Didn’t the President Just Admit CCSSI was a Ruse to Change Classroom Interactions?

CCSSI is the Common Core State Standards Initiative. Nominally state-led and thus constitutional, CCSSI is an initiative pushed and embraced by the Obama Administration to supposedly create consistent areas of content knowledge for students that will no longer vary from state to state. That’s the rhetoric and political story being sold to parents and taxpayers and school boards and legislators and members of Congress. About 45 states and the District of Columbia have officially adopted CCSSI. Generally to get and keep federal funds. In my previous post I pointed out that the Hewlett Foundation had acknowledged that CCSSI was really just an excuse to alter classroom assessments, curriculum, and forms of instruction and classroom interaction. Hewlett, of course, as a major education funder, gets invited to meetings not open to mere taxpayers. We will have to take their word for it but it does fit with the known facts we have systematically uncovered.

Long-time readers of this blog know I have been showing all summer how the real implementation coming to a classroom near you looks much different and is dominated by practices intentionally engaging feelings and emotions. Plus policies attempting to alter student values, attitudes, and beliefs. Especially with respect to shifting to a non-fossil fuel new planned economy around Sustainability and altering the traditional respect for the legitimacy of the individual in Western thought. The Common Core implementation we have tracked is full of the communitarian ethos that the individual submit to the consensus of the group and its beliefs about the Common Good.

I created this blog to try to get that vitally important information widely disseminated in time since the implementation begins this school year. That’s 3 weeks ago in some districts. Last week President Obama gave a speech at a Nevada high school where he seemed to say that federal officials led the common-standards fight. He appeared to want to take credit for it. Now that would create Constitutional problems if true so an Ed Week reporter, Catherine Gewertz, swooped in to apparently try to put the President’s statements in a less troubling context. So she wrote a story called “Common Standards: Blaming and Bragging in Presidential Campaign” and made the issue of the federal involvement far worse. Her extended quote tied President Obama far more tightly to the altered consciousness form of education reform than she ever dreamed she was doing when she went for the save. Here’s why.

What President Obama actually said was this:

“almost every state has now agreed to raise standards for teaching and learning–and that’s the first time it’s happened in a generation.”

Now Catherine Gewertz takes that phrase I bolded “standards for learning and teaching” and immediately treats it multiple times as synonymous with the “common-standards” and the “common-standards” movement. I think that is true. But the “common-standards” she and President Obama are talking about is not CCSSI. You see “standards for teaching and learning” is what we lawyers call a term of art. It has a precise meaning.  Moreover, it is a precise meaning that was created in Chicago about the time of the President’s reference to “in a generation.” It was created to be a national template for change. And President Obama is linked to its creation via its primary funder, the Joyce Foundation, where he served on the Board from 1994 to 2002. He is also linked through leading the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, another listed funder.

And no I am not going off some List of Contributors and jumping to conclusions because of the time periods involved and Board membership. You see when I was following up on the curriculum and instructional practices used at a paradigm shifting California high school supposedly redesigned for the 21st Century, I noticed first that the announced School Profile looked just like the IB Learner Profile except it wasn’t an IB school. So IB clearly fit into a broader education template. Then the school itself said they wanted all faculty to adhere to the curriculum and instructional practices laid out in a particular cited book, Best Practice: New Standards for Teaching and Learning in America’s Schools. The school cited the Second Edition published in 1998 so that is the one I tracked down used. As an aside to show its continuing relevance for what is coming to your schools and classrooms, I noticed that the Fourth Edition came out in February 2012.

There in the Preface is the whole history of “Best Practice” (and the “generous grant” from Joyce) and how it is a means of altering the nature of the curriculum and the types of instruction. What the book calls the “day-to-day teaching and learning” that needed to change “key classroom activities and practices that embody a new paradigm.” What the book calls Best Practice or “standards for teaching an learning” was supposed to create “the strongest and most enduring school renewal in this century.” If that sounds like it harkens back to John Dewey’s vision, it does.

“What is recommended across all subjects can only be called a neo-progressive transformation virtually all the authoritative voices in each field are calling for schools that are student-centered, active, experiential, democratic, collaborative, and yet rigorous and challenging.

Those listed classroom Criteria are basically the “common-standards” movement. Which is why companies like Cambridge Education build their revenue stream around pushing this vision in the classroom in unlucky cutting edge Best Practice districts like Charlotte-Meck and now Fulton County in Georgia as we discussed in this post http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/you-mean-i-cant-teach-because-the-economy-should-not-grow/ . The book proceeds to lay out the reading practices now known as Whole Language which created the Reading Wars in the 90s and the math practices and policies that would ignite the Math Wars. Which were erroneously treated by most parents as distinct, unrelated controversies. As the 2nd edition, the book even complains about how the “conservative” California governor and “his appointed school board” had “recently eviscerated” the state’s innovative Best Practices math curriculum to “return to computation-based, skill-and-drill mathematics curriculum.”

Oh My. The horrors. So what we are implementing in the name of the Common Core is actually what was so controversial in the past except this time the new methods to measure “progress” were funded first. Plus as we saw in the previous post, Critical Race Theory (by name)  is now being explicitly directed into the mandated classroom dialogues so we can expressly create Social Change Agents in the classroom. The deliberate cultivation of feelings and emotions completely saturates Best Practice precisely because that level of unconscious engagement is more lasting and memorable and altering.

But no where for federal government officials to be. Or any elected official or bureaucrat or district super or principal. Not even an elected President. Or a caring Teacher unless the reasons for such emotionally intrusive and manipulative interventions are widely known and agreed to.

President Obama’s advisors may have come into office infamously declaring they were “ready to rule.” But we are not subjects yet and this level of federal intrusion into the psyche should be Out of Bounds.

Self-efficacy, Cultural Proficiency Training, Critical Reflection, and Change Agency Development

That’s what Success for All under the Common Core actually embodies. Tucked away in a 2010 Framework for Equity and Transformative Improvement in Education we have a statement on why “deeper learning” strategies had to be added as a primary goal as we discussed in the last post. And why we needed the Common Core State Standards Initiative in the first place. And why it is really about a limited number of essential skills. You see, school is now to really be about “a broadened definition of what we mean by ‘success.” All students are to build precisely just those skill sets I listed in the title. Why? Well, they will:

“equip citizens with the capacity to engage more fully in educational settings, in our ability to more fully understand life, and to create more effective public institutions. The ‘critical reflection and change agency’ skill area in particular is vital for building deepened understanding around the complex relationship between our economic, environmental, and social well-being, and participating in helping to improve these arenas and ensure that practices within each are just.”

Let’s mull that over for a minute. That would explain how all students, whatever their background, can learn. It would also increase graduation rates as everyone can become an active change agent in the society they feel is unfair. To simply redesign society to be more just. Except society was never designed in the first place. Our Western institutions evolved out of need and survived because they worked. If not perfectly, well enough not to be toppled in a wholesale search for something that might be better. This idea that school is now to be about priming students to help build better government institutions is nonsensical. Who will staff these better institutions? Better trained public employees to be of better service to the citizens seeking justice? With those sets of Skills?

The Framework calls the skills in the title a pivotal choice and italicizes the sentence. I will too.

“Hence, to make a collective decision to narrow the overall goals of skill-building in educational systems is to limit how well we prepare current and future generations to participate in and transform our institutions and social structures.

I wish we would quit talking about skill-building altogether and get back to actual knowledge. But those skills? Participating in and transforming public institutions and social structures is not the purpose that springs to mind when you put your 6 year old on the school bus or when you proudly sit there waiting for the diploma names to be announced. “Capable of organizing a march for equity without supervision” is not my idea of a 21st century skill that makes you diploma worthy. But those are in fact the listed deeper skill sets and reasons for broader notions of student success. Why? The stated reason is It will allow credentials to go to “those from low-income backgrounds, who are students of color, who may live in extremely challenging home and community environments, and who may have been struggling severely in their academics for many years.”

But they will not know anymore and the only economy that can take care of young people without genuine knowledge and skills is a stagnant state-run one with no actual growth. Which means no revenue to pay the costs of the government and its aid to the miseducated Change Agent Generation it is creating. Even in the popular delusion that we are going to retreat to some type of equitable post-carbon economy with a Land worship agrarian existence like the Native People had before Westerners showed up with the oppression of private property, there is no prosperity anymore. Not to mention a terrible set of misguided beliefs about what tribal life was like. Self-sufficiency means no surplus and no reserve against famine when natural disasters strike. I have been reading the Bioregional Plans all this week and none of them indicate they were written by anyone with a modicum of sense.

This education goal is delusional at so many levels. Which is why we need to be talking about it now. As this nonsense is going into place. As the high school Honors Lit teachers are jettisoning real book discussions in favor of Mind Mapping ideas with drawings. The 2010 Hewlett Education Program Strategic Plan we quoted from in the last post even acknowledges that the Common Core State Standards Initiative was just an excuse to get “states and schools to revisit assessment, curriculum, and instruction.”

Because this kind of a Perceive Need to Change Society and then Plan How to Do It Curriculum just does not score well on tests of actual knowledge and skills. So the 2009 ARRA Stimulus Act funded those new ways of measuring students first. One impediment down. The curriculum is what goes on in the classroom which is part of the reason to push digital tablets and computers and I-Phones and Kahn Academy tapes at home. It leaves the classroom for social interaction. The students themselves essentially become the curriculum.

Examples of Cultural Responsiveness listed for each student go beyond “appreciation for and tolerance of diversity” although that is listed as the first level. The second involves “uncovering individual conscious and unconscious bias, how these play out at classroom, school, and district levels, and beginning to draw on the backgrounds and knowledge of students and their communities as strengths and assets.” I guess the Second Level could be called the Getting to Know and Appreciate You, All of You, Curriculum.  No wonder there has been a move to get rid of Honors and Gifted classes. They interfere with this new “overall educational environment” of personal interaction as the primary point.

Finally, the Third Level of Cultural Responsiveness is to “focus on structural inequality and how power differentials among demographic groups, conscious and unconscious bias, and decisions about how to structure public institutions and deliver services have created predictable barriers and stratified outcomes for people of color, low-income people, and other specific groups.” As the Framework bluntly puts it:

“Without knowledge of structural inequity and how to remedy it, we will not have the capacity to become true agents of change for a more just society.”

The assessments then are designed to be formative–changing the student and measuring the extent of the changes in these skill sets and values, attitudes, and beliefs. That’s the purpose of the learner-centered classroom instead of the teacher-centered one we traditionally associate with education. It still had content as the focus. And content would not be equitable. As the Framework said at another point: “if we do not develop deep knowledge of the past and how we created our present social conditions, we will be doomed to continue them.” So instruction also had to be targeted and was.

There are apparently to be lots of tales of racism and oppression and exploitation to create the spirit of Transformation desired. To instill it deep within each student’s core beyond the range of conscious thought.

Is it too late to stop this vision for American education? I hope not because this National Equity Plan is a prescription for widespread disaster. And the resulting death of the America we know and most of us love and the loss of the freedom to make our own decisions and  widespread prosperity like the world has never seen before will not be an accident. And it won’t be manslaughter.

This is intentional. The only possible excuse for what too many adults living at taxpayer expense are pushing is that they do not know the likely consequences of what they are deliberately pushing.

And that’s not much of an excuse. And I for one am taking names.

So our question for most of these Principals and Supers and Professors and some of the Teachers needs to become: “Are you an Inadvertent Insurrectionist of this fine country with a few warts that can be fixed? Or an Intentional One?

We taxpayers and parents have every right to know. And we need to know soon. Like last week in some districts.


When Deep Learning and Systems Thinking Radicalizes the Student, Factual Reality Ceases to Matter

To the student, that is. The problem for society is that factual realities like incentives and consequences and what makes an economy grow and what will make it contract or even implode are still out there. Like gravity, reality and economics and the likely result of giving government officials unrestrained power to make decisions for others will have their way regardless of intentions. Or whether anyone understands them or even believes in them. I wish more educators and politicians and charitable foundation employees involved in all these machinations would remember the wise words with which the eminent economist Ludwig Von Mises closed his epic book Human Action in the wake of the carnage of the Second World War.

Von Mises was writing about the regularity of “phenomena with regard to the interconnectedness of means and ends” in human activities. That’s what he regarded as economic knowledge. You and I would call it the wisdom that helps one successfully navigate daily life.

“The body of economic knowledge is an essential element in the structure of human civilization; it is the foundation upon which modern industrialism and all the moral, intellectual, technological, and therapeutical achievements of the last centuries have been built. It rests with men whether they will make the proper use of the rich treasure with which this knowledge provides them or whether they will leave it unused. But if they fail to take the best advantage of it and disregard its teachings and warnings, they will not annul economics; they will stamp out society and the human race.

I am not quoting Von Mises to scare anyone. Well, I guess that is not really true. Think of it as an Impetus Bout of Deliberate Fright. It is time for those of us who are knowledgable about history and economics to speak up and tell those who are not, notably many Principals, Supers, accreditors, professors of sociology or education, and way too many politicians and public and private bureaucrats, that there are unacceptable costs for everyone associated with their planned education policies. Pushing Transformational Outcomes Based Education and its close cousin Systems Thinking and SEL through the schools and classrooms will not be a victimless, lucrative for insiders, Success For All scheme. It will make victims of all of us and the Educrats seem to be the least knowledgable on the likely consequences of their actions and inactions. That means-end correspondence Von Mises was referring to.

Virtually all of the actual curriculum for Common Core I have seen makes Sustainability the focus of classroom activities. And not in the sense of conservation of natural resources and please do not litter. As a connected Swede, Carl Lindberg, put it, the whole point of the UN inspired international Education for Sustainable Development is to “create a feeling of global responsibility” in each individual. Needless to say, teaching young children and adolescents that they are merely parts of a broader community that ultimately encompasses the whole planet via systems thinking is a useful tool to create just such a useful feeling. To cultivate that Senge-Scharmer Blind Spot we discussed here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/second-order-change-why-reform-is-a-misnomer-for-the-real-common-core/ so that each student’s perceptions and future behaviors can be manipulated.

To that manipulation toolbox the educators intend to use to gain Transformative political and social change without our consent, we need to add what the Hewlett Foundation calls Deep Learning Strategies.  Deeper Learning is part of the Foundation’s 2010 plan to “equalize education for all students.” This will of course involve a levelling process for the intellectually gifted and involves a high level of ignorance for all but at least it is equitable. And the politicians and bureaucrats will not have to worry about Axemaker Minds pointing out the likely consequences thereby impeding the implementation of theories and planning. And those established businesses need not be as concerned about an Axemaker Mind creating market-disrupting new technology. Of course we will be in the situation of tragic concern Von Mises worried about when too many will remain too ignorant to even have the opportunity to disregard needed knowledge from the past.

This is what Hewlett defines as deeper learning (they really love to bold it too. I suppose to show their enthusiastic embrace).  Remember this is all anyone is to get to know and this dovetails perfectly with the well-connected 21st Century Skills push. Almost verbatim. And before you get too excited about the mention of Core Academic Content, let me give you the examples they use:

“Learn about water, oxygen and nitrogen cycles, food webs, and similar topics.”

So the academic content relates to thinking of the world around you as full of systems. The academic content then either relates to Sustainability issues or other “real world challenges” the students will be asked to try to solve. Using their nonexistent base of conceptual knowledge and search engine skills. Hence the push for Relevance as part of the new 3 R’s of the Common Core implementation.

I have already given you the example of core academic content as one of the five key elements and Hewlett’s example. They mention “mastering core academic content” too. Since this comes up all the time with Common Core, I need to point out that “mastering” does not mean knowing. It means applying. No need to stock that conceptual mental hotel with facts. Mastering thus frequently contemplates classwork with the relevant facts presupplied. No need to worry though about bias or propaganda being part of the given facts. It’s not like there is a political purpose associated with the Common Core.

I will tell you the remaining four keys along with Hewlett’s specific examples. I also want to point out that the Hewlett Foundation believes that the purpose of academic content under Common Core is to “understand ecosystems.” Except the deep, emotional understanding being sought for each student is more Paul Ehrlich Newmindedness than Von Mises based in reality. Apparently though that emotional, connected to a New Vision for Future Society element makes for “better retention of content knowledge.” What’s better–Deeply remembered nonsense or slightly forgotten accuracies? I am afraid we are about to find out if we do not act soon.

Here goes:

Think critically and solve complex problems. Examples: Re-create a natural ecosystem in a terrarium. Collect data to understand the interdependence of physical and biological elements.

Work collaboratively. Example: Work in a team to design, build, and monitor the terrarium.

Communicate effectively. Example: Present data and conclusions in writing and to an audience.

Lastly, Learn how to learn independently. Example: Use teacher feedback, test results, and reflection to guide future learning and improve study habits.

Sounds perfectly dismal to me but I can see how this would add up to preventing more Axemaker Minds from developing. And Hewlett matters. They were one of the petitioners behind the socio-cultural learning theory push the Obama Administration officially adopted that we talked about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/so-now-common-core-rejects-individual-thinking-to-embrace-soviet-psychology-ecology/

And Hewlett’s vision for how to educate low income and minority students so they are essentially primed for the hoped-for Insurrection is embodied in how they and other educators define “Excellence and Equity.” That will be the next post.

You are not going to like it but it is what is showing up in the suburbs as the New 3 R’s. It also explains the community organizing push we chronicled here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/keep-urban-schools-weak-to-force-economic-and-social-justice-then-make-the-suburbs-close-the-gap/

It all fits so well it makes you wonder if there is not an active coordination around a common purpose.




Are Educators Free to Plot Mental Insurrections in Students with Impunity?

Does being an educator–Teacher, Principal, Super, Professor–come with a magic “Get Out of Jail Free” card along with the degree? Especially those doctorates. Can educators push emotional and psychological practices in the classroom or Systems Thinking or Values Clarification or Soft Skills or Character Education or Inquiry Learning or the Student Centered Classroom or a myriad other terms that the Creators acknowledge are means to alter a Student’s Consciousness? To try to get to the Blind Spot that impels behaviors in an effort to obtain Communitarian Social Change?

A mentality that ceases to think of itself as a legitimate individual and finds its Sense of Self in doing for others. Where that altruism is not a free choice but was carefully cultivated in the classroom when the mind and personality remained malleable. If I can locate the originators of the theory or policy or practice saying what its real purpose is, and that purpose seeks to use the school to obtain social and political and economic transformation, does an education degree or title make it a permissable practice anyway? Are we Americans or Canadians or Brits or Australians or anyone else under political attack via education really without recourse?

John Dewey first developed the term “Social Reconstruction” to define the use of the school and classroom to change the student from the inside-out. It needs a mind that is not dominated by the abstract or the logical and is not full of facts that allow its own analysis. For Dewey the rational needed to be heavily infused with emotion so the mind would not be constrained from imagining the world as it might be. He recognized that a fact-filled brain will want to see possibilities from preexisting alternatives. John Dewey wanted a world as it had never been. His modern-day acolytes want that now. For all of them freedom gets redefined not as a matter of individual liberty and personal choices. No to be free in Dewey world:

“we need to imagine the possible beyond the actual, and to be moral we must distinguish those possibilities that ought to be (i.e., that are truly desirable) from those that are not.”

Most of the classroom practices track back to Dewey or someone who models their aspirations around Dewey. He is not the point of the post so let’s shorthand the essence of his vision by saying that the real website Marxists.org has numerous postings about Dewey. His biographers and his friend Sidney Hook and the Bolsheviks themselves all believed he took Karl Marx’s unfinished vision for using education as a cultural tool and made it into an effective weapon. We should take them then at their word and discuss whether it has any place in a country with aspirations of continued freedom for the individual. Otherwise the Colleges of Education and accreditation bodies and UNESCO etc have a license for insurrection. To simply use Dewey’s theories and practices but give them appealing names like Excellence or Quality Learning. Insurrection with Impunity at are Expense. Pension and Generous Health Benefits too.

In his Pedagogic Creed John Dewey said:

“Education is a regulation of the process of coming to share in the social consciousness; and that the adjustment of individual activity on the basis of this social consciousness is the only sure method of social reconstruction.”

That attack on individual consciousness these days comes in through an IB Learner Profile or a Positive School Climate/PBIS  requirement or the 3 R’s. It comes in through the letter home to parents describing an Honors Lit class that mentions interpreting books through personal experiences and cultural backgrounds and written reflections. That class may say lit and they may still “read” books but the focus of the class has shifted to the students. Who They Are, Where They Come From, What They Value, and What Needs to Be Changed to Have Growth. You the parent will simply assume the Growth is academic and relates to knowledge. That’s a social interaction classroom and you will likely only know it if your child already has an Axemaker Mind and feels bored and manipulated.

Remember the post when I told you the US Government had announced its intention to use education and the social sciences to shape mindsets for Sustainability and anti-fossil fuels regardless of the actual temperatures or whether there is fraud involved in the so-called science? http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/ This week the head of Australia’s Green Party, Christine Milne, who is a vital part of that country’s governing coalition, displayed her anger over anyone still disputing Manmade Global Warming even though, as I hope you are aware, there is a lot to dispute and the 4th IPCC Report has been shown to be full of unfounded assertions or propaganda.  Here’s her response with my bolding:

“Denialism has much more to do about values and world view than it has to do with actually understanding the science. So we should have been using the social sciences a lot sooner than we have been to work out ways to talking to people’s values systems rather than to their intellectual capacity.”

Young people with still malleable minds who have been entrusted to educators in the belief that school is about the transmission of knowledge and marketable skills. Not a means for fostering an insurrection with captive minds as a permanently available vehicle widely distributed among future voters.

Speaking of worldview, what worldview is it to assert that a belief that people have intrinsic abilities and talents is Social Darwinism that must be combated and rejected as a basis for education? What worldview argues that math and science are merely social constructs and gloats that the Common Core implementation will finally allow educators to target those teachers still trying to teach it as a body of knowledge and procedures? What sort of country will we be if genuine math and science can no longer be taught to any student because it is not accessible to all students? Instead all students get applications and open-ended problem-solving and human activities like projects that are a means of interaction.  What kind of worldview equates oil drilling and coal mining as unacceptable forms of oppression and domination of Gaia’s resources and then equates the mindset that would do that to owning slaves?

Different educators seem to have different grievances that make them susceptible to these schemes of Social Reconstruction via education. Some may be Inadvertent Insurrectionists genuinely unaware of the background of what they are pushing. Others, quite frankly are simply not very bright, and love any theory of learning that makes them feel better about how the students with Axemakers Minds made them feel. No more Axemakers Minds though is economic suicide but how would the Less Talented with a Career on the Public Payroll at Taxpayer Expense know that crucial fact?

To close this very legitimate inquiry on “What are we going to do?”, I can tell some of what is going on in professional development for teachers in preparation to implement the Common Core  by searches that end up on my blog doorstep. One of the searches that I have been getting daily for more than a week now is “education misrepresent reality: Discuss.” Clearly trying to convince teachers to move away from the transmission of knowledge. So I did a little Reverse Engineering searching myself and found a 1979 book deliberately seeking Dewey’s vision of using education to alter consciousness to eventually obtain social and political change. Stealthily.

I also though found Paulo Freire and his theory that the transmission of knowledge, what he calls Banking Education, is an “instrument of social control” because it “controls by manipulating the content of the imagination.” Instead he wants a “problem-posing education.” The lecture-based curriculum, says Freire, “is compatible with the aim of promoting the oppressive cultural forces of the dominant authority in society and with the disempowerment of students.”

When educators believe all this nonsense and it guides their policies and practices, why can’t the Hispanics and Blacks and Rich and Poor and Male and Female and Gay and whatever other groups that are being played as Victims or Targets but who know better simply say no? Could there be anything in the US or any country right now that is more unifying than a rejection of the Dewey vision of education as Social Reconstruction? The vision that disparages facts and fluent reading and sequential math because they all foster individuality and are barriers to political manipulation.

Don’t we have a winning, very diverse, coalition here that Just Says No to Social Reconstruction and using education to try to alter perceptions of reality? Some things are simply too important not to be willing to be confrontational over. Respectfully of course. At least at first.


Second-Order Change, Why Reform is a Misnomer for the Real Common Core

This is the definition of Second-Order Change used at a January 2012 presentation by Peter Senge and the Waters Foundation to the Nevada Department of Education. Second-order change:

“is doing something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing things before.”

Irreversible Change. That sure does remind me of a 2000 book by Vicki Phillips and Michael Barber that was the bible of the UNESCO ed vision all over the world in the last attempt at radical ed “reform” in the US.   Fusion: How to Unleash Irreversible Change-Lessons for the Future of System-Wide School Reform would be a worrisome title if its authors were influential people. Let’s see. Barber was Tony Blair’s Ed Advisor when he was UK Prime Minister, then on to McKinsey where he pushed ed reform globally by telling governments what the world’s “Top” Systems were changing. Now the Pearson Conglomerate’s Chief Education Advisor as of May 2011. Don’t worry. It’s not like Pearson is involved with the curriculum or assessments coming to a classroom and school near you. And not just in the US.

I will let you search out Vicki Phillips’ busy history as an Education Change Agent before she got to her current position at the Gates Foundation which is funding so much of the Common Core curriculum in preparation for those singular Learning Progressions that are mostly missing from the PR campaigns. And that funded what will become formative assessments in the classroom. What makes me feel even more reassured that Common Core is not in fact a noble effort to make content comparable state to state is knowing the main business actors in the global 21st Century Skills push, ATC21S, thank Vicki Phillips by name for her help. Doesn’t it make you feel like we lost an invite to some spectacular parties in scenic global locations pursuing how to use education to profitably remake the world around the meme of Sustainability while the ignorant masses don’t even know what changed, when, or why?

Since we are paying attention, let’s get back to where the influential Professor Senge said was the vision for 21st Century Learning. And if your instinct is to say “I don’t live in Nevada,” remember that the regional ed lab in Aurora, Colorado pushed Second-Order Change as part of its 2007 vision for School Improvement in the recreated OBE template we have already talked about   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/who-is-really-standing-in-the-school-house-doorway/ . And Nevada administrators have now moved on to places like Charlotte-Meck to spread this systems vision and 2nd Order Change. And districts like Winston-Salem, NC; Portland, Oregon; Tahoma, Wash; and Carlisle are all mentioned in Senge’s Systems Thinking work as being part of his coalition of implementers.

“An Exploration-Vision of 21st Century Learning-Systems Citizenship Made Real Through Innovation, Systems Thinking & Education for Sustainability” does not sound like something I will be pledging allegiance to via a national flag. I suppose that’s what all the references to a new way of thinking and high leverage mental models for students are all about. It is portable and travels unseen and perhaps undetected within each student influencing behavior and guiding perceptions of daily experiences. It seems quite intrusive and rather psychologically precarious to me but then I am not an MIT Lecturer. I am sure their computer models are much more revealing about real kids in real classrooms across America getting ready for a real future as an independent adult.

Oh, not to be independent? Not a future based on the past? That may explain the disconnect. Let’s take a look at what Peter’s colleague, Otto Scharmer, has written about this Systems Thinking vision for the future. When Peter mentions Blind Spots or Social Evolution as he speaks, that is where we need to look for the definitions that will impact the school vision or the state or district implementation. And if any of you are breathing a sigh of relief that your teachers and administrators are doing Daggett Model Schools Training or Spence Rogers PEAK training instead, William Spady himself saw his OBE work in the 80s as comparable to what Senge was doing at the time. Except Spady was annoyed because Senge was paid so much more and Spady thought he gave a better speech. Lots of well-paid egos have been cashing in for a long time on using education to create a different kind of future and changing the students mental mindset.

Let’s look further for more insights. And take a deep breath and put down your beverage. You might create a sticky keyboard otherwise. First, as I have said repeatedly, this is about creating a new post-capitalism, non-fossil fuel based economy. Even the Scandinavian social welfare state is not sufficient.   http://www.ottoscharmer.com/docs/articles/2010_Oxford_SevenAcupuncturePoints.pdf Systems thinking is literally about reimagining a future with little connection to the past. A future where emotions are the paramount drivers in people and anything that fosters abstract thinking, like phonetic reading, sequential math or sciences, and actual factual knowledge, are rejected because they stand in the way of action thinking (Scharmer calls it analysis paralysis).

The mental models of students have to be changed, Senge and Scharmer maintain, to save Mother Earth and to transform the “relationship between business, government and civil society from manipulation and confrontation to dialogue and co-creation.” In case the extent of the US and global social transformation being sought is not yet clear, this systems thinking initiative involved so closely with Common Core is intended “to facilitate profound innovation at the scale of the whole ecosystem.” Boy, that does sound like the Belmont  Challenge and the Future Earth Alliance again. And to think Scharmer was explaining that Blind Spot at a 2010 Economic Forum in China.

Th Blind Spot is the hidden source of human behaviors. What OBE advocates always refer to as values, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings and target expressly through SEL. Systems Thinkers get to the same point of trying to dictate human responses and behaviors but their theory and rhetoric are slightly different. Both will have most of us with invisible mental serfs collars guiding our “free” choices.  Systems thinkers are concerned that “most people relate to the future by reflecting on the trends of the past.” Systems thinkers reject the past as inapt.

“They see the emerging future as an advent, a coming-into-being of something profoundly new. To connect with such a field of emerging future opportunity we have to open up, let go of the past, and tune in to what we feel is a field of future possibility, something that might be possible, something we could bring into reality, a future that would be very different from the past. . . I call this deeper learning from the emerging future presencing. . . Presencing means to sense an emerging future possibility and then to act from that state of awareness in the now.”

To get to a Presencing state requires a rejection of individualistic thinking that the systems thinkers call the egosystem and an embrace of the collective. “Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Will” is the motto. This systems theory that is to be the basis for children’s classroom experiences under Common Core, not just some Fortune 500 execs on a pastoral retreat, is based on the “assumption” that each human being and each human community is not one but two:

“one is the current self, the person who exists as the result of a past journey; the other is the Self, the self that we could become as the result of our future journey. Presencing is the process of the (current) self and the (emerging) Self listening to each other.”

Not in the school classroom. If the so-called Blind Spot is an aspiration for US educators pushing Systems Thinking, then nothing in the US is sacrosanct anymore. There is effectively no impediment to tyrannical intrusions and the US Constitution is just a historical document, not a living source of protection against statist predations.

And these predations are expensive to boot. Our money. Our debt.

Keep Urban Schools Weak to Force Economic and Social Justice Then Make the Suburbs Close the Gap

To be Equitable of course in a tragic and perverse way that insists no one gets to have an Axemaker Mind. Because not everyone is equally good at abstract, logical, sequential ways of thinking. We somehow forget that the Whiz Kid may also be uncoordinated in sports or cannot put together Basic Legos even with detailed instructions. I will come back to Peter Senge and Systems Thinking in a later post. He represents both the how–Forcing Systems Thinking and the related New 3 R’s-Relationships, Rigor, and Relevance in their new meanings forms on what had been high-achieving schools in suburban districts and students in high-achieving courses of study anywhere.

Senge also gives useful insights into the real Where–the reimagined Sustainable Future that he calls the Regenerative Society. Hint: it’s to be built around Relationships with one another and not seeing human beings as a special species. There’s also a great deal of emotional connections so all this SEL emphasis and Dewey’s Quality Learning will be so handy. And after all widespread prosperity was so 20th Century. This Regenerative Society will be so cooperative they need the schools to mandate creating the requisite mindsets. Some cooperation, huh?

Today we are going to focus on the Why. At least some of it. I hope this post will be as much of a shock to each of you reading as it was for me to come across this several times in research. And then to bore in carefully to be sure. For a country where millions of voters in 2008 chose to show they were ready to move to a post-racial America it is painful to discover that the education establishment is not ready to move on at all. Too politically useful and financially rewarding for a directing, planning elite is probably the best way to describe this.

As you will see nothing except equal outcomes  and no more racial or economic segregation by neighborhoods will suffice to stop the manipulation of students and schools. And at that point the governments at all levels will be so intrusive.  And the future voters will know so little and will have been so manipulated in preparation for the redesigned Sustainable Regenerative Society. It is hard to envision anyone surviving with independence and an individual presence of mind. Why?

How many of you remember the confrontations over busing? The long-sought remedy was metro-wide busing to force integrated schools even where the inner cities were separate school systems. When the Supreme Court said no in 1973 in the Detroit case it did leave an opening if officials could prove intentional discrimination by suburban officials impacting the inner city. Many Southern school districts like Charlotte or Montgomery County or Nashville or those in Florida were usually county-wide school districts. But not Atlanta.

Atlanta city schools (APS) (home of the infamous cheating scandal) itself is in the middle of the Fulton County School District. The one we talked about in the last post and the one with what I call the duplicitous charter, enshrining the tenets of Transformational Outcomes Based Education. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-happens-when-a-charter-pillages-minds-and-wallets/ Interestingly enough, that charter also adopts the essential policies and practices used by  APS. What are the odds? The metro Atlanta school desegregation case  (Armour v Nix) seeking metro-wide busing was rejected by the federal district court in 1979  despite evidence of official action behind patterns of segregated housing in the metro area.

Other school systems that previously bused students have sought court declarations that they are now “unitary” systems and entitled to leave court supervision and return to neighborhood schools. If these become segregated again, there is no judicial remedy. That has happened in places like Charlotte and Montgomery County, Maryland. The response from the education establishment though is not to make all schools better. Instead the response is the SEL, PBIS, Positive School Climate, Career Pathways for all vocational approach, learner-centered change the student focus we have been describing all summer.

There is tremendous anger over this issue that appears to be actively cultivated in Colleges of Education. Basically the cultivated demand is if economic and social justice is not the norm for all students in the US, no student in a publically-funded school should have access to an academically excellent education. The levelling function of government coercion and the power of the accreditors kicks in to try to deprive any American student of an Axemaker Mind. But we taxpayers and parents might not appreciate this Demand so no one bothered to tell us.

How do I know this is intentional? Well, I read a lot and people like Professor Jean Anyon told me after I accurately pegged her to the Regional Equity Movement. And reading her descriptions in her 2005 book radical possibilities of how to use “injustice to create an outrage that can ultimately be channeled into public demands,” you see there is zero incentive for these educators seeking a Transformative social, political and economic revolution to actually teach the kids to read well. Using the schools to radicalize parents and youth that their poverty is the “congealed result of economic and other social hardships impinging on urban families.” In case there is any ambiguity, Professor Anyon says the economic justice policy changes are necessary first to “provide meaningful life chances for poor families and neighborhoods.” Here’s the full quote from page 127 if you have a copy handy:

“Economic access and the improved social standing its fulfillment provides parents, students, and communities will be prerequisites. . . But economic justice, this important precursor of systemic urban school reform, will not be achieved without concerted, sustained political struggle.”

Enter the community organizers like ACORN or its successor Action Now out of Chicago with much of the same personnel. More importantly though because I think Texans feel protected by their non-participation in Common Core, forgetting Texas adopted OBE statewide in the late 1980s when it was called a radical change, is the role of Saul Alinsky’s Industrial Areas Foundation, using schools and churches to community organize in that state. Do very many Texans understand that? How about people in Cobb County, Georgia where your new Super who came from Dallas ISD would have undergone a great deal of interaction and training around IAF goals and prescriptions? Or the new Super, Mike Myers, who retains a side business seeking federal School Turnaround grants. Is it a valuable asset in seeking those grants to be experienced in dealing with demands of community organizers specializing in urban schools? Makes sense to me that it would. But those are our tax dollars or debt that fund School Turnarounds based on these same Bad Urban Ideas.

“Building Partnerships to Reinvent School Culture” is a 2009 report from the Annenberg Institute for School Reform http://annenberginstitute.org/pdf/Mott_Austin.pdf on IAF’s use of churches to create the Austin Interfaith Alliance and its model of community organizing in Texas schools via the Alliance Schools network. Page 4 has a quote from Jeannie Oakes, who is now with the Ford Foundation, Ground Zero for the Regional Equity Movement, on the “increased interest from both practitioners and researchers in understanding the potential role of community organizing in contributing to sustainable improvements in education.”  If you do get a chance to read that document, do not miss the fact that the Alliance Schools did not want to be subject to standardized testing. They wanted performance based assessments instead similar to what Common Core established via SBAC and PARCC. When these schools could not get an official exemption from testing “they had less time for relational practices. The emphasis on testing changed the schools practically overnight.”

My goodness that sounds a lot like a focus on Relationships instead of content. Just the sort of urban school Quality Learning that Common Core now mandates nationwide. Suburbs too. The community organizers were probably quite pleased those long sought performance assessments were funded from the beginning in the 2009 Stimulus Act. Well, we know all that funding did not stimulate the US economy. Made a lot of educators, professors, and community organizers happy though. No wonder Van Jones says he signed on to the Environmental Green Movement because of the government’s ability to direct money where it wants as so much of the Green Economy is politically directed.

As a funding taxpayer, that hardly seems Sustainable. Or Wise.

Hobbling Minds and Misrepresenting Reality, Mounting a Political Coup From Within

Raise your hand if you think the purpose of education, P-12 or higher ed, is to change a person’s values, attitudes, and beliefs from within so that we can create a new sustainable or harmonious culture?  Where we reject our current economic, political, and social systems and “learn to live in harmony with one another and Mother Earth at the level of the whole?” My reaction to Peter Senge and his Standards of Learning (SoL) and SoL Sustainability Consortium work that pushes comparable mindsets of an altered future and a need to change individual consciousness has always been to wonder if he spent enough time observing the dynamics of the playground when a bully comes along. Plus I am getting very tired of reading all these professors disparaging the “focus on the individual [that] is so deeply embedded in our culture.”

Damn straight and Proud of it is the proper retort for anyone with a love of history. I disagree with the idea that schools need to create “new ways we will need to think and interact in the 21st century” where we learn to collaborate as a collective first and foremost. There are times when it is useful to develop a shared vision but we do not need teachers and Principals and Supers and accreditors insisting it is mandatory and collecting data on students to monitor continuous improvement and Growth in what are quite frankly attitudes of submission. We want this country’s children, this globe’s children, exposed to all the knowledge of our existing cultures that they can take in. If some take in more than others, we need that diversity of knowledge and skills among individuals. Anyone who necessarily assumes that book learning translates into financial success has not known very many valedictorians as adults. Useful but no be all and end all.

Instead we get systems thinkers like Peter Senge enjoying a lucrative lecture circuit and workshop living seeking to make learning about changing “people’s beliefs, ways of seeing the world, and ultimately their skills and capabilities.” I do not want professors who are hostile to the concept of individuals and free market economic systems dictating beliefs in workshops for superintendents, principals, and teachers to bring home and apply in a classroom.

We talked about systems theory some in the previous post. Let’s look at it some more and appreciate just how many high powered corporations have signed onto Senge’s SOL Sustainability Consortium. It certainly puts new meaning into how Bad Ideas get pushed at us via our schools with the explanation “Business wants this.” Maybe so but not necessarily because it is good for students or any country’s long term economic health.

Just after Senge created the Sustainability Consortium he held a conference in Bergen, Norway in July 2000 where the dominant theme was the need to get rid of “non-systemic ways of thinking and acting.” I take that to mean jettisoning individual independent thought with its own arsenal of facts and an ability to apply them logically and without interference from a meddling bureaucrat. But you can see what you think of the need to “invoke a type of learning that moves us away from a conceptual analysis focused on details about ever smaller parts of the world to a holistic model that promotes competent understanding and action based on a grasp of ‘the whole.’”

I bolded the holistic because I kept hearing that the other night in conjunction with promoting the joys of the IB learner Profile. I have learned to see the mention of holistic as a shorthand for telling students what they are to accept or believe at an emotional level. Holistic education integrates the desired concepts or values or beliefs into the very essence of a student’s being without the student having any logical, rational idea why. I think the troubling aspects of Holistic become apparent with Peter’s next probing question that reveals the need to limit facts and personal rationality:

“how do large diverse groups of people come to shared understanding of complex subjects so they can effectively coordinate their actions?”

Well, Peter, that mandated shared understanding is a real problem. Who picks? Who enforces? And aren’t we back to a centrally planned economy and state control over private behaviors? Just in case that statement above was not clear and the extent to which supposedly free people are now to behave consistent with the computer models is not apparent, let’s go to the following quote in the next paragraph. Senge does a brilliant job of explaining why neither OBE or its sibling, systems thinking, wants us to have much knowledge. Nor are we supposed to retain our own beliefs and values and attitudes from home.

“Behavioral complexity arises when diverse agents (I believe he means you and me) have decision making power (that kind of personal liberty will not do apparently in a Sustainable 21st Century), people with different and often conflicting values, mental models, and goals (Oh. No!!). In such situations, seeking common strategies (which is quite beneficial for those seeking wealth and power by government fiat) is typically undermined by behavioral defensiveness and games playing and people ‘conferring immutability (i.e.-not flexible enough with statist collective goals) on value assumptions and ideological considerations.”

If Senge identifies such individualistic recalcitrance as “wicked” problems, which he does, what will he do as parents, taxpayers, school board members, and politicians begin to recognize the collectivist vision of a restructured future he is pushing on our school children via Common Core and the UN. Yes, it turns out Peter has quite an affinity for the UN’s Millenium Development Goals even if we do not. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/you-mean-i-cant-teach-because-the-economy-should-not-grow/ is where we first talked about those MDGs.

And Peter is very well-connected. Lots of big name corporations are part of his Consortium although I have a feeling they are in for the Big Idea part that seems to benefit their bottom line and have not been reading the small print like us. What really worries me most was seeing the open embrace of Columbia Professor Jeffrey Sachs and his ideas on how to end global poverty. I don’t think he has a good track record in the countries he has advised. But I am really worried by how often we keep running into him in our global ed story. First the UN’s Broadband Commission that wants to make that a basic human right that has the tech companies jubilant. Then he is a lead author on the UN’s first ever World Happiness Report as we discussed here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/is-the-global-happiness-and-wellbeing-push-a-means-for-mental-and-emotional-burglary/. Now this. What an ambitious busy man with a global vision for all of us apparently.

Now that’s enough about Senge and systems thinking, let’s close with an illustration of why this is a spectacularly bad idea being pushed if we are to have any hope of keeping our individual liberty and autonomy and quite frankly our minds intact. At the 2012 Summer ST Conference in July for K-12 educators one of the workshops was called “Five Important Feedback Loops from Limits to Growth.” Now Limits to Growth was a hugely influential and hyped 1972 book put out by the Club of Rome. Its assertions were so over the top that the Club of Rome itself has acknowledged it is not good science, never was, and these are not really valid risks for the Earth.

But systems thinking and dynamic modeling advocates still want this in your child’s classroom because it helps create a politically useful mindset in a malleable mind. And how many teachers or parents would be in a position to know the child was being taught to reimagine the future via repudiated facts and bad science? And you thought NOAA not caring about the actual temperatures was bad.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-reality-is-ignored-or-disregarded-when-do-we-become-a-state-against-its-people/

Told you we have a real problem now with what appears to be an official desire by our government on misrepresenting reality to us. And our children’s ability to ever perceive it accurately. Do you think it has anything to do with that Future Earth Alliance we profiled?



Do You Live in a District Piloting Deep and Continual Personal Change in the Individual Student?

In case the term systems thinking always seemed too abstract to get too worked up about. Or the fact that Peter Senge has sold 2 million copies of his book The Fifth Discipline and now holds a Systems Thinking and Dynamic Modeling Conference for K-12 Education was not on your radar screen as Another Thing to Worry About. Now I do not get to do that because I have seen “must teach the children systems thinking” as part of an essential aspect of every radical plan to remake US and global education for decades. It did not take me long to track down its history or see it as a sledgehammer to destroy a student’s belief that he or she is, and is entitled to be, an autonomous individual. It was honestly a relief to read the recent infed story called “peter senge and the learning organization” where they recognized the common visions and social interests between communitarian thinkers like Amitai Etzioni and Senge. You begin to imagine a chant at these conferences along the lines of “Heh, Heh, Ho, Ho, The Unitary Self has Got to Go.” Worked with Western Civ at Stanford.

Since we have already figured out that the definition of Career Ready in Common Core is based on Etzioni http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/birth-to-career-finally-and-quietly-creating-the-soviet-mindset-but-here-in-the-usa/, Peter Senge’s views on implementing Common Core promise to be a hugely important component of what it will actually look like in classrooms.  First of all, we are supposed to recognize that Common Core is a “unifying approach to transforming American education.” Here we are as parents, taxpayers, and business people looking for capable, knowledgeable minds and we are being told that Common Core means there will no longer be variations in the content required of students moving from state to state. A worthy sounding, probably PR-tested slogan to soothe away any concerns about federal intrusions into local issues. Truly that intrusion is the least of these scheming aspirations.

Instead “Lessons from Systemic Change for Utilizing the New Common Core Standards for Transforming Education” gives us Maxine Greene’s vision for education for political transformation by altering each student’s consciousness. The authors are terribly well-connected (including Harvard’s Robert Kegan) as you will see. And there are no side essays or speeches mentioning wanting to join the Abraham Lincoln Brigade during the Spanish Civil War to clue the enterprising reader into the actual political orientation being advocated. Like Maxine Greene and Bill Ayers but without the taint of their open proclamations, these systems thinkers want learners to be the center of the curriculum, not a body of knowledge. As Maxine Greene wrote, that’s the first step in imagining a different world,  toward acting on the belief that things can be changed. Learning as becoming Different than you were at the beginning of the day according to Greene.

For all these Professors and Supers and Principals seeking Transformation with a Capital T, education is merely a tool of alteration that guarantees funding, obscures the political theories being imposed without consent, and grants access to innermost thoughts, values, and emotions. Everything a Mao ever wanted and no one is up in arms. Yet. And if they are, they are focused on side issues about how to teach math and whether to allow ability-grouped classes.  Instead it gets reexpressed without any taint or royalties to Maxine as a “learning community” where the school creates “a culture where people continually learn with and from one another.” Community is no mere slogan either. Rather it becomes the whole point of education. To get this sought environment and Transformation (we are back to the collection of systems thinkers here including Senge):

“the most important point is the basic point: the naive fantasy that there exists such a thing as systemic change independent of deep and continual personal change fails to prepare people for the real work. The “system” in terms of habits of thoughts and actions that shape practices, processes, structures and even metrics lives inside each of us. It (their emphasis, bolding is mine) works the way it works because of how we work. What is most systemic is most personal. Consequently, all processes of real systemic change inevitably arise from developmental processes that are deeply personal.”

Probably the sort of deeply personal interactions fostered through teacher OBE training renamed as “Performance Excellence for All Kids” we met in the last post set in the pastoral settings of Vail to reenforce that this is the Way Things Ought to Be. Or Peter Senge’s Camp Snowball that includes students ready to engage in action learning to promote a Transformation around Sustainability. Since Peter had David Coleman, one of the primary architects of Common Core as a speaker this summer, all of this transforming may seem radical to us but the so-called Transformative Players do all seem to be interacting around this systems thinking vision and Common Core.

I guess David got his Second Wind at Camp Snowball getting ready to go transform AP courses and the SAT as the new, very well-paid, President of the College Board. And if anyone finds this systems thinking/College Board alliance strange you should read all the College Board publications from the 90s on finally achieving Dewey’s vision for American education including transforming the nature of college. Or just read me. I have read all those books and some of them had not absorbed fresh air in over 15 years. Musty smell to go with the toxic ideas is one way to put it.

Now I found the above quote on all that deep and continual personal change in students who are allegedly in an Algebra or World History class to be quite graphic and very troubling. In case we are slow, however, our systems thinkers point out again on the next page:

“When we use the term ‘capacity building,’ it can often mask the depth of the emotional and psychological challenges, as we implied above in emphasizing the personal character of systemic change.”

That earlier quote is not my idea of implication but this 2nd reference leaves no doubt at the depths of the intrusive aspirations. In case you are wondering how I could have written such a graphic title for my previous post, I believe these political aspirations for education have already had real victims.

Today’s title comes from the systems thinking aspirations and their desire to put together school districts to participate as “systems-based CCSS learning communities.” There is a reference to systems “we currently know and are working with.” The “we” seems to be either Senge, the Waters Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation or Harvard. I am going to focus on the Harvard connection since it appears to involve two districts in the metro Atlanta area, Fulton that we discussed from the last post and Gwinnett.

Gwinnett, the largest district in Georgia,  won the Broad Award a few years ago. Parents there say the system went to a PBIS/SEL focus last school year (2011-12) just as soon as the ink was dry on the atrocious soft skills statute giving official permission for these psychological and emotional intrusions in Georgia. Others involved in the Harvard Strategic Data Project are listed as Boston Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (which won the Broad last year), and Fort Worth Independent School District.

All this systems thinking emphasis would of course explain why Massachusetts had to give up its well-functioning standards and move to the Common Core. It’s the new assessments and a means to get at consciousness. We talked about Transformational OBE and Dallas and Charlotte along with Cobb County, Georgia, and Fulton here. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/gypsy-principals-gypsy-supers-and-engrenage-3-more-superb-things-to-know/ In addition to Fulton’s duplicitous charter enshrining Transformational OBE that I wrote about here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-happens-when-a-charter-pillages-minds-and-wallets/, it turns out Fulton’s new Super of less than a year, Robert Avossa, was asked by Education Week to join as a speaker for its “Scaling Up Student Success” Leadership Forums in April. Ah, the leadership circuit!

Apart from that charter and Transformational OBE in new forms that are less likely to be discovered in time,  let’s look back at that systems document again. The one looking for school systems with “sufficient numbers of leaders who share such a commitment.”

What commitment you warily ask at this point in the post? The one for “using the new CCSS for transformative change.”

Gulp says every taxpayer and parent in any one of these implicated districts.

Such planned intrusions negate the very essence of individual freedom in the US. But my understanding of that and what is coming is not enough.

And so I write.


How Much Innocent Blood Will It Take to Stop SEL Manipulation for Political Gain?

That rather graphic title should probably include “or financial gain” to cover all the motives. But that would have made for too long a title. Honestly it is difficult to fathom how after the horrors of the Columbine High murders in 1999, which actually started as a desired bomb plot to blow up the school, anyone involved with Transformational Outcomes Based Education would not have begged for forgiveness. OK, that’s not realistic in our litigious day and age. No one would want to acknowledge their pushed SEL practices might have had a role in initiating the tragedy.

But at least we could have hoped for a Cease and Desist from continuing to actively cultivate the emotions and trying to alter the student’s consciousness. Why continue the practices Columbine was already notorious for before that tragic April day? In an effort to profitably create a Consciousness for Revolution as we discussed in the previous post, some of these manipulated students, usually bright boys, seem to be getting stuck in the cultivated horror and fracturing into the evil school officials and education professors unwisely pushed on students. We will never know the actual causes but we have too much correlation with SEL not to be careful in continuing these deliberate pushes for psychological and emotional transformation in students.

I do not want to linger on such tragedies. But the memories of these SEL connections seem to be fading enough that the manipulative practices are coming back into classrooms and common practice. As part of the implementation of Common Core just like they were part of the 1990s push for comparable radical transformation. And in a substantial percentage of cases with these horrific school shootings where the place seems to be part of the rage, we  find an active policy of pushing SEL and an affective orientation and changing fundamental values, attitudes, feelings, and beliefs as a core function of the targeted school.

Since the typical reader of this post will not be in a position to recognize the names associated with the creation of the Transformational OBE political and social change theory, know the various euphemisms associated with OBE core practices, or be able to put back together the Transformational OBE template even when all has been renamed and broken into parts, I am going to have to share a personal story. I am not doing it to try to get anyone in trouble or point fingers of deliberate intent or malevolent neglect or even negligent disregard of crucial facts from the past. I honestly believe people never knew or have forgotten the links. And we still need that Cease and Desist.

That all these tragic practices are now being pushed again all over the world may be because it is what the accreditation agencies want or because it is now the road to a lucrative next promotion or because it seems superficially like a noble, utopian refocus for the schools to help all students. It is certainly what UNESCO wants as part of its Education for All transformation of the West. Perhaps there is a naive sense that this time there will be no further tragedies because the motives for good results are deemed pure. Whether it is called Student Wellbeing as in Australia now or the Positive Behavior and School Climate now in Canada and the US, it has the same common genesis in the pre-Columbine Transformational OBE when motives were openly discussed and the emotional elements at the core were the feature to be touted. Euphemisms were not yet necessary. That’s where we need to go back to.

My story was generated by an IB High School in Fulton County Georgia informing the parents that some of the faculty had been sent for summer training in Colorado called “Performance Excellence for All Kids (PEAK).” The Principal who had come from Charlotte-Mecklenberg the previous year had brought PEAK with him. He sent out a letter wanting to raise $120,000 for the training this year for all the school’s teachers. On the first day of orientation this past week, he eagerly announced the redirection of everyone in the high school towards the IB Learner (Change the Student) Profile,  http://www.amersol.edu.pe/fdr/curriculum/strategic_planning/IB_Learner_Profile.asp is a link to the 10 Attributes if you have never seen it, and the Relationships, Rigor, and Relevance push I have already written.http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/rigor-relevance-and-relationships-the-new-3rs-to-get-to-a-caring-economics/

Oh, and instead of PBIS as in Positive Behavior Intervention System, the high school will now have a Positive Behavior Incentive Program with an everyday emphasis on whether students are demonstrating the 5 Desired “P’s.” Polite and Punctual were two mentioned before I dazed into Oh. No. Not  Again shock. First no content and now this?   http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/you-mean-i-cant-teach-because-the-economy-should-not-grow/

Fellow Parents at the high school presentation would have heard the word “success” almost as often as the word “engage” but are unlikely to know that in the 90s William Spady and Spence Rogers called their Transformational OBE push for schools the High Success Network. Here’s a 1994 discussion from the insider industry publication Educational Leadership explaining the different Levels of OBE and the goals of the High Success Network.  http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar94/vol51/num06/Choosing-Outcomes-of-Significance.aspx

Careful readers will notice the 10 Life Performance Roles described for Transformational OBE basically dovetail with the 10 from the IB Learner Profile. That’s how breaking up, renaming, and finding a new more palatable vehicle works. I think that is the UNESCO influence showing. I can also look at an Australian middle school that adopted the Coalition for Essential Schools template and the ATLAS-Authentic Learning for All Students-template that came out of US reforms in the 90s and their rhetoric and programs also dovetail with that IB Learner Profile. Probably the Benjamin Bloom influence on the models UNESCO has pushed all over the world since the early 70s from the Summer Institutes he did for them.

PEAK’s “Teaching for Excellence” model says explicitly it is grounded in what was previously called OBE. It also proclaims its incorporation of Mastery Learning, Bloom’s baby. For those of you keeping track, Bloom was a student and close friend of Ralph Tyler who created OBE in the 30s to obscure the real transformative, anti-academic aims of the Progressive Education Association’s Eight Year Study. I explained that here  http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/is-common-core-a-catalyst-to-dramatically-alter-system/ and here http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/if-standardsoutcomesobjectives-what-is-the-real-common-core/

The links are necessary to fully appreciate just how closely tied in all these ideas and people are and why they keep recurring. Plus the teachers have enjoyed their summer and are now back to deal with the troubling implications of the real Common Core paradigm. They need this information and so do the parents, like me, who are being forced to put children into schools using practices with such a tragic past and a political aim to gut this country’s current economic system. Plus a deliberate targeting of our political system grounded in the importance and primacy of the individual.

Both aims are being sought  by using the schools to remake the child’s personality and filtering mindset. I have little doubt this template is being replicated elsewhere in the Fulton County district and in Charlotte where PEAK came from and in school districts all over the US. Since you are unlikely to know where to look to figure out what is going on, here’s Spence Rogers’ published definition of the SEL dynamic behind “Relationship-Driven Teaching”:

“Fostering positive feelings as a motivational strategy in the classroom requires creating a learning context that enables students to value the activities enough to want to learn and to achieve. Learning occurs only when what is being presented is meaningful enough to the student that he or she decides to actively engage in the learning experience. People often judge an activity as meaningful when it satisfies deep-rooted human emotional needs. When those needs are met in the classroom, students want to learn and to achieve to the highest standards.”

The very idea that the teacher who cannot teach a Chemistry course grounded in knowledge is now going to engage students at a deep emotional level is both atrocious and absurd. This is also manifestly the Marxist theory of the Mind where only physical activity and social interaction count or are wanted. No private, personal thinking allowed.  Especially the logical, abstract, Axemaker Mind kind. Now there is hopefully no way either this pushing principal or his boss, Robert Avossa, who also came from Charlotte, have any idea of the tragic history of Transformational OBE or its nefarious purposes. Although I am greatly concerned with what Avossa meant when he told the Broad Superintendents Academy in 2011 that he wanted  a “level playing field in American education.” That is not the spiel he gives parents and taxpayers back home.

This was long with links because this matters. This is a totalitarian template that is to go into operation to attack students’ minds and unconscious emotions to try to change behaviors starting this Monday, August 13. If all these facts are not sufficient to get the super, his central office staff, and the just-following-orders principal to change their minds and back off, well at least the now well-informed parents and taxpayers will know how to treat them. Like you would any adult wanting to live off your tax money while risking bloody outcomes in order to foment a political transformation of this magnificent country that they apparently do not appreciate.

Let’s teach them better values and attitudes and beliefs. We have Gypsy Principals and Supers everywhere now in the US. These two are just the symbols of a very full ship of Change Agents. Perhaps the ship could take a field trip to Cuba to have a hands-on learning experience with the full template being pushed for profit.


Priming Delicate Minds for a Desired Disruptive Revolution, What is the Real Damage?

One of the great tragedies in American education over the last several decades, and this seems to be true of education globally, is the wolves or utopian dreamers who see schools and colleges as premier weapons to change how a society thinks. Or to prevent a voting majority from being able to think at all. These incendiary political ideas always come wrapped up in phrases of hope. When the strategy to impose a collectivist political theory or manipulative psychological practice makes it to the local school, especially the suburban schools that must be taken down to get equity, it shows up in euphemisms like school improvement, accountability, Best Practice, or a duplicitous charter.

So how do I know the intent? Well, as you may remember, we tracked the language of the charter back to the original 1988 proclamations of manipulation. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-happens-when-a-charter-pillages-minds-and-wallets/

Another way is play tiptoe through the footnotes and get your hands on the books and essays allegedly supporting controversial practices. That’s how we knew neuroscientists working for CASEL aspired to physically reshape students’ brains to gain desired personality traits. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/further-confirmation-of-the-planned-dominance-of-social-and-emotional-learning/  I watched the tapes after they were cited in the “research” support of the School Climate Center.

If you do not live in a state like me that got a Positive School Climate mandate tucked into that NCLB waiver authorities rejoiced over, President Obama signed an Executive Order on July 28, 2012 expanding the Positive School Climate mandate to virtually all public schools. I wonder if the advisors pushing that order were prompted by the Positive Psychology to Promote Social Change movement? You know the one that takes advantage of the malleable captive minds to promote alternative values that seek to extinguish that pesky unitary self and promote the amorphous Common Good in its place?

Or we could do what so many of my readers seem to want. Follow former Weatherman advocate for violent revolution Bill Ayers to see why a career as an education “reformer” became his next political move. To understand what makes education reform a viable next weapon for so many 60s radicals and utopian dreamers and greedy or envious gypsy supers, gypsy principals, and the omnipresent political transformation enforcers, the accreditation companies. I think we should explore the vision of Ayers’ proclaimed mentor, Maxine Greene.

For added interest, she is also an inspiring visionary to Linda Darling-Hammond, who served as Obama’s 2008 Education Advisor, and is heavily involved with the SBAC Common Core assessments many states plan to use to measure student progress. She also chairs assessment for ATC21S, the global 21st century skills movement. What drives her affects many students and taxpayers all over the world. Finally, Ayers’ co-author, Janet L Miller, is an education professor involved with the Best Practice movement trying to reimagine American high schools away from content. It is probably not a coincidence that Ayers wanted to be recognized in the 1998 book as a co-founder of the Annenberg Challenge in Chicago (CAC). That would be the one now President Obama chaired. Or that the Best Practice handbook thanks the CAC for development funding.

I have long recognized that Best Practice does not mean that a proposed practice has a good academic result. Frequently it is terrible. Best Practice is about imposing the socio-cultural vision for education and social transformation on a charter district, school or classroom. It is a political weapon and it is designed to break or deprive the logical, sequential mind that some people have of sustenance. Anything that would foster individuality or an independent view of self. Why? Well as Ayers wrote citing Greene, he is interested in “shocking ourselves into new awarenesses as a goal.” Sounds like the kind of cultural bomb that cannot be heard or seen but damages internally nonetheless.

Why do students minds need to be manipulated and shocked? Well Ayers says teaching can be a ” powerful and natural key to social change.” But you must move away from the “transmission of some certified, sanctified stuff.” That would certainly explain the real hostility to standardized testing. The kind of dialoguing and reimagining these “reformers” want going on in a classroom does not do well in a measurement of knowledge. Good thing Common Core is pushing formative assessments like group projects and portfolios instead.

What Ayers and Maxine Greene and Linda Darling-Hammond and another contributor Nel Noddings, who we met previously in the Caring Economics and Australian Student Wellbeing posts, are all interested in fostering in classrooms is “imagining a different world, a more humane social order.”  And these people are all professors in colleges of education. They credential future classroom teachers and principals and district supers. When they push a pedagogy not because it works to transmit knowledge but because it works to foster social, cultural, economic, and political transformation, you get the kind of reading wars and math wars and fights over values clarification that have recurred in district after district and school after school in recent decades. It’s not like these taxpayer funded functionaries can acknowledge openly there’s a declared revolution going on. We might try to stop the funding in time.

I joke a bit but what is not funny in the least is the shock to student minds is not just deprivation of solid content. There really is a great deal of what reads like mental torture trying to prepare students for a desired different future. They want to compel moral action. They want to use the classroom to create “horizonal persons”:

“sensitive to the common good and to their own inner spirit. Their continuous rethinking and re-creating of self nurtures community ventures.”

I can remember being bored in school and always bringing a book to read, usually history. But at least I didn’t have teachers playing with my psyche pushing me to be a “horizonal person” to gain some hoped for utopian future of altered human sensibilities. What did these classroom political pursuits do to young minds? Again:

“Horizonal persons do not define goodness and morality in terms of sets of rules or regulations but rather in terms of increasingly more satisfying moral principles.”

And what is a moral being in their eyes?

“A moral being . . . is a thinking and reflective individual, alive to the paradoxes and dilemmas of life . . .[who] wrestles with the formulation of superior moral principles which can cope with problems of equity and justice for society at large. A moral person . . . is someone irresistibly drawn by the good.”

I make this retort from a great deal of historical knowledge about political theory. A moral person to them has been trained via the classroom to think like a communist idealogue without knowing that is the mindset being deliberately cultivated. No wonder emotion and few facts are so important to this reimagined classroom that has been going on in some places for at least two decades. That’s a lot of psychological manipulation that neither the teachers (I hope) or the students understood the purpose of. But the typical education professor did.

I am going to close with a quote from Nel Noddings from the same tribute to Maxine Greene. The essay is called “Ethics and Imagination” and discusses the importance of role playing for creating the kind of compassion desired for the sought transformation– the new, supposedly better world. It is not enough to:

“imagine ourselves as victims [though] emotion is aroused, and that emotion may increase our compassion for other victims, or it may create hatred for oppressors, or both.”

Politically useful emotion apparently but not sufficient to spark the desired revolutionary attitudes and values (those are Professor Noddings emphasis italics, not mine. Bold is mine).

“when we look at the perpetrator, we are again comforted because we are not, could not be that monster. But when we look at a scene of suffering and see both possibilities for ourselves, then a new horror provides a starting point for real moral growth.

Because confronting “the powers of darkness” is politically useful to fuel a revolution apparently. To get to a Caring Economics? Not unless the school or classroom is actually a gulag for conversion while minds remain malleable.

Does any of this sound equitable or just?