The Great Education Power-Grab
Did you know that reformers intent on implementing the Core Curriculum (National Standards) have invaded public education? They do not care about kids or about individuals. Armed with statistics and vast software systems, their intent is to establish one-size-fits-all curricula and success parameters in public education nationwide. The scope of their ambitions leads this educator to the conclusion that their underlying impulse is totalitarian.
These reformers are driving toward the six- or seven-class-a-day high school teaching load, the 9-5 schedule for the schools (or longer), school provided free and compulsory for ages 2 to 22 (or 26), the six- or seven-day school week, and the 12-month school year (with two- or three-week vacation breaks scattered throughout the school year), all controlled by a vast bureaucracy nationwide and justified by the implementation of "national standards." A database of answers to 400 questions by all U.S. students K-20 will be compiled and maintained at a tremendous cost to the public. Forty-six states are already on board. This 20-plus years of control and indoctrination will, if implemented, become a cornerstone of statist control.mic
Who's doing it? These reforms are led by Bill Ayers, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan, and Mayor Mike Bloomberg of New York City. They are also led by educational publishers such as Cengage, Pearson, McGraw Hill, and McDougal Littel. They have a host of supporters including, but not limited to, the Coalition of Essential Schools, New Visions, the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and other NGOs that want to bring equality and progress [sic] to institutions supposedly failing to their very core. These "reformers" are being abetted by their so-called adversaries, the education unions: UFT, AFT, NEA, and NYSUT. Claiming to object to some of the teacher hostility expressed by the "reformers," these unions actually are 100% in tune with the political and social agenda of those reformers. Why? Because the movement toward "national standards" by these reformers means increased membership and dues for the unions, consolidation of power, and national promotion of their left-wing agenda. The education unions become junior partners in one of the greatest power plays in the history of this country.
The key to their vision, if one can call this Brave New World and 1984 nightmare a "vision," is to bring in a whole new class of school administrators. These administrators do not have teaching experience. Teaching experience tends to breed respect for the individual. Instead, the drive of national standards is to collectivize, to standardize, and to establish one-size-fits-all educational benchmarks, goals, and curricula. The new mandarins of education are people in their twenties or early thirties who are to come in and uproot the supposed garbage of the past. Likewise, pressures are being brought to bear on older teachers and experienced administrators to get out of the way of the "agenda of change."
A few years ago, this writer attended a meeting to recruit teachers into the New York City Department of Education Leadership Academy for prospective principals, and the sophisticated and attractive hostess of the program was asked, "When reviewing applications to the program, do you take into account whether the applicant has written and published any articles of books?" Without hesitation, the woman answered firmly that she does not. Connection with the world of books is not part of leadership in education. On another occasion, this writer even heard one principal in the New York City Department of Education say that he is not interested in having libraries where books just gather a lot of dust; rather, he wants to replace all books with much cheaper and less space-consuming CDs. He added that students do not need literature in high school; they need only skill-sets for proper English usage. Under the Common Core, literature is being de-emphasized in favor of nonfiction, and excerpts will replace the reading of entire texts.
The thrust during Bloomberg's years as mayor of New York City has been to recruit people with little or no experience in education to teach and to run the schools. This supposedly is to refresh a profession that has been too insulated from accountability and new ideas for too long. We saw this in Chicago, when Arne Duncan was the head of the schools. He had only had a little tutoring experience, but his goal was to renovate and revamp the failing system. As far as anyone knows, the system there is still failing.
What, then, do we find? From top to bottom, the NYC Dept. of Education is replete with administrators with little teaching experience. Often selected because they are inexperienced and willing to be as insensitive as a cactus in order to please their superiors, they come to impose themselves as "leaders" on those who are already making great sacrifices as teachers.
Then there are teaching fellows and other "career change" types who have decided they want to begin a new career path in education. They soon learn the realities of life in the schools, and many leave. Many teaching fellows are also brilliant and idealistic, and they come into education to make a difference in the lives of individuals and society as a whole. However, they find that they not only have to deal with incredibly complex and difficult classroom and building situations, but many times are being badgered by clueless administrators who are the "new breed" as described above. This author recently heard a highly regarded principal of a New York City high school say that he considered "classroom management" overestimated in importance. Right. Who needs an attentive, orderly classroom? Let students have a watered down curriculum, let them talk during class, and then give them inflated grades to support their self-esteem. This is to be the new formula for national "progress."
We find people coming into education from facilities management, the petroleum industry, pharmaceutical sales, and lobster wholesaling and delivery backgrounds. This writer has met these people, and the likelihood that they read even one book a year is remote. Are non-readers and non-teachers suited to be educational leaders?
Many, be it for money, security, ideals, or some combination of the above seek administrative positions that they are not ready for. Why aren't they ready? They are not ready because they have not been mentored and inculcated with core educational values that include, but are not limited to, focus on service and on educational values such as curricular innovation, creativity, knowledge, teacher morale, school tone, the family of man, student character-building, and caring/love of all for all (said list can be summed up as "the pursuit of happiness").
The above changes are gradually (and sometimes not so gradually) being implemented in various school districts throughout the country, but national standards (Core Curriculum) are the connecting mechanism whereby the philosophy of education outlined above can be managed at the federal level. The rationale for this is that students in China, Japan, and Singapore regularly do better than U.S. students on international tests of math and science. Therefore, a more comprehensive approach (standards) needs to be taken if we are to remain competitive in the world economy.
Even accepting the highly dubious assumption that we are falling behind those countries, should our schools become as authoritarian as those schools? Are not the Judeo-Christian ideals of love and compassion still valid? Do we want the drones we find in these other cultures?
About 46 states have already signed onto "national standards." There is movement in that direction. There are not many articles in the conservative media and blogs challenging this direction. Nevertheless, the danger to culture, to rationality (substituting what to think for how to think), to individuality, and to the tried and true is palpable.
My question to the reader: Do you want American public education to become even more of an ideological monolith than it is at present?