Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order to reclaim local control of education, and then handed his pen to a school teacher who was watching the event. Watch her at minute 10:00. She is tearful. This executive order meant something to her. Teachers are weary of being micromanaged, standards-whipped, undermined and data-mined. They want peace.
But it isn’t the federal government alone that has stunted teachers’ and students’ freedoms, and this executive order alone does not have the power to fix what’s broken in American education. What local control advocates are fighting is the mighty, wealthy partnership of government to corporate ed-tech. It’s the marriage of enforceable power to greed.
Possibly, an executive order might get the feds out of teacher’s laps, but guess what? Business interests will still be sitting there. Most of them think that there’s nothing wrong with businesses influencing policy– but there is. We can’t un-elect a corporation. We can’t attend their private meetings. We can’t vote for what will be put into the educational computer programs that our children are to be fed. We can’t get rid of the influence of businesses if we do not like what they’re doing; that’s why the business industry must be kept out of public education. The voice of the voter and of the mom and dad and teacher and student must never be quashed under the brute strength that industry plus government can become.
The federal government is neither the main nor the sole entity undermining local control –nor is this a left/right argument. On both the left and the right, at both federal and state levels, watch the monied partnerships combining. The huge combinations are what we’re fighting, and their huge influence are why we’re losing.
The U.S. Dept. of Education is partnered with CCSSO. Microsoft is partnered with Pearson. States are partnered with the feds in student database building and reporting. And the federal CEP is trying to centrally house all the data for everyone.
All of these combinations rely on common data standards. They must have standardization –or out of their hands slips the golden goose.
What most people don’t know, and what DeVos won’t say, is that the Common Core movement was never just a set of academic standards; it was a set of data standards from day one.
Global data-standardization of all things in education, from tests to curriculum to teacher evaluations to student pathway setting to school grading, is much more controlling than a little old set of math and English standards could ever be!
Know this: a private group partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to create Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS).
That private group was called the CCSSO. The very same CCSSO partnered with the National Governors’ Association to create the Common Core academic standards.
Both CEDS and CCSS form the heart of the Common Core movement. Neither are gone.
Those data standards and education standards are embedded into the vast ed-tech reform market and school systems. Few people outside the tech elite know this. So we fall for the rebranding efforts of lobbyists, legislatures, and even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, over and over again.
States rename their academic standards (as Utah did with Utah Core Standards) but the truth is that we still use the common core academic tests and common data standards. These are not locally controlled.
Because the federal government is only a co-creator of the monster known as the Common Educational Data Standards (CEDS), I don’t see how reducing federal overreach into local academic decision making will help us all that much; the other co-creator, CCSSO/NGA, promoting a centrally planned standardization movement itself –which feeds on investors and has trillions to play with— will thrive on.
(For those who think centrally planned standardization of education data is faulty conspiracy theory, I repeat: check the CCSSO’s official statement: “Common Education Data Standards Initiative is a joint effort by CCSSO and the State Higher Education Executive Officers (SHEEO) in partnership with the United States Department of Education.”)
This is something that Trump’s executive order does not mention. Neither does DeVos.
I can’t trust DeVos to obey the spirit of this executive order. Sweet as she may come across, DeVos embodies the problem that arises when half-truths become acceptable to society. Listen to the Michigan Moms against Common Core. They have history, losing Devos when she fought against parental empowerment and against the repeal of Common Core in Michigan. DeVos’ interests were better served by Common Core’s continuation.
It seems impossible that DeVos is unaware of the inaccuracy of her statement this week: “there really isn’t any Common Core anymore.” (See video clip, minute 3:00) https://video.foxnews.com/v/5409228473001/?#sp=show-clips
Ask anyone who works in education, or in the education publishing or tech industries, if Common Core is gone. They live it every day.
How can DeVos say that?
DeVos leans on the latest version of No Child Left Behind/ESEA, called ESSA, as evidence that Common Core is gone, saying that states are in the driver’s seat. She’s wrong.
ESSA does not use the term “common core” as a requirement, sure; but it requires states to demonstrate to the feds that they’ve adopted standards aligned to the same definition that the feds have promoted (common core).
Under ESSA, the feds can withhold funding and can veto states’ educational decision making agendas! (“You can have any color as long as it’s black.”)
ESSA pushes everything Obama wanted: the tsunami of nonconsensual data mining requirements; federally set moral/social values in schools (social emotional learning, or SEL); federally defined preschools and social services; and “college and career ready standards” which is code for Common Core.
Short on time? Skip straight to this quote from Obama’s Secretary Duncan, who gloated when Congress passed ESSA: “I’m stunned at how much better it ended up than either [House or Senate] bill going into conference. I had a Democratic congressman say to me that it’s a miracle — he’s literally never seen anything like it… if you look at the substance of what is there . . . embedded in [ESSA] are the values that we’ve promoted and proposed forever. The core of our agenda from Day One, that’s all in there – early childhood, high standards…”
If ESSA was such a win for local control, why was Duncan calling it a miracle for his agenda? More to the point, can anyone honestly say that DeVos’ push for ESSA isn’t promoting the Obama agenda?
Trump’s executive order aims to be a local control enforcement mechanism, but because it relies on ESSA, it can never really achieve its stated purpose, “to ensure strict compliance with statutes that prohibit Federal interference with State and local control over education“.
The order aims “to protect and preserve State and local control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, and personnel of educational institutions, schools, and school systems” which is wonderful, but the next few phrases are where I get stuck. They add: “…consistent with applicable law, including ESEA, as amended by ESSA, and ESEA’s restrictions related to the Common Core State Standards developed under the Common Core State Standards Initiative.”
This seems self-contradicting.
I will admit that I have been doing some laughing this week. I laughed hardest (probably inappropriately) when I saw DeVos say on Fox News, while standing stylishly in front of the White House, that there’s no such thing as Common Core anymore.
Realize that Secretary DeVos has been directed to examine the overreaching actions of her department, while she’s in complete denial that Common Core is a problem and in denial about any partnership between her own department and the creators of Common Core/Common Data Standards, even existing. She’s also promoting the same agenda that GSV and Obama promoted (see below).
Isn’t this like asking the arsonist to serve as fire chief?
A few weeks ago I wrote that this year’s host for the mega education tech conference was Salt Lake City, and that the conference’s co-sponsors, Global Silicon Valley and Arizona State University, had posted a white paper describing their vision and agenda. I was pretty mad that they were taking $2,795 per person to attend this ed tech conference. I was even madder that their real agenda, found in their white paper, was full of pro-Common Core and anti-local control plotting.
But now I’m madder.
The 300-plus page, foundational white paper has been deleted from the internet.
If you go to the GSV website, or to the conference website, or to my own blog’s links to that document, vamoosh! Gone.
This, just a few days before the conference is to begin? Why doesn’t GSV want its agenda widely known anymore? Why not?
I thought I’d post a screen shot of that document’s key page: page 302.
This “Strategic Battle Plan” of Global Silicon Valley and Arizona State University (and Bill Gates and everyone, pawns or knaves, on the ed-tech bandwagon) began with Common Core.
It continued with universal preschool vouchers and No Child Left Behind 2.0 (which is ESSA.) It goes on to school choice, knowledge as currency, tax credits for employee training, and the elimination of locally elected school boards.
The elimination of locally elected school boards.
This is not something that we should take lightly.
Republicans are just as guilty as Democrats in actively destroying local control by worshiping ed tech. Pay attention to this battle plan.
UPDATE 4-28-17: A friend found an online copy of that deleted document. Here is the link to the full document: http://www.educationindustry.org/assets/documents/KnowledgeCenterDocs/2012%20american_revolution%202.0%20gsv%20advisors.pdf
ON SCHOOL CHOICE:
One of the steps on that page 302 agenda (above) is school choice.
I know that many good people have been taken in by the “school choice” idea, so I want to address that briefly.
School choice is no long-term choice! The words sound good, and of course in a free country we need choices– but what do these words mean to ed reformers, and in context of government dollars?
Tax dollars will flow from government coffers to private schools, instead of parents’ dollars flowing to private schools. With government money comes government accountability; in 2017, accountability is spelled D-A-T-A. If you value student data privacy, if you value a private school being allowed to set its own academic, religious, social and moral values, then don’t be sucked in to the school choice movement. In the long run, this movement is taking away what autonomy means, or meant, to a school.
Lastly. And yes, this is related.
Do you know that there is a federal Commission on Evidence-based Policy (CEP) that exists to argue about how and where to house citizens’ personally identifiable data centrally? No one’s suing. They should be.
Data that has been nonconsensually gathered by federally designed school systems called “State Longitudinal Database Systems” (SLDS) plus data that has been gathered by a multitude of other state and federal agencies and organizations is now to be housed either in one federal repository or in a few consortia of repositories, if the CEP gets its way.
The arguments of the CEP members remind me of that line in The Princess Bride: “You’re trying to kidnap what I’ve rightfully stolen!”
I’m still an optimist.
Angels greatly outnumber devils. I see greatness in individuals who are doing their best, still thinking outside the box as much as they are able– teachers, principals, parents, grandparents, and yes, even legislators. I see individuals doing what they can, wherever they stand and they are making a difference. The incredible liveliness and buoyant spirit in children is not going to be permanently crushed, not even by the robotic idiocy of tech worship that is plaguing education systems today.
I absolutely believe that the oppression of standardization is less than a fleck of dust in God’s huge wind.