Feds Will Control Curriculum, Competency and Credentialing
Reblogged with permission from Return to Parental Rights on 09/21/15
by Jakell Sullivan
The federal government has absolutely no constitutional right to control curriculum, but they’re doing it anyway. In a 2011 video for the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry, Steve Midgley, the Deputy Director of Education Technology for the US Department of Education, says that the Learning Registry “makes federal learning resources easier to find, easier to access and easier to integrate into learning environments wherever they are stored.” He also admits that the Federal Communications Commission changed broadband internet regulations to get federally-sanctioned curriculum items into every child’s classroom.
Say what? Yes. You heard it right. The Whitehouse is picking winners and losers in curriculum providers. They have created an effective oligarchy over online learning and testing resources in order to make sure that the curriculum coming through your child’s school-issued iPad or computer contains the right worldview.
They funded the creation of Common Education Data Standards (CEDS), gave states federal grants to expand their state longitudinal data system (see Utah’s here and here), got 300 (and counting) online learning and testing groups to create interoperable curriculum and computer-adaptive tests, and created a one-stop-shop called the Learning Registry where every child’s learning data will be tracked. This is information control, folks. And, it’s not just for K-12.
George Washington University, among many other institutions of higher ed, has jumped on the Learning Registry’s bandwagon. They are helping the federal administration (perhaps unwittingly) succeed at redefining student competencies around student behaviors, as opposed to academics.
When Utahns think of competency-based education, we think of a student mastering something factual and proving competency. That’s not what the federal Learning Registry seeks. It defines competencies around values, attitudes and beliefs.
In other words, the more a student can think in moral relativist terms, the more “skilled” they are. Students who think “all truth is relative” will be easily malleable workers for a globally managed economy—widgets for crony business leaders.
So, how will the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry work? It will:
- Filter the curriculum content that reaches teachers and students
- Collect data on how a child thinks and what they believe
- Use that data to personalize online learning curriculum and adaptive testing systems (compare this to political campaigns changing the way voters vote by collecting data to create personalized marketing)
- Viola! A child will see America in terms of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality—and advocate for big government solutions.
When John Marini talked about the famous movie Mr. Smith Goes to Washington written by Frank Capra, he said, “Frank Capra did not see America as many Americans do today, in terms of personal categories of identity…he understood America in terms of its political principles.”
If we want our children to be champions of liberty, including religious liberty, we need to engage our local education leaders in a discussion about who is defining “competency.” And, we cannot be naïve in thinking that we will implement competency-based education differently than the federal administration desires. If we put our plug (technology systems) into their electrical outlet (Learning Registry), we will be giving them all-power over what our children learn—and, we’ve already started plugging in. As one tech-savvy mom recently noted, “Parents need to understand that a unique student ID# will act like a social security number on steroids.”
George Washington University says that they are helping the Whitehouse “create a beta version of a credentialing registry on the existing Learning Registry.” This means that the Feds are positioned, not only to control curriculum, but how colleges rate student credentials—also called “digital badges.” If this sounds like German-style education, that’s because it is.
We can’t allow the federal administration to use personally identifiable data to “personalize” learning resources for our children. It’s time for Congressional hearings into the Whitehouse’s Learning Registry—and it’s international data standards-setting partners, IMS Global and the SIF Association.
It’s also time for our local boards of education to take back what it means to have locally controlled education. Local boards should stand with parents by making sure that their district’s online curriculum and test items do not conform to federally-funded data standards.
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For more information on how the federal administration is aligning state and district policies to internationalist goals for competency-based education, see:
• Race To The Top for Districts (RTT-D) gave priority funding to districts that would embrace personalized learning and competency-based ed. See: http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition
• Feds Give Nudge to Competency-Based Education https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/03/19/feds-give-nudge-competency-based-education
• Bill Gates’ KnowledgeWorks has published two Policy Briefs with the most extensive information about how the federal administration used Race To The Top to push state and district policies towards implementing personalized-learning and towards the competency-based education that Utah is now embracing.
I feel as if Secretary Duncan and President Obama run education in Utah without any legislative or USOE opposition at all, ever.
Whatever is suggested on the education pages of Whitehouse.gov, by its federal education branches or by its corporate partners, ends up in Utah as a law, presented to the masses as if it were Utah’s idea.
Tonight: guess what?
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that tonight, Utah lawmakers passed a bill that “will assign rewards and consequences to Utah schools based on the state’s controversial school grading system. Schools who improve their grades will get funding and salary bonuses, while struggling schools will have the option of getting mentoring from school turnaround experts.”
Am I the only one reading this as: Utah adopted Obama’s School Turnaround model?
There is in fact an Obama-led, federal school turnaround model. There’s the federal “Office of School Turnaround” where states are assigned program officers. There’s a blue team and a green team.
Utah’s been assigned to the green team on that federal office of school turnaround chart. (I don’t remember voting on this.)
In the chart where Utah’s listed for turnaround (see below) the Utah program officer is not yet named. It says, “To Be Determined.” The feds hadn’t assigned us a program officer before today.
They surely will now.
There’s also a federal Center on School Turnaround (CST) that’s so much more than an office in D.C. It’s a whole ” federal network of 22 Comprehensive Centers” that boasts ” 15 Regional Comprehensive Centers… and 7 national Content Centers.” The federal CST condescends to report that states are allowed to play a role in their own school turnaround. But not the leading role; that’s for the feds and the Comprehensive Centers. In a report titled “The State Role in School Turnaround” we learn that some of CST’s goals are to change states’ laws and to micromanage turnaround efforts. In their words:
“The Center on School Turnaround’s four objectives:
- Create a Pro-Turnaround Statutory and Regulatory Environment
- Administer and Manage Turnaround Efforts Effectively”
How. Stupid. Or. Blind. Are. We. Really! –And how apathetic to our rights.
Friends! Here’s our wakeup fact of the decade: our state holds a Constitutional duty and right to keep the federal government out of education. We are failing in this duty. Utahns are collectively– even lawmakers– either asleep, too busy or perhaps paid off by corporate lobbyists partnered with the machine, that we cannot notice a swift transfer of fed ed’s aims into local ed’s reality.
The passage of SB 235 is just one example of this ongoing series of terrible mistakes that cement our actions in line with the federal will.
The new Utah law calls for “turnaround experts” to improve low labeled schools using one driving method: tests. Schools will be labeled by student performance on Common Core/SAGE tests as low- or high-performing. Then some will be assigned a “turnaround expert” to raise Common Core test scores.
How will Utah, in practice, select the turnaround experts? Will the experts be chosen from Obama’s personal list of school turnaround experts, which you may view, with colorful photos of each person, at Whitehouse.gov? Will these experts be taken from Bill Gates’ personal turnaround recommendation list? Will they be recommended by the Federal Center for School Turnaround (CST)? –Or by bigtime school turnaround advocates at the Über-progressive Center for American Progress (CAP)?
That famous turnaround group, the Center for American Progress, brazenly “disagrees that school improvement should be left entirely to states” and the Center has written that: “the United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control… new authority will have to come at the expense of local control… local control is the source of many of the nation’s problems related to education.”
I am not screaming out loud because I’m saving my screams until this next paragraph:
This week, the Tribune reported that longtime Utah State School Board member Leslie Castle “expressed frustration with the political rhetoric that pits states’ rights against the federal government. She… urged her colleagues to refrain from statements critical of federal overreach.
‘I am not going to be voting in favor of anything that plays to this nonsense that somehow our relationship with the federal government is crazy and something we’re trying to get out of,’ she said.” -Read the rest here.
In the Utah turnaround law, the phrase “credible track record” is used to establish the person who will “fix” Utah’s low-labeled schools. “Credible track record” is an odd choice of words because in the post-2010 altered education world of Common Core, there has been no track record required of education reformers. There were exactly zero validity studies and no empirical evidence to accompany the Common Core standards and tests. If you didn’t know that validity and piloting were missing, read what academics and scientists have been shouting from the rooftops about the nonvalid, utterly empty track record of Common Core tests and standards: Dr. Christopher Tienken‘s and Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s and Dr. Gary Thompson‘s and Dr. Yong Zhao’s writings are good places to start.
Utah’s new law on school turnaround says that the experts who will turn around low-labeled schools must be: “experts identified by the board under Section 53A-1-1206“. They must “have a credible track record of improving student academic achievement… as measured by statewide assessments; (b) have experience designing, implementing, and evaluating data-driven instructional systems… have experience coaching public school administrators and teachers on designing data-driven school improvement plans…”
Translation: the expert solves problems by defining problems as test-centric. The expert is solely devoted to test-focused, test-and-data-centric methods and will likely be devotees of Sir Michael Barber’s “Deliverology” method. (“Deliverology,” written for American education reformers by a Brit, the CEA of Pearson, Inc., (the world’s largest education sales company) is a book/philosophy that emphasizes results to the point that it’s called “merciless… imposing arbitrary targets and damaging morale” in its “top down method by which you undermine achievement of purpose and demoralize people.”) Deliverology is popular because it works– but only when ruthlessly applied.
FYI, our U.S. Secretary of Education has long touted Barber’s books and robotic methods.
But I have veered off topic. And Utah’s legislative session is past.
Better luck next year.
Peter Greene, teacher, blogger and Huffington Post writer, has written another funny and fascinating ed reform article. In this one, he highlights the findings of University of South Carolina law professor Derek W. Black. Black’s soon-to-be-published findings include the following:
“Two of the most significant events in the history of public education occurred over the last year. First, after two centuries of local control and variation, states adopted a national curriculum. Second, states changed the way they would evaluate and retain teachers, significantly altering teachers’ most revered right, tenure. Not all states adopted these changes of their own free will. The changes were the result of the United States Secretary of Education exercising unprecedented agency power in the midst of an educational crisis: the impending failure of almost all of the nation’s schools under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The Secretary invoked the power to impose new conditions on states in exchange for waiving their obligations under NCLB…. As a practical matter, he federalized education in just a few short months.”
Peter Greene divides the law journal article into four simple, easy-to-digest segments, and explains them. You will laugh as you learn.
For example, under “Part I: No Changing the Rules” Greene writes: “When the feds pass a law, they have to lay out all the rules that do and will apply to that law. You can’t pass a law, start folks working under it, and then years later announce, ‘Oh, yeah, and by the way, we’ve changed this law about making cheese sandwiches so that it also covers sloppy joes, and also, if you don’t go along with us on this, we get to take your car.”Also, you can’t suddenly say, ‘We’ve given my brother-in-law the power to judge your sloppy joes.’ Conditions for receiving federal fund must be “unambiguous” and non-coercive.”
Both the funny and easy-to-understand analysis of Duncan’s illegal waiver-waving, and the official law journal publication by Dr. Derek Black, as soon as it becomes available to the public, must be read and shared.
Let’s stop the Department of Education’s lawless disrespect for constitutional local control of education –and protect our children– by learning and then sharing these facts widely.