Well the US economy that is. And economies in the developed West in general like the UK, Europe, Australia. Because the yellow brick road behind Michael Barber’s recommendation to NYC to use Cambridge Education and Cambridge’s own activities, and the activities of its owner all take us quite quickly somewhere else. To a world where international bureaucrats and other “policymakers” who somehow claim to magically Know Better live at our expense. They generally work for one or more of the various UN agencies eager to plan and then manage our very existence and make fundamental life-altering decisions FOR us.
Not to worry though about this attempt to move beyond and away from GDP (Gross Domestic Product is what the nation produces economically in products and services) to a holistic growth in our Well-being as the focus. (Planet Under Pressure: New Knowledge Towards Solutions, a March 2012 conference in London)
Now do you feel better about the Gypsy Principals and Gypsy Supers, and whatever it is that the accreditors are actually pushing? Me neither but then I think they have the advantage on us. Not knowing much history or any economics would definitely make you more likely to push these troubling ideas. Especially if there’s a taxpayer funded lucrative job or stream of revenue as a result. But its our country and our money and our future at stake here so it is time for us over the next several posts to examine where They are taking us.
Who is Michael Barber for starters in pinpointing some of our “They”? Well right now he is the Pearson conglomerate’s Chief Education Advisor. At the time he pushed Cambridge in 2007 he was a consultant for McKinsey heading their global public policy practice. He was pushing his ideas on how the world’s best school systems keep getting better except it is tied to the OECD’s practices on education and PISA. Measuring selected and open-ended problem solving competencies as the international standard of education for all seems like a bad idea to me. But I think we were not supposed to read the actual reports or policy briefs. Or the fine print in footnotes. Sir Michael Barber as he seems to prefer being called in the US to bolster his statements is the person who hired Georgia’s State School Super, Kathy Cox, away suddenly after nominations had closed but before her primary back in 2010. That’s how he came onto my radar screen. He was an education advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair when the UK adopted education reform in the late 1990s that has functioned quite differently from its sales pitch.
Barber has been and is quite busy trying to push global policies to obtain the UN’s Millenium Development Goals and its Education for All (EFA) initiative by 2015. Yes we will unfortunately get to know those well. Here’s a link that lays out the UNESCO vision of a “basic quality education is an essential human right.” Barber is presiding over this 2011 meeting. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0019/001905/190537e.pdf
And no I am not a Scrooge. I just know that basic skills in literacy, numeracy, and then life skills is all EFA wants for any student. Anywhere. Plus the desired attitudes and values. That’s the real common core and it is an international attempt to limit what American students can know or do. It is far less about bringing barefoot children in the plains of Africa up or girls in the Middle East than it is about finally shifting American schools away from a focus on knowledge and academics. They do intend to make the world equal in wealth and income even if the attempt impoverishes most of us.
And Cambridge? Well inspecting for the pursuit of that EFA vision seems to be what it is ultimately looking for in its Quality Reviews. But it is also heavily involved with the UN push for a life skills focus for education. You know how I have mentioned vocational and life roles and career pathways as a key component of Transformational OBE? And how other countries are pushing skills development and Qualifications Frameworks as a means of interconnecting education and work in a way that means little new job growth? Like using BBC and government agencies adoption as Proof It Works? Well here is Cambridge Ed from last week heading up the project to bring this vision to India. http://pib.nic.in/newsite/PrintRelease.aspx is the news release. There is Cambridge Education in the 5th paragraph leading the consortium of EU government agencies.
Because none of those countries would have any interest in trying to make India’s dynamic economy less competitive and more stagnant like theirs. Countries NEVER engage in practices of spread our dysfunction. The last player that will make Cambridge’s practice of telling US school teachers and schools and districts they must move away from teacher delivery of facts and content clearer and put it further in context is its parent company. It is owned by a huge British consulting group, Mott MacDonald, that gets its large revenue stream representing various governments around the world and UN agencies and the OECD and the World Bank. Moving to get those Millenium Development Goals in place in time. Changing the nature of the world’s economies to Green Growth. Forgetting to tell the masses that behind the global green economy and Green Growth is No Growth for you or me.
We are supposed to just make up for our greatly diminished prosperity by cultivating better relationships with each other. Yes they really do say that sort of a thing. Explicitly.
I think it makes far more sense to get to the bottom of all this nonsense and pull it out by the roots. Now that we have a better sense of the players and why, next we will look into what they wish for education to make us Believe.