What Happens When the Hidden Goal of Education Is Interrupting Pre-existing Social Stratifications?

What if you were a hungry pioneer in a new town in the middle of nowhere in the 19th century and it was a long, cruel winter? Inexperienced you did not appreciate the danger of eating the seed corn that would be needed if there were to be plants for the following years. So you and your family and maybe other starving townspeople consumed it all to get through the winter. Unaware just how precious it might turn out to be in hindsight. But by then it is gone.

That failure to appreciate the precariousness of how we stay where we are culturally and economically, and the preciousness of what it actually took to get to this point in history, is exactly what I worry about when I read statements about “suspending the contributions of inborn capacities” or the “extent to which people expend great effort.” Jettisoning those important things is supposedly necessary to “adequately interrupt the reproduction of pre-existing social stratification.” And I am once again NOT playing Fish Around for Horrific Quotes to Get People Riled Up About the Common Core. Or C-Scope. Or even those preparing for a new type of capitalism 21st Century Skills.

Initially the quotes I am using are from another one of those Gordon Commission reports I have been writing about in recent posts. This one called “Democracy, Meritocracy and the Uses of Education” is by Aundra Saa Meroe. It helps frame the very dangerous mindsets being created in graduate higher ed programs to credential adults to impose what are actually political or sociology theories on students in K-12 institutions. And soon to be preschool.

I am going to detour for a second to reiterate a point Nobel Economist Friedrich Hayek made in his classic 1944 bestseller The Road to Serfdom. It is something to keep in mind as we explore today and generally in this blog the determination to use educational institutions to transform the prevailing worldviews. In the US and all over the world especially anywhere that ever cherished individual liberty and freedom to create and trade and set rules by private contract. Schools and colleges and universities really are being used to alter individual feelings, values, attitudes, and beliefs to embrace, or at least tolerate or not notice, a radically different political, economic, and social structure than what has ever brought mass prosperity. Hayek with his background in prewar Europe and then among the Fabian social planners in London knew what was, and still is being sought.

“The important point is that the political ideals of a people and its attitude toward authority are as much an effect as the cause of the political institutions under which it lives. This means, among other things, that even a strong tradition of political liberty is no safeguard if the danger is precisely that the new institutions and policies will gradually undermine and destroy that spirit.”   (HT to Don Boudreaux of Cafe Hayek for that timely Quote)

That destruction is absolutely the hidden intent of the Common Core’s actual planned implementation and its new assessments and the Lumina Diploma Qualifications Profile in higher ed and all the social and emotional emphasis coming to the classrooms. To understand why anyone would contemplate such a wholesale attack I want to quote from a part of this report that sets up the anger and actual hatred for what currently exists:

“The history of nascent democracy and nation-building in the United States among voluntary immigrant populations obscures how the broadening horizons for some were in part realized through the brutal eclipses of basic human freedoms, for many others through land seizure, warfare, the persecution and containment of indigenous populations, the enslavement of African people and the subordination of women. These forms of oppression and subjugated labor underlie the advances made in the nation’s formative forays into farming, commerce and industry.”

In this view everything that exists in our 21st Century America is seen as irrevocably tainted by the past and illegitimate. The remedy? “Absent the larger society’s commitment to an equal distribution of resources, academic institutions are held to be central sites for the distribution of resources.” Hence the Equity in Credentials even if they no longer designate meaningful knowledge or skills. Those unfulfillable expectations merely become more fuel for the desired radical transformation. That’s why all these education reforms are always coupled to a Social Citizenship vision in a Welfare State vision. We first saw it here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/.

Meroe then follows up her vision of tainted America with a description of Robert Dahl’s vision for democracy to become “an evolving, progressive social enterprise.” This time “all people must have equal opportunities to realize” their “mutual interests and valued goods.” Of course history has shown that that kind of equality can only exist with an overarching government constantly administering “fairness and justice.” And government involved to that extent will ALWAYS be captured by politically connected rent-seekers wanting favors at our expense. And thus be even less fair or just in the long run. But, hey, let’s not let reality intrude quite yet on all these pie-in-the-sky decrees.

One more pivot to the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard that philanthropist Eli Broad set up in 2008 with a $6 million contribution. Best known in education for his creation of the Broad Prize for Urban School Districts and training administrators in a Superintendents Academy, I am going to use the description of the purpose of the Ed Labs found on the website of the WEB Du Bois Institute at Harvard. It says the project is “devoted to understanding the causes and consequences of inequality in American society. .. The broader objective of the lab is to employ scientific methods–rather than anecdotal or ideological reasoning–to improve public decision making and policy around issues related to inequality in the US.”

Fair enough although with all the behaviorist economists, psychologists, and sociologists involved in the effort you do have to wonder if the “scientific methods” are not BF Skinner’s vision for a science of education using operant conditioning. It sure would fit our known facts and is something to keep an eye on.

Meroe’s report goes on to announce that the “ubiquity of substandard public education among students of lower-SES ethnic minority groups . . . also reveals the malevolence of meritocratic rationalization.” She is on her way to lay the ground work for “mass-scale capacity for cooperative productivity in the workplace” that we have seen before. She advocates for what she calls “these collectivist goals of ‘democratic equality’ and ‘social efficiency’ [that] can conflict with a view of education as a private good for the purposes of education.”

Meroe is not unique in her angst about the urban areas and seeing the solution as Social Citizenship. We saw it with the Building One America conference and the Regional Equity and Metropolitanism movement I have written about. I read Professor Michael Katz’s The Price of Citizenship: Redefining the American Welfare State this week and got treated to yet more of the Social Citizenship as necessary to give our inner cities a remedy for their devastation argument. Likewise, the involvement of a number of the listed Ed Lab contributors with the Russell Sage Foundation led me to the future vision laid out in 1995 in their Poverty, Inequality and the Future of Social Policy: Western States in the New World Order.

So I actually do see where all this is going and it is an unworkable remedy. But I want to go back to the rationales. In particular that the low achievement in the urban districts is a result of “malevolence.” Whose? After all it is the urban districts that readily embraced the Vygotskyian “sociocultural” approaches first. Why? Because as we saw in the goals of the last post and as Leontiev and Bronfenbrenner apparently discussed in the 60s in talking about the Western countries and economies, many decision-makers do not want education theories or practices that preserve or reenforce the prevailing capitalist/individualist systems. They want urban students primed for transformation. This was also why Saul Alinsky’s IAF saw urban schools as great places for community organizing. The Alliance Network in Texas and other states now show it still is viewed that way.

I have written about Professor Michael Cole before. In a chapter to a 1985 book called Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskyian perspectives, Cole writes “In circumstances where we do not want to take the cultural context as given. . . [sociocultural theory] offers a very fruitful framework because of its militant insistence on linking individual and social activity.” So what was a militant linkage in 1985 is now to be the required classroom practices under the definitions of Effective Teaching under the Common Core. Moreover, that physical and social activity approach had toxic effects in urban areas. Especially when normed or even criterion tests are used against suburban schools which still had an academic focus and parents who could remediate at the proverbial kitchen table or hire a tutor.

That’s not malevolence and the resulting gaps in performance are certainly no reason to wreck everything as we are doing. And it’s not like the sociocultural/Soviet emphasis in the Urban schools was a secret. Professor Cole goes on to thank the Carnegie Corporation for the funding to import the psychology theories from “our Soviet colleagues.”

This went longer than I wanted so I will stop. The dysfunction of the inner cities and the achievement gaps have causes that are not being discussed. They have become excuses for wholesale transformation of all our institutions and even us. From the inside-out.

And when we trace backwards we find either false beliefs or political theories with a tragic past. All being pushed by tax free foundations intent on social change and without any willingness to do the cleanup work from the effects of previous theories.

Equality-the chimera that threatens to ruin the futures of anyone without political connections.


5 thoughts on “What Happens When the Hidden Goal of Education Is Interrupting Pre-existing Social Stratifications?

  1. Critical theory, critical thinking, reframing. These ideas used as weapons against our kids in the name of transformation, created by atheist/ communist/socialist/social scientist/ pedegogical academics, frankfurts/fabians, all men of borgeois means with a chip on their shoulder much like their femint counterparts, hellbent on revolution, wishing clandestin harm to fulfill their inner perceived
    deficiancies In a quest for the utopia where they will be the emperor, because when you read their nihlistic distain for humanity and cold will to say, depopulate to what they perceive to be the “right” population, in their writing, and it is not hidden, you robin, find many seeming malevolent proclamations, they assume only their exhaulted few are literate enough to either read or
    understand their papers that they are not afraid to be found out.
    So parents think critical thinking is teaching our kids to trust their gut and get the facts, we know its true intended shrouded meaning to be destruction of childrens faith in their foundations of their family, western history, culture and God.
    All word games.
    Vygotsky the psychological pedagogical posterboy,
    Paolo freire, the Catholic posterboy for cultural marxist infiltration.
    Your essay illustrating just more tunneling in to get to our kids, from every angle, all a corrupt circle of foundations non profits educrats media oligarchs and greedsters supporting the claptrap house of cards that is common core. Malevolent is a perfect word for it. Death by equality.
    Did you read the philly mag mayor nutter hullabaloo, very telling!

  2. Hi Robin,

    Forgive my ramble, from my iphone i cannot scroll back to edit and i realize after seeing my comment the awkward spot where i say” Robin” did not come out right. It was meant as a compliment! You find so much proof right smack in their books and papers telling the truth about the schemers intentions.
    I have to figure out how to scroll back! Thanks Robin
    Great post

    • Thanks Madmommy.

      I am far down in that onion and my used book bill has been quite high in the last 6 weeks or so.

      I apparently have a different definition of deep learning and deep understanding than the Common Core and the Hewlett Foundation. If it’s not so, I go looking for the source in the footnotes. If the timing works I try to find the book or pdf.

      I think you will appreciate the next one a great deal as well.

      Should I get a T-shirt from my kids for Mothers Day that says “Professional Footnote Diver”?

  3. Hey Robin. First let me tell you how much I appreciate the work you are doing. I share your blog on many comment boards so others will become aware of CC. This past weekend I went with my daughter and her family to an Easter Egg hunt. It was a huge event with lots and lots of kids. They had three sections. One for two and three year olds. One for 4 through 6 year olds. And one for all others older kids. Instructions were the youngest would go first, then the 4-6 year olds, followed by the older kids. As the 2 and three year olds were grabbing up their eggs, I turned around to see 4-6 year olds storming onto their section though they weren’t supposed to yet. Other parents started panicing because their older children were missing out as they watched their younger sibling. In a nutshell it was a mess! You have a certain group of kids with plasitc eggs over flowing their baskets (the ones who didn’t follow the instructions given) and all the rest of the kids who had no egss in their basket as they never had a chance to take part (because they followed the rules). When I tried talking to other parents about it, I got the same response from all of them. They said, “Well, it can’t be helped because the kids were so excited!” I looked at each of them and said oh yes it can be helped and in the old days it was when parents acted like partents! It never would have happened if the parents had control over their children. They all had this blank look as they said, “oh yeah, you’re right”. My point of telling you this Robin is so many people already are so clueless, I’m afraid all these changes to the curriculum will not alarm them. Too many generations already brain washed.

    • Great story Carol and thanks for recommending the blog to others.

      This is Round 3. The first was in the 60s with the passage of ESEA in 1965. It did not go as planned but it really did halt the quality of what was available for the top students. In retrospect I remember the Chair of the high school English Dept telling me to go to the book room and take some of the classic grammar readers home. That they were being shipped out and would be burned. She was heartsick. I still have them. That would have been about 74.

      The 90s version before it was broken up really worked the same as what is being sought this time. It just never got the sought alternative assessments. It has left a large number of now college students and 20-somethings that are VERY weak readers. One child away at college was telling me that students are mystified why they have so much trouble with digital textbooks and assignments vs hard copy. As you might imagine she knows from me they must be visual rather than phonetic readers.

      My point is I am describing the end game in education and all the economic, social, and political changes being sought. But as you have found so many young adults have already been greatly influenced. And so many are getting college and graduate degrees hoping each one is the magic credential to earn the salary they want. But the knowledge and skills are not there to add value to an employer who has to cover costs from available revenue.

      AND the other aspect is so many adults really want their kids to like them. I find the good friends aspect gets in the way of being the guide and enforcer the kids actually need.

      I occasionally will get moms who know what I do, kind of, and who have the attitude they just do not see it that way. Except they know nothing on the subject. It’s a bit weird when someone thinks we are peers because we are both moms. I just smile and come home and get back to work.

      I think all the years of practicing law made it crucial for me to have to look ugliness in the face and deal with it and the likely consequences. If that’s not your training or disposition, it is hard to do because you no longer have the fallback of believing everything will work out fine. Everything will continue as it always has.

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