After last year’s stealth release of the hugely troubling C3-College, Career and Civic Ready Framework over Thanksgiving week to avoid anyone noticing what was actually changing under the invisibility cloak of the Common Core, I was watching like a hawk this year. But I really was not expecting anything like what I saw. A new definition of US civic education and to be required and assessed values that literally would have transformed Mao’s cold dark totalitarian heart in the manner of the end of the cartoon The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Why such joy from a bloody tyrant? Because the only way to describe the Youth Civic Development & Education: A Conference Consensus Report released by the Stanford Center on Adolescence on November 27, 2013 (but oddly with a 2014 copyright) is suitable for schools in a country that aspires to authoritarianism over the individual. Any knowledge of history would clue that the actual result in practice is likely to be even worse.
Everything any dictator could ever want from his or her schools sounds hyperbolic and you may be wondering how many cups of espresso I have had this morning. Two cups of Lapsang Souchong tea so that’s not the reason I am writing in such dramatic terms. And I have done some additional reading in recent days to verify both the seriousness of what we are looking at and the price of what we are scheduled to lose. Invisibly and soundlessly. No notice means no protest in time and using technology as is planned means no offensive textbook coming home to alert parents or taxpayers to the wholesale transformation.
The paper’s primary author, William Damon, has already been quoted on this blog as seeking to use education “to direct the course of the future.” http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/what-if-higher-order-thinkingdeliberate-confusion/ . After reading this report one has to wonder if he or any of the other authors was tempted to jet to London and visit Highgate Cemetary to put a bound volume at Uncle Karl’s tomb to pay homage to his hoped for view of the future and human development. So much more meaningful than flowers at this point across the centuries of this bloody pursuit to finally gain full submission over even the idea of the legitimacy of the individual.
The first book I dove into to verify what I was reading a description for was a 1973 book by Ivan Illich called Tools for Conviviality. Illich made no pretense that he was calling for socialism globally and how to get there. The book came on my horizon because it is a part of a World Perspectives series that began in the 60s with Kenneth Boulding’s The Great Transition that we have already alarmingly discussed. Illich insisted that “society must be reconstructed to enlarge the contribution of autonomous individuals and primary groups to the total effectiveness of a new system of production designed to satisfy the human needs which it also determines.” Like Broadband for all?
We have encountered this human needs focus (instead of individual choices vision) before and it did start with Uncle Karl’s writings. Illich called it the convivial society and Gar Alperowitz calls it the Good Society or the pluralist commonwealth and Shoshona Zuboff called it a support economy and distributed capitalism. Apparently there’s a good reason why this same vision with a variety of names keeps lurking in the shadows of radical education reform. It is the Illich/Marxian vision of submission to “public controls over tools and institutions” and apparently people too.
Education is the invisible, no need to gain consent from the masses, means of finally shutting down what Daniel Hannan in his fine new book Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking People Made the Modern World calls the Anglosphere Miracle. The uniquely English idea “that the law existed not to control the individual but to free him.” The highly unusual in most parts of the world and throughout much of history “idea that the government ought to be subject to the law, not the other way around.” As Hannan notes “oppression and power are far more usual” which is why “politically, a medieval European monarchy would not have been so very different to a modern African kleptocracy. Once people are in a position to set the rules, they tend to rig those rules in their own favor.”
So changing the definition of required civic values in the US so that “all citizens must be prepared to make sacrifices for the common good” as what will be mandated and assessed in K-12 public schools is quite simply an insistence from government that citizens now submit to the suzerainty of majority political will. Administered by politicians and bureaucrats who intend to plan and confiscate. In case you think I am taking damning quotes out of context to rally outrage against the Common Core, how about insisting that “Democracy requires that citizens be willing to make personal sacrifices for the common good”? Doesn’t that phrase bring home why Ayn Rand’s personal experiences with the Bolsheviks in Russia in the 1920′s led her to fret so about “mandated social altruism” imposed by state edict?
It is hard not to visualize all those white crosses and stars in the Arlington National Cemetary or the monuments to the fallen in the D-Day invasions in Normandy France and be appalled that US education and law professors and writers are now seeking to revise. The very definition of what is to constitute politically acceptable 21st century US patriotism.
“Patriotism requires an ethic of sacrifice and duty, and the capacity to act on that ethic. It requires sacrifice in the form of civic activity that involves giving back for the benefit of the whole society.”
We have already encountered the mandate of a recognition of the “interdependence of all people across the world” also in that report. It is straight out of the Global Citizenship mandate the UK and Australia and Scotland all imposed under Michael Barber’s insistence before he left the Tony Blair Administration to push global ed reforms through McKinsey Consulting and now Pearson Education. http://www.invisibleserfscollar.com/mandating-global-citizenship-mindsets-by-assessing-whether-students-adopt-social-altruism/ The US is about to join the rest of the Anglosphere in closing down this ancient view of the individual and his rights before the government and no one was really supposed to notice. No statutes here. Just ambitious Principals and Supers and Consultants and accreditation agencies seeking to lead cultural change towards public control over all institutions.
How many of you have heard about all the founding primary source documents that are to be an essential component of the Common Core classroom implementation? Better read this consensus report then. Those documents are to be read through the lens of what constitutes “authentic liberty.” The report states that
“a nation cannot have authentic liberty, for example, if conditions of severe inequality render freedom an illusion for some members of the democratic community. Nor can we understand the areas in which equality is essential unless we link those elements of meaningful access and opportunity to the freedoms we ultimately must exercise in order to flourish throughout our lifetimes.” [That is unabashedly Marx's theory of human development or what Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen are pushing now via the UN and OECD as capability as a human right.] To continue with the quote after making that crucial observation:
“Similarly, some citizens feel a loss of liberty when the government increases regulations of their personal and economic activities in pursuit of particular visions of equality. [Yes we are familiar with those particular visions. See above brackets]. The values of liberty and equality, in turn, are connected to a core notion of human dignity.”
We are NOT being asked to surrender the great Anglosphere invention that enabled unprecedented mass prosperity because production became more lucrative than predation as the way to get financially ahead. We aren’t even being informed. Apparently that joyful message reverts to a snoop like me. Aren’t you enthused that students are to even focus on the proper levers for taking by majority fiat as they learn about “treating political power as a central theme of civic education involves helping young people see how they gain greater control and influence over the many issues that affect them and the people they care about.”
No need to worry about where the lessons of history predict this will all end up because students are to be taught a version of power “firmly grounded in ethical principle.” Yes because any knowledge of reality might foretell the likely tsunami of political oppression that inevitably occurs anytime any group gets this kind of power over individuals who have no effective recourse.
That’s enough. Read the whole thing if you can bear it. I am obviously having a hard time with the no-holds-barred language being used. I think we need to all know our students are to be assessed on whether they are willing to “sacrifice for the the common good or greater good.”
And that this is being defined as “must reflect a commitment to interdependence and improving things for the many and not just the self. Furthermore, students ought to reflect on this principle in terms of a shared humanity beyond the boundaries of the nation, and from the perspective of future generations, considering the worldwide and intergenerational implications of the choices they will make.”
In the name of Common Core and civic education we are about to get all destructive propaganda, all the time. And the specialness of the Anglosphere won’t be all that disappears.
Every radical’s dream coming in as civic education.