Questioning the Quandary of Equity: the Quality Education for Minorities Project Lurks in the Shadows

When I said in the last post that we needed to talk about Equity as the constant goal across the decades of those seeking wholesale transformations, I had never heard of what gets abbreviated as the QEM Project. We saw Equity front and center in the Senate’s NCLB Rewrite, that supposedly conservative America Next education report, and as the new responsibility of the federal government mandating a switch to Competency for All. I was also responding to the framing of the purpose for Reinventing Government as being a means to advance Equity and the cause of Progressivism. This is how that book framed Equity in 1992 as the new purpose of public schools:

“they also exist to bring children from all walks of life together. This mixing of social classes and races is extremely important in a democracy; without it, we lose our capacity to understand and empathize with those who are different from us. When that happens, it is not long before our society loses its ability to care for those who need help. We become a collection of individuals,  not a community.”

We have been living for a while in an age where official policy is it’s not OK to function as an individual. Adjust to accepting the new designation as just another member of a community or society goes this stealth mandate. Nobody told us though, leaving us to wonder why we just keep coming across all these pushes for communitarianism as a necessary belief for the 21st century. Would anyone like to guess what change in practice and policy is seen as the premier way to advance Equity, integration, concepts of community, etc? That would be the various school choice schemes like charters and vouchers. In particular, we have these recognitions: “When governments fund programs or institutions directly, equity becomes difficult to enforce…When governments fund individuals rather than institutions, it is much easier to promote equity.” Keep that in mind whenever someone says “Let’s just have the money follow the child.”

That again was from the authors of the bipartisanly touted Reinventing Government. Another relevant, well-known book from that same seminal year was Affirming Diversity: The Sociopolitical Context of Multicultural Education. Sonia Nieto is involved now with Educators for Social Responsibility, Facing History and Ourselves, and the SPLC’s Teaching Tolerance program that we keep encountering in connection with the actual implementation coming in the name of the Common Core. and the next post confront those visions and Facing History has a tag. Back in 1992 Nieto had this to say about Equal education and Equity (italics in original):

“education must involve the interaction of students with teachers and schools [dialectical would be a synonym for what is envisioned], not simply the action of teachers and schools on students [the revered transmission of knowledge approach]. Equal education also means that the skills, talents, and experiences that all students bring to their education need to be considered as valid starting points for further schooling. Equity is a more comprehensive term because it includes real educational opportunities and also demands fairness and the real possibility of equality of outcomes for a broader range of students. Throughout this book, multicultural education will be considered as fundamental to educational equity.”

Remember that last sentence but in this age when the phrase White Privilege suddenly seems to be coming to every other K-12 classroom and college campus, let’s learn Nieto’s term when she is not complaining about current “economic, political, and social power.” Dysconscious racism is “a limited and distorted view of racism based on the tacit acceptance of dominant White norms and privileges that fails to take into account basic structural inequities in society.” So with Multiculti ed, only a wholesale transformation will suffice as the remedy and that remedy is now to be legally required as a civil and human right. Since Nieto’s vision of good, exemplary teaching for all students is to be our norm in all schools, we need to appreciate its tenets in addition to a mandate of active involvement of “students in real-life situations [that] allows them to reflect on their own lives.” Are you among the privileged or the prey? would be one way to shorthand the desired mindset.

* students are involved in issues they perceive as vital concerns.

* students are involved with explanations of differences in race, culture, religion, ethnicity, and gender.

* students are helped to see major concepts, big ideas, and general principles rather than isolated facts [now called 'lenses,' Enduring Understandings, or cross-disciplinary ideas]

* students are involved in planning their education.

* students are involved in applying ideals such as fairness, equity, or justice to their world.

* students are actively involved in heterogeneous groups [no tracking is fundamental to QME].

* students are asked to question commonsense or widely accepted assumptions [all that pooh-poohing of facts now comes in handy].

Problem solvers and critical thinkers just does not sound like such a great goal anymore does it, after that breakdown? Now I joke about tiptoeing through the footnotes, but honestly that’s where the gold pebbles and jewel admissions are. Nieto in a footnote mentions a January 1990 publication from the MIT Quality Education for Minorities Project called “Education That Works: An Action Plan for the Education of Minorities.” The QEM Project turns out to have begun in 1987 with Carnegie funding. Now remember Carnegie is the chief sponsor of Competency-based education now, including sponsoring the 2011 summit with federal officials. Marc Tucker of the National Commission on Education and the Economy (Carnegie-funding) was also involved in the QEM Project, which puts a new spin on all his work in the 90s on School to Work and new types of authentic assessments called the New Standards Project.

Texans need to be aware that MIT was one partner in QEM, but the other was the Marshall Center at the University of Texas. As I have warned, Texas did not actually need to be part of the Common Core to have its K-12 system in the same place as other states, if not ahead of the curve. QEM cared about the following groups by name: (1) Alaska Natives; (2) American Indians; (3) Black Americans; (4) Mexican Americans; and (5) Puerto Ricans. Two vital points about that list. First, Competency education and the Reinventing Schools Consortium involved in the February 2014 Dallas convening is being hyped as coming from work with natives in Chugach, Alaska. Now I know where the funding for all that expensive air travel came from. Secondly, Senator Ted Kennedy was also involved with the Action Council on Minority Education that issued this January 1990 report. That matters because Kennedy had always had an interest in amnesty for illegals.

Open that door and then use the presence to force a remake of K-12 education. Make that the “restructuring” of American education. Remember this report is after the 1989 Williamsburg education summit President George HW Bush called of the nation’s governors. This report came out before the official announcement of the proposed national goals. The idea was that all the restructuring and K-12 plans announced in the 1990 QEM report would piggy-back quietly on the national goals to be proposed later that year. We have the goals for public dissemination and then we have the QEM vision surreptitiously attached.

My question is did anyone unconnected to DC and the K-12 education vision of that time (which would mean that now Senator Lamar Alexander had to have known) know we had this QEM Project vision attached to all the federal pushes in the 90s and what is coming in under the banner of the Common Core now? I have never seen a reference to it before Nieto cited it, but it certainly makes everything make so much more sense. I would seriously love to hear from readers who lived through those earlier reforms on whether this attached Stealth QEM Agenda was ever discussed or even acknowledged.

This matters because the required QEM vision of education for all becomes the necessary type of K-12 education to shift to what I recognize as Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society. In 1991 it was renamed with the much more soothing name of the Learning Society and laid out for all of North America. I will get to that next time. Let’s close with a quote used to lay out the Challenge for Education that Works. Attributed to FDR, it stated that “We seek to build an America where no one is left out.”

Remind anyone else of federal legislation nicknamed as No Child Left Behind that was also based on the vision of education in Texas? How about the sentiment advanced by the UN recently in its Dignity for All by 2030 vision to guide post-2015 restructurings of education, economies, and societies generally?

We have a great deal of commonality here that appears to have been lurking in the shadows. Ready to bind us without any overt discussion.

Not anymore.



Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies: Is This Really Mental Health First-Aid?

Let’s say the political transformation truth came out instead of talking about the Common Core as a means of creating common content expectations from state to state using common tests (neither of which happens to be true as I have shown). That is unless you count content as those Life Skills of Psychosocial Competence that now go by 21st Century Skills to sound better and move us towards our planned future. And I actually do mean Planning with all the fervor of a PhD candidate in Urban Studies at an Ivy League school. Maybe one of the Cambridge Cousins where too many profs have been enthralled with Systems Thinking and Theorizing and trying to get people’s behavior to fit the computer models for decades.

But no we can’t make it about 21st century skills up front as the reason because that P21 Partnership was going over like a lead balloon as attendees at conferences kept wondering “Where’s the content knowledge?” So P21 said it was folding up shop and leaving its Tucson home where it was in such close proximity to Peter Senge’s version of Systems Thinking. That it would just move into the CCSSO’s offices in DC. And thanks so much for offering the room.

Now some people were relieved and others alarmed since the conflict-laden CCSSO (look at who sponsors it to see what I mean. Hello tech companies and accreditors!) was a co-sponsor of the Common Core State Standards Initiative. And CCSSI is what the states have adopted supposedly to make content consistent. Might P21 influence the implementation? Yes. See previous post. Now we know this CCSSO interest group of the top ed officials from each state have also sponsored several other troubling initiatives that are clearly warping what the classroom implementation will look like. There’s that C3 Social Studies Framework to impact curricula and assessments and give students false beliefs to practice filtering reality through during their school years. There’s CCSSO’s work with the Asia Society on Global Competence and with Harvard’s Project Zero. PZ is also doing Global Citizenship work for IB as you may remember. And saying both its IB and CCSSO work can just go by the name Global Consciousness. Just call me “Robin Reads A Lot.”

We are going to talk about Consciousness in this post. Cultivating it with the desired concepts and filtering metaphors and desired values, attitudes, and beliefs. For a collective, common-good primary orientation. And actively manipulating it when the Mind that Came from Home has undesired beliefs and is too independent. Maybe they deny an Obligation to All Humanity or maybe their dad is a Physics prof wondering how it is Science to have no interest in actual data that is inconsistent with the hypothesis that increasing carbon dioxide because of man’s activities must lead to catastrophic consequences. is an article published recently  in Psychological Science by some Stanford profs (do you think they know Paul Ehrlich or Bandera or Roy Pea or Linda Darling-Hammond?) discovering that interdependent action and awareness is not such a good motivator in Western countries, especially the US. This research was funded by our ubiquitous and increasingly interested in our personal behavior and changing it federal agency–the National Science Foundation. The article closes like this:

“For interdependent action to become chronically motivating, it needs to be valued and promoted in American worlds and by American selves to the same extent as independence is. Until interdependence is more consistently and effectively represented in the ideas, practices, products, and institutions–that is, the culture of the American mainstream, successfully encouraging the perspective that our destiny is “stitched together” may require invoking independent behavior to achieve interdependent ends.”

Like those the Millennium Assessment of Human Behavior or the Belmont Challenge or the International Human Dimensions Programme are all pursuing now with our tax money as I have described? All eyeing education as the answer to the mindsets they need? What are the odds of all this being coincidental? Especially when I add in that the UK in 2001 got a much more up front standard to prompt all the social and emotional change and interdependent emphasis. No slipping through the windows and chimney and unpublicized Executive Orders as in the US. No, the “Standards in Scotland’s School Bill (2001) indicates that education should be directed at the development of the personality, talents and mental and physical abilities of the child or young person encouraging the development of their fullest potential.”

Now any similarities to Uncle Karl’s Human Development Theory we have discussed are wholly coincidental. It’s not like anyone with influence over British education at that time missed Marxism and the influence it had wielded. So this passage brings in intrapersonal and interpersonal skills and Educating the Whole Child and Emotional Intelligence. So the Brits and the Scots and the Aussies and the Canadians all looked at the veterans in developing such curriculums. The Americans. We have CASEL and the recommended Responsive Classroom program. Oh but back in 2001 it would have been known by its earlier name, Peaceable Classroom based on esr’s decades of Conflict Resolution and Social Responsibility work. Or there is PBIS or also Positive Behavior Support Systems. Especially popular in Colorado where the McREL ed lab pushes it as a useful tool of Second-Order Change in education.

Then there is PATHS which those Scots had turned to. PATHS is more than 2 decades old and is considered an ABCD model for the classroom–the affective/behavioural/cognitive/dynamic model of development–”placing primary importance on the developmental integration of affect, the vocabulary of emotion and cognitive understanding as they relate to social and emotional competence.” PATHS is not just for deficit urban areas although that is where it was researched on children and still gets used. See Cleveland last week. . PATHS also gets promoted now by the National Center for Mental Health Promotion and Youth Violence Prevention. And we know from an Ed Week article from a few weeks ago “Making Mental Health Part of the School Safety Solution” that all these SEL curricula are to be used as Mental Health First-Aid, supposedly to make the chances of another Sandy Hook or Columbine less likely.  Long-time readers know Colorado and CT are awash in SEL and other change the student’s personality and have been for a long time.

Why does it always come back to personality development? Beyond the clear connection to Uncle Karl’s aspirations for “creating something that has never yet existed”? I found 3 different passages from 3 sources to be stunningly illuminating on what is really going on. The first came from an essay on “The Changing Vision of Education”:

“We want the concepts, values, and skills of global education to be learned in a deep and genuine way that becomes part of each learner’s repertoire for acting in the world. As David Elkind says, once growth by integration has been accomplished, it is difficult–if not impossible–to break it down.”

Remember that mention of what Growth means because that is the new measure of the effectiveness of what happens in classrooms. Is student growth occurring? And there is nothing coincidental about the use of that term. I know because the 1976 book Schooling in Capitalist America spent a great deal of time describing the vision for “balanced human development for fostering general human fulfillment and growth.”  It’s a vision they said was consistent with the “development of a revolutionary socialist movement in the United States.” They were hoping to use education institutions, “social theory, and concrete political practice” to get most of their vision in place without violence. In their “Strategies for Social Change” passage the authors remind us of why educational institutions are so important.

“socialism is not an event. The consciousness developed in struggle is the very same consciousness which, for better or worse, will guide the process of socialist development itself.”

And they want that consciousness to become widespread among citizens. Now won’t those ill-structured performance assessments grounded in real-life problems be an excellent means of creating that consciousness? Since socialism is seen by its advocates as a State of Mind. One grounded in emotion. Certainly makes all the deliberate cultivation of false beliefs and mentions of filtering lenses to be practiced with in activities at school make far more sense. It is also consistent with a speech Linda Darling-Hammond gave  about 2009 where she giddily and unwisely mentioned that the Common Core was really about social and emotional learning. That content was just something to practice those behaviors on. The latter point can be clearly seen in documents I have where the continuous improvement is to be in desired behaviors, not knowledge.

We really are being scammed here on the difference between rhetoric and reality. And the sought goals behind closed doors could not be more Transformational. Luckily for us behaving as Miss Marple Who Reads A Lot has been a tremendous source of relevant info.

Now my third point is sort of fun. Remember I have mentioned the UN came out with a World Happiness Report in 2012 trying to get us all primed for transitioning to Quality of Life Societies where our happiness consists in the Wellbeing of All? Yes Kumbayah. Well its co-author, Richard Layard, gave a speech in March 2012 called “Mental health: the new frontier for the Welfare State.” It’s on pdf and youtube.

Which I would suggest puts the idea of Mental Health First-Aid as a daily part of every classroom in a whole new, and apt, light. 21st Century Political power for a desired welfare state. Everywhere.