-funded philanthropy like the Asia Society, is to advance the vision of the future Dewey called Democratic Humanism and others call Marxist Humanism. As Dewey, Ayn Rand, and Uncle Karl all knew and we need to recognize to protect ourselves and our children, collectivists need to target the emotions and personality to realize their plans for us.

Why? Dewey insisted that “unrest, impatience, irritation, and hurry that are so marked in life are inevitable accompaniments of a situation in which individuals do not find support and contentment in the fact that they are sustaining and sustained members of a social whole.” That’s what education that targets the personality and forces regular practices of altruism and actions grounded in provided ideas can all be manipulated to do. That’s why we have such a coordinated push now.

We have a sustained push from the Left and the Right, from the religious and atheists, from the global bureaucrat or ex-politician to the local mayor or city council member. All pushing practices that, whatever their personal beliefs and expectations in advocating for them, were nevertheless developed to “generate the sense of shared values and organic interconnection needed to harmonize society and to integrate and set free the personalities of contemporary men and women.”

If terms like Marxist Humanism seem off-putting, let’s just translate it as Dewey and his biographer Steven Rockefeller did and ask “Can a material, industrial civilization be converted into a distinctive agency for liberating the minds and refining the emotions of all who take part in it?” If a politician claims to want Quality Education for All Students, you might want to inform him or her as to what that actually entails.

When I get upset about the 2014 Bipartisan and Bicameral piece of federal legislation known as WIOA that all the candidates running for President who are US Senators voted for, it is because it fits perfectly with Dewey’s insistence that a planned economy would be needed for democratic socialism to be achieved and it was best implemented at the local level. After all, what is WIOA but legislation with the effect of controlling the ends of education as well as allowing for “social control of industry and the use of government agencies for constructive social ends” just as Dewey sought.

Let me close by pointing out that those of us not employed by the public sector or businesses getting taxpayer dollars are unlikely to find any of these desired ends particularly constructive.





Adjusting Our Conception of Who We Are to Fit the New Global Context of Being Systems to Be Managed

Do you ever read one of my posts and think “surely she’s exaggerating. That cannot be the actual intention. This is America and we are a free society.” Well, maybe less after this past week of barricades blocking open-air monuments keeping veterans from honoring those they served with. Or the elderly tourists being herded and guarded at the Old Faithful Inn lest they actually see and take a picture of an active geyser. Or those orange cones trying to block anyone gaining a view of Mt Rushmore. Plus the mentality that would add to the pain of already grieving families while they are still in shock by essentially telling them politicians and executive appointees did not value the ultimate sacrifice in the least. We have indeed crossed the Rubicon because of the importance of using the federal spending, taxing, and regulatory powers to enforce a different sort of country and society. Without we consent or not.

We think this past week is all a bridge too far when the reality is the transformation is just heating up. Let’s take a hard look then on where we are being led and why and what makes education such a vital weapon for intentional, nonconsensual cultural change. If you are a new reader, I usually refer to Karl Marx as Uncle Karl when I have to go back and pull up his theories and philosophies. Because people are writing that their current plans trace back to him. Still. In 2013. And simply saying that “Karl Marx said” makes me sound a bit hyper instead of ably tracking real declarations and then telling the story with a bit of humor. So if the MIT Press in 2012 decided to publish Ethical Adaptation to Climate Change: Human Virtues of the Future with regular mentions of that notorious Uncle as if he were a respectable theorist with good, untried ideas for us all, we get to take a hard look at what is in store for us.

I see that the Aspen Institute and Bloomberg Philanthropies sponsored CityLab this week in NYC building on this idea that the Inner Cities are to be new totally managed systems that all federal policies revolve around benefiting. This confab, like the (co)lab summit 2 weeks ago in Atlanta, TED City 2.0, the Brookings Metropolitanism push, and the new Promise Zones initiative announced in August with 11 federal agencies coordinating “prenatal to career nurturing of pathways” are all the second term pushing of what I first described here .

Since that book was kind enough to lay out the ties of all this to Uncle Karl, let’s see precisely what is intended for all of us. Like it or not. Pretending this is the fulfillment of MLK’s “beloved community” vision and therefore a dream that is entitled to be seen as a human right. Wouldn’t all these machinations make so much more sense if you believed or wanted to use a philosophy that argued that people will remain ‘alienated’ as long as they act as private individuals? Moreover, and highly useful to the current political class and the beneficiaries of their largesse with our taxpayer money, you insisted (my bolding):

“Overcoming this alienation would take the form of a recognition and reappropriation of these processes as social, which to Marx means putting them under the control of democratically organized planning processes.”

We might not be familiar with that intention since it is contrary to how the US Constitution works but I am pretty sure it is common knowledge in Community Organizing 101 seminars. Also common Marxian knowledge would be that the current world need not be accepted as it is but treated as something that humans produced so it can be redesigned through action and will. In fact, we just need to teach children from an early age that “to be human is to transform the world” and that “our economic and social institutions, our sprawling suburbs, our rapidly warming atmosphere” are all supposedly “something that results from human practices, and is not a ‘fact of nature.”

What is going on now in education, and what our 3 theorists from the last post wanted, and all these redesign the world through concentrating on the cities advocates desire, all make much more sense if you realize lots of people believe that the “problem with capitalism and the market economy” is the “private character of decisions.” Immediately telling me the writer has no clue as to what is involved in becoming successful in the non-cronyistic economy where you can only do well if you give people something they volunteer to buy. The point is the public-sector centric theorists have a desire for a future where the public sector can force people “to decide together what they are going to do” so that they will “act in concert to produce the result they all desire.” And you are thinking why would everyone desire the same thing?

Well, that’s to be the beauty of the Common Core in the US and Quality Learning all over the globe. To get people to have the same beliefs and mental models of reality and cultivate feelings to prompt collective action and new values. What we are dealing with is too many politicians and bureaucrats and university professors who believe that in the 21st Century the “social consequences of our actions [are] themselves [to] be the object of a social, and public, decision and not just the result of a series of private decisions…This cannot happen in the market itself, but rather is a matter of politics. In politics, and more precisely in democratic politics, the community makes a decision to act as a community and no longer as an aggregate of private individuals.”

Like it or not, that is the official mantra of the 21st Century vision all over the globe. Man-made climate change is being constantly touted whatever the reality because its solution requires a shift from individuals and markets making decisions to collective, majority binds all, decision-making. And education becomes about reenforcing a human responsibility to change and to engage in a ‘common politics’. Each person must now always consider “what actions would be discursively justifiable to others before acting.” Now that is clearly just a motto to gain power or we would never have seen the events of the past week, but it is the official view of citizenship in the future that our K-12 schools and higher ed are to actively cultivate. Mental transformations in individuals, new cultural models, and new institutions are absolutely precisely what this 2012 book lays out as the intention.

By cultural models, we are to have comparable perceptual conceptions (‘lenses’ and ‘metaphors’ are the two most common euphemisms) for how each of us is to perceive the world in the future and “our relationship to it.” And if you wonder why the name John Dewey just keeps being brought up as the visionary still for both the kind of education and society desired, this passage should relieve all questions:

“To serve as the basis of learning and action in political contexts, new cultural models must be closely associated with the development of new institutions, in particular institutions that function to manage the boundaries of the system to be managed. In their most basic sense, institutions are ‘the external (to the mind) mechanisms individuals create to structure and order the environment’. Through institutions, our ideas about how the world works and what is necessary to act within it, are articulated in language, instantiated into rules and structures, and to a greater or lesser extent empowered (or resisted) by the instruments of the state, business, or civil society. Institutions are essential to create a ‘public’, in John Dewey’s sense (1927): an organic society capable of experimenting, observing and learning in the face of threats and problems.”

Like it or not, this is the genesis of the vision of the future being pushed now all over the globe. It is the vision behind the ambiguous term ‘Sustainable Development’.

I may not be able to make this all go away by myself, being a mere individual and all. But what makes individual minds such a target in all these 21st century calculations is precisely the concern that someone will piece together the story in time. Before the mental and cultural changes are ‘irreversible’. And the new institutions become entrenched.

Now you know. Hope there is still time for the sleeping giant to awake to this danger we are in from our political class and their eager cronies.


The Intentional Insurrection in Texas–Supers Override Governor, Legislature, and Taxpayers

Because the desired social, political, and economic Transformation is always the actual Goal behind all these ed reforms that become notorious, or will when fully implemented, I have joked that the only real question for a Principal, Super, Prof, or Accreditor mandating them is “Are you an Intentional Insurrectionist or an Inadvertent One?” In other words, are you on board with the attempts at a Mental Revolution of the Western Mind to devolve back to the Visual and Emotional and Instinct and away from the Abstract and Reason and Genuine Intellectual Analysis based on Actual Individual Knowledge? And if that seems to be an unduly strong statement, please read some of the earlier posts. Especially why Paul Ehrlich wants Newmindedness and James Burke wants education to reject the Axemaker Mind.

Texas is a fascinating special case because what was going on there became the subject of discussion in the 2000 Presidential Race and a Model for NCLB. And now it is an issue because Texas, one of the largest states and an important driver of textbook content, has very loudly and deliberately rejected participation in either Race to the Top or CCSSI. Wanting to be able to drive its own ed policy and its own content. Last month I explained that both President Obama and Ed Week were using the term “common core” to describe not the CCSSI content standards but the “Standards of Teaching and Learning.” Texans need to read that description because the school and classroom practices and activities I am seeing at Annual Meetings and professional development sessions and conferences around preparing for the new STAAR assessment and the new Readiness Standards look just like what I would see in any state with a Learner-Centered Classroom, not a Content/Instruction Centered One.

Texas is thus proof you can get to what I call the Transformational Outcomes Based Education Stage without the political establishment at the State level ever Knowing what has happened. Part of the ease of deception is the Orwellian use of Language and Unappreciated Definitions in Ed World, notably Rigorous when STAAR was adopted. The fact that the Legislature was now gearing a measuring assessment to John Dewey’s Indeterminate Situation where students react from emotion because there is no fixed solution and the problem-solving is not linear or based on the resolution of taught material was apparently left out of those presentations in Austin. I wonder if the presenters were some of the same people involved with pushing Saul Alinsky’s community organizing in the Austin schools or now adopting SEL (Social and Emotional Learning) for Austin preschoolers and elementary school students as part of a national program as we described in the last post? Be very careful who you get advice from in this area.

That’s always good advice but especially so in Texas where as the title says, we have Intentional Insurrectionists determined to implement Equity Education and Education (in their determination) fit for a democracy (little d just like Dewey) in the 21st Century. The May 2008 document “Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas” was based on meetings that started back in September 2006. Before I get into the specifics of those radical intentions of listed Supers (who actually regard themselves as acting as Modern Day Founding Fathers rejecting the Articles of Confederation as insufficient for their intentions), how many Texans know that Texas went to Outcomes-Based Education back in 1984? That would make Texas an early adopter.

According to a 2001 Dana Center report Texas deliberately jettisoned what it called the “deficit model” of knowledge transmission that was impacted by where students lived and who their parents were to measuring what all students are able to do. And using something termed Proactive Redundancy–multiple ways to achieve specific learning goals. My purpose is not to give a history of Texas education. It is to point out that the Achievement for All Students Transformation in Texas was done at the cost of changing the rules and the purpose of K-12 education. And constantly changing the measurements of what was going on in the classroom  to obscure the effects of ever decreasing knowledge that is the inevitable and sought result of the OBE focus.

The newest so-called test, the STAAR assessment, is based on Norman Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) Chart that is also used in Florida. It is what the Critical Thinking push is actually all about there as well. No I am not going to state the obvious connection. You can in your own mind but leave me out of it. Too many well-connected people involved who seem to genuinely believe they are doing Good Things in Education. But the facts are what they are and Webb’s DOK is expressly based on Ralph Tyler’s Objectives work and Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy (Mastery Learning, OBE’s previous name) work. Sometimes the true connections exceed anything a writer of fiction would ever come up with.

So Level 4, Extended Thinking in the DOK, gets met if the student if the student does not know anything but is engaged in a nonroutine investigation with multiple solutions that the student examines and then processes the possibilities over an extended period of time. Dewey loved his Indeterminate Situation Theory because he believed the resulting emotion of frustration would be a great motivator in students to reject the world as it currently exists. Linear, factual, traditional solutions apparently are insufficient motivators to be a Social Change Agent. Instead, the Indeterminate Situation was thought to motivate Transformative Social and Political Change.

In the 21st century then we can anticipate lots of Critical Thinking around Sustainability Modelling and overpopulation. The actual facts and temps be damned. After all factual knowledge is only Level 1 on the DOK and thus totally unsatisfactory. I guess all that Systems Computer Modelling around the discredited 1976 Club of Rome report Limits to Growth also qualifies now in Texas as Level 4 Thinking in the classroom. Systems Thinking also fits with the language of that Super Insurrectionist Vision. Someone had clearly read their Bela Banathy and Peter Senge.

By the way, since Outcomes and Objectives became notorious terms in the past as synonyms for the whole behavioral and affective orientation (values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings) of these student goals and performance is the term the CCSSI assessments are using, I see the creative minds in Texas have come up with another euphemism–Expectations. Student Expectations. What the student can do with the Content listed. Which reminded me quite frankly of a CCSSI document I had seen less than 2 weeks ago. Put out to make sure that supers and principals and teachers in the CCSSI adopting states were not teaching the content and emphasizing knowledge as the point of CCSSI. That the point of content learning is the worthy task performances and problem solving activities and projects that students engage in. The authors Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins want to make sure everyone understands that that the Common Core rejects this previous “content” coverage mentality.

Now I got someone very angry at me recently when I called CCSSI a Bait and Switch since no aspect of the real implementation does anything but dispute the fact that it is about national criteria of content knowledge applicable from state to state. But then I have analyzed all the relevant documents too carefully to have any room left for wishful thinking.  I think what is happening in Texas reenforces the point I have made earlier that this really is about using the schools to mount a stealth political coup. The way Banathy described his purposes for the Learner Centered Classroom is consistent with how the Best Practices book describes the purposes for Standards for Teaching and Learning and what the Hewlett Foundation describes as the purpose for Deep Learning (which is deemed to align with CCSSI). They are all also consistent with that Texas Super 2008 Visioning document that will have to wait until the next post for its own description.

Recognizing the points being made in the descriptions of Texas Student Expectations for STAAR and the Readiness Standards now in effect and the troublesome implications of official references to P-16, I decided to see if McTighe and Wiggins and their Understanding by Design had any role in Texas transitioning to STAAR. Oh. My. Goodness. They are every where there in the last year. So whatever the intentions of Texans and their politicians, what is coming to your schools and classrooms reflects what the rest of the country is being forced into under the CCSSI mantle.

Isn’t that interesting? You would think the actual impetus really was national and international.

Instilling Desired Feelings and Political Values via SEL in Children–Taps for the Republic?

If the purpose of preschool education and K-12 and college are all now to be centered around changing guiding human values that might be obstacles to redesigning all of our social systems, like schools, businesses, the economy, and cities, is there anything left of the historic concept of individuality? Personal liberty? If an education degree or a credential in social systems or systems design or organizational learning gives a carte blanche at taxpayer expense to reenvision human systems to be other than what they are, shouldn’t we just face the facts and march to the National Archives and just light that US Constitution afire now? Say never mind, it was a good run. Nice experiment in prosperity. Time to move on?

Do educators and professors and accreditors get to unilaterally decide among themselves that we live in “changing times” and they have decided to “revisit” our “many traditions, rituals and customs” to determine their continued “appropriateness?” Do they get to decide what will be “sustainable behavioral choices” for us and then select what “values systems” will be appropriate for the future they have picked out? For us? Assuming of course that they will be part of the leadership? Here’s an example of the kind of nonsense guiding the systems thinkers who are training educators to change the nature of education with this vision (think of holographic as the opposite of hierarchy. They believe such terms make this sound Scientific instead of a political theory looking for guinea pigs):

“The holographic diffusion of culture means that it pervades activity in a way that is not amenable to direct control by any single group of individuals. [Because that direct approach was apparently the schemers first choice] What we can do, however, is design social systems with the conditions for desirable cultures to emerge. This process of design results in the human creation of intentional community.”

No, that is not how it has ever worked successfully. This has, however, been tried numerous times in the past with the levels of the disaster varying from financial ruin to destroyed futures to mass murder on an epic scale. Treating people and their social systems as if they can be manipulated like a circulatory system or planetary gravity is called scientism. Friedrich Hayek, Nobel Prize-winning economist, wrote quite a bit about this fallacy of treating the social sciences as if they were natural sciences. It would be good for the sake of our civilization if mastering this important distinction were a prerequisite to having any authority over a student and their education. But, no, we get the educators excitedly speculating over “how to recreate our systems, how to redesign them.”

Mentioning that the word community is derived from the Latin communis which means to “make common” and that the point of school is now to create a “we” of the students “as meaningful relationships evolve” is NOT the purpose of school in any country wishing to survive as a Republic. It is a quick path to tyranny anywhere it has ever been pursued. It is not the place  of school officials or accreditors or the various parasitical vendors pushing whatever brings in education grant money in a given decade to decide to make the school a holistic community where:

“the more genuine the participation and the more deeply manifested the relationships become, the more ‘whole’ and authentic it seems to be.”

Now this post was originally just going to be about CASEL publishing a 2013 Guide for Preschool and Elementary School Children on Effective Social and Emotional Learning Programs laying out the Five SEL Core Competencies. It reminded me of Milton Rokeach’s work that we have already found so alarming. New names, old Pursuit, same Collectivist political Ends. But a reader sent me a 2005 paper on Banathy and systems thinking in education after the previous post that is where these quotes so far are coming from. The paper envisions that new values instilled through the school can be used to make redesigning social systems possible. And we now know enough about PBIS and what Continuous Improvement is really monitoring and what Growth and Student Achievement as benchmarks will actually be measuring to see that we need to catch this design fallacy and resulting Values targeting early and fast. And in some poor districts like Tucson and Portland, Oregon, it may be too late.

Now I know for a fact that Austin, Texas; Nashville, TN; Oakland, CA; Sacramento, CA; Chicago, IL; Anchorage, Alaska; Cleveland, Ohio, and Washoe County (Reno), Nevada have all formally committed to be Collaborating Districts for this SEL Initiative. is the Logic Model Diagram for one of these districts. As you can see, “permeate” would be an accurate verb to describe the planned SEL presence in the daily classroom of young children.

And remember what I have said before, all children cannot do well academically but everyone has feelings. So SEL is a focus that means everyone can learn the desired behaviors {specify what students are able to do] and there are political benefits if you are of a controlling disposition. Because of the nature of accreditation in education and the various unappreciated obligations and definitions in those NCLB waivers, this is coming everywhere. And soon.

I am going to give CASEL’s descriptions verbatim but before I do that, please remember that this will be in elementary school classrooms where we refuse to teach reading phonetically because that would introduce students to an abstract symbol system and thus nurture abstract thought. I have seen the Common Core literacy progressions and they amount to doling out the words and concepts students are to be allowed to encounter and become familiar with. Years to learn words that most kids could be ready for by second grade if taught properly. And I am not guessing on the reasons either even if the classroom teacher has no idea. Finally, Common Core distinguishes between oral and print and formal and informal in a way that appears tragic. And I really was not happy to read this week that those distinctions tracked back to Mikhail Bakhtin and his war against individualism. So here, please appreciate the planned manipulation already in place:

Self-awareness: The ability to accurately recognize one’s emotions and thoughts and their influence on behavior. This includes accurately assessing one’s strengths and limitations and possessing a well-grounded sense of confidence and optimism.

Self-management: The ability to regulate one’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors effectively in different situations. This includes managing stress, controlling impulses, motivating oneself, and setting and working toward achieving personal and academic goals.

Social awareness: The ability to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures, to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, and to recognize family, school, and community resources and supports.

Relationship skills: The ability to establish and maintain healthy and rewarding relationships with diverse individuals and groups. This includes communicating clearly, listening actively, cooperating, resisting inappropriate social pressure, negotiating conflict constructively, and seeking and offering help when needed.

Responsible decision making: The ability to make constructive and respectful choices about personal behavior and social interactions based on consideration of ethical standards, safety concerns, social norms, the realistic evaluation of consequences of various actions, and the well-being of self and others.

Whatever you expect from your area schools or need in future employees, Race to the Top and Common Core are premised upon the classroom being accessible to ALL students. Repeated references are made to a levelling purpose for public education. I have seen what the accreditors envision and it fits with those Five SEL Competencies and virtually no transmission of knowledge beyond basic, politically useful concepts.

The systems theorists have plans for radical transformation as we saw in the last post and others. As a result their goal of education in the 21st century is an “individually and socially competent citizen.” Not much knowledge there, but remember these same schemers plan to redesign the economy. To fit the education qualifications they are willing to provide.

All on our dime as usual.