Niti, Nyaya, Government by Think Tanks, and Every Student Succeeds

Hope everyone had a great holiday season. I took an unplanned break from writing, but not researching, since the last post. With the statutory language of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) now in place, the plans for the future I recognized when I read my state’s (Georgia) WIOA Plan, and other shenanigans offline surrounding false narratives, I decided to get to the bottom of all the interrelated parts. Let’s just say if my understanding was 20/20 on the real agenda behind all these education ‘reforms’ by the time I finished my first book Credentialed to Destroy, the acuity now can best be described as X-ray vision with the capacity to cut through metal when called for.

Since the fundamental transformation of each of us, our society, and the economy has been decreed federally via Bicameral and Bipartisan fiats like ESSA and WIOA to be imposed locally by elected officials, let’s keep following the trail in 2016. After all, some of you may get the chance to quiz the candidates about why they supported these measures or simply offered ineffective opposition. “Why did you vote to bring Fascism to America?” is such a conversation grabber. To be ready for such an exploration let’s add a few more words and phrases to our arsenal of explanations.

In December I saw this announcement and decided to get Easterly’s book. After all, I had spent much of 2015 arriving at the conclusion that many of the members of the Atlas Network like Heritage, Cato, and AEI seemed fully on board with a planned economy and education that focused on changing the student at a social and emotional level. I found the promotion of both Easterly’s work and that of Human Capability theorist Amartya Sen to be both troubling in its implications of a true agenda and fascinating at the same time. After all, if the so-called Left and Right have arrived at a synthesis and are not planning to tell us lest it interfere with fundraising, then our answers are located in who gets promoted.

First of all, when the Acknowledgments page thanks Larry Summers and Joseph Stiglitz we have just tied Easterly’s vision to the Inclusive Prosperity Commission and the UN’s Post-2015 Road to Dignity for All Plans. Easterly argued that the “cause of poverty is the absence of political and economic rights, the absence of a free political and economic system that would find the technical solutions to the poor’s problems.” If anyone else is having a Say What? moment, let’s skip to the conclusion of The Tyranny of Experts, where our tenured NYU prof decreed that “It is time at last for the silence on unequal rights for rich and poor to end. It is time at last for all men and women to be equally free.”

Now before any of us also request unicorn rides with that declaration and perhaps the waistline we had at eighteen, I want to transition to a paper released back in November that shows how such economic and social rights get created via education. We are not really having a philosophical discussion here. I am citing the relevant philosophers to explain what is to be happening in those train cars we call schools. This train has left the station and it appears to be an Express Bullet fit for Japan. When we declare substantive rights for all, someone else has the duty to provide and that paper and its well-funded vision for education teaches that “the best way to make positive changes in society is…by being active in or through engagement with government.”

If you do not want to confront this wholesale shift, let’s go back a page to where “this paper argues that young people must learn how to use the political system, and existing governmental institutions, to effect the change they wish to see in their communities.” This is the world of ESSA, WIOA, and the Left/Right synthesis of the future unfortunately where:

“it is not just economic inequality that affects the American experience. We have also seen increasing political inequality, as measured by the clout and power of different groups, often along lines of wealth, income, gender, and/or race. Educational inequality, measured by variance in the quality and access to educational opportunities, has also increased in recent years, leaving behind the country’s most vulnerable populations, and weakening America’s overall democracy. In turn, it has become our collective responsibility to work towards a system in which these inequalities do not exist.”

If these so-called rights and responsibilities are taught as factual entitlements in our schools with a vision of governments as the enforcer as a matter of law, these expectations fundamentally change our society. It’s 2016 and an election year, if this is the vision our schools and think tanks across the spectrum are pushing, we need to be aware. Back to our philosophers again, in this case Nobel-Prize winning economist Amartya Sen. He uses the Indian words niti and nyaya to describe the nature of the desired shift and even italicizes them for emphasis. Niti is identified as a theory of justice that is about having the right institutions and rules. That is not good enough anymore. A nyaya vision of what is to be required focuses on “actual realizations and accomplishments.”

If this discussion seems esoteric and a bit like an odd vocabulary lesson, all the language in ESSA about ‘evidence-based’ is simply another way to describe a nyaya vision of entitled intrusion and tracking of what the student has internalized to guide and motivate their behavior. ESSA didn’t make that a permissible activity for the schools. It created a mandate. When the Georgia WIOA Plan called for “immigrants and other individuals who are English language learners” to acquire “an understanding of the American system of government, individual freedom, and the responsibilities of citizenship,” it is that concept paper above’s vision, not what James Madison had in mind. The individual freedom is again straight out of Sen’s famous book Development as Freedom.

In fact, it is as if the Hewlett and Ford Foundations and Generation Citizen all knew Sen’s work where “different sections of society (and not just the socially privileged) should be able to be active in the decisions of what to preserve and what to let go.” If governments and think tanks have declared that we are transitioning to “an accomplishment-based understanding of justice” because in the 21st Century “justice cannot be indifferent to the lives that people can actually lead” and this nyaya view of an entitled justice is to be sculpted in the “minds of men” [and boys and girls] via formative assessments and the real meaning of assessing annually for Higher Order Thinking and Understanding, we need to recognize this reality and the nature of the shift. When Bloomberg expands the metro areas participating in What Works Cities, this is the nyaya theory of justice in play as well.

It is ironic that the Atlas Network seems to regard all these affirmative initiatives as what Hayek would have supported as part of his spontaneous order vision. As my book pointed out, Hayek took a dim view of trying to achieve conscious direction invisibly via internalizing the desired values, attitudes, and beliefs to guide wanted behaviors. I was pretty sure I had something directly on point to refute this odious vision of the future as Hayekian. Since I have a depth of knowledge that is anything other than just sound bytes and a very large library of resources, I found what I was looking for in Volume 2 of Law Legislation and Liberty. That volume has the subtitle The Mirage of Social Justice.

Hayek didn’t just write a chapter on ‘Social’ or Distributive Justice where he presciently recognized that such social goals and governmental initiatives “means a progressive displacement of private by public law” whereby the law “subordinates the citizens to authority.” A pithier description of either WIOA or ESSA may never be found. Nothing like an escapee from Fascism to recognize its characteristics and dangers. Hayek then wrote an Appendix to that Chapter called “Justice and Individual Rights” of what he believed would happen in a society that tried to enact the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in practice as UNESCO has declared it is now doing. It was also about what would happen in a society which engenders “a feeling that they have a claim on ‘society’ for the provision of particular things which it is the duty of society to provide.”

Anyone else get the feeling that which books or even chapters of Hayek’s get assigned or quoted is now greatly circumscribed? Censorship by omission we can call it. Hayek knew what we all need to know as well now that the plans for conscious direction are to be developed in students,’ and apparently immigrants,’ personalities.

“It is meaningless to speak of a right to a condition that nobody has the duty, or perhaps even the power, to bring about. It is equally meaningless to speak of right in the sense of a claim on a spontaneous order, such as society, unless this is meant to imply that somebody has the duty of transforming that cosmos into an organization and thereby to assume the power to control its results.”

Organization is a more anachronistic term for what today just gets called a system. It starts with student-centered learning and systems thinking is a requirement for every student to be Workforce Ready under WIOA. Not a coincidence. Hayek knew what we all must know recognize so I am calling on this unassigned Appendix:

“If such claims are to be met, the spontaneous order which we call society must be replaced by a deliberately directed organization…[members] could not be allowed to use their knowledge for their own purposes but would have to carry out the plan which their rulers have designed to meet the needs to be satisfied.”

Have I explained yet that in countries like Scotland that are further along this road of social transformation via education ‘reforms,’ the very Experiences and Outcomes for each student are specified? The “Es” and “Os” they are called in what is the best example of the intended deliberate reorganization.

Welcome to 2016 as the Year of Epiphanies.

Abolishing the First Amendment’s Protections While Hyping Intellectual Freedom and Student Learning

If we wanted to turn the current protections of the First Amendment on its head, we might argue that its new function is to “ensure the democratic legitimation of the state” and “create a new state of Mind for citizenship.” If books like The Constitution in 2020 (that the typical person will never even hear about, much less read) assert such claims, while also arguing for national standards for K-12 education to create the desired values and belief system, we would have a United States running on parallel tracks. There is the world as the typical person still believes it to be. Then the parallel, actual, purposes of the changed practices and institutions designed quietly to create:

“A democratic agenda truly concerned with human freedom, equality, and flourishing must conceive of itself in terms broader than the Constitution as law. It must be concerned with the constitution of US society, rather than with the US Constitution.”

If anyone does not believe that K-12 education policy and the new emphasis on “personalized learning” are actually about achieving the vision of the above quote that dovetails with the previous essay on “A Progressive Perspective on Freedom of Speech,” read this inviting “progressives normatively [they set the new rules but do not bother to tell us] to clarify the forms of participation that they believe are essential to a healthy public sphere.” Last week President Obama’s FCC announced its intention to regulate the Internet in the name of net neutrality. Want to guess how the progs illustrated that desire to clarify the new terms of participation and debate?

The book pointed out that “the Internet, for example, is rapidly becoming an extremely important medium for the formation of public opinion.” If that sounds like we are about to have an uh-oh confession here it goes:

“In the coming decades, issues such as net neutrality or the installation of centralized (versus decentralized) filters will hugely impact the precise ways in which the Internet will contribute to the formation of public opinion. Progressives will need a convincing normative vision [remember the experiential Right Brain that is the new focus of K-12 education adores narratives] of a healthy public sphere in order to assess the constitutional implications [little c, as in constitution of society and maybe that other little c] of potential government interventions. They will need this vision as much to shape a progressive regulatory policy as to litigate for the maintenance of progressive constitutional rights.” [No more negative liberties in other words. Look up FDR’s Scond Bill of Rights].

We get a glimmer of what is really going on in what the new Conceptual Frameworks in AP US History are actually designed to do. I covered that in depth in a trilogy starting here I also address the function of critical theory and why it is also called Cultural Marxism in Chapter 5 of my book.  This recent controversy  illustrates that high school coursework across the country is now training students to apply conceptual lenses like poverty, race, gender, sexuality, etc. in how they interpret the world.

Instead of treating Marxism as an insult that only an unhinged kook would hurl, it’s important to appreciate the crucial importance that the human perception of the here and now has on a widespread willingness to act to transform society. It’s why the prog quotes above talk about “a new State of Mind” for the necessary citizenship. It’s why we keep hearing about desired Dispositions (including explicitly from the Common Core’s formal sponsor, the CCSSO) and all students having a flexible Growth Mindset.  We are all assuming a world and the rule and protections of the law still functioning largely the same while influential, well-funded profs and federal regulators declare “the First Amendment does not protect speech as such, but only such speech as is necessary for democracy.”

That would again be democracy in the economic justice, positive rights, vision for all that desperately needs both K-12 and higher education policies and practices to enable its vision of the future. The progs recognize that the traditional view of the First Amendment will “undermine important and desirable forms of state regulation.” I have long recognized that where the schools intend to go is actually off limits once properly understood. Apparently the progs concede that as well. They followed that concern over the current First Amendment language with this statement:

“a progressive constitutional vision for 2020 must advance a robust theory of democracy that can identify the forms of speech and association that deserve constitutional protection because they are essential to the formation of democratic public opinion.”

That’s a First Amendment that has done a 180 and intends to protect only the forms of speech and association that fit with the desired transformative vision. Anything else and the motto is gather data, resculpt, and infringe away. The parents still think this is all about the best way to transmit knowledge and many businessmen still believe they cannot find able employees despite the K-12 system trying really hard and doing its best. Neither is true and it hasn’t been for a while.

One of the many taxpayer-funded trade groups doing its part to advance the prog view of future American society and reshaping the mind of the citizen is the American Library Association. In fact, its Association of School Librarians has even created Standards for the 21st-Century Learner and a helpful crosswalk to the Common Core. Category 3 is that “Learners Will Use Skills, Resources, & Tools to  Share Knowledge and Participate Ethically and Productively as Members of Our Democratic Society.” I do believe that is called picking a dog in the fight.

Especially given AASL’s constant focus on pushing Inquiry-Learning, which of course, MUST be experiential. It also prescribes desired student “Dispositions in Action” repeatedly as part of its Learning Standards. Students are also told to “show social responsibility by participating actively with others in learning situations” and not just turning to a book they love or refusing to volunteer the excellent vocabulary their parents diligently built up over the preschool years.

Again, creating Learning Standards that insist that students have that social responsibility or that students must “use information and knowledge in the service of democratic values” is taking sides in this mostly invisible battle for the future of what the US will ever be. We are going to pivot because the ALA was brought in as the so-called neutral authority to proclaim that somehow complaining of bias in what is taught, and the explicit prescription, and required practicing, with conceptual lenses that students are to now use (to interpret their experiences and the reality they perceive around them), is somehow a violation of the student’s Intellectual Freedom. Who is the real infringer here? This is the Have Your Cake and Eat It Too Booklet the ALA has created.

It showed up as a defense in Highland Park. Now won’t the facts laid out in this post be useful if it shows up in your community next trying to prevent accurate criticisms? After all, these stipulated ‘lenses’ are designed to guide new kinds of student minds and beliefs about their responsibilities to others all while sculpting that needed “democratic public opinion”. The booklet is fantastically wrong in so many of its assertions, but it does still have an excellent command of the historic purpose of the Bill of Rights. “Before the Bill of Rights was written, governments usually told people what their rights and freedoms were. Our Founding Fathers did not like this, and so they flipped the idea around. Instead, the Bill of Rights said the citizens would be free to tell the government what it could or could not do.”

Not exactly consistent with those 21st Century Learning Standards is it? See what I mean about parallel tracks? At the same time that the ALA tries to portray challenges to the slant in curricula as akin to the right of citizens to “take the government to court” and “use  the words from the First Amendment to prove that the government has violated their rights,” the ALA itself is actively involved in helping to resculpt the student’s internal mental structures and values, attitudes, and beliefs. In violation of that same First Amendment they claim to be a defender of. Maybe so, but the first allegiance is clearly to advancing ‘democracy’. That booklet called it the “form of government where all people are heard,” which sounds remarkably like the prog vision of the public sphere above.

In fact, the 2020 book asserted that redistribution of wealth and interference with private contracts are now acceptable as long as the minority can complain in a public forum about what governments are doing. Legitimate practices as long as there is an opportunity to participate and try to sway public opinion sounds remarkably like the ALA’s assertion that democracy cannot “work if all people cannot express themselves and talk to one another to make informed choices.” Sounds like John Dewey’s participatory democracy to me that we are seeing advocated for now at the local level as a forum for binding decision-making as long as all Stakeholders are represented.

I think the ALA’s desire to advance this vision of the future probably has something to do with why it repeatedly and flagrantly misstates the tenets of the First Amendment. But the typical parent or student will likely not know that “The First Amendment guarantees you the right to think your own thoughts, speak your own opinions, and read and write what you want” is factually wrong. The Government at any level cannot infringe that. The ALA though wants that Discourse Classroom where all students bring their perspectives and share their experiences before negotiating to a common understanding. That practiced obligation is needed for this new vision of a “democratic public sphere.”

This is a self-confessed March through the Institutions that is proceeding on a Parallel Track. Let’s not take any groups’ word for what our rights and obligations are. Always look for the conflict of interest.

We really are engaged in a cultural war over the constitution of our society. The law and K-12 education are primary battlefields. None of us have to accept a claim that we are violating Intellectual Freedom by accurately pointing all this out.

Guardians of Democracy or Hatcheries for Revolutionary Change Agents of Carefully Cultivated Consciences?

Suffice it to say if someone was hoping that releasing a hugely troubling new transformative paradigm for P-20 during a holiday week would allow it to go unnoticed, the phrase “Not. Going. To. Happen.” would be my response. Changing the formal sponsors to other connected entities did not allow the “P-20 Schoolhouse for 21st Century Democracy” to avoid being tied, as it was intended to function, as actual components of what the Common Core looks like in the typical classroom. Even worse for those wanting to avoid scrutiny, the links to the global agenda being pushed particularly by UNESCO are what we could slangily refer to as Easy-Peasy to prove.

Welcome back in other words from our respective Turkey and Dressing Binges to the “STATE Civic Education Policy Framework” . Now before any of us do precisely what it is hoped we will do and dismiss this as simply another attempt to make sure the next generation is familiar with the 3 branches of government at the federal level in the US, let’s look at the curious new definition of Civic Education. I’ll put it this way. Lenin could have worked with this definition and as we will see the communist Chinese are currently on board as well. My bolding.

“The term civic learning is used to emphasize the civic significance of preparing students with knowledge and for action. Today’s education for democracy needs to be informed by deep engagement with the values of liberty, equality, individual worth, open-mindedness and the willingness to collaborate with people of differing views and backgrounds toward common solutions for the public good. These qualities are not automatically transmitted to the next generation–they must be passed down through schools. Ultimately, schools are the guardians of democracy.”

Now, this is, of course, a much different definition of democracy than what we have traditionally reverenced in the US or anywhere else in the Anglosphere. We traditionally viewed the individual and the right to make our own choices about the future and live with the consequences. That Civic Framework is all about nurturing a collectivist instinct and an obligation to put the community and group interests first. As usual, I scampered over to my bookshelf for some insights into previous comparable attempts to use institutions to force such a collectivist mindset and obligatory new values on an unsuspecting free society. Economist Ludwig Von Mises in his Human Action book first published in 1949 when these visions were previously all the rage noted that when people are allowed to pursue their own ideas without permission:

“No dullness and clumsiness on the part of the masses can stop the pioneers of improvement. There is no need for them to win the approval of inert people [that is SO my new phrase since my college kid says mental midget is no longer an acceptable description] beforehand. They are free to embark upon their projects even if everyone else laughs at them. Later, when the new, better and cheaper products appear on the market, these scoffers will scramble for them. However dull a man may be, he knows how to tell the difference between a cheaper shoe and a more expensive one, and to appreciate the usefulness of new products.”

I am going to interrupt this excellent point by showing all the crony capitalist/We Just Adore Public-Private Partnerships companies who have ponied up to be formal sponsors of the Education Commission of the States. Notice how they say they want the business community to be actively involved in creating the new paradigm for education. Business executives at these companies hate Von Mises vision for new products and competition for that consumer dollar like what I just quoted. They love public sector contracts.

Now, if you are not familiar with ECS, they have meetings where the top legislator from the education committee of both chambers in each state plus someone from the Governor’s office all come to hear their pitches. It’s thus the perfect way to get coordination in each state that fits a national or global template. Meanwhile, the politicians can insist “it’s state led” or “this is what business says they want.” It’s what politically connected businesses who prefer cultivating lobbyists to satisfying consumers desire. The schools make a great vehicle for pushing changes in values because, as Von Mises noted in the next paragraph:

“it is different in the field of social organization and economic policies. Here the best theories are useless if not supported by public opinion. They cannot work if not accepted by a majority of the people.”

As we saw a few posts ago, the churches were originally seen as the avenue to get a shift in the prevailing public opinion to support a communitarian, non-individualistic vision of the future. Now it is the schools, universities, and the media which are to be the Handmaidens to this New Vision of Democracy grounded supposedly in economic justice. Let’s borrow one more insight from Von Mises that goes precisely to the reason for all this deliberate mind arson of our most talented minds in K-12. “Everything that is thought, done and accomplished is a performance of individuals. New ideas and innovations are always an achievement of uncommon men [and women too!!]. But these great men cannot succeed in adjusting social conditions to their plans if they do not convince public opinion.”

Now just imagine the dangers when we have active manipulation by the media, professors in certain departments, and K-12 administrators to push an entirely new paradigm for education precisely to shift that prevailing public opinion. is the link I promised to the global vision that ECS vision fits into. ECS is not going to be so careless as to pitch the Framework as “Citizenship Education for Better World Societies: A Holistic Approach” or hype the development of Conscience, Commitment, and Compassion for a “total ‘reeducation of humankind” but the language of that ECS Framework still fits with the UNESCO framework. It fits with the to be required “Sensitivities, Attitudes, Values, and Action Competencies” that are “Key Attributes of Individuals as Possessors of Intrinsic Worth and as Key Agents in the Creation of Better Worlds.”

Here is one more link that understanding how everything fits from my book as well as this blog lets me locate. UNESCO calls what is being touted in the US as College, Career and Civic Ready skills as Life Skills. They tie them to a global remake of high school that was outlined in a meeting in Peking we were not invited to back in 2001. If anyone thinks I like throwing out accusations of collectivism as if I am hurling insults instead of describing intentions, I am not the one claiming a desire for education in the 21st Century to emphasize “the need for collective rather than individual intelligence that supports the position that all are capable rather than a few; multiple perspectives rather than ability to solve problems with only one right answer, imagination and emotional engagement are as important as technical expertise, intelligence should include the ability to envisage alternative futures, to resolve open-ended problems as well as to exercise sound interpersonal skills.”

All these links I provided are about reengineering a personality that will act to bring about and then tolerate living in precisely that kind of “socialistic, communist society” that Soviet psychologist AN Leontiev wrote was the purpose for this type of education. Notice in any of these links that there is a stated obligation of everyone to meet anyone’s basic needs–a right of being human. That seems to be what Leontiev had in mind as ‘socialistic,’ when he always linked these two terms that we tend to view as synonyms or milder versions of the same basic political theory. The reference to communist is not just a tie to Uncle Karl’s ultimate vision although it is that. All of these frameworks seek to cultivate an obligation to, and responsibility for, the community. They say so repeatedly and we need to notice it.

Finally, there are multiple references to being a “member of society,” a “member of the community,” or “cultivating students’ care and concern for their communities.” We are not educating the individual to make their own decisions anymore. If they are able to do that, it is from a set of emotions, values, and beliefs that have primed a person to act in a certain way.  Policymakers and their corporate cronies are prescribing a mandate of “inquiry-based instruction that results in informed action and demonstration of learning.” The action is not ‘informed’ by the individual except via the presupplied beliefs and concepts. The ‘learning’ being ‘demonstrated’ is someone else’s conception of what must now be valued, believed, or new behaviors to be shown.

When oligarchs outline the “shared beliefs that should undergird the educational system, its institutions, practices and outcomes,” it should not be slipped through during a holiday week to be imposed, like it or not, with no genuine notice of what is changing. Insisting that all students must now exhibit a skill to “plan strategically for civic change” with less notice to parents than what used to be required for a Field Trip permission slip simply reenforces the appearance that all these education reforms are really a Political Coup.

The fundamental fact behind true liberties is that they are not bestowed by government and they are not governments to take away. Yet that is precisely what all these education reforms amount to. No university should be able to grant a degree in any area, even a doctorate in Educational Leadership or Curriculum, that amounts to a license to be a taxpayer funded nonconsensual Change Agent. The idea that numerous sources openly decree that the students will be consciously turned into cultivated change agents is horrific.

As usual, there is actually not a dispute about the accuracy of what I am laying out. Calling attention to it is the only remedy I know of for what is being attempted.

Consider this post our Red Alert Notice. Flashing lights and sirens please.


Banishing Any Distinction Between Academic, Technical, and Life/Employability Skills: Active Deceit Everywhere

Think of me today as holding a microphone breathlessly informing everyone that I am reporting live from investigating a pot of water that is already at a simmer and it’s big enough to hold each of us. The pot has been designed to slowly come to a full rolling boil gradually so we will not notice what is happening in time. More likely, we will notice what is happening and misattribute what is causing it. Calling for more of the poison that is actually already destroying us from within while advocates holler “it’s political fragmentation and income inequality. More planning. More government programs. Integrate them all now” just as this April 4, 2012 letter from HHS, Education, and the federal Department of Labor called for.

But  we are neither frogs nor lobsters and we get to use our still existing Axemaker Minds to cut through the stories we have been deceitfully, or erroneously, fed and get out of that pot. I thought I knew so much about where Common Core was really going because of accurately discerning the essence of how performance standards [they are behavioral criteria] really worked and that Career Pathways would require a politically directed economy. I was right, but Georgia was piloting something else that is central to this story of our intended future. Then in 2006, the National Governors Association formally climbed aboard as well. It’s why it needed a vehicle like the Common Core to remake academic standards and why high school had to be reformed.

“Workforce intermediaries” (grounded in a 2003 conference in NYC funded by the Casey, Rockefeller, and Ford Foundations) and “sector strategies” are the search terms you will need to pull up the plans for your own state or locality. I have downloaded many of them in the last several days. Enough to recognize what terrible jeopardy we were all in even before the WIOA, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, locked this all thoroughly into place about a month ago. There are lots of NGA documents on this, but is the most helpful since it shows high schools on the cover as an integral part of this redo.

Sector strategies involve politicians, public employees, community organizing groups in many cases allied formally with Saul Alinsky’s IAF, colleges and universities, working with established businesses and hopefully getting all involved in comparable areas (like restaurants or construction) to work together to create pathways to good jobs for low income, formerly in prison, non-English speakers, etc. Everyone is bound in other words, but some of us merely finance, while K-12 extinguishes our children’s actual knowledge. Others are the intended beneficiaries of a track to a ‘good job.’ As this recent ACT report on building a National Workforce Skills Credentialing system put it , most private businesses, even small ones, will become subject to even more regulation as this belief that the private sector exists primarily to provide good jobs and training and tax revenue becomes pervasive.

The recent Aspen Institute book Connecting People to Work highlights SkillWorks as the long time Boston workforce intermediary. What that book did not point out, but I am, is that the Massachusetts DoED in 2013 redefined College and Career Readiness to get Massachusetts school districts on board with this Sector Strategies economic development planning that is now geared around Workplace Readiness. The BESA wanted to make sure the Connecting Activities would be used in the state’s academic and comprehensive high schools although parents probably will not get an accurate description for the shift. Academic proficiency is officially no longer enough in Massachusetts. is the official powerpoint.

The ultimate goal in each domain is ‘competency attainment,’ that would be in the Flyv social science sense of intuitive, non-analytical behavior we have been tracking for several posts. As we can see, personal/social development is as important as academic and academic is no longer about book knowledge. Now I am going to pivot to the other huge watershed event we are being lied to about that affects how the Common Core should be seen.  I happen to know that Massachusetts, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, and Oregon were picked by the feds to pilot the integration of CTE-Career and Technical Education into State and Local Career Pathways systems. Needless to say, this will blend nicely with Sector Strategies for economic development. No one seems to be dwelling on what will happen when the federal spigot of grants runs out and everyone has become a dependent and hardly anyone knows anything accurate or marketable, but here we are. By the way, CCSSO, the other formal sponsor of the Common Core is also involved with this integration.

It turns out you see, that apart from the Common Core we keep hearing about, there is another ‘state-led initiative created with business and industry representatives’ effort on a similar time frame to create a Common Career Technical Core that will govern ALL programs of secondary study. ALL means all and this parallel effort involves far  more than we might suspect. You know how we keep hearing mentions of ‘rigorous’ academics, well it is what is left after CCTC governs all programs of study under its Ten Components. This is why states formally rejecting CCSS nevertheless retain performance standards to keep the money from Perkins in DoED and the Department of Labor. shows the framework from Wisconsin, a state with a long history with Industry Partnerships and Sector Strategies.

So the feds, whatever state legislative committees may decide by majority vote or consensus to the contrary, have decreed that states are to have Career Pathways and combine “both academic/basic education content and CTE/skills training.” The combo of CCSS and CCTC makes this marriage easier to accomplish and easier to hide. In May 2014 the federal DoED rolled out its Employability Skills Framework that puts personal qualities, once again, front and center of future education in communities [hence all the hyping of local] and the states. All of the related ingredients I have been describing will of course be omitted lest we climb out of the simmering pot in time.

We are nowhere close to covering all I have read on these topics in the last week. I am merely building an outline to allow each of us to know what is intended and how the so-called Common Core fits into the deceit. It explains why the Chambers of Commerce, radical groups intent on political and social transformation, and legislators and governors of both parties are so tied to these ideas of national standards whatever the uproar. When I wrote my book, I explained that Competency never goes away because it fits the polytech vision of John Dewey. Now we know it fits with the new Workforce Readiness for all purpose of all K-12 education.

Another aspect that never goes away in the actual implementation materials is 21st Century Skills. I explained that with illustrations that remain 100% right on the money of intentions because they fit with the CTE focus on experiential and real world applications. It’s why those phrases keep recurring now through the relevance command. There are two P21 papers I did not have when I wrote the book that really lock in this marriage of CTE for All Students and how it comes full force to the unsuspecting suburbs. The first is from 2006 and has the long revealing title: ” Are They Really Ready to Work?   Employers Perspectives on the Basic Knowledge and Applied Skills of the New Entrants to the 21st Century Workforce.”

That well-connected report tells us that “the education and business communities must agree that applied skills integrated with core academic subjects are the ‘design specs’ for creating an education system that will prepare our high school and college graduates to succeed in the modern workplace and community life.” P21 did leave out the part about that workplace being reimagined via Sector Strategies and the community life being grounded in required consensus and shared understandings, but that would be how all these actual pieces fit together. “Business leaders must take an active role in outlining the kinds of skills we need from our employees” and the “business community must speak with one voice.” Lots of authoritarianism as we can see sprinkled consistently through this vision of our future.

What is hugely important about that report beyond the tells of attitude for anyone not with the collectivist program is the cite of New Tech High School in California and its project-based learning as an example of the kind of skills incorporated into academics desired. New Tech is now a network of high schools operating in many states and its flagship, High Tech High, is the poster child of both the federally-sponsored League of Innovative Schools and the Hewlett Foundation-sponsored Deeper Learning frameworks. Project-based learning and problem-based learning is how the CTE model comes quietly into the suburbs.

The second report from P21 is the 2010 “Up to the Challenge: The Role of Career and Technical Education and 21st Century Skills in College and Career Readiness.” It does not just call for breaking “down silos among academic, CTE and 21st century initiatives, programs, and teachers” as we now know the feds are pursuing in earnest. The creator of P21, Ken Kay, has since moved on to form EdLeader 21 (has its own tag as I have followed for a while) . EdLeader 21 is a consortium of large suburban school districts in or around metro areas, especially in the South. All of the district supers I have ever looked into involved with this group are what I classify as Gypsy Supers. Each school district they get an administrative job in transitions to ever more radicalized versions of John Dewey’s vision for education.

That’s how CTE comes to Atlanta, Charlotte, Greenville, Raleigh, the DC area, and other districts who have joined. Since no one employed by state or federal agencies or advising school districts shows any inclination of explaining all these vital, demonstrable facts to any of us in time to escape from the pot,

I just have.

**As usual, where I have given dates and titles of reports here and other specific references but no links, I am trying to ensure that particularly dramatic revelations do not get taken down before most of you get a chance to read this post. There is sufficient info provided to make searching easy for anyone who just loves to doublecheck me.

Imposing Cybernetics Control Theory on Students While Pretending the Impetus is Equity for All

The term cybernetics to me was always just a vague concept that had something to do with computers. I was following up on the Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin and his behavior-orienting systemic-theoretical instruction by reading a 1975 book (translated into English in 1980, except curiously the footnotes) by one of his students, Nina Talyzina. Called The Psychology of Learning it kept referring to cybernetics, but there were no computers. Instead, cybernetics is described as a theory of control over processes. One of the processes that the Soviets and certain American educators wanted to control was human behavior.

Before anyone thinks this is just a haunting history lesson with me pouncing on disturbing intentions from the past, let me remind everyone that the US Common Core are designed as performance standards. They are about what students are to be doing. Competency is the same globally as is 21st Century Skills. Performance assessments are about action.  The shift from a mental focus to an activity focus (because that is what Marxist-Leninist theory required as Talyzina laid out) has already taken place. The significance of that deliberate shift is simply not well enough appreciated. Cybernetics, as applied to education, seeks to optimize “control of the learning process.”

That learning process is no longer to be “through the development of capacities that already exist at birth,” like mental ability, but is rather “a process of assimilation of various types of human activities by students and hence of the set of actions that bring this about.” What is going on with the learning tasks created for Common Core (described in Chapter 7 of the book), as well as the digital curricula being unveiled by Pearson (with Microsoft as partner) and Amplify (rolled out for middle school this week) among others, and the Connected Learning agenda being pushed by the MacArthur Foundation , are all examples of designing the teaching-learning [obuchenie] process in accordance with the requirements of a general theory of control.

When I recognized the full implications of what the Consortium of school districts from the last post sought (hence the hunger for Student data and continuous mentions of feedback in personalized instruction) and the gaming in classrooms (with its ability to control the visual images associated with any chosen concept and force the virtual world to conform to desired models of either reality or the future) to the cybernetic theory of how to control human behavior without that being apparent, I did some searches to see what was happening now.  One of those pulled up an essay that had been in the 2002 UNESCO Encyclopedia by the radical constructivist Ernst von Glasersfeld who I had talked about in Chapter 3 of the book. I gulped since I had not been looking for UNESCO or Glasersfeld. The essay is called “Cybernetics and the Theory of Knowledge” and it lays out how crucial the theory of constructivism in education is to the goal of behavioral control via cybernetic principles.

More gulps. The word cybernetics is derived from the Greek word “Kybernetes” which referred to a steersman of  ship. It is the etymological root of the English word “governor” as in the lead elected state officials who seem so determined these days to combine economic development with education as workforce development. The word also retains its same control function in its use as a governor on an engine, regulating possible uses. Maybe we didn’t really appreciate the significance of the term cybernetics or its applicability to education, but radicals interested in political and social transformation at the level of individual consciousness certainly do. Everything to be required, or condemned, in a Common Core classroom is now driven by turning to Vygotsky and especially Galperin (image, associations, concepts) as the necessary psychological theories (instead of Skinner’s behaviorism). Galperin’s theory especially, backed up by decades of research, laid out a means and rationale for specifying the desired activity in the real world that would then produce the hoped for mental concepts.

Those mental conceptions, because they are created by actual activity in either the real world or a virtual immersion world (of the sort pushed by MIT’s Media Lab or Amplify’s Zombie Apocalypse game), are thus controllable in a way conceptions built up by facts delivered from lectures and textbooks are not. Then we have the new assessments and now to be a new SAT to monitor the extent to which the desired concepts (in the hermeneutic-dialogical sense we met in the previous post) are connected to associated  relational qualities (also supplied) and then tied to real world problems or phenomena. Understanding here is like a web and assessments are looking to see what strategies the student’s web of understanding reaches to apply when there is no fixed or correct answer. That tells a great deal about how the student will behave as an adult when they are on their own.

Now the Cold War implications of this psychology of learning and Galperin and cybernetics as a feature of education in a supposedly free country, especially since Talyzina mentioned a UNESCO symposium in 1976 on the psychological bases of programmed instruction, are obvious. Despite what is going on now in the Ukraine and the Crimea and the current Russian role in the UN’s digital learning and Information Society initiatives I have written about, our problem in 2014 are not the big C threat of decades ago. Subjugation of the individual and control over consciousness though clearly remain a primary government goal though. That Connected Learning report above makes it painfully clear that the digital and media agenda now in education is tied to a social and economic transformation to a shareable, collaborative consumption economy.   The new motto is to be “sharing reinvented through technology.”

If you go to the writings of the professors cited to show the economy is changing, we find the sociologist Juliet Schor (see her tag) who wrote Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth. That pulls in her commonwealth vision of the future and the agenda of Gar Alperowitz and the Democracy Collaborative. Another cite turns out to be Harvard Labor Economist Richard Freeman. Finally, there is a cite to a 2008 paper by Bowles and Gintis. Uncited is their book from 1976 Schooling in Capitalist America that predicted a socialist transformation of the US that might need to become violent. I mentioned that book in this post . Its central point that education is so crucial to social change because “socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself” is even more relevant when cybernetics is in use.

Making the cognitive activities, such as learning tasks or computer games, and the internal mental states created, the focus of instruction is certainly a fine way to develop and manipulate such a consciousness. It’s not like we are not drowning in evidence at this point of such broader transformative intentions from every direction. Foundations, local districts, states, federal DoEd (they openly work with MacArthur on Reimagining Education), and internationally via the UN and the OECD. Page 91 of that Connected Learning report even links to ITU’s 2011 Measuring the Information Society report. It is what led me to the UNESCO Sakhalin Declaration I wrote about already.

I can find the M-L roots of what is being pushed now. Talyzina was quite graphic about them. The public sales pitch now though for the same theories and practices is that the shift to digital and networked media (that makes cybernetics so much easier via adaptive software and the visual emphasis) is necessary to protect the life opportunities of “non-dominant youth.” To force “an environment in which opportunity and outcomes are widely shared across the citizenry” as if productive wealth is not in the minds of talented people, but in some pot ready to be rearranged. The constant drumbeat that these shifts are necessary “begins with questions of equity” and “centers on an equity agenda.” If you got a quarter for every time that report mentioned “privileged” youth or families or the “elite”, you could go out for a fine lunch.

That report once again quotes John Dewey making me very glad I laid out in the book why his vision remains so relevant to what is sought today. If we go down this road of cybernetic control over the development of a student’s adult personality (what college and career ready actually tracks back to) and adopt the vision “as progressives have argued for generations, the functions of schooling should be to prepare young people for contributing and participating in social life, which includes economic activity but also civil society, family, and community” where will we be as a nation or world in five or ten years?

Will it make the world a peaceful place? No, we will simply not see the aggression coming until it is too late. Will the public sector workers lying to us now on their intentions and lining their pockets with tax money decide to suddenly act altruistically in the name of the common good and genuine social justice? No again.

Equity and equal opportunity for all strike me as a means to federalize issues of education practice so that change can be required without consent or notice. Through civil rights law edicts. Secondly, it forces a surrender of individual primacy and sovereignty. It takes a citizen as subject to be molded at will approach.

No wonder we just keep running into all these Soviet techniques and theories. They were free to do the preliminary research on cybernetics in education. Guess where it will be continuing now?

Collecting Student Data to Practice PsychoPolitics on a Massive but Invisible Scale without Consent

Consent from legislatures, state boards of education, local school boards, misunderstood charters, or NCLB waivers should not count in countries founded on the principle that governments must respect a zone of privacy around individuals. If that zone exists at all anymore, it should certainly protect against governments collecting student data to ensure compliance with the appropriate psychological development to share visions of political and social transformation. Through all of our discussions of the constant social and emotional learning components to the actual implementation either on this blog, or as my book details, being required by the accreditation agencies overseeing virtually all schools and districts, someone will invariably write to me and say “but that sounds like brainwashing.”

That is the reality but it’s such an off-putting term, conjuring images of adult prisoners in totalitarian countries  being put through physical and mental torture, that it is not a term I have ever wanted to use. An Australian reader though asked me if I had read Eric D. Butler’s work written during the Cold War. I had not, but looking at it was a reminder that the Russians and Chinese had another word for brainwashing activities that actually does fit with the real function of the phrase “continuous improvement of student learning” and all the intended data gathering that goes with the required emphasis on the Whole Child-physical, emotional, social, and spiritual. That phrase is “psychopolitics”–changing political demands and beliefs and the prevailing culture through psychological monitoring, techniques, and practices.

We are not speculating about this either. Remember, for example,  Urie Bronfenbrenner’s work with Leontiev as a graduate exchange student in the early 60s and now the critical importance of the Bronfenbrenner Ecological Systems Theory to the real Common Core classroom implementation? Or to provide yet another timely and global example on January 29, 2014 UNESCO released its vision of what education globally will look like post-2015.

Before you think that will not bind your country remember the accreditation agencies view UNESCO as who they take their marching orders from. So in a country like the US where policy makers want central political power to decide what goes on in every school, public or private, and what every student will come to believe and value (usefully hidden in vague terms like outcomes and standards and competency) without that centralizing being apparent, the accreditation agencies are being increasingly empowered by the states and the federal government to play that central role. Completely unappreciated by the typical parent or taxpayer.

When I rattle off the phrase about “changing values, attitudes, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors” are you ever tempted to start muttering the phrase in a sing songy way because it just keeps recurring? Let’s put it into a particular current context and expressed intention then. Speaking of other constantly recurring phrases, this is from page 177 of that UNESCO report fascinatingly called Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality For All under the heading “Education needs to be part of the solution to global environmental problems.” Please remember that the UN does not use the term environmental problems to mean Do Not Litter. It sees the solution as jettisoning individual choices in favor of state planning using computers and data around the principle of equity within countries and between countries. My bolding for emphasis and personal observations in brackets.

“Education’s vital role in preventing environmental degradation and limiting the causes and effects of climate change has not been sufficiently acknowledged or exploited. By improving knowledge [this is where systems thinking, interdependence, and the constant push on human agency and Albert Bandura’s psychological work all come in. It’s not about facts],  instilling values, fostering beliefs and shifting attitudes, education has considerable power to change lifestyles and behaviours that are harmful for the environment.”

Issued less than two weeks ago, these very real aims for transformation using data and education are so not a theory about some kind of conspiracy over the use of education globally. It’s an open proclamation of intent. And remember the ultimate threat to the environment if you are a central planner is the independent individual making their own choices and some of them doing it with well-stocked creative minds and the able use of logic and reason. Butler, in writing about how much the Fabian Socialists had aided in creating popular perceptions that favored what Communism hoped to achieve, pointed out that:

“All central planners fear individual freedom because no one can predict how the individual will use his freedom. Central planning requires that planners have effective control of all aspects of human activity. The exercising of freedom by the individual is essentially a creative and spiritual activity.”

You get that control invisibly through misunderstood but quite intentional actual definitions of student ‘growth’ and ‘success’ and ‘learning’ and data being collected around students who “demonstrate mastery of competencies aligned to standards.” Uniform standards, where how to get there can vary but the necessity of getting there cannot. That’s what “tight-loose” fidelity of implementation means by the way. What is loose is how a teacher or computer gets the student to change, not the type of change that must occur.

Psychopolitics was defined in the past as the “art and science of asserting and maintaining dominion over the thoughts and loyalties of individuals, officers, bureaus, and masses.” That is precisely what UNESCO has said it intends to use education to do. That is precisely what all the stories of outrage over troubling Common Core curricula seek to do. There’s no real dispute over what is being sought via education or what types of transformation it relates to.

That’s why we have to face it sooner rather than later and appreciate that this is not, in fact, unimaginable. It’s a norm associated with a desire to centralize political power and deprive individuals of their own decision-making power, lest they do or create something unexpected and genuinely innovative. Like critical thinking, the words ‘creativity’ and ‘innovation’ get used disingenuously. They are used to describe what is being sought by these K-12 education reforms precisely to obscure the reality that the real goal is to shut down that very threatening capacity of some individuals.

I am going to end this post with two more examples from history that remind us of how vital standardizing and limiting the mind is in any society seeking to vest final decision-making authority in government officials instead of the people themselves. Eric Butler also points out that Lenin made it very clear that he was most interested in the attack upon the mind. He cites a book, The White Nights, that detailed intimate conversations  between Lenin and Pavlov (of dog experiment fame) in trying to standardize (Butler’s term in something he wrote decades ago) human thought and behavior. Butler also points to a Canadian Royal Commission Report on Communism which discussed The Development of Ideological Motivation and conceded that “There is no doubt that the Communists have studied exhaustively every possible method of attacking the mind.”

Butler also cites the concerns of a Dr Sargent in 1953 addressing the BBC that the Communists were largely concerned with “changing men’s thoughts and beliefs on a mass scale.” Sargent went on to express his belief that “ultimately the fate of the world will depend on the conversion of the masses to one idea of life or another.” Well, we know from the above quote what idea of life UNESCO and other UN entities will be pushing. It ought to concern us too that the part of UNESCO devoted to digital learning remains headquartered in Moscow and that most of that UNESCO work remains untranslated from the Russian language. Free to tap into all that psychology research on changing thoughts and beliefs.

In my book I lay out all the controversial aspects of K-12 education reforms that indisputably track back originally to the Soviet Union. It even includes the very definition of what pedagogy actually is and what the colleges of education have been pushing for at least the last 20 years and in some places far longer than that. It matters that we have been using all that psychological research on how to interfere with how an individual mind perceives reality.

It especially matters that every aspect of education now is aimed at that very level with no means of complaining if anyone does accurately recognize what is really being sought and why. Which is why it is so vital that as many people as possible, as soon as possible, begin to recognize the true aims and deliberately obscuring definitions of all these relevant terms being used.

This need not be the No Way Out situation being deliberately imposed on all of us.

It will, however, take genuine knowledge about the evils people in power will do if there are no effective constraints anymore. And this world of Competency and that’s to be it is all about limiting such genuine knowledge or ability.

Not if I can help it. Just call me the Queen of Unauthorized Knowledge.



Turning All of Us into Piggy Banks or Dependents Who Need Direction and Aid and Desired Dispositions

Following up directly from the presentation discussed in the previous post, do you believe that the “best way to prepare students for the future is to equip them to invent it?” Can we in fact design the future we want if we are just all determined enough? What makes one a good inventor? Passion or knowledge? How well do most group efforts where consensus and majority rules prevail work out in the real world?

How about education designed to “plant the seeds of peace in children’s minds”? Will that work or is the West, especially the US, simply disarming, mentally and emotionally, its young people while real threats still await? Both of those quotes come from Fernando Reimers, the Harvard Ed School professor who used to be an official with the World Bank, whose three dimensions of global competency were explicitly mentioned in that P21 video. If something is being incorporated by reference into classrooms to get at student values, attitudes, and beliefs, and create new dispositions and behaviors, we had best know what it is. Now. Before we have a toxic collective common core in a majority of voters.

If you are reading this outside the US, we now have our explicit link from a European journal of all this to the 2001 Citizenship initiatives in the UK and Australia I first described here . Canadians who have never read the 2012 Shifting Minds report from C21Canada should find it. Global indeed in every sense of the word. Not speculating here and it’s not just an American problem. Even though there are apparently additional gold stars and bounties available for change agents whose theories gain international acceptance. Just ask Pearson’s Michael Barber.

What are we dealing with here then? Well, to quote Reimers we “could call these dimensions the three A’s of globalization: the affective dimension, the action dimension and the academic dimension.” By “affective” Reimers means the “development of character, affect, and values” around a “global common framework of values” such as the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I took the title from my own observation that everyone in the world having a right to a certain standard of living means a global class of administrators redistributing from those with the duty to provide to those waiting to benefit from the goodies. History shows the national leaders will want their cut and no one has an incentive to get off the dole or taxpayer teat. Especially if it is just there. At least until the money dries up completely and then where are we? Gimme anyway? And all this gets administered by bureaucrats from the UN or OECD who want tax-free salaries and benefits that only have a reason to exist as long as dependence and tragic dysfunction remain. Anywhere. More lucrative jobs if misery then spreads.

A Global Problem-solving focus is Not a prescription to get better. In other words, global education around competency and sustainability is actually likely to be unsustainable and make existing problems worse. The power to coerce gets used where it exists even if the students mean well in all these Youth Movements being fostered in the name of:

1. “A positive disposition toward cultural difference and a framework of global values to engage in difference. [I always sensed IB was a stalking horse for something bigger for everyone. Yikes!] This requires a sense of identity and self-esteem but also empathy toward others with different identities [remember here how critical Irina Bokova views the relationship between UNESCO and the new UN initiative–the Alliance of Civilizations]. And interest and understanding of different civilizational streams [with a spin that Bokova and AOC and Reimers approve of] and the ability to see those differences as opportunities for constructive, respectful and peaceful transactions among people. This ethical dimension of global competency includes also a commitment to basic equality and rights of all persons and a disposition to act to uphold those rights.” [cites make it clear this is an economic justice/John Dewey definition of democracy, not a structure of government].

Second is the skill dimension that develops the “motivation to act and the competency to act.” By that Reimers means “addressing personal and collective needs and of achieving sustainable human-environmental interactions” through those internalized Global Values created via the Affective Dimension (I am combining about 3 different sources for Reimers. All are the same vision and written since 2006). Reimers wants students to learn to “live these [Universal Declaration of Human] rights (not just to know them).”

Third is that academic dimension and notice it IS knowledge but it is supplied knowledge and concepts to prompt the desire to act politically. To invent a different future around a collective responsibility for the wellbeing of humanity. “To understand the interconnectedness of the entire globe on a range of issues, environmental, political, demographic, and recognize their importance.” Again Reimers–“global competency encompasses the skills and interest to understand the basic interdependence of human beings and the environment on a planetary scale.” Now that’s a definition that will require a global class of tax paid administrators intent on coordinating and regulating and outright restricting.

Here then is a direct quote of the academic dimension taken from Reimers book by way of the NEA Foundation’s website (to show their support and intent I suppose), ALL students will need “Deep knowledge and understanding of world history, geography, the global dimensions of topics such as health, climate and economics and of the process of globalization itself …and a capacity to think critically and creatively about the complexity of current global challenges.” [aka systems thinking, paging Peter Senge and Bela Banathy].

So to be clear Global Competence also comes in under definitions of what constitutes 21st Century Learning. Even if you are not in a Senge affiliated district or state like Nevada, let’s say you live in the Atlanta area where the large districts of Cobb, Fulton, and Gwinnett have joined the 10 districts piloting Ed Leader 21’s Suburban Consortium that will delight their taxpayers no end as they discover no where to run from the policies and practices that led to the dysfunction of the Atlanta cheating scandal. The DC area is in the same situation as Fairfax County, Arlington City, and Prince Georges and Montgomery Counties in Maryland also close off the escape route. And Charlotte, Greenville, SC, and Miami-Dade to complete the long sought attempt to level academics in the suburbs and shift those home-instilled values and dispositions.

I mentioned proof above of global coordination of all these citizenship and global competency initiatives, here’s the 2007 link . It puts a new reason on why we really needed a single set of national standards in the US. Too many of the states you see had created civics and citizenship standards that focused on developing the dreaded accurate knowledge among young people. And since having the federal government push this formally was just not available, as usual, one of the charitable foundations, Carnegie, picked up the tab and “the National Centre for Learning and Citizenship at the Education Commission of the States convened a series of meetings with civic policymakers and practitioners.” Instead of knowledge, these meetings “encourage policymakers to conceptualize citizenship education as ‘strands’ of civic competency that encompass civic-related knowledge [because direct instills patriotism?], cognitive and participative skills, and civic dispositions.  Equally important, there was agreement that these citizenship competencies are best developed through a coherent sequence of learning experiences that extend from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

Get ’em emotional often and early for many years in other words should make for igniting a reliable  generation of social change agents. Having “primary grade children …discuss the nature of ‘fairness’ and create a better school environment” are the experiences that “provide the civic foundation for middle and high school.” Where they will be primed to attend Youth Forums in Costa Rica to hear Al Gore or the Global Youth Summit next year in China.

That’s how and why all of these earth-shaking mental and psychological changes get instilled in your child or a majority of voters. And the elections in the West gradually get used to mandate a taxpayer-financed fundamental shift.

That UN and education superintendents and university administrators and too many politicians at all levels and every party are determined to give a 21st Century try.

And because they are adults who have spent their careers living off either the public sector’s ability to extract taxes and incur debt. Or live off the tax-free and compounding wealth left by Andrew or John D or Model T Henry or even today’s Bill, Melinda, Eli, and Warren, they are tragically unaware of what will happen when we make the purpose of education–Global Competency or Sustainability or Transformational Outcomes Based Education–turning out the rational, independent lights of most individual minds.

To “instill seeds of peace” in a dangerous world. To create influential guiding beliefs that are false. To mandate “perspectives” because we wish that is how the world worked.

Breaking the individual and collective piggy banks and then where will we be?

Specifying New Education, Economic and Social Models as the Final Act of the Civil Rights Movement

Can you imagine what your teenage and early 20s would have been like if you got a Get Out of Jail Free card for your 15th birthday? And were then told it could be used 5 times or, better yet, unlimited usage. OK, stop dwelling on the mischief that would have ensued or already happened but without punishment this time. Bet you learned your lesson. With that card you wouldn’t have had to.

What I am about to point out is that the Common Core has become the all-purpose excuse that generates access to loads of taxpayer money to implement theories that may have never been tried before. Or tried with a tragic history. Or have been created by political theorists and professors and even Soviet psychologists as we keep seeing to create wholesale noetic personal changes to gain transformative system changes. Shifting away from an ethos grounded in the primacy of individuals and the choices they make to groups and collectivism and enforced responsibilities as the hallmark of citizenship. All at our expense. Created by people who do not have to pay a personal price if this is a disaster and have much to benefit from in terms of promotions, new jobs, or locked in revenue streams for the requisite 4G wireless contract that will go with all those tablets for every student after you hire a former urban school super to be your Head of Sales.

Nothing but cronyism where politically connected individuals meet public money but it’s the name of the game now in this Digital Literacy push. And at the end of all those dollar transfers will be muddled, weakened minds waiting for a visual prompt and life to be one big engaging game. What a disappointment being an adult will likely be. You get the picture. Anything and everything gets a pass if Transformation is the actual or potential goal. It’s a free-for-all of change and mostly under the radar for the average taxpayer or parent. If they do notice something is wrong, they simply get told “This is the new Common Core State Standards Initiative so ALL our students will be college and career ready for the 21st century. This will allow us to be internationally competitive.”

Now that’s not the real story as we know well but it buys time and your dollars while the real moral and ethical and affective orientation instead of knowledge continues apace in our schools and higher ed. Called student-centered learning or individualized learning. With potential wakeup calls like “Student Loan Write-offs hit $3 Billion in first two months of Year” being off most people’s radars.,0,6746534.story . Also likely off your radar screen is the related story of the National Science Foundation doing Neuroscience and Cognitive Science research to see how these new forms of instruction and assessment and classroom practices physically impact the brain. .

Now that’s not quite the wording of that Dear Colleague letter although “how the brain regulates the individual’s biology…and allows organisms to behave in and adapt to changing environments” is awfully close. Especially when we add in NSF’s involvement in the globally transformative in every respect starting at the level of the human mind, Belmont Challenge, or its decision to use education to squelch climate skepticism as part of the USGCRP 2012-2021 initiative. Or the fact that NSF reports to John Holdren whose colleague of many years, Paul Ehrlich, is seeking new kinds of minds that do not fall back easily on rational thought.

I have not mentioned the Axemaker Mind metaphor recently but destroying it is very much part of this ed reform vision plus the accompanying systems transformation for Equity and Equality. Many of you may not know if you use dynamic MRI imaging of a brain that reads phonetically and fluently and compare it with the brain of a teenager or adult of limited literacy you visually see the firing throughout one but not the other. Let’s think about that picture of Korea from space at night with the North in black and the South all lit up. If you are a school or classroom producing brains that still light up like South Korea in five or 10 years, you have not been following the sociocultural model of collective emotional understanding. And it will be physically apparent. The effective classroom at producing new kinds of minds with cyberlearning (also a big NSF initiative) and collaboration and no more lectures may well produce brains that image like North Korea. Some Equity, huh?

Equity and Equality also come into play in the reforming the high school initiatives that are shifting everyone toward what the Soviets called the polytech model (although they did pull out their finest minds and send them to academic boarding schools to retain their abilities). That’s not going to be on your radar either probably even though President Obama did mention P Tech in his State of the Union. Just to point out though that this dramatic overhaul is not really about the Common Core I came up with some links that precede CCSSI. Remember Jeannie Oakes of the Participatory Social Inquiry post? She was involved in this transformation in California before leaving for the Ford Foundation and was kind enough to tie this high school initiative to its real source–John Dewey’s 1915 Democracy and Education and his idea of education by occupations. . SREB has also been on this bandwagon for a long time as the high school vision for ALL students as are other groups.

The Common Core excuse and the College and Career-Ready slogan then mask a whole lot of huge philosophical, politically transformational changes that are mostly unknown. Being implemented without much discussion to avoid the previous controversies or pesky arguments about constitutionality. Especially when you think through a government with police and coercive power collecting and sharing data with vendors on all aspects of students’ developing personalities and interests and attitudes and values. A marketing and political consulting dream come true.

Now that I have pointed out how you get transformative change at the level of the individual student in place without really being seen and also revealed that there will be means of monitoring compliance other than data collection of Student “Growth” (another concept that tracks to Dewey) and those Effective Teacher evals. I want to take the accompanying social, economic, and political vision out of the 21st century or the 1990s. Back to the mid-80s while the Cold War was still simmering if not raging. Because when sociologist Robert Bellah and others wrote the 1985 book Habits of the Heart: Individualism and Commitment in American Life (reissued usefully in 1996) they were describing the communitarian vision for the future we now associate with Amitai Etzioni and that Positive School Climate Executive Order (another off the radar screen initiative). He was describing the workplace vision we have tracked now to Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Otto Scharmer and Shoshana Zuboff’s similar visions of the future of capitalism.

And he too saw education as the key to getting there. Especially for getting there without a popular outcry that might prevent the stealth revolution. Here’s the vision from the 1996 edition (page 286):

“The transformation of our culture and our society would have to happen at a number of levels…Personal transformation among large numbers is essential, and it must not only be a transformation of consciousness but must also involve individual action…out of existing groups and organizations, there would also have to develop a social movement dedicated to the idea of such transformation… If the Civil Rights movement failed fundamentally to transform the position of black people in our society, it was because to do that would have required just the change in our social ecology that we are now discussing. [See now why urban schools had to remain dysfunctional whatever the resulting chaos?] So a movement to transform our social ecology would, among other things, be a successor and fulfillment of the Civil Rights movement.

Finally, such a social movement would lead to changes between our government and our economy. This would not necessarily mean more direct control of the economy, certainly not nationalization [which by the 80s was known to harm revenue to state coffers. The USSR was telling African dictators much the same]. It would mean changing the climate in which business operates so as to encourage new initiatives in economic democracy and social responsibility…”

Sound familiar? Do you have any idea how many publicly employed administrators and professors and degree holders insisting on being called “Doctor” have credentials designed primarily to get this vision into effect?

Lots. And now they have the perfect cover, in their mind, to finally finish the Civil Rights Movement.

Except to get there they are stripping away the veneers that brought modern civilization and the prosperity of the West like the division of labor and contract instead of status. And all we get are the bills and promises and utopian political theories that this time human nature will change.




Will Your Schools Be Used as an Information Age Experiment for Economic Democracy?

That title comes out of a 2004 essay published in Columbia’s Teachers College Record laying out the desired “Pedagogical Praxis” to use computers and other ICT technology in the classroom to reinvigorate John Dewey’s 1915 idea of linking school with society. The idea is that we are living in a technological Postindustrial society that calls for different habits of mind and understandings than in the past.  And let there be no doubt, the author, an AI prof by the name of David W Shaffer, said explicitly that “the approach is psychological” and involves the social and moral development of students. Which really does sound like what the Canadians have acknowledged is the real common core being imposed on global education–new values, attitudes, and beliefs. Another prof we will get to today added changed “mores” to that list as well.

Apparently we all need changed beliefs for the 21st century as Goodwin Liu alluded to when he called for something like CCSSI-the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Which is certainly convenient as yesterday a US federal government commission released a report called “For Each and Every Child” that talked about using CCSSI to get the US K-12 “system” to “distribute opportunity equitably” so there would cease to be “disparities in student outcomes.” Now people are different and long-time readers know I have talked a good bit about what Excellence in education really means. See Mihaly Csiksentmihalyi in tags. No you do not have to pronounce his name. Everyone just calls the prof Csik as it is easier. All joking aside Csik’s view of Excellence aligns perfectly with Shaffer’s view of a psychological moral and social development focus in the classroom to change students from the inside out.

Now conveniently this highly intrusive report that reenvisions the Government-Citizen and federal/state/local roles in so many areas that the ground at Montpelier, Va may have shaken yesterday sees technology and its use in the classroom as the key to gaining Equity and Excellence. You probably should check which tech stocks were up yesterday as vendors rejoiced at such an access to taxpayer coffers. OK. Less sarcasm as we hear the call for “technology systems that support learning.” There will be absolutely no references to BF Skinner and his call for using computers to be Teaching Machines delivering Operant Conditioning to the students to benefit the politically connected’s vision for the future. Ooops. Sorry. I guess it was an unconscious response to seeing that word Learning in that federal report since we know it means changes in values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. It’s almost like there is a theme going here.

Now many of the reports and books pushing ICT in the classroom as the primary emphasis cite back to a 1988 book by a Harvard business prof called In the Age of the Smart Machine: The Future of Work and Power. Such cited support is intended to pave the way for a no questions school ICT implementation mere mortals without a Cambridge pedigree may not question. Unfortunately the systems thinkers at MIT had already, through footnotes, pointed me in Zuboff’s direction. I had her book and knew it aspired to use the new ICT technology and its ability to “informate” as she calls it and not just automate to change the nature of employee-employer work relations. She wants it to move away from hierarchical, managerial relationships in the workplace to collaboration as a “learning community.” So to her ICT is the hoped for avenue to the Democratic Vision in the Workplace and Industrial Democracy and she cites her own work as well as openly socialist labor leaders like Robert Schrank among others.

Which is her privilege but that aspiration for a new society and a new economy rather goes along with her vision for the role of ICT. It goes with the visions of the Equity Commission too given the number of times that report mentioned “levelling the playing field.” It fits with Goodwin Liu’s vision for a social citizenship obligation he wants to see accepted in a new interpretation of the 14th Amendment. So once again the cite to Zuboff merely reenforces our developing sense that the ICT push is not about getting everyone ready for the 21st century. Maybe it’s to get enough people primed to envision a nonhierarchical workplace but that may also not function very well in practice. But how would the typical student know that?

Zuboff tells the stories of numerous plants and companies transitioning away from the world of physical activity to produce products to a computerized production. Now the workers watch a computer screen and many, over time, especially those without a background in the physical production processes, lose touch with the reality those screen images represent. She writes about the disorientation. When I read that passage I immediately reverse engineered the effect on students of the schools pushing virtual reality and gaming and so much use of a computer. Wouldn’t those students likewise come to believe that reality acted much like the simulations they were creating? That the world could be made to behave like the designed models and programs they had been immersed in? Some almost from birth given the ubiquity of screens among the toddler set in the grocery store now.

Isn’t the insistence on using devices and tablets and reflecting popular culture at school just going to prime these students further? Won’t many student have trouble separating real social systems that consist of independent individuals and millions of consumer transactions that are not programs and were never designed from the online models about Society and the Economy and the Ecosystem? Especially since the reformers now want students to spend so much of their school day in virtual worlds too?

That was my concern and then the next step in my pursuit of what is really going on led to a 2009 book–Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America. Now that book is being pushed by some of the biggest names in American education over the last 20 years. It makes no bones about pushing for the fulfillment of Dewey’s dream to use school to change the nature of American society toward economic democracy. It’s as if the entire 20th century nightmare of governments trying to remake human nature and shift the emphasis to the collective that occurred after Dewey wrote his theories never happened. Let’s try again. This time with the magic ICT technology and already industrialized societies instead of agricultural ones.

Do you think that will really make all the difference in likely outcomes? Even if I am alone out on this limb frantically trying to call attention to where the Common Core in the US and education globally is really going? Now Professor James Paul Gee who we met before with his insistence that there really is no such thing as discrete individuals, , is cited in Rethinking Education. The writers are explaining the envisioned push in the classroom for computer gaming that has now become such an unappreciated part of the actual planned Common Core implementation. The idea is that computer “simulation is the key to letting learners explore new situations.” So the computer gets used to let students explore various possibilities for the world of the future. Unfortunately reenforcing beliefs that reality can likewise be redesigned to reflect desired assumptions.

Mentioned among the useful possibilities for video gaming in the classroom is “draw players into roles that may conflict with everyday values and encourage players to notice the gap with their own beliefs.” There are listed war games that will allow the player to “switch sides to take on the perspective of the enemy.” I would assert the enemy is probably not created to reflect reality by people who also push PATHS to PAX SEL programs from our previous post or the Peaceable Classroom. Especially since the purpose of switching sides is to see the “conflict from multiple perspectives.”

Other programs are to involve “local environmental and social issues” where students will be urged to “co-create the world they inhabit.” Market economies and self-policing communities are also mentioned for the virtual world. I will let you guess how realistic the assumptions written into the programs are likely to be. And how many students will really recognize the assumptions factored into what is truly a Designed and Created Social System. That is likely a far cry from the real world the students do have to live in.

Now all this designing and reimagining is about to take us to an MIT prof who seems to function much like the Rosetta Stone for figuring out where all this is going. And we are going back to both Cambridge Cousins and more than one of the graduate programs at both places. And the continued dominance of Systems Thinking. In business and education and apparently, the planners hope, in society itself.

I hate to stop here but our Planning Prof who actually wrote his PhD dissertation in the 50s on John Dewey and his inquiry method is just too important. He came up in too many places we talked about today and deserves his own post.

I feel like humming that tune about being able to see clearly now after rain has come.


Throwing an Invisibility Cloak Over the Classroom to Get to Dewey’s Participatory Social Inquiry

The IHDP report from 2011 laying out the use of education “reforms” all over the world to shift all of us towards Societal Change talks about the need of a “positive vision for the future” to mobilize global society toward a perceived “common good.” And yes it is more along the lines of what Paul Ehrlich will pick than anything you or I would freely choose. Listed motivating possibilities for visions include:

“sustainability technologies (non-fossil fuel automobiles, LED light bulbs, geothermal power), policies (the wide scale introduction of policies to promote renewables, recycling and reuse), new strategies and methods for education that foster understanding and practice for sustainability and equity, or innovative approaches to creating synergy between environmental and economic concerns.”

Boy those do sound familiar, don’t they? Interestingly enough in order to deal with these contemplated “environmental and global change challenges,” schools get called in again– “more inclusive ways of knowing are required to bring together the partial and incomplete perspectives of different actors faced with uncertainty, diversity and change.” The more diverse the group of people who can be brought together to problem solve these “new, emerging and complex issues” the more knowledge, experiences, and values that can go into the consensus developed to impose on everyone.

That would Change the World based on theories first despite uncertain and potentially risky and speculative global or local problems. IHDP seems to grasp that tentativeness and recommends using “emotionally connective forms” of media to get ideas across. I guess that’s because spectacular graphics can trump any uncertainty. Now I have a good idea what is planned for getting to Equity because I have read Jeannie Oakes among others (and getting that diverse group into a classroom may be why most of the no tracking “scholarship” tracks back to her). Oakes laid out precisely how Participatory Social Inquiry in Urban Schools is to work. She points out that “equal terms” education conflicts “deeply with a long history of White supremacy and the fundamental norms and power distribution of democratic capitalism.”

I just want you to appreciate now how Open-Ended Performance Assessments calling for real-life scenarios will come in handy for this Equity agenda. The one that aims to move all of us toward a “democracy in which people of all races and social classes engage “on equal terms” to learn from one another as they make decisions about how to live and work together.”

So if you are in a high poverty school everything wrong gets blamed on capitalism and racism and nothing involves any poor personal behavior. Not a contributing factor at all. More upscale schools should be made to feel guilty about any privilege and there’s always Sustainability and lots of other scenarios to push the need for fundamental changes to everyday behaviors. And with online curricula and online assessments, it will be quite hard to see any of this going on. Perfect way to bring in IB’s Critical Thinking and Barber’s Global Citizenship too. You as parents and taxpayers will not be able to see these changes. Just ask anyone in Texas about the controversies over the C Scope curriculum where school kids were told to draw a flag for an imagined socialist country as a classroom activity. Concerned parents were told the curriculum was private and they had no right to learn what their children were being asked to do or believe in the classroom.

Now I have mentioned that Pearson is involved with the Texas and both Common Core assessments. So the fact  that in 2012 Pearson assessment said all of these assessments were actually assessing 21st Century Skills should interest all of us. They say that the US National Research Council says that’s what college and career readiness means. Which would explain why David Conley’s 2007 report reminded me of the 21st century skills push. It also means that our assessments are really just looking for those listed Life Skills from the last post. That’s a low bar and gives all sorts of flexibility for what can go on in the classroom. But wait, it gets even better. One of the skills that will need to be assessed is collaboration. Which implicates Albert Bandura’s Self-efficacy from the last post. I would snark what are the odds but it was checking for a link among Bandura, Pearson, and the Common Core explicitly that turned up this fascinating report.

Here’s what I found so fascinating especially in light of those IHDP aspirations. Pearson wants open-ended tasks to assess 21st century skills in authentic real-world problem contexts. And these tasks are to be done as a group in order to assess collaboration. And if the tasks were “obvious” or “unambiguous” there would be “few opportunities to observe student negotiation because there is nothing about which to disagree.” Tasks “relying on:

“stimulus materials designed to evoke cognitive conflict (ie, that reflected uncertainty, ambiguity, disorganization, and contradiction) better elicited critical thinking skills than tasks that used stimulus materials that were orderly, well-organized, and coherent.”

You know these quotes really are going to take the fun and comfort out of being told your child is doing well at school and has excellent “higher-order skills.” Instead, she may be stewing in frustration with “ill-structured” problems deliberately created because they:

“have no clearly defined parameters, no clear solution strategies, and either more than one correct solution, or multiple ways of arriving at an acceptable solution.”

Are you like me wondering why no one is being honest that these so-called tests are actually just a means of getting to a Social Interaction classroom centered around Social Justice without saying so? The tasks are deliberately laid out to require “knowledge, information, skills, and strategies that no single individual is likely to possess.” Then Norman Webb of the Depth of Knowledge template Florida and Texas and PARCC and SBAC all admit to using is cited as saying “when ill-structured tasks are used, all group members are more likely to participate actively, even in groups featuring a range of student ability.”

And that’s the whole point beyond using the assessment to drive classroom activities to create a perceived need for Global Transformation–politically, economically, and socially starting at the level of the individual student. “Groups featuring a range of student ability” will limit the top-performers from soaring as they were able to do in the transmission of knowledge classroom. They do not get to keep getting mentally stronger. And the able student’s strengths will mask a great deal of weaknesses. Leaving those students free to focus on the injustice and unfairness of it all.

Back in the late 80s and early 90s when these performance assessments were first proposed they were called alternative measures to boost graduation rates and show student “growth” even though there was very little knowledge and most of the changes were values, attitudes, and beliefs. And the university research center that has always pushed for some alternative to normed-standardized testing in the schools going back decades is CRESST at UCLA. The same UCLA where Jeannie Oakes was an education prof when she wrote the book I quoted from above. CRESST has been getting Gates Foundation funding to help prepare Common Core curricula and assessments. How convenient is that?

In January 2013 CRESST released a report “On the Road to Assessing Deeper Learning” on the status of both SBAC and PARCC. This report though was funded by the Hewlett Foundation. That would be the same Hewlett Foundation that has a Deeper Learning initiative to guide the classroom implementation of the Common Core. The one that says Common Core is not about content but new assessments and curricula and classroom interactions. The same Deeper Learning that is part of that Self-efficacy Equity Framework I mentioned in the last post.

Yet more proof that what is coming to our classrooms everywhere is not what we have been told. Toward the end of the book, Jeannie Oakes mentions:

“we step into utopian realms gingerly, knowing that social movements have the power for good and ill associated with all utopian projects. We are also well aware that some social movement scholars caution that such efforts rarely achieve the virtuous ends they seek. Nevertheless, we believe that, given the current threats to our democracy, these risks are all worth taking.”

Now, that’s mighty presumptuous of her and the other professors and foundations involved in all this. Nobody told us the Common Core was about a Journey to a possible Utopia.