Can an Education Degree Authorize Bait and Switch Political Insurrections With No Recourse?

No I am not talking about a car loan. And I am also not picking on teachers. Truthfully we could substitute a psychology, sociology, anthropology, or even a legal degree in the place of the education degree. The very important point to recognize is this: can education credentials empower people to disregard the language of the US Constitution or comparable legal protections in other countries? Because right now all over the world we have colleges and universities creating degree programs that are designed to use educational institutions to change mindsets and values and beliefs and attitudes and feelings of the students passing through. Higher ed and K-12. Soon to be preschool. A long time to be under organized assault with data being gathered on your current personal attributes. All while getting paid with taxpayer funds.

And the reports they are issuing if you know where to look state or cite to quotes like this: “we support the development of a revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.” As taxpayers are we bound to support that agenda as long as the person pursuing it has the right kind of education credentials? Is there really nothing we can do? You can say vote them out of office but many with this desire are tenured profs or appointed bureaucrats. That inflammatory quote came from Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis’ Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life that I have already mentioned in a previous post. So when one of the reports this week from the Gordon Commission on the Future of Assessment in Education cited that book, I knew exactly what economic vision went with their vision of fairness and a just society for all in the 21st century.

The Gordon Commission is largely out of sight since it was set up by Educators Testing Service in Princeton using grants made to them. But out of sight does not mean not influential. Not with the movers and shakers selected for that Commission and their connections to the actual Common Core implementation and education globally. And these reports have an explicit economic and political vision attached to them. And cites to people with notorious philosophies like Michel Foucault. Are we all just screwed because these people are education professors or evaluators or vendors and that means a free pass?

How about if the report on “Technological Implications for Assessment Ecosystems” starts off with a quote from Paulo Freire and his Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Here goes:

“The role of the problem-posing educator is to create, together with the students, the conditions under which knowledge at the level of the doxa is superseded by the true knowledge at the level of the logos. [Freire is interested in shifting away from academic knowledge to everyday practical knowledge like what David Orr called Slow Knowledge]. Whereas banking education [Freire’s term for the transmission of subject-matter knowledge] anesthetizes and inhibits creative power, problem-posing education involves a constant unveiling of reality. [or at least how radical political reformers wish reality to be seen. Think Don Schon’s Generative Metaphor altering daily perceptions] The former [banking education] attempts to maintain the submersion of consciousness; the latter [problem-posing] strives for the emergence of consciousness and critical intervention in reality.”

Now isn’t that just the mentality you want in people developing the tasks and problems used to assess students? Oh, I forgot. The 2 authors, John T Behrens and Kristen E DiCerbo, now work for Pearson. You know the global publishing giant so involved in developing the Common Core curricula and the assessment administrator for Texas’ STAAR as well as both CCSSI consortia, SBAC and PARCC? talks about how Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, Michael Barber, once advised UK citizens that Global Citizenship could replace God and Marx as a guiding value. Is it a conflict yet to be involved with all these assessments and having employees writing alarming reports for the Gordon Commission?

What if the employees also write that assessments are “complex performances parallel to those learners would complete in the real world?” Sure sounds vocational to me. Especially with that report stating we are shifting from the Item Paradigm, which had questions with correct or wrong answers and sought particular information, to the Activity Paradigm. In the Activity Paradigm the assessment is not for particular information but rather an interest in “assessing specific attributes of an individual.” I feel so much better.

Especially after a search of the authors’ names brought me to the website of the Journal of Educational Data Mining. No more need to stress over hypotheticals involving education’s collection of Big Data on students. We appear to be there. How lucrative for Pearson. Is it publicly traded? Can we all cash in on this connected boondoggle? Precisely what data will come from assessments involving “activities” that “request action,” “have features.” “provide attributes, ” and “provide multi-dimensional information”? In other words, it’s not what a student knows but the essence of who they are being assessed while the student is a captive in a K-12 institution.

Seriously no need to worry about the fact that “digital devices of all kinds are typically enabled to collect data in ubliquitous and unobtrusive ways.” After all it was a different Gordon Commission report that pointed out that “Practices of assessment do not so much reflect the nature of the individual as they construct the individual in their terms.” Gulp. Did you understand that aspect of the Common Core? Is that what educational institutions in a free country are empowered to do while lying to the public about the nature of the changes? You may want to take another look at the nature of these performance assessments and Pearson’s confession that they are really assessing 21st century skills. . Behrens and DiCerbo also mention they are assessing 21st century skills.

Which is also a problem. A 2004 book, The Education Gospel: The Economic Power of Schooling, is also popular among the insiders planning the 21st century on our behalf while profiting greatly. The book explains that all educational institutions now are engaged in what it calls the “Occupational Purpose of Schooling.” The College for All, increasing high school graduation rates through gaming or whatever it takes to keep everyone in place to get their diploma, and Equity of Credentials drives we have talked about are creating dangerous expectations in students. A belief that there is a promise that if they stay in school and get the degree, they will find “well-paid jobs with prospects for the future, careers or vocations rather than mere work.”

That implied promise so many are relying is the Education Gospel. It in turn requires what the authors call the Foundational State–the kind of reinvented workplace we have already seen Peter Senge’s Fieldbook and Zuboff’s Support Economy pitch as an intrinsic component of all these ed reforms. The prerogatives of employers and students and parents supposedly just have to be subordinated to the needs of the Foundational State. Which, 1, 2, 3 “requires a very different approach to politics and democracy than we have now. It provides a clear vision of the common good: a society in which human capacities are consistently and equitably developed.” Which is a good summary of Marx’s human development theory. Back for its 21st century run on the Industrialized West via stealth and education and apparently poorly understood assessments.

I will close with a quote from the end of the book where the authors note:

“Perhaps we as a nation cannot develop the politics necessary for the Foundational State. But then we should stop prattling on about “skills of the twenty-first century,” the “common sense” of college for all, and the imperatives of the knowledge society including lifelong learning, because we cannot achieve any positive version of vocationalism without the policies of the Foundational State.”

And I say, amen to that. The Swedes said basically the same thing when they piloted these ed reforms as part of their move to the Welfare State in the 1950s and 60s.  You cannot unlink the actual Common Core implementation from the radical political, social, and economic changes that are essential components. Everyone consistently says so if you know where to look.

I know where to look and have. Already downloaded and hard copied. Can we get enough parents and taxpayers and politicians to listen in time?