Let’s go back in time again to pertinent facts that prominent people do not bother to mention in describing whether they are “pro-Common Core” or “anti-Common Core”. In the 80s, it turns out, most everyone that matters now had a common vision for the “reinvention” of public education and where and how it should be carried out that still controls the actual implementation today. Now it is firmly mandated by federal law that is far better understood with some of these old quotes taken from the the Educational Excellence Network created by the well-known Diana Ravitch and Chester Finn back in 1981.
I thought I had used juicy quotes in my book Credentialed to Destroy explaining the links between the Common Core and competency-based ed now and what were called the Reading and Math Wars in the 90s. Maybe that legacy is why people pretend to be for (or against) something that functions precisely as what they once funded or advocated for. Never pointing out those relevant links. I do think everything gets put into the accurate frame though when someone in charge acknowledges that ‘Curriculum Frameworks’ (someone should have told the Catholic Schools that that term actually was in use long before ‘standards’) are always about “fundamentally new notions of school curriculum” and that the implementation therefore:
“will be complex. They require paradigm shifts in understanding math and science, shifts that basically require a brand-new view of mathematics and science. The good news is that teachers and local educators are responsive to these new views. But full, deep, and complete implementation of them is likely to take at least several years of concerted effort.”
Public controversy over what was usually just thought to be Outcomes-Based Education threw off the full implementation in most places and the real purpose of the Common Core was to get everyone in K-12 education anywhere in the United States (actually the world, but this is a post not another book) on the same page as what was laid out first in the 80s. It appears to me that much of the anti-Common Core organized effort has been coordinated and financed by groups with ties to both the pro-Common Core effort as well as that Educational Excellence Network (EEN) and its vision. The Internet and the computer servers it accesses can be purged, but not all the old books that were written crowing about that new vision. Once the details are laid out, it has not been hard to get copies of enough verifying sources to prove the consistency of the vision to what federal law now requires and what is being pushed as School Choice on President-Elect Trump.
Old books then are almost as good as HG Wells’ Time Machine so let’s consult them in earnest. California was the first state to roll out Curriculum Frameworks and it started with math and science with language arts (what we know as the infamous Whole Language) and history in the following year. Diana Ravitch was co-author of that California History-Social Science Framework while she also served as Director of EEN. Chester Finn left to be an Under Secretary of Ed under Bill Bennett between 1985-1988 (during Project Education Reform: Time for Results) . Here’s a short overview of the shift away from facts and towards what we now call in statutes “higher order thinking skills” and “challenging academic standards” in ESSA that must be assessed annually for ALL students.
“Subsequently, concern about the technical core shifted toward a curriculum that emphasized concepts rather than isolated facts, thinking and the creation of meaning rather than passive knowing, and problem-solving and expression so that knowledge could be used to address meaningful problems. There has been a corresponding shift in instructional strategies away from just direct instruction on a narrow view of issues to a complex set of instructional strategies that promotes inquiry, active learning, group cooperation and social cohesion in a heterogenous classroom.”
That’s the real reason academic tracking had to go away. The Wave Theory has nothing to do with the beach unfortunately and was a means to lay out the phases of state education reforms since 1983. The 1987 California PACE Study found that the needed change in teacher practices and support for the kind of “demanding curriculum” laid out above (Wave 3) needed a new conception of schools and how they would work (Wave 4). Wave 4 then is what now goes by the euphemism School Choice and it presupposes and is designed to accomplish that kind of wholesale transformation of school content and what is to now constitute knowledge.
Here’s the money quote–“Wave IV involves a restructuring of school organization and resources to support fundamental changes in curriculum and instruction. The restructuring typically involves shared decision-making, site-based management, major curriculum reform and a renewed sense of teacher professionalism. But rather than seeing these reforms in isolation, Wave IV involves linking these reforms to changes in the schooling experience for students.” Being an Education Advocate, Insider, or a nominee for the Department of Education who claims to be “Anti-Common Core” and “Pro-School Choice” is to either be deliberately disingenuous or to fail to understand the factual history of these education reforms.
That is not a tear at Ms DeVos and other discussed nominees are even more tainted by these ties to EEN. The same Bradley Foundation that helped finance the book in the last post also financed EEN as well as the 1987 Bradley Commission on History in Schools. Let’s quote from a 1989 book published by EEN as it sounds remarkably similar to the California vision and Wave 3. “To develop judgment and perspective, historical study must often focus upon broad, significant themes and questions, rather than the short-lived memorization of facts without context. In doing so, historical study should provide context for facts and training in critical judgment based upon evidence, including original sources, and should cultivate the perspective arising from a chronological view of the past down to the present day.”
A less convoluted way to say that would be to cultivate a Worldview to guide each student’s future perception and their interpretation of daily experiences. That is what curriculum reforms and learning standards now like the Common Core have in common with what California and the EEN pushed in the 80s with common financing of both EEN and School Choice, then and now. In his 1991 book We Must Take Charge, Chester Finn thanks both the Olin and Bradley Foundations for their support of EEN as well as special shout-outs to both Lamar Alexander and Bill Bennett. Since both of these men would also serve on the Education Policy Committee of EEN in the early 90s with so many others who are well-known School Choice advocates, before EEN closed up shop formally and rolled into the Fordham Institute in 1996, let’s look at that book. I will note first though EEN’s path. Columbia U, then Vanderbilt where Finn was an ed prof, then the Hudson Institute, and now Fordham.
“Conservative’ is another adjective that is an oxymoron when applied to public policy think tanks engaged in advocacy for this transformational view of education. Let’s think of how useful it has been in obscuring this actual agenda to pretend it is conservative or locally-based. In a 1986 paper, “American Schools and the Future of Local Control,” that points out that School Choice will allow per student spending to no longer be tied to property taxes which vary community to community, Finn and his co-author Denis Doyle from yet another think tank, AEI, that likes to cloak its advocacy behind that ‘conservative’ oxymoron, admitted that School Choice was actually ‘radical’ and that local control was an “antiquated doctrine.” Not in today’s rhetoric when the School Choice lobby wants taxpayer money.
In the “New Constitution for American Education” chapter, Finn said in italics that “in the United States in the 1990s the outcome we must concentrate on and gauge our success by is cognitive learning.” In other words, governments at all levels, cloaked by declaring their intentions to be a matter of public policy pursued by think tanks, decided that the internalized functioning of each student’s mind was theirs to dictate, control, and assess. Since that reality would never be sanctioned by informed parents and taxpayers, this actual vision and intention gets obscured by rhetoric about standards, Excellence, School Choice, and a ‘thinking curriculum’. It’s not just the mind being targeted either. Finn reiterated that: “let me say it again, if we are serious about guiding the moral, spiritual, and emotional development of all our children, we cannot limit ourselves to government.”
All institutions and people connected to education must subscribe to the same vision that seeks to build a desired Worldview into Habits of Mind. In reality that is what School Choice has always been about. It’s why homeschoolers will need to take ‘high-quality assessments’ to check for the presence of the desired Worldview and motivating values as a condition of accessing Education Savings Accounts. It is how this contagion that wants to design, monitor, and control human thought itself gets put invisibly in place. Supposedly as an aid to better decision-making. Finn stated that America needed a “universal mastery of a common core is what will hold us together as Americans, equalize our opportunities for happiness and prosperity, and revitalize the nation’s civic, economic, and cultural life.”
In reality, it puts governments at every level in charge of all these areas, using education as a transformation process, for what each student must internalize as the basis and motivation for future action. It turns out that my old books made it crystal clear that ‘public policy’ is just a euphemism for governments assuming control instead of individuals themselves. Market-based public policy then is just another oxymoron cloaking who is now to be in charge and what they intend to do. I wrote Credentialed to Destroy and then started this blog with its prescient title because I wanted to try to make the hidden, but provable, transformation visions visible in time. Transformation is just another euphemism for a revolution. This one is quite nonconsensual and intended to be invisible and permanent at a neurobiological level.
I will close with another Finn/EEN quote that also explains why controlling Worldview is so important. Think of the anti-Common Core/School Choice coordinated manipulation as being about cloaking the reality below the treeline.
“In any real revolution, only the treetops are visible. The roots, trunks, and branches that support them are concealed in the minds and hearts of the populace. This is why revolutions only succeed when a revolutionary spirit invades people’s attitudes and actions…”
That would also explain the Deceit and False Narratives surrounding Social and Emotional Learning Standards, wouldn’t it?