Recently, a friend mentioned that she was happy that Common Core was finally gone, and that we could finally look toward something better.
Why did she think the Common Core Initiative was over? It’s grown.
But it’s hidden, for the most part. Feds and states don’t use the term anymore because it’s so unpopular; in my state, they call it “Utah Core Standards” –although, if pressed, state school boards will admit that these are Common Core: they have to be, or they wouldn’t get federal funding. Also, the D.C. legislators were told that the new federal law, ESSA, had gotten rid of Common Core and had returned control to states. How untrue that line was; the Department of Ed had just renamed it “Challenging State Academic Standards”. Common Core standards and data tags are still in the driver’s seat for all the new movements in ed reforms: from the #GoOpen Initiative, Open Educational Resources movment, and the Learning Registry to federal SETRA which is being voted on right now. Read on.
(Don’t get depressed. We can take bold action to reclaim many of our lost freedoms. We know that pretending that everything is fine, or pretending that it’s too late or too difficult to change things, is wrong. So choose the right.)
First, remember this: Common Core academics and data mining are utterly married.
The most “commonizing” thing about the Common Core Initiative was never the set of academic standards (“Common Core State Standards”- which have recently been federally renamed “Challenging State Academic Standards”. We can call them anything we want as long as the feds can see that they still align to the data and testing programs so that we can be tracked.)
The most commonizing thing was the implementation of federal data standards, known as “Common Educational Data Standards” (CEDS).
In the screenshot below, we read that CEDS is a partnership that includes the federal Department of Education and the CCSSO (private co-copyright holders over the Common Core academic standards). Whether you think the capacity for government to monitor free citizens over the course of our whole lives is good or bad, you can’t deny that that was and is the agenda of CEDS and SLDS.
This screenshot is the reason that I’ve never understood why so many say that Common Core has nothing to do with data collection, and that saying so is a conspiracy theory; these are clearly conspiracy facts: the government conspired with the private trade group CCSSO to standardize educational data nationally –without allowing legislatures or voters to vote on the matter, simply by calling the initiatives voluntary and by using cash incentives to make the standardization initiatives happen. Money for both the academic standards and the data standards came from two main sources: unelected philanthropist Bill Gates, who profits wildly from the initiatives, and from the federal Dept. of Education. Follow the money trails if you want to know what’s being built.
Federally approved academic standards, bad as they are, can still be interpreted locally to some extent. Federal data standards, though, are like matching keys in matching locks: there’s only one way they’ll work, and that’s if they are exactly, precisely the same.
So CEDS standards are used in all fifty states’ database systems because the funding and instructions for construction of those systems using CEDS came from the feds. CEDS standards are also used in the federal EdFacts Data Exchange. They’re also used in the digital testing, whether it’s end of the year testing or embedded curricular testing, in every state. They’re also mandated every time your state gets a new federal cash infusion for its State Longitudinal Database System. If your state moves toward embedded tests in an effort to get rid of over high-stakes testing, as my state is, then CEDS will still be used and your child will still be tracked. Now with the federal push for “Community Schools” that must share students’ medical and mental health data, combined with academic data, common data standards across agencies has become the federal “must”.
CEDS interoperability and standardization are the height of fashion and efficiency, but are also the death of individual flexibility and local control and citizen data privacy. Worse, the education reformers, both political and corporate, are not content to just standardize academic standards, testing, and data mining tags between states. They also want to standardize these things globally.
(If humans were angels, this might not pose any problem. The history of the human race, however, tells a sad tale of bullying and tyranny that has been significantly interrupted only by America’s noble founders. Since we cannot trust human nature generally, the U.S. Constitution logically placed checks on human power, and placed balances against human ambition, so that individual freedom would not be deleted by the noble-or-not initiatives of bullies. Humans are not angels, and giving so much power to governmental– especially globally governed– entitites, is flat-out stupid. Where are your rights to freedom of speech, of religion, of conscience, when the Constitutional rights have been demoted in the move toward global citizenship, and global data mining?)
The twin movements (of global content regulation over education and of global data standardization) are quickly apparent in these three things:
- THE LEARNING REGISTRY – a gateway for “approved” federal data and lessons, partnered with global data and ed systems; this is the main tool of the #GoOpen initiative. The Learning Registry defines itself as “a new approach” to “sharing data” that aggregates information about the “publisher, location, content area, standards alignment, ratings, reviews, and more.” It claims that finding educational resources and assessing their quality is a “burden” on educators. That responsibility will be taken over, to unburden educators– by the federal dept. of ed working with the federal dept. of defense. As much as I love to give and receive, I don’t want to share or have shared with me, educational content under the moral and educational “guidance” of the department of defense and of education. Appealing to my sense of altruism is not going to help. Ironically, Midgely admits that the love of money is the root of #GoOpen. At minute 13:52 in that video, he says, “to be honest, there’s a lot of money to be made as well”. He says that digital badges will be the common currency of K-20 and adult, corporate education. Although Midgely says that “you don’t have to conform your data sets,” and “we accept native formats” and that the system is peer-based, not censored, I think: but it’s run by the federal government. How is that peer-based? Who runs the show? What happens, down the road, when an educational resource hasn’t been run through the registry filter? Is it the orphaned, unusable resource? This registry was designed by the Dept. of Education, by federal Deputy Director of Ed Tech, Steve Midgely (whose video about the registry is here. ) Is it not weird that this learning registry is co-created by the Department of Defense and the Department of Education? And that its global partners include the “federated community” of the Soros-partnered Ariadne in Europe; the Global Grid for Learning, a Gates baby; the U.N.’s OER and more? Is this registry going to marginalize traditional, classical books and lessons even further than Common Core’s glorification of “informational text” did to English literature? Remember: Common Core never outlawed Shakespeare, but it endorsed informational text reading in the English classrooms to the point that many public schools today have no room for much Shakespeare. The endorsement of whatever the Learning Registry finds endorsable, will likely marginalize other content, if and when the registry becomes the new pink. Endorsement means the feds are picking winners and losers.
- THE #GoOPEN INITIATIVE – the name of the federal campaign serving the learning registry. For it, the federal Dept. of Ed is proposing a regulation to make it impossible to receive federal funds for any curriculum building that doesn’t fit in with the registry and #GoOpen. Local ideas for public education will not be funded if not in line with the registry and the campaign to #GoOpen. (Utah is one of the main guinea pigging states in #GoOpen. Not proud of that claim to fame.)
- TRANSFER OF THE INTERNET FROM THE U.S. TO THE GLOBALISTS – Sept. 30, 2016 is Obama’s date to make that reality. Have you read the letter from a tiny handful of Republican legislators that exposes the huge mistake this transfer will be for liberty? The internet is now used by the whole world, but it is an American national treasure, and its key operating functions were funded by U.S. taxpayers. Why give authority over the Internet away? The letter points out that transferring power over the Internet away from the U.S. will “greatly endanger Internet freedom” (look at how countries like China and Iraq censor the writings of their citizens online.) It points out that it will “significantly increase the power of foreign governments over the internet.” It also points out that U.S. taxpayers funded the key operating functions of the internet. The supreme law of our land, that upholds freedom from censorship and freedom of religion, can not exist in the soon to be globally-governed internet future. What will happen to the ways in which we learn, if the Internet is to be controlled by countries who do not prize free thought?