Authoritarian FantasyLand: A Place With Required Habits of Mind but Disdain for Facts

Back from my jaunt this week to Orange County, California to talk about all the things coming into K-12 classrooms under the cloaking banner of the Common Core. Since I was taking notes on Monday night and the pro-CC side zealously conceded a great deal in their prepared presentations, I thought we would talk about what was admitted upfront and what the implications are for all of us. It is safe to say that California is further along than many states so this will fit with what is or will soon be going on everywhere. If authoritarian seems awfully strong, it is partly a reaction to the number of speakers who insisted that the Common Core was now “the law” and there was thus no reason for further discussion. Now no one actually uttered the phrase “resistance is futile” or “submission is mandatory,” but that was the drift of the arguments.

Gone is any concept that the United States is a country conceived on a premise that the individual is ultimately so sacrosanct that even a king needs to ask permission to cross his threshold. No, if a school board, legislature, or city or regional council adopts a law or enacts a regulation, apparently obedience is now mandatory without further discussion. That crucial shift is one reason the authoritarian description seems apt. The other is the number of times I heard speakers, especially one who was a former California 4th District PTA President and a current Huntington Beach school board member utter phrases in support of the Common Core like “its purpose is to create habits of mind” and dictate “concepts to be absorbed” by the student. Another speaker spoke of “internalizing” knowledge.

All of those references, whether the speakers know this or not, are to what Soviet psychologist Piotr Galperin called theoretical instruction to guide future behavior. We covered it here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/transcending-the-individual-mind-as-the-analytical-unit-of-learning-while-still-guiding-how-we-will-act/ . My dictionary defines authoritarian as “unquestioning obedience to authority rather than individual freedom of judgment and action.” Now let’s face it, if concepts have been implanted in student’s psyche at an unconscious level, which all these speakers are admitting and I have been warning about, there’s not even any opportunity to question. Is there anybody out there that denies our definition is being more than met with these openly declared intentions?

One of the Board members read two passages from my book. One is that we are looking at the “Marxist theory of education.” I suppose he was trying to paint me as some kind of 21st Century McCarthy threatening to name names. As the book lays out in detail, Uncle Karl wanted education to be all about controlling consciousness. Let’s face it, the pro-CC speakers themselves admitted that aim several times. If educational theorists and professors use the M word among themselves for what they advocate, we get to use the term as well. That’s me–factual, not raving. The 2nd quote had to do with the assertion in the book that Common Core actually wants to limit knowledge. I explained quickly about how a concept-based education worked, but I have a better example to actually quote now that I am home with access to all my materials.

The term “rigor” and “cognitively demanding” both got used a lot as reasons for the shift to the Common Core. No one mentioned though that the purpose of this kind of classroom work was to foster a “tolerance for ambiguity” in the student. More psyche in the classroom crosshairs then. I mentioned in my testimony that to work the problem MUST be ambiguous, be previously untaught, or have no single correct answer.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/oct08/vol66/num02/Rigor-Redefined.aspx is a 2008 article by Harvard prof Tony Wagner elaborating just that–“a complex, multi-step problem that is different from any they’ve seen in the past.”

The pro-side did not care for my pointing out that when they stated that CC were “learning standards” they were saying it was about “social and emotional changes in the student” and “goals” for changing a student’s values, attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors.  That came out on rebuttal even though our former PTA President and Board member had cited “engaging experiences” as one of her reasons to support the CC transformation of the classroom. What precisely does she believe the “experiences” are getting at? Plus, I now have access to the standard definition of ‘rigor’ which is “the goal of helping all students develop the capacity to understand content that is complex, ambiguous, provocative, and personally or emotionally challenging.” I took that from an SREB powerpoint, but plenty of school districts use that quoted definition verbatim too.

Another reason cited in support of CC was it “promotes Equity.” As we say in the South “Yeehaw.” Dissimilar treatment of students in order to get them to the same outcomes is not likely to be a popular selling point, at least until we get a generation trained with those Anti-bias Standards from the last post. So we get Equity imposed invisibly by Supers and Civil Rights edicts and local city councils. Alarmingly, Brookings’ Metropolitanism guru, Bruce Katz (see tags)  announced this week http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2014/10/22-metro-growth-uk-us-katz  that  “it’s time we rewrote our own federalist contract [that would be the US Constitution] and realign power and responsibility for the modern era in which cities and metropolitan areas, rather than nations and states, drive economies and progress.”

Right into a ditch in all likelihood, but this is the political vision all these education reforms embodied in the full CC implementation are relying on as the future they are preparing our students for. In that link, you will find a link to a UK report that makes it clear that geography is being used to disguise the shift to the needs-based, economic justice vision that Uncle Karl lusted about achieving at some point in the future. As the report said “the scale of metros means they are best placed to drive the strategic integration of public services and economic development.”

That’s the vision for Manchester in the UK and the greater LA area, my neck of the woods in Georgia, and everywhere else as well. Everything I have read suggests a Folly of monumental proportions is planned, but it will be quite lucrative for a while to those connected vendors who form public-private partnerships to receive taxpayer money for meeting ‘needs’ like housing, education, or healthcare.

I want to close this discussion with a Keynote Address noted Change Agent Shirley McCune gave back in 1981 called “The Future of Educational Equity.” She saw “struggles for equity” as the “whole rationale for the formation of the United States” which tells us what can happen when we let graduate degrees in social work dictate how we educate our kids. What I found fascinating since I had always seen the Reagan Block Grants to state and local governments as a ‘conservative’ shift was how A-OK she was with this plan. So someone who wanted to see comparable economic and social outcomes among groups and “groups of people represented throughout society in proportion to their representation in the population” viewed state and local governments as the place to achieve that.

Something to think about as commentators assume that the Common Core is an acceptable dictate if a local school board requires it. That the only problem with the Common Core is the federal fingerprints all over it from Arne Duncan’s actions. Really? Authoritarianism that goes so far as to dictate personality traits at an unconscious level to drive future behavior is not a problem now as long as it is not federal authorities mandating it? McCune believed that the “only way that persons would be willing to ‘buy equity concerns’ is if it is demonstrated that it is an innate part of quality education.” That of course is precisely what embedding Racial Equity Outcomes in coursework or those Anti-Bias Framework do.

It’s McCune and others view of how to use a misleading term like quality education for “building a new consensus on equity.” She also viewed quality education for equity as about equipping students with the “highest level basic verbal and mathematical skills consistent with their individual ability.” The only way to read that language is that slower students will get a variety of ways to show their skills, but able students still cannot go beyond basic. They can just go faster through the basics.

Just as we are seeing with all the current emphasis on Career Pathways, where California is one of the lead pilots http://www.clasp.org/resources-and-publications/files/aqcp-framework-version-1-0/AQCP-Framework.pdf McCune’s plan for equity relied on ALL students now receiving a combined academic and vocational education where everyone would obtain “the skills and attitudes necessary for working cooperatively with both the same sex and opposite sex in the paid workforce and in the home.”

Finally McCune’s version of quality education “would equip students with the flexibility and self-confidence that would enable them to cope with the rapidly changing society through continuing adult learning and growth.” Doesn’t that sound just like what the Common Core is touting as having a Growth Mindset? Everything old is new again apparently until total transformation is finally achieved.

Apparently the products of a “quality education” grounded in ‘rigor’ will not object to the fundamental rewrite of our “federalist contract” and in the mean time, governments at all levels seem to be pursuing this Equity vision without any genuine disclosure or consent. Leaving it to the lady who reads too much and has for a very long time to lay it all out.

Hopefully Just In Time as the slogan goes.

Pivoting from the Joy of the US Bicentennial to the Planetary Bargain Dictate: Yet Another Lost Invite So Long Ago

One of the ways to cope with these very real assertions of wholesale, non-consensual authoritarian change led by people who really do quote Mao Tse-tung for inspiration is to go back in time. To appreciate the same institutions, people, and funding sources were pushing comparable ideas decades ago. Explicitly using education to get there. It’s a holiday week in the US when we celebrate our Declaration of Independence so I thought it was a good time to revisit what was clearly mischief in Philadelphia in 1976. Called the Interdependence Assemblies, we don’t have to speculate about the intentions. Harlan Cleveland, then the head of the same Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, pushing the Racial Equity Theory of Change now, digital learning, and a new kind of mindset and view of knowledge, wrote the report.

Before I explain what The Third Try at World Order: American Self-Renewal in an Interdependent World laid out, let’s see what helpful piece of advice Harlan wanted to impart from the mass-murdering Mao.  It was in the context of starting to “understand interdependence not by theorizing about it, but by getting on with it.” In a 21st century determined now to make education about activity instead of mental knowledge, it is always good to double check the actual sources of the vision. Here Mao is quoted as saying: “If you want to know the taste of the pear, you must change it by eating it yourself.”

I may never knowingly eat a pear again. Harlan followed that quote with his desire for “the emergence of a new American worldview” through “five parallel and simultaneous shifts in very basic assumptions and attitudes.” Isn’t it useful that 4 years later Jimmy Carter federalized US education with its own agency? So much easier to get this desired shift of perspectives via (1) the discovery of ecology, (2) the nature of power, (3) the double imperative of fairness, (4) doubts about the ‘Western Model’, and (5) a New Style of Leadership. The last one proclaimed by the way that a “collegial, consultative mode of behavior” would now be mandatory.

Before I talk further about this vision that we are seeing today in this omnipresent language about “participatory governance” and “deliberate democracy” and a Principle of Affected Interests that gives rights of decision-making to every supposedly affected group, I want to remind you of an old post that really does directly link that 1976 report to the actual Common Core implementation vision. Plus the remake of higher ed around  democracy. I first explained who Harry Boyte was here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/viewing-education-as-the-prime-lever-for-international-social-change-community-organizing-everywhere/ Harry now has a tag because of his work for the Obama Administration involving remaking the nature of college, but here is also a link to his current plans for K-12 as well and the nature of citizenship generally. http://civicstudies.org/author/harry-boyte/

In the book I explain that Harlan Cleveland announced that in 1986 he began working to transition the US and the USSR to a successor economic system to both capitalism or communism. Details are in the book using Harlan’s own words and why it matters so much. In Boyte’s book described in that post above he mentioned working with Harlan at that same time while both were in Minnesota. Almost all these books I am reading with this new governance vision cite Harry Boyte and Benjamin Barber and his Strong Democracy  Civil Society vision.

That’s why it matters that Benjamin Barber now wants mayors and cities to be the centers of political power in 21st century America. It’s the place to force collectivism and economic justice invisibly. I am going to have more to say on that in the future, but there are in fact plenty of links between what is engulfing us today whether enough people recognize the commonalities or not, and what Harlan Cleveland, the Club of Rome, the Aspen Institute, and the Convocation of UN Leaders he wrote that report for wanted back in 1976.

Harlan saw the Declaration of Interdependence adopted in Philadelphia that most of us have never heard of as the “instrument” of a new planned adventure in “world order politics” that would be based on the primacy of human needs. It would supposedly become a means of “American self-renewal–that is, to get our tail ship back on a course that has history with it, not against it.” I think this vision was actually designed to hobble America, suck away its exceptionalism, destroy its prosperity, and to do much of this destructive work through education. I think outcomes-based education as I explain in the book was to fulfill this toxic vision of altering perspectives and attitudes and values in fundamental ways, and that the actual Common Core implementation is the end game of this same vision.

When you are watching fireworks this week, listening to a rousing Sousa march, chanting “USA. USA” to the US soccer team in World Cup action, or even putting on that tacky Red, White, and Blue swimsuit you only wear once a year, remember there is nothing accidental about the shifts of the last 40 years. The attacks have been cultural and stealthy and at the level of the human mind and personality, but they most definitely are not theoretical or fanciful or the product of an overactive imagination. Harlan pitched into his Mao quote by using the Webster’s dictionary definition of an attitude as a “state of readiness to act…that may be activated by an appropriate stimulus into significant or meaningful behavior.”

Guess who intended to provide the appropriate stimulus? Still do. Harlan went on to say that “we might look for clues to future American behavior in attitudes that are already in transition.” Yes, indeed and to all those who agonize over what is being sought via education to create economic, social, and political change, just watch Americans celebrate on Friday. The way back is to acknowledge what is dear and that it has been under assault. Deliberate attacks through our institutions cannot survive well yet except in the shadows.

That’s why it’s up to each of us to drag these intentions into the sunlight of public scrutiny. If your child or grandchild or employee never learned why America is exceptional and has been the indispensable player in the world, teach them. If the community organizers insist on a different view of civics education and want to enshrine it into new federally mandated workforce training they provide, tell every politician you see this week at a parade or barbeque that it’s not OK. To actually read that 812 page Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act.

The third try at world order was to be based on the same “growing awareness of the interdependence of peoples, problems, and policies” that is the focus today. If only Americans would adopt “changes in attitudes and institutions at home” and fashion “new cooperative attitudes” abroad, the world could supposedly become a “community.”

Wasn’t true in 1976 during the height of the Cold war when this was a highly dangerous prescription. It’s not true now when this same philosophy appears to be the new basis for the US foreign policy in a very dangerous world. We keep encountering a determination to use education to guide perception about the way the world and the future might be, instead of a factual recognition of reality.

Let this post be a clarion call to enjoy loved ones and friends this week, but do it while recognizing that the way of life we are celebrating and taking for granted has been under continuous assault. Those attacks are scheduled to reach a fever pitch in the next few years with the intention that no one would appreciate the linkages in time.

That isn’t going to happen anymore. Let’s celebrate that epiphany and start our way back.

Together. Collectivism is not always bad as long as it recognizes that renewal can only come from the individual. It can never simply be on his or her behalf.

Silently and Seismically Shifting Sovereignty Away from the Individual

Unconstitutional earthquakes no one would willingly submit to can be hard to prove. Words like governance or mandatory collective decision-making or public goods get thrown about where the implication of a seismic shift is there, but that is rarely good enough to lay out convincingly on a blog that we are at great, demonstrable risk. If all of the actual Common Core implementation, and the digital learning essential component that runs in tandem with it, are actually designed to “give birth to the new systems and structures through which ordinary people are taking responsibility for their own and their community’s futures,” we have every right to have that included in the upfront public explanation of what is really going on. Especially in a world where Human Rights are now quietly touted as involving Economic Justice based on Racial Equity Outcomes.

That makes who has authority to seize, plan, and redirect people and property of vital importance going forward. As we discussed in the last post, crucial to these shifts is a new theory being pushed by the White House and charitable foundations called Deliberative Democracy. Like Sherlock Holmes fixating on a dog that did not bark, the lawyer and historian in me could just smell the fundamental shift in quotes like this one from the 2005 Deliberate Democracy Handbook (my bolding):

“By stipulating fair procedures of public reasoning that are, in principle, open to everyone, the outcomes of a deliberative procedure will be seen as legitimate because they are the result of a process that is inclusive, voluntary, reasoned, and equal…Deliberative democracy takes seriously the idea that the exercise of collective political authority must be capable of being justified to all those who will be bound by it. To fail to accept this idea is to fail to take the freedom and equality of persons equally.”

Do tell. So like Fulton County’s Conversion School District Charter, the idea is to use contractual language or laws or regulations to invisibly and nonconsensually bind anyone who might complain or resist once they become aware of this seismic shift in where sovereignty over the citizen and student lies in the 21st century. This turns out to be a global pursuit, but the US has a federal Constitution intended to prevent just this sort of public sector power grab. That would explain the desire to bring this in invisibly via education and regional governance compacts and mission statements and vision reports about metro areas.

In case anyone believes that I have an overactive imagination or am reading intentions into perfectly innocent and well-intentioned statements cooperation, here are three links to get your attention that this is a real problem that we were never to recognize in time. The first is The Deliberate Democracy in the Classroom Toolkit created to be compliant with the Common Core classroom and a new vision for what citizenship involves in 21st century America, including new kinds of dispositions. http://cdd.stanford.edu/toolkit/cdd-complete-toolkit.pdf The Toolkit has an interesting view of the relevant facts and obligations and once again PBS has prepared a curriculum called By the People, much as it did for that related transformational curriculum for the Common Core involving Facing History and Ourselves we covered in our recent Human Rights Trilogy.

Now just think about how handy that Toolkit and mandates about a Discourse Classroom involving considering respectfully the perspectives of all others as equally valid and schools Fostering Communities of Learners who come to agreement on a shared understanding will be to this goal:

“[learning democracy] centers share a common goal of lifting the voices and mobilizing the creative energies of diverse community members to improve the quality of life across all sectors and in all its dimensions.”

To those of you who have read the book John Dewey’s concept of ‘participatory democracy’ as the means to force economic justice is indeed alive and well and so is his favorite tool of forcing the seismic shift nonconsensually through the schools. The second point also aligns with the book’s disclosures and what the 1966 Yearbook described as intended for metro regions and urban areas and then what Turchenko described in 1976 in that Soviet report that was so quickly translated into English. Bruce Katz, who we first met here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/protected-producers-vs-paying-consumerstaxpayerswho-will-prevail-on-education-and-the-economy/ wrote a 2013 book called The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros Are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy.

The book was published under the “auspices of the Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation.” That matters because the Rockefeller charities are clearly pushing the Deliberative Democracy concept hard according to searches I did over the weekend. That’s actually what turned up the Toolkit since By the People was created with funding from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as it repeatedly states. Someone is pleased with their efforts and is insistent on saying so.

I am going to resist the temptation to explain to Bruce Katz that economies cannot be built based on federal grants to create manufacturing institutes around clean energy or voters in LA and Denver voting massive sales tax increases around transit projects. Those are transfers involving bureaucrats spending OPM-Other People’s Money. Zero sum is the best case scenario.

Economic illiteracy, like the results of mind arson to get citizens compliant with Deliberate Democracy, matters though to the consequences of public spending. It is very easy to get lots of debt and unmeetable expectations for the future in the public sector-led reimaginings of the way the world should work going forward. That’s why it is so dangerous for Katz to be calling for “another historic shift in federalism.” He wants the “dual sovereigns” of the states and the federal government to be forced to share power with “their subjects, cities and metropolitan areas.”

Sometimes only a $100 word will do. That Usurpation by Fiat of sovereignty away from the individual in the US system, and then insisting sovereignty that is not supposed to exist in fact now be shared with nebulous regional authorities coordinating around Vision Statements, is absolutely Stealth Authoritarianism. It is the politically connected coercing everyone else to go along. How’s this for an open declaration of radical reshaping? This economic vision will amount to waste, but the hoped-for shift to governance of the individual is intended to survive apparently.

“We are trying to advance a theory of federalism that asks how federal and state sovereigns, and other partners and networks in governance, should interact to coproduce the economy. The metropolitan revolution is, at its core, an economic revolution…”

I’ll say. The next page says that “private and public sectors will coproduce the public good.” That’s highly doubtful, but it sure makes a good rationale for an unconstitutional usurpation of authority over people and property. I guess we can now think of what we know, own, or can do as merely in our temporary custody. Subject to seizure by the public sector and its cronies in an economic power grab that’s not that different from the serf forced to work land because it benefits the noble landholder.

Point 3 relates to that Open Data initiative that was President Obama’s first act on taking office in 2009. We have already seen it used as part of the FuturICT Big Data vision that was troublingly outlined here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/science-fiction-made-real-were-we-ever-to-know-in-time/ When I located this Core Principles for Public Engagement report from 2009 http://ncdd.org/rc/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/PEPfinal-expanded.pdf it made it clear that what I had seen as about data was actually part of an organized redirection of the public and private sectors to begin to collaborate over governance.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/assets/memoranda_fy2009/m09-12.pdf is the actual memo. Hard to believe that the Administration that has supposedly lost incriminating IRS e-mails after they were subpoenaed actually meant to become Transparent, but that National Center for Dialogue & Deliberation makes it quite clear that this vision of public participation and collaboration is very crucial to that openly declared intention of fundamental transformation.

The better to bind us by and invisibly shift sovereignty going forward apparently. This is a good breaking point before I launch into explaining how the mindset perfectly suited for Deliberative Democracy per that Handbook is also the precise Mindset and malleable Worldview that the Common Core and digital learning state that they want to create.

Plus I do not think it’s coincidental that the name of the new Aspen Center report on digital learning and the new kind of mindset needed–“Learner at the Center of a Networked World” uses one of Bruce Katz’s favorite expressions for his desired metro-led economy of the 21st century–the ‘networked world’.

We are so far beyond having to infer any more from a Dog that Did Not Bark in our investigations of what is really going on in education.

And what is intended for most of us. Stealth Usurpation. What a phrase.