That certainly is a graphic title but this is a declaration filled, how we can use education to change the future and the nature of our economy and political structures, post. Once again I am shocked with what flowed out from a little pondering over known facts. We have talked about community organizer Harry Boyte and his cooperative commonwealth vision before. But that was before we knew the White House Office of Public Engagement formally asked him to help use higher ed to shape the American Commonwealth Partnership, ACP, in 2012. When I looked into that troubling coordination further, I discovered that ACP had been announced at the same January 10, 2012 ceremony where the troubling A Crucible Moment report http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/college-ready-as-a-goal-of-k-12-is-not-helpful-if-first-you-gut-the-historic-purpose-of-college/ was unveiled.
Feeling a bit sick at this point over the implications of so much power and money invisibly directed at virtually ALL of higher ed and K-12, I went back to Harry’s 2004 book Everyday Politics: Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life to see if we were all in as much trouble as I remembered. Boyte shares Uncle Karl’s view of making history instead of accepting the world as it is. He ends the book with these marching orders: “we are at the threshold of history. We stand at the beginning of a world in which free citizens, across boundaries and borders, learn to act together in consciously political ways to create the future.” And it is expressly a future that rejects “individualism and consumerism.”
Boyte goes back to John Dewey to lay out his vision for the future of education and the new workplace. Let’s pick it up to see what our students are to be taught as Essential Learning Outcomes that they will then carry into adult life.
“It is, in short, a mistake to separate ‘work’ from ‘education.’ In the democracy of the future, goods will be made not primarily as a means to private profit, but because of their service to enriched living…Not only the value of the product for those who use it, but the process of production itself will be appraised in terms of its contribution to human welfare.”
Think about that quote in terms of the same standards being appropriate now to get ready for College, Career and Civic Life–the C3 Social Studies Standards. It’s also what we have encountered as distributed capitalism and Capitalism 3.0. Let’s go on to quote what is solely the hugely influential Boyte’s vision how:
“Education should be practiced as a dynamic engagement with the world, its problems, and its work. Education for democracy–education’s highest and most important goal–had self-consciously to cultivate the habits [NOT knowledge] that once were generated through young people’s involvement in the life and work of families and communities.”
Harry knows that the way to get at K-12 is through mandates on colleges and universities. An invisible trickling down from the nature of the ed degrees and college coursework. As he laid out in this 1999 Wingspread Declaration http://www.compact.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/wingspread_declaration.pdf Notice the desire to put that document back into operation in April 2009. What changed? Maybe Race to the Top commencing?
Reading Boyte’s January 2012 plans to reinvent citizenship via our K-12 AND colleges and universities sent me looking at democracyu.wordpress.com. The official website. But as you can see it was a shortlived site and it went inactive back in January just after the 2nd Inaugural. The last post was Boyte’s “Marching Orders from Martin.” As you can see Harry sees his work with the White House and federal DoEd as an example of the kind of changing of social institutions necessary for the Civil Rights Movement to finally obtain its long-sought equality of fact in economic and political relations. Now I had read about Italian communist Antonio Gramsci advocating in the 20s a March through the Institutions to gain control over the West. But Boyte is not talking about a theory for control. He is saying this is finally happening.
I had never heard of Bayard Rustin, the MLK aide who planned the 1963 March on Washington but what Boyte is describing is the exact kind of view of Civil Rights I also encountered here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/morphing-the-common-core-into-a-new-rewritten-us-constitution-by-mandating-false-beliefs/ So I followed Boyte’s link to a Smoking Bazooka of a confessional article from February 1965 “From Protest to Politics: The Future of the Civil Rights Movement.” http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/from-protest-to-politics-the-future-of-the-civil-rights-movement/
That article lays out something I had guessed at for years from attitudes I had picked up on but never thought anyone would have put into words. That the Civil Rights Struggle cannot be over while capitalism remains. That the urban areas of the currently dispossessed will ally with others, especially labor, to become a powerful political coalition. That the civil rights movement can be “an effective vehicle for social reconstruction.” That the previous “protest movement” was turning into a “full-fledged social movement” that is “now concerned not merely with removing the barriers to full opportunity but with achieving the fact of equality.” And that cannot occur said Rustin within the present socio-economic order. Society has an obligation according to Rustin “to meet not only the Negro’s needs, but human needs generally.”
Now those of you that have cruised along with me as we got to know Uncle Karl’s philosophy of the future up close and personal will likely recognize where a belief in such an obligation came from. And Rustin would not disagree but there’s a point later in that article you may miss if you read it that makes the context crystal clear. He writes:
“We need to protest the notion that our integration into American life, so long delayed, must now proceed in an atmosphere of competitive scarcity instead of in the security of abundance that technology makes possible.”
Rustin there is saying that the US has gone through the magical stage of technology which capitalism produces that will make redistribution possible without scarcity. I explained it here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/naming-educators-as-the-levers-shifting-the-human-personality-to-marxs-moral-revolution/ . I just never knew we would link this vision directly to the Civil Rights aspirations of 1965 and 2013. Going on now while the few who are aware of what is going on in education merely ponder federal overreach and the cost of the new assessments. Oh, they have no idea of the extent of the intended overreach. Ruskin knew, and Boyte and the Obama Administration know, what we need to recognize now ourselves:
“It is institutions–social, political, and economic institutions–which are the ultimate molders of collective sentiments. Let these institutions be reconstructed today, and let the ineluctable gradualism of history govern the formation of a new psychology.”
See why social and emotional learning are so important? Even if this Administration has to misread federal disabilities and civil rights laws and impose Positive School Climate Executive Orders? The Whole Child? See why EdLeader 21 districts and Catholic private schools are pushing Daniel Pink’s vacuous A Whole New Mind so hard? Unaware Pink is simply obscuring the same political vision he used in his speech-writing career for Al Gore.
Through “political power,” Ruskin, and Boyte since he cited the essay and President Obama and Arne Duncan we must assume since they hired Boyte, want a “refashioning of our political economy.” That includes “radical programs for full employment, abolition of slums, the reconstruction of our educational system [via the poorly understood Race to the Top?], ” and “new definitions of work and leisure.”
That’s a lot of transformation to be hiding invisibly in education. The one social institution that virtually everyone passes through for an extended period. During the part of their life when their personality and values are the most malleable.
The great tragedy of this vision from 1965 is what we now know. That urban school districts have been willing to engage in systematic mind arson to keep an aggrieved coalition in play. It has taken a long time but this vision is finally fully in motion. And it is the well functioning suburban schools that must be taken down to get to this equality of fact. It is solid colleges and universities being told to make civic engagement and life experience the focus.
The revolution is in full assault mode. Time for all of us to become aware of the precise nature of these supposed “Marching Orders from Martin.”
And Uncle Karl and John Dewey…