Above Photo: by Dario Ribelo on Flickr. A Zapatista mural in the town of San Pedro Polhó illustrates ideas about education.
Common Goal. Part II.
Recap from Part I:
Lamar Alexander and Patti Murray didn’t write the new Every Child Succeeds Act (ESSA). The Business Roundtable did. They crafted their own draft called “Principles for Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”
Let me break this down for you. By now, those of us who are fighting for public schools are pretty aware of how the Common Core standards were crafted behind the scenes by corporate interests (via ALEC and The Business Roundtable [BRT]).
The final culmination of all their efforts is the control of both the content (what is taught) and method (how it’s delivered).
It started (circa 1984 with UNESCO first coining term Common Core) and will end (post 2016) with the “disruptive, innovative, personalized, career and college ready” ELIMINATION of public education. The passing of ESSA has delivered everything the Business Roundtable wanted on a silver platter: Control of educational content, methods of privatization (charters and outsourcing services) and alternative assessments for teacher and teacher education “accountability.” They say this in their own words. One Business Roundtable (BRT) spokesperson says: “We are particularly pleased that the final legislation includes challenging academic standards; annual testing; increased transparency of school performance through state, district and school report cards; required state action to improve low performing schools; and enhanced support for public school choice and charter schools.”
Method (aka HOW education content is delivered and evaluated)
While the idea of creating a set of national (0r international) standards has been in the works since UNESCO uttered the term Common Core in 1984, and the rocket fuel propelling it forward was provided by the growing influence that corporations and ALEC had on the international body of UNESCO through the 1990’s until present day. But it’s the advent of the technology industry that has really signaled the end of public education. Now corporate moguls (who largely hail from the tech industry since our post industrial economy is driven by technology innovations) can fulfill their ideological dream of privatizing public education as well. Here again Common Core played a fundamental role in this process. One report writes, “For states that have voluntarily adopted the Common Core State Standards, there are more than 100 direct mentions of technology expectations, and similar expectations exist in states adopting other college- and career-ready standards.”
Here is one example: http://www.virtualeduc.com/common-core-standards-online-courses.php
Within the body of the ESSA bill lies the seeds of privatization.
By opening the flood gates of funding for alternative methods of instruction and charter schools, the K12 online corporations can insert themselves into the system as providers. The creation a common set of standards formed the modular template upon which competency-based education (CBE) could be written and with CBE, online education is golden. 21st century technology enables corporate education reformers to make this possible in ways that were not feasible mere decades ago. Just look at the two examples here
- In 2012 UNESCO and Brookings Center for Universal Education (CUE) joined efforts to convene a Learning Metrics Task Force that will investigate the feasibility of learning goals and targets to inform the post-2015 global development policy discourse”. There were three co-chairs representing the UN, the private sector and civil society including Sir Michael Barber, Chief Education Advisor at Pearson. The report claims that, “Exploring whether there is a discrete set of common learning goals that can be universally reached is an important step in shifting the education discourse toward access plus learning.
- According to a promotional flyer created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
“Education leaders have long talked about setting rigorous standards and allowing students more or less time as needed to demonstrate mastery of subjects and skills. This has been more a promise than a reality, but we believe it’s possible with the convergence of the Common Core State Standards, the work on new standards-based assessments, the development of new data systems, and the rapid growth of technology-enabled learning experiences.”
The principles and examples provided in a document called The National Educational Technology Plan align to the Activities to Support the Effective Use of Technology (Title IV A) of Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) as authorized by Congress in December 2015. It says “ technology-enabled assessments can help reduce the time, resources, and disruption to learning required for the administration of paper assessments. Assessments delivered using technology also can provide a more complete and nuanced picture of student needs, interests, and abilities than can traditional assessments, allowing educators to personalize learning.”
Thanks to ESSA, this is what public schools will look like: See Different Forms of Online Learning (published by the Goldwater Institute-a member of ALEC).
ESSA includes a notable change related to education technology:
“This law contains new definitions for technology and explicit permission to spend more money on technology. Combined with the transition to mostly block grants, the means education decision makers have much more flexibility on how to spend money on technology hardware, software, and training. Now as advocates and community stakeholders, we must create an expectation that our states and districts invest their money with an eye toward the future.”
Given how BRT (notably the ed tech industry) spent decades planning for and building the CCSS as a vehicle for modularized competency-based online delivery systems is it so far fetched to see how they designed it in order to do precisely what they are doing right now? CASHING IN?
One website explains: “The instructional shifts of the Common Core mandate changes in course design and emphasis as well as the kinds of questions we pose to students and the rigor with which we expect them to respond.”
“iNACOL applauds President Obama and the United States Congress for their remarkable bipartisan efforts in taking this historic step to improve federal K-12 education law. ESSA will remove barriers from federal K-12 education policies andopen opportunities for states to foster the adoption of student-centered learning models. Through ESEA reauthorization, Congress has committed to giving states flexibility to shift to new, personalized learning modelswhile maintaining the law’s fundamental commitment to equity for all students. ESSA adopts iNACOL’s recommendations for ESEA to support new, personalized learning models by redesigning assessments, rethinking accountability, and supporting the modernization of educator and leadership development, among other actions.”
ESSA was written BY CORPORATE INVESTORS FOR CORPORATE INVESTMENTS.
The Goldwater (member of ALEC) report also says, “’We stand at the vanguard of a shift in education,’ says Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. Christensen predicts that by 2019—just four short years from now—half of all high school classes will be offered online.”
Remember the Common Workforce standards published by BRT that I linked to in Common:Part I? That Workforce Common Core is aligned with “badges” put forth by online companies like Mozilla who intend to create a new line of degrees and diplomas: “In 2011, the Manufacturing Institute unveiled a pyramid of “stackable credentials” that workers can collect in the same way that budding Webmasters can earn a progression of badges from Mozilla. At the bottom of the pyramid is a basic credential—the National Career Readiness Certificate developed by the ACT testing service—attesting to the core workplace skills, such as critical thinking and teamwork, that every worker is expected to have.”
What Other BRT Corp Supports ESSA?
K12 Inc. This company was co-founded by the convicted junk bond trader Michael Milken and former federal education secretary William J. Bennett. One article called Online Schools a Virtual Reality in Sacramento says “K12 gets the full dollar amount of public funding for each student enrolled. Gary Miron … says the problem is that K12 is accountable to shareholders, not taxpayers.” According to a 2013 Editorial “K12, which contributed $21,000 to GOP candidates and another $25,000 to the Republican Party of Florida ahead of the last election, and other private online learning companies have been lobbying the Legislature hard for greater access to public funds.”
But this didn’t stop them from creating a non profit arm of K12 Inc in 2016 called the Foundation for Blended and Online Learning. Just in time for ESSA.
Wait. This just keeps getting better. John Engler is President of the Business Roundtable (since 2011). Engler also just so happens to serve on the board of directors for K12, Inc.and the National Governors’ Association.
We need to become keenly aware of the language and intention of ESSA now-we do that by becoming familiar with whose interests it really serves and who its core architects truly are and what this means for the future of our children.