Archive for the ‘PPP’ Tag

Beware of Pearson’s Plan for Education   4 comments

sir michael barber

pearson

I am fascinated with the increasing convergence of honest right-wing thinkers and honest left-wing thinkers in the context of protecting legitimate, locally controlled education and fighting Common Core and its data-mining tentacles. Professor Singer points out in his article not only what Pearson is doing in England and in the U.S., but how these “curious connections” that form alliances between “exceedingly rich men” whether socialists or capitalists, who, together with government boards, are taking over education, literally all over the globe.

People on both sides of the political aisle are feeling similar alarm at the partnershipping of governments and private corporations that is taking away the voice of the voter as it hands over the keys of the American (in this case, also the British) school bus –to that wild and crazy driver known as Sir Michael Barber, CEA of Pearson, self-proclaimed revolutionary.

The article below is reposted with permission from Alan Singer of Hofstra University, and it’s been posted at the Huffington Post. I actually prefer and recommend reading it at the Huffington Post, where helpful links are embedded, so you can fact-check the article for yourself.

For more information about Pearson’s CEA, Sir Michael Barber, and what he stands for, there are several articles I’ve posted previously here and here and here.

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Beware! Pearson’s Plan for Education Is Coming to a Country Near You

By Alan Singer, Hofstra University Social Studies Educator, New York

In the United States school districts are traditionally organized and funded locally. Parents, teachers, and school and district administrators usually only think about state and national issues when they feel pressed from above by state imposed budget cuts or federal demands for curriculum change and new assessments. Much of the opposition to Common Core and Race to the Top arose because parents, teachers, and administrators felt local prerogatives were being undermined by unwarranted pressure from above. But an examination of the Pearson publishing mega-giant’s plan to control public education in Great Britain makes clear, the greatest threat to local initiatives in public education may be from powerful global corporations. Beware! The Pearson Plan for education in the United Kingdom may be coming to a country near you — unless we can stop it now.

In March 2013, The Guardian, one of the leading British daily newspapers, published an opinion piece charging that “unelected oligarchs” and “private sponsors” were taking over the British school system. The academy schools discussed in this article sound very similar to the charter school movement in the United States.

“All over England, schools are being obliged to become academies: supposedly autonomous bodies which are often “sponsored” (the government’s euphemism for controlled) by foundations established by exceedingly rich men. The break-up of the education system in this country, like the dismantling of the National Health Service, reflects no widespread public demand. It is imposed, through threats, bribes and fake consultations, from on high.”

The “academy” alternative was supposed to be reserved for failing schools, but according to the article, the reality in Britain is much different. A Department of Education memo makes clear “it is our ambition that academy status should be the norm for all state schools.” Another memo recommended transferring academies out of the state-run school system into the private sector. To achieve these goals, “academy” sponsors appear to be targeting good schools with temporary problems that they can claim to have turned around.

For example, from 2007-2012 the Roke primary school in the community of Croydon in south London was rated “outstanding” by the British government’s quality control department known as OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills). However, after several senior staff retired and a computer failure caused a delay in reporting data to inspectors, the school received a “Notice to Improve.” Although the school subsequently met the required standards, it was notified by the British Department for Education that it would be turned into an academy.

In September 2012, the British Department for Education held a closed meeting with school administrators and reportedly told them that if they did not immediately accept the demand to become an “academy,” they would be fired by the local school authority. They threatened that if local school officials did not carry out the order, it would be replaced by an interim board of governors that would. They also warned school administrators not to inform parents about the meeting or the decision.

School administrators at Roke acquiesced and selected the local secondary school as its partner. However, on the last day of the fall term, the Department of Education rejected the plan and paired the school with the “Harris Foundation,” a group founded by the chairman of a large retail store chain with close ties to the ruling Conservative Party. When parents learned of these events they rebelled and unanimously voted to partner with the secondary school. But the community was overruled by the British schools minister, who happens to be a wealthy businessman, a major donor to the British Conservative Party, and a sponsor of the academies plan.

In many ways the strategy for promoting academies in Great Britain is similar to the strategy for promoting charter schools in the United States. Working class and poor families are told the academies are a solution to educational inequality. The academies are also exempt from following national curriculum and are not answerable to local governments. According to one British commentator who has carefully documented the history of the academies, “When threats don’t work, the department resorts to bribery. Schools receive up to an extra £65,000 or over $100,000 in state funds, if they become academies. As a result, the academies program exceeded its budget by £1 billion ($1.6 billion) from 2010 to 2012.

The Guardian is especially concerned about the influence of Pearson, the educational publishing giant, over the so-called educational reform movement in Great Britain. Pearson, originally based in Great Britain but with most of its current revenue from the United States, is at the center of the academy movement. In partnership with the Royal Society of Arts, Pearson funded a study the Guardian suspects will be used to demonstrate the success of the academies scheme.

In addition, Pearson, through its Edexcel subsidy, is the largest testing company in Great Britain with sales totally over £317 million in 2010. It also has a contract to grade achievement tests for English 11-year-olds. Not surprisingly, Pearson sponsored another study to show how the exam system promotes “high standards.” Other Pearson ventures designed to shape educational policy and maybe also boost Pearson corporate profits include “Pearson Think Tank,” funding Oxford University’s Centre for Educational Assessment, and the “Pearson school model.” The “Pearson school model” includes a computer-based curriculum that can be sold to schools, dubbed “the Always Learning Gateway.”

The “Pearson Think Tank” is an excellent example of the way Pearson’s not-for profit policy and research programs and its for-profit corporate activities intersect. According to its website, “Although the Pearson Think Tank is funded by Pearson, it is independent from its commercial activities. We are conscious of any conflicts of interest and operate accordingly, and final decisions about what and when we publish reside with us.” However, “Where possible we try to draw on Pearson’s networks, knowledge and expertise to gather new evidence about educational quality and access that is of interest to the wider sector.”

But the reality is that the Pearson Think Tank is actively promoting Pearson corporate interests. The think tank is working in partnership with the British Academies Commission to examine the implications of the “mass academisation,” or privatization, of Britain’s state run schools. Between May 2010 and November 2012 the number of academized schools increased from about 200 to almost 2,500. As with other Pearson supported “studies,” it somehow aligns with corporate goals. In this case its goal is “to develop a practical but compelling vision for the future of UK academisation” so that “young people experience the benefits of academisation.” The Commission’s report is titled, “Unleashing greatness: Getting the best from an academised system.”

The Pearson Think Tank has also conducted “research” to support the use of Pearson high-stakes tests in the United Kingdom; to promote the type of “enterprise and entrepreneurship education” provided by the Pearson UK online university; and to support “Pearson’s Teacher Training and Certification Programme.”

In praise of Pearson for-profits high-stakes testing programs, the Pearson Think Tank quoted Michael Gove, Great Britain’s Conservative Party Education Secretary who defended the tests as “tools of social mobility” based on human nature because “humans are hard-wired to seek out challenges”; sources of “satisfaction and contentment” for students on “a job well done”; and the basis to “ensure that a solid base of learning is complete before progressing on to further learning.” The tests are great because they “drive creativity” and “signal that a person is ready to take on greater challenge and responsibility.” Unfortunately, there was no research cited to support these over-the-top claims.

The Guardian article quoted Stephen Ball, a professor of the sociology of education at London University’s Institute of Education and an expert on education business, on Pearson’s “educational” ventures. According to Ball:

“They want to offer products and services in all areas of school practice: assessment, pedagogy, curriculum and management, and they want to create the possibility for that through policy work. They want to have indirect influence in policy to create opportunities for business expansion. It’s a very well thought-out business strategy.”

As we know from recent revelations by the Attorney General of New York State, Pearson operates the same way in the United States blurring the lines between its not-for-profit Foundation and its for-profit company. As a penalty and to avoid prosecution the Pearson Foundation agreed to pay $7.5 million into a fund managed by the Attorney General to support education in high-needs schools. When I posted a Huffington Post “Pearson Caught Cheating, Says Sorry, But Will Pay” on the Pearson Foundation Facebook page, Foundation officials responded:

“Pearson and the Foundation maintain we have always acted with the best intentions and complied with the law. However, we recognize that there were times when the governance of the Foundation and its relationship with Pearson could have been clearer and more transparent. The Foundation has adopted a number of reforms to enhance operations and programs and further its charitable mission.”

In the United States, Pearson donates to the Center for American Progress, a think tank with close ties to the Obama White House. John Podesta, Founder and Chair of the Center for American Progress, was Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House and is an important advisor to President Obama. Reports issued by the Center for American Progress have advocated in favor of the national Common Core Standards, changes in teacher preparation programs including alternative certification routes, and the validity of high stakes student assessments, all areas where Pearson for-profit is marketing products and services. While the Center for American Progress is considered a “liberal” think tank, it has some curious conservative and business connections. For example, Ulrich Boser, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress where he analyzes education issues also serves as research director of Leaders and Laggards, a joint project of the Center for American Progress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute.

I do not think Pearson’s problems in New York State were related to unclarity at all. What is happening in Great Britain makes it perfectly clear, Pearson’s not for-profit activities serve the global profit making goals of the Pearson company. If parents, teachers and students do not organize to resist corporate incursions into American public education, the Pearson Plan for Education will be coming to a country, state, city, town, and school near you!

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Thank you, Alan Singer.

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Public-Private-Partnerships: What Osmond’s Preschool Bill and Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 have in common   4 comments

My brother called the other day to ask me what I thought of the radio ads for “Prosperity 2020.” In my gut I knew there was something bad about it, but I couldn’t put my finger on what.  But thanks to Professor Steven Yates’ white paper on the subject of public-private partnerships, now I get it.

It wasn’t just “Prosperity 2020″ that made me do this research.  I’d also been working out why UT Sen. Osmond’s early childhood education bill, SB17, was so wrong.  It was more than SB17’s way of tempting low income parents to drop their kids in the free government daycare to go to work that made me so uncomfortable.  It was also, I now clearly see, the fact that Osmond’s bill uses private money to create a public service.

The Governor’s project is Prosperity 2020; Osmond’s is  SB17.

So why are both Governor Herbert and Senator Osmond –two Utah Republicans who call themselves conservatives– pushing for public-private partnerships (PPPs)  in Utah?

I still believe that these are decent men who honestly believe their respective projects will benefit Utah.

But sincerity does not trump truth.

Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 and Osmond’s SB17  create public-private partnerships that compromise vital American principles of free enterprise and limit the self-control of citizens’ lives by allowing unelected businesspeople, with government, to view individuals as collectively owned  “human capital.”

There’s nothing wrong with businesses and government working in harmony; of course, that is what a good society does.  Problems come when business leaders (unelected) begin to shape binding government policies.  An elected politician is accountable to his consituency of voters who can unelect him. But who, for example, is Microsoft’s or Pearson company’s constituency?  When Pearson or Gates help set binding education / business policies for Utah, how can voters alter that?

(It must be especially difficult for Senator Osmond to recognize the trouble with blending business and government, since he sits on the Senate Education Committee while being employed by Pearson, the company Utah has partnered with to provide educational technology and educational products.  –But that’s a topic for another day. )

It’s not that these men are calculating socialists.  Not at all; they’re just short on research.  They don’t recognize what their new alignments of public-private partnerships (PPPs) end up creating.

Many have explained the trouble with blending business and government in partnership. They call it soft fascism:  I think of it as fascism by consensus.  In the case of Prosperity 2020, it’s soft, consensual fascism via good marketing.  (Have you heard the many recent radio ads for Prosperity 2020?)

I’ve never seen PPPs (Public Private Partnerships) better explained than by Professor Steven Yates, whose white paper on the subject was presented at a conference at the Ludwig von Mises Institute in 2006.  I’m going to quote him extensively here.

His paper, “Sustainable Development: Public-Private Partnerships, the undermining of free enterprise, and the emergence of soft facism Sustainable Development: the Hidden Threat to Liberty,  was published a few years ago: http://files.meetup.com/1387375/LIBERTYGARDEN-PPP.pdf   (www.freedom21santacruz.net)

Professor Yates’ paper is long but great.  See it here. 

I’ve taken the time to scoop up his main points.

 

  • Public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice
  • The individual person does not own himself; he exists to serve the state or the collective
  • Public-private partnerships bring about a form of “governance” alien to the founding principles of Constitutionally limited government, government by consent of the governed
  • The PPP system is fascist since it involves corporations and governments working together to make policy; it is soft fascist because it is not overtly totalitarian.
  • Vocationalism in education makes sense if one’s goals are social engineering, since it turns out worker bees who lack the  tools to think about the policies shaping their lives

Yates also writes:

“What is a public-private partnership? What purposes were they supposedly created to serve? What, on the other hand, is free enterprise? Are the two compatible? In answering these questions we shall see that although advocates of public-private partnerships frequently speak of economic development, public-private partnerships really amount to economic control—they are just one of the key components of the collectivist edifice being built…

…How did the enthusiasm for public-private partnerships begin, and what do they have to do with sustainable development? We can the idea of the comprehensively planned society at least to Plato, who envisioned such a society in his Republic. In the Republic, there is a place for everyone and everyone knows his place. Properly educated philosopher-kings rule—because by virtue of their educations they are most suited to rule.

…In modern times we must cite the collectivism of Jean-Jacques Rousseau…  And we could cite G.W.F. Hegel (author of The Philosophy of Right and other works), inventor of the idea of the state as the historical manifestation of the Absolute. In the Hegelian vision, the individual belongs to the state.

…Characteristic of all these visions is that once implemented, the individual person does not own himself; he exists to serve the state or the collective. He is not to be allowed to direct his own paths, but is compelled down paths laid by those in power…

…The long-term goal here is what can be increasingly envisioned as an emerging world state with many facets (the three E’s of sustainable development being equity, economy, environment—with a prospective ‘fourth E’ being education).

This world state will gradually subsume and eradicate nation-states until the phrase United States of America names not a sovereign country but a large tract of micromanaged real estate—at least half of which will be off-limits to human beings.

By the start of the 2000 decade, one city or town after another all across the country was bringing in “consultants” and having “visioning” sessions.

… Communities began to be transformed from within, typically with the full cooperation of mayors and other elected officials, other local government officials, business groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce, presidents of local colleges, and neighborhood-association groups. Plans with names such as Vision 2025… would result from these sessions.

The idea was to build up a form of capitalism that would transform itself into socialism via the collectivization of its participants through, e.g., self-directed work teams...Education had become entirely group-focused through group projects and group grades. Thus the business personnel turned out would have no moral center other than the collectivist one. It also became increasingly vocation-focused….

…In some cases, the use of public-private partnerships to facilitate the construction of more government schools has been promoted. On other occasions, public-private partnerships actually get involved in instruction and curriculum development themselves, sometimes beginning with very small children, e.g., the Child  Care Partnership Project. This entity serves as a kind of incubator for public-private partnerships between state-level child care administrators and businesses, nonprofits, foundations, and other groups.

Education, unsurprisingly, is a preoccupation of elite groups such as the World Economic Forum, which sponsored the Global Education Initiative… The vision for the Global Education Initiative (GEI) was conceived during the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting 2003. Together, business leaders of the Information Technology and Telecommunications Community of the Forum launched an initiate to create new sustainable models for education reform in the developing world through public-private partnership.

 

School-To-Work education, of course, emphasizes vocation at the expense of academics, i.e., traditional subject areas

Vocationalism in education makes sense, if one’s goals are social engineering. It will turn out human worker bees who lack the mental tools to think about the policies shaping their lives.

… [The US] first integrated education and government via the Goals 2000 Educate America Act, then education and business via the School-to-Work Opportunities Act and finally business and government with the others via the Workforce Investment Act.

…Among the casualties of this system are traditional academic subjects, which are relegated to the status of decorations as job training is ratcheted up.

Students are compelled to select a “career cluster” as early as the eighth grade. As they near graduation they find themselves sent to work sites for labor training instead of in classrooms learning reading, mathematics, history, government, and so on.

Public-private partnerships are fundamentally different from previous organizations and collaborations that have involved businesstheir widespread adoption is bringing about a form of “governance” that is alien to the founding principles of the United States (Constitutionally limited government, government by consent of the governed) and inimical to individual liberty.

We have begun to see government not by consent of the governed, but “governance” (i.e., control) by committee, and by bureaucracy.

This brand of “governance” employs an arsenal of tricks imported from behavioral psychology, such as the use of Delphi technique to coerce a “consensus” by intimidating and marginalizing critics.

Government  “partnerships” … do not stem from its mandate to protect life, liberty, and private property...

Public-private partnerships do not fit into the conceptual model of free enterprise. 

… We should be vigilant to the possibility—probability—that something has gone badly wrong even if the language of free enterprise is still used…  A public-private partnership will always have as its goal a business-making venture that requires some form of “governance.”  The question is, since the players will vary in experience and wealth, who has the most power? We know from life itself that whoever has the most money has the power… Representative government loses… free enterprise is compromised. The economic system begins its move from a one based on liberty and productivity to one based on control

If corporations have the most money—as is often the case—they will obtain levels of power that make them as dangerous as any government not on a constitutional leash.

[Soft fascism] can be understood only in the context of the “fourth E” of sustainable development: education.

American history discloses two broad philosophies of education, what I will call the classical model and the vocational model.

The classical model incorporates the full scope of liberal arts, including history and civics, logic and philosophy, theology, mathematics as reasoning, economics including personal finance and money management. Its goal is an informed citizen who understands something of his or her heritage and of the principles of sound government and sound economics generally.

The vocational model considers education sufficient if it enables to graduate to be a tradesman or obedient worker.

History, logic, etc., have little to contribute to this, and so are ratcheted down, as in the School-To-Work model.

Mathematical education, for example, will be sufficient if it enables students to use calculators instead of their brains…

He will go along… according to the Hegelian model of education that subordinated the individual to the “needs” of the state or of society.… vocational programs “school” students to fit the needs of the “global economy” seen as an autonomous, collective endeavor, instead of educating individuals to find their own ways in the world, shaping the economy to meet their needs.

This system is fascist since it involves corporations and governments working together to make policy; it is soft fascist because (due to the lack of genuine education) it is not overtly totalitarian.

… This is not a “conspiracy theory,” even though you will not hear it reported on the 6 o’clock news. It is as much a fact as gravity. It is not even hidden from us; the documents supporting such claims, penned by their own advocates, are readily available to anyone willing to do some elementary research…”

—– —— —–

It is worth your time to read all of Yates’ white paper.

   Herbert’s Prosperity 2020 and Osmond’s SB17  create public-private partnerships that compromise vital American principles of free enterprise and limit the self-control of citizens’ own lives by allowing unelected businesspeople, with government, to view individuals as collectively owned  “human capital.”

Sir Michael Barber leads Common Core’s “Deliverology” via EDI and Pearson   2 comments

Question:  What do Sir Michael Barber, President Barack Obama, and your own children –unless you live in “Common Core-less” Texas or Virginia– each share?

Answer:  Common Core national standards.

–True, you won’t hear President Obama use the term “Common Core,” because he’s still saying Common Core is state-led.  But it’s a thin disguise wearing thinner by the minute:

If you go to the U.S. Department of Education’s definitions page, you see that his (and Arne Duncan’s) oft-used code phrase for Common Core is “career and college readiness,” defined as Common Core in this way:

standards that are common to a significant number of States” http://www.ed.gov/race-top/district-competition/definitions

Since there aren’t any other standards “common to a significant number of States,” it’s gotcha-education-reform, Obama and Arne Duncan style.

So, I keep learning more and more about Sir Michael Barber, another Common Core lover-pusher, much to my dismay.

   Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson, advises governments worldwide, including the U.K. and Pakistan, on how to nationalize education standards.  He’s advised governments on how to create “delivery units”.  He industrializes and streamlines things. Mercilessly.

What will Sir Michael Barber do for (or to) American education?  Well, let’s look at the evidence:

  • He uses cozy terms like “revolution,” “global citizen,” “human capital,” “irreversible reform,” “rightsizing,” “sustainable” and “common core” in speeches to the Council on Foreign Relations or at the British Education Summit, for example.
  • He praises Common Core and says not only national, but the same global educational standards are to be sought.
  • He says he wants data on every “global citizen.”  (So he’ll be working to get rid of states’ FERPA and other privacy laws, I guess.  Might not prove difficult with Arne Duncan on his side since Duncan’s Dept. of Ed recently changed federal FERPA without Congressional approval, to remove parental consent requirements over student data.)
  • He’ll narrow things down so far as to to wring meaningfulness out of them, to “deliver” any goal.
  • He’ll push for a political “green” agenda in schools that minimizes the goal of gaining knowledge. By the way– education reform is not a local matter, in Barber’s view, because it’s global, and without borders. He puts “green” training as the “ethical underpinning” that must be placed above general knowledge or the ability to think for oneself.  His formula is:
  • E (K + T + L)  –Knowledge, Thinking and Leadership are to be combined as equal in importance, while Ethical Underpinnings (sustainable “green” environmental awareness) are of number one importance.
  • His company, Pearson, is purchasing schools worldwide in “private-public partnerships” (PPP).  When a BBC interviewer accused him and his company, Pearson, of trying to take over the governance of schools worldwide, his defense was that Pearson would blend with the governments: “I worked for government. I love government. I think government is a really important, a big part of the solution.”
  • He congratulated the Council on Foreign Relations for getting into the education reform business, saying that education is now “an issue of national security and foreign policy.”
  • Barber’s preface, in “Deliverology 101,” states that he wrote the book specifically to American educators.
  • A co-author of “Deliverology 101” is Achieve, Inc., which helped write the NGA/CCSSO’s Common Core.
  • Barber previously used deliverology methods in the U.K., where he made things worse. How? By focusing on a narrow goal to the exclusion of common sense and dignity.  According to Professor John Seddon, Barber’s fellow British countryman, deliverology is a management fad that harms what it touches.

  In England, Seddon said, deliverology met the goal of reducing emergency room wait times in hospitals by having emergency patients sit and wait indefinitely, in ambulances, rather than emergency rooms, or in designated “other rooms” next to the emergency waiting room.   –But oh, they delivered the goal.

  At California State University, Seddon said, deliverology met the goal of increasing graduation rates by 8% by:

  • paring down the number of classes required to get a degree
  • paring down the amount of writing students must do while in college
  • eliminating whole academic programs and departments
  • increasing student fees sharply
  • narrowing a campus’s geographical service area to restrict enrollment
  • laying off faculty and support staff

So nice.

See also CSU Professor Susan Meisenhelder’s “Cautionary Tale” ariticle:  http://www.calfac.org/post/cautionary-tale

Let us be wise.  We should politely say “No, thank you,” to Common Core, to Deliverology, to EDI, to Sir Michael Barber and to Pearson.  Please watch this video, from Professor John Seddon, on the subject.

And… Sir Michael Barber has created a legitimate-sounding “U.S. Education Delivery Institute” (EDI).  Sounds governmental. Well, it’s a business. The business of taking over meaningful classroom experience in favor of “delivering” whatever the government(s) mandate at any cost to teachers, students, or legitimate, meaningful learning.

EDI “hosts gatherings of its K-12 and higher education networks several times each year.  We also work closely with a number of the state systems, providing training and support.”

EDI is an “organization that focuses on implementing large-scale system change in public education.” They write, “Our mission is to partner with K-12 and higher education systems with ambitious reform agendas and invest in their leaders’ capacity to deliver results.  By employing an approach known as delivery, a proven methodology for effective implementation in the public sector, we help state leaders maintain the necessary focus to plan and drive reform.   http://www.deliveryinstitute.org/members/sir-michael-barber

It should scare us to think that Sir Michael Barber is creating for the United States “U.S. Education Delivery Units.”

As one British newspaper put it:

“[Barber] has set up a US Education Delivery Unit (albeit as a private sector rather than government venture), co-authored books that claim to identify what makes national education systems successful, and taken the joint chairmanship of a taskforce in Pakistan to establish “national standards”. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/jun/14/michael-barber-education-guru

How many thousands of American schools are already using Pearson technology, Pearson textbooks, Pearson webinars for teacher trainings?  Do we realize who is the man behind this?  Do we realize he is a zealot on the extreme left and he has every intention of indoctrinating our kids –what he calls his “human capital” –with his brand of global “green” citizens?

He said, he actually said these words:  “we want them to have some knowledge.”  Some, as in minimal, not so important.  The really big thing, Barber preaches, is the green “ethical underpinning” that must override minor things like knowledge, thinking for oneself, and learning leadership.

Remember his formula.

E(K+T+L)

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