Is American Government Rejecting Capitalism & Embracing a Managed Economy?

While skilled workers are needed to build new infrastructure and for our expanding economy after the tax cuts, the reauthorization of the Carl Perkins Career and Technical Education (CTE) Act of 2006 tries to accomplish those goals via the wrong method – replacing capitalism with central planning. The new bill, called The Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, HR 2353, just passed Congress on voice votes and signed yesterday.

The increasingly centralized federal education and workforce system, of which Perkins is a part, is multifaceted: the Every Student Succeeds Act, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the proposed merger of the Departments of Labor and Education, Common Core for use with digital badges,  computerized  “personalized” learning (PL)/competency-based education (CBE), and older laws like No Child Left Behind, Goals 2000, and School to Work. 

This longstanding, unconstitutional federal interference in education and labor markets, picking winners and losers, has not improved and will not improve academic or economic outcomes. Even worse, Perkins is the latest example of racing away from capitalism to embrace principles of government/corporate control found in European social democracies and failed command-and-control economies littering the 20th century.

The Perkins reauthorization contains multiple passages embracing central economic planning. The bill requires the use of “State, regional, or local labor market data to determine alignment of eligible recipients’ programs of study to the needs of the State, regional, or local economy, including in-demand industry sectors and occupations identified by the State board, and to align career and technical education with such needs… What happened to individual students and free markets making those decisions? 

The “State board” refers to government-appointed bureaucrats, including corporate bigwigs, on state workforce boards set up under the Workforce Investment Act (predecessor to WIOA) signed by President Clinton. This scheme elevates the needs of business over student desires, while playing Carnac to predict economic trends. 

These boards were essential to Marc Tucker’s plan to centralize the entire U.S. education and workforce system, outlined in his now infamous 1992 letter to the Clintons. It was and remains Tucker’s plan to “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum, including “national standards” and “job matching,” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.”

In 2001, former Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and policy analyst Michael Chapman described key components of Tucker’s system implemented via three federal laws signed by Clinton, including:

  • Public/private [unaccountable] non-profits provide design, policy, and seed money as a catalyst for systemic change.
  • The Federal Department of Labor chooses which private industry sectors are promoted in each state. 
  • K-12 and state colleges dump academics for job training in local “targeted” industries. 

They used the following diagram to illustrate the system, which served as the foundation leading to the various other programs listed above. These others could then be added on appropriate sides of this triangle:

Billionaire busybodies like Bill Gates adopted the Tucker/Clinton vision, spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programs like Smaller Learning Communities that required students to choose career paths in eighth grade, Common Core, and other education/workforce/data mining debacles. 

In Tucker’s recent letter to Secretary of Education DeVos praising Europe’s managed education-workforce systems, he continues the theme of government/business control of CTE, believing “business and labor” should “own it, period.” He giddily describes the Swiss system, in which business and labor “set the standards” for various system components, “define the progressions,” and “even examine the candidates seeking credentials.” 

This idea of corporations examining candidates underlies Tucker’s 1992 desire for national standards that became Common Core. The Common Core standards are used as data tags to hold everyone accountable to the government system, including expansion of social-emotional learning.  This concept also inspired Big Data’s push for constant assessment, data mining, and psychological profiling in PL/CBE, including use of Facebook-style student personality profiling being pushed globally. 

Perkins contains numerous references to CBE, data collection, and the manipulative Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (a system of universal student behavioral screening and potential psychological modification). All this can ultimately feed into subjective, murky algorithms that will channel children into government/corporate-desired societal roles. 

Yet – as history shows — government is utterly incapable of predicting economic trends and workforce needs. Five-year plans have failed spectacularly. Even Tucker, when recently discussing CTE, admitted his scheme’s great danger is to “condemn a large fraction of our youth to narrowly conceived training programs at the very time that advances in artificial intelligence and related disciplines are on the verge of wiping out entire industries…” 

Although Tucker and colleagues tout European education-workforce systems, none have produced or will produce American levels of freedom and prosperity. Will America choose the Tucker/Gates/Clinton failed methods that view “human value only in terms of productive capability” or our children as “products” (per Rex Tillerson)? Or will we return to promoting, as framed by C.S. Lewis, education over training so that American civilization continues to produce the freedom, prosperity and generosity that have made it the greatest civilization in human history?

Act Now to Help Congress Protect the Hearts and Minds of Our Children

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The federal fiscal year ends on September 30th.  As Congress wrangles on the federal budget or at least for a temporary extension (continuing resolution) until sometime after the November election, we have a golden opportunity to support the US House in protecting the hearts and minds of our children. 

The US House Appropriations Committee took some very commendable action in the Labor/Health and Human Services/Education bill with regard to the education budget in general and some important specifics. The most important one for parents concerned about privacy is the Institute for Education Sciences (IES). IES houses the federal education data-gathering, psychological-profiling and social emotional learning (SEL – otherwise known as indoctrination) apparatus of the federal government (see details below). The Senate Appropriations Committee has also passed its bill. Although the committee deserves credit and thanks for making some cuts to the FedEd apparatus (relevant details mentioned below), its cuts were generally much smaller than the House’s. It is definitely the House position that should be supported.

Here is the great news first:

Decreased Overall Education Budget (p.3) – The committee deserves praise for significantly decreasing the overall education budget by more than $1.5 billion compared to what was actually enacted and is being spent for 2016,  and by nearly $2.6 billion compared to the Obama administration request.  For those of us who want to “#EndFedEd,” this is a great step in the right direction! The Senate cut only $220 million over what was enacted for FY 2016 and $1.6 billion compared to the Obama/King request; therefore, it is the House position that should be supported.

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Cuts to IES Will Slow Data Mining, Mindset Profiling, and SEL Standards – The House bill cuts nearly $82 million from IES over what was spent last year, which is a real budget cut and a whopping $158 million less than the Obama administration requested. (The Senate’s cuts are much smaller, so the House position should be supported.) Fewer funds for this Big Brother agency will stop or slow down:

  1. Invasive Research – The federal  government wants to psychologically profile our children by doing “social emotional research” on them  via IES and the federal Strengthening Education Through Research Act (SETRA). This research results in many invasive, expensive, ineffective, and unconstitutional federal education programs.
  2. Indoctrinating Standards – Less money to the IES may help slow or stop groups like CASEL (Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning) that receives IES funding  vague, subjective SEL standards with assessments and data that will follow children for life. Kudos to Tennessee legislators and activists for standing up to this CASEL effort, but they should not have to fight the federal government as well.
  3. Profiling Assessment – IES also puts out the National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP), which is a stable long-term test, but which is now planning to illegally and unconstitutionally psychologically profile children by assessing subjective mindsets and school climate. The House budget specifically cuts NAEP funding.

Other welcome and important cuts in this budget include:

Fewer Funds for Mandated State Assessments (p. 120) – Perhaps if states receive fewer funds for mandated assessments, they will be more flexible in allowing districts to test their students as teachers, elected local boards, and parents see fit. Or this could just be that they are finished with the national PARCC/SBAC boondoggle and are transitioning to the constant and technology-based testing of competency-based education. The House committee bill authorizes $300 million dollars on assessments at the federal level, which is $78 million less than enacted in 2016 and $103 million less than requested in the 2017 Obama budget.

No Funds to Enforce Federal Title IX Bathroom/Locker Room Interference (p. 147) – The House bill stops federal bureaucratic enforcement of the unconstitutional and harmful transgender edict until the lawsuit filed by 23 states can be resolved in court. This is a great step in the right direction. “The Committee includes language prohibiting funds from being used to withhold Federal financial assistance to public education institutions subject to the May 13, 2016 Dear Colleague Letter published by the Departments of Education and Justice until an appropriate court determines violations have occurred.”

As with the GOP platform on education, while containing some great news, this budget bill also features very concerning and frustrating items.

Increased Nanny State Pre-K  (p. 4 and p. 95) – Apparently, neither appropriations committee has been reading the more than two dozen studies and other articles demonstrating that federal and state early-childhood programs show one or more of four different outcomes, all of them bad:  1) little or no benefit; 2) fade-out of beneficial effect; 3) academic harm; 4) emotional harm. Even center and center-left think tanks are starting to admit this. There is also much excellent similar analysis from Joy Pullmann, a Heartland Institute education research fellow, and Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project. Sadly, the committee parroted the Marc Tucker/Hillary Clinton/Jeb Bush philosophy that “high-quality preschool improves school readiness and long-term academic success of children by supporting their academic and social-emotional skills.” The committee ignored all of that research and added $432 million in early-childhood funding, including the completely unnecessary $250 million for Preschool Development Grants in ESSA. In this case, the Senate actually did much better than the House, only increasing Head start by $35 million, but overall it still increased early-childhood spending by $310 million. Parents – hide your babies! Tell Congress you want real cuts in these pre-K programs!

School Improvement Programs – The House committee is now labeling some of the subjective, SEL and other educational experiments “School Improvement Programs” instead of “School Improvement Grants.” The House committee funded these Orwellian programs $366 million more than enacted last year and $241 million more than the utopian Obama administration requested. This is a case where the Senate did much better by actually cutting $256 million over what was spent last year and a great $623 million over the Obama request. Therefore, the Senate position should be supported.  Within this new designation of unconstitutional programs appear the following scary items:

  1. 21st Century Community Learning Centers – CNSNews.com reporter Barbara Hollingsworth described these programs as “Parent Replacement Centers” with the correct idea that they will turn into hubs for social engineering, while parents are reduced to  mere “breeders and feeders.” These schools have been lauded by both Senate Education Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander and former Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
  2. Student Support and Enrichment Grants (SSAE) – This is the new name and program home for all of the SEL (and social engineering) grants that were located in smaller, more individualized grants that were easier to monitor and have been around since No Child Left Behind passed in 2001. The House committee emphasized that “programs designed to support non-cognitive factors such as critical thinking skills, social skills, work ethic, problem solving, and community responsibility are an eligible use of funds under SSAE grants supporting a well-rounded education.” (Emphasis added). As Robert Holland of the Heartland Institute pointed out: “In plain language, this means the government will assess children every single step (or crawl) of the way, from cradle to career, to be certain they acquire all the attitudes, beliefs, and dispositions the omniscient, omnipotent government deems they must have. SEL, baby, SEL.”

WHAT YOU CAN DO:

Please contact the following:

  • Speaker Paul Ryan at 202-225-0600
  • Majority Leader Mitch McConnell at 202-224-2541
  • House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers at 202-225-4601
  • Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran at 202-224-5054
  • Your own U.S. House member or use the House Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121
  • Your two US senators or use the Senate Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121

Thank them for being willing to decrease the education budget overall and for their great work to protect privacy by cutting the IES budget. Tell them that you support the House position on these items.

  1. Send them this compilation of major research studies showing the failure of government preschool programs and this compilation of quotes showing the subjectivity and dangers of SEL. Respectfully tell them that with $19 trillion in debt, we should not be spending $430 million more on failed preschool programs. Nor should the federal government be spending any of our hard-earned tax dollars to mold and monitor the thoughts and emotions of our children. Tell them that you want to see real and significant cuts in early childhood spending and that you support the Senate cuts for School Improvement Programs that teach and assess SEL.
  2. Be encouraged that all of our work together is making some progress.

The hearts and minds of our children belong in our hands as family, not the hands of some government bureaucrat. If we are to raise the next generation to understand and preserve our heritage of freedom, we must continue and not give up on this fight. Thank you!

The Real Problems Federal Assessment Programs Imposed Upon Education

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Photo credit: UpstateNYer (CC-By-SA 3.0)

Once again the value of effective teaching assessments is being undercut by the problems typically created by an overbearing federal involvement defining teacher accountability.

Teachers, parents, and children want the benefits gained from quality assessment tools but they are running from tests that are being imposed upon the educational system today because they are typically unfair.

Relics like Marc Tucker who represent years of advocacy for federal control of our educational system have set the foundation for this debacle by continually supporting morphed versions of failed federal educational policies. The Tucker/federal solution is to eliminate or to transform testing materials rather than address federal overreach, the real problem facing the educational system. Tucker’s approach would remove accountability of federal policies.

The goal of using assessments to improve the educational system are reversed when the tests are too long, when the questions are too political or are irrelevant for determining mastery of a subject matter, or when testing standards are unfair. Federally created privacy issues are turning a supportive public against state and federally funded educational systems.

Tucker misses the point that each new federal program and each step away from local control of schools has historically resulted in a decline in academic progress. Citizens are furious and want federal overreach to stop. Tucker and other experts who earn their living through funding provided to support federal educational policies ignore the solutions for academic decline in America.

In an Educational Leadership article: “NEEDED: An Updated Accountability Model,” Tucker uses the growing number of teachers leaving the profession to justify eliminating accountability test. He explains that the decline in applicants to schools of education is in large part because testing fails to make education better.

As a teacher, I can assure Mr. Tucker that teachers are not leaving the profession out of fear of being held accountable. They are leaving because the federally defined accountability tools are unfair and destructive. This truth is often lost in the debate.

Teachers are leaving the profession because it is unreasonable to expect teachers to assure that every child functions at grade level when the classroom is comprised of students with many medically diagnosed disabilities which impact the speed of learning and with students whose IQs range from the 80s to well above 120.  Students with an IQ of 80 who work very hard may not make a full year of academic growth. Students with higher IQs should be expected to make more than a full year of academic growth.

No student with an IQ of 80 who has made eight months of academic growth should be considered a failure. To make that level of growth, both the student and the teacher had to work very and should feel successful. Current testing methods would define this teacher and student as failures. Federally aligned testing is not created to accomplish reasonable goals.

If the accountability expectations were individualized by student ability, the success of students and teachers would be more accurately defined. This should be the purpose of an assessment tool. When teachers feel that their efforts and successes can be fairly recognized, they will be more willing to stay in the profession and to apply to schools of education.

Teachers understand that research by Betts & Costrell in 2001 and Odden in 1995 indicates that well-structured testing tools provide students with sufficient information needed for them to set personal academic goals. Teachers are provided essential facts about the current level of understanding an individual student has about the subject being taught.  Teachers must have this level of information to know what needs a student has.

Parents need assessment results so they can accurately monitor their child’s academic progress, understand what their child needs, communicate those needs with the child’s teacher, motivate their child, and direct their home studies.

Quality testing tools are often essential to successful educational experiences for students. Federal involvement and the political and self-serving agendas of many educational experts has so thoroughly confused the debate that many teachers, parents, and students fear quality testing will be lost for many generations.

Data privacy is another issue acerbated by federally aligned testing.  Federal and state privacy laws are inadequate and cannot protect a child’s right to privacy. Their testing data will be shared with federal agencies and other educational entities. The federal government is trying to accumulate massive amounts of information on each citizen to be used for political and economic reasons. Parents and students do not want anyone to have access to early academic records. Students must have chances to make mistakes without fearing life-long consequences.

The real accountability issue is not the value of quality assessment tools. The real issue is that, once again, the federal government is interfering in local control of schools and imposing another federal program which will do more harm than good. Our children and the American educational system will suffer again. Parents can stop this federal overreach by taking back their schools at the local level.

Hillary Clinton and Common Core

HillaryClintonHillary Clinton announced her Presidential bid yesterday.

So where does the former First Lady, U.S. Senator from New York and Secretary of State stand on the Common Core State Standards?

PBS stated her position on Common Core is unknown.  Education Week noted that it is unclear.  Clinton blasted No Child Left Behind in 2008 (forget the fact she voted for it as U.S. Senator in 2001).

Bob Kellogg at EAGNews.com points out that she was at the center of the Common Core before it was Common Core thanks to a gentleman by the name of Marc Tucker who was famous for a particular letter he wrote to Mrs. Clinton.

The New York Times notes the tension that exists with Clinton’s education policy.  She’s going to have to eventually answer the question, but noting her history I can’t say I’m confident she’ll come out as a local control advocate opposed to Common Core.

8th Grade History Teacher: Stop the Common Core

By C.E. White

This week, President Obama will be sworn into office as the 45th President of the United States of America.  As a history teacher, I was elated to learn he would be placing his hand on two Bibles, one belonging to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the other belonging to President Abraham Lincoln, when he takes the oath of office to lead our great nation.   Dr. King and President Lincoln helped define civil rights for America…historical heroes who transformed the idea of justice and equality. 

As jubilant as I am that President Obama is symbolically using the bibles of two of the greatest Americans in our nation’s history, I am saddened that this administration seems to have forgotten what Dr. King and President Lincoln promoted regarding education.  

In Dr. King’s “Letter from the Birmingham Jail,” he stated “the goal of America is freedom.”  As a teacher, it is such an honor to teach America’s children about freedom and patriotism.  However,  over the past few years, I began to learn about a new education reform initiative called Common Core Standards.  A few years ago, when I first heard of Common Core, I began doing my own research.   My students represent the future of the United States of America, and what they learn is of utmost importance to me.  I care about their future, and the future of our country. 

My research of Common Core Standards kept me awake at night, because what I discovered was so shocking.  I discovered that Common Core Standards is about so much more than educational standards.  I wanted so badly to believe these changes would be good for our children.  How can “common” standards be a bad thing?  After all, isn’t it nice to have students learning the same exceptional standards from Alabama to Alaska, from Minnesota to Massachusetts? 

As a teacher, I began to spend nights, weekends, summers, even Christmas Day researching Common Core, because these reforms were so massive and were happening so quickly, it was hard to keep up with how American education was being transformed.  I quickly began to realize that the American education system under Common Core goes against everything great Americans like Dr. King and President Lincoln ever taught.  The very freedoms we celebrate and hold dear are in question when I think of what Common Core means for the United States.

One of my favorite writings about education from Dr. King is a paper entitled “The Purpose of Education.”  In it, he wrote “To save man from the morass of propaganda, in my opinion, is one of the chief aims of education. Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the true from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.”

When I sit in faculty meetings about Common Core, I hear “curriculum specialists” tell me that Common Core is here to stay and I must “embrace change.”    I am forced to drink the kool-aid.  These specialists don’t tell us to search for facts about Common Core on our own, they simply tell us what the people paid to promote Common Core want us to know.  Didn’t Dr. King want us to separate facts from fiction?  Why are we only given information from sources paid to say Common Core is a good thing? Isn’t that the exact same type of propaganda Dr. King discussed in his writings about education?  Shouldn’t we discuss why thousands of Americans are calling for a repeal of the standards?

I am told that I must embrace Common Core and I infer that resisting the changes associated with Common Core will label me “resistant to change.”  As a teacher, I definitely believe our classrooms are changing with the times and I am not afraid of change.  Teachers across America are hearing similar stories about how they should “feel” about Common Core.  This is a brainwashing bully tactic.  It reminds me of my 8th graders’ lesson on bullying, when I teach them to have an opinion of their own.  Just because “everyone’s doing it,” doesn’t make it right.  In regards to Common Core, I am not afraid of change.  I am just not going to sell-out my students’ education so that Pearson, the Gates Foundation, David Coleman, Sir Michael Barber, Marc Tucker and others can experiment on our children.

I agree with Dr. King, which is why I am so saddened at how propaganda from an elite few is literally changing the face of America’s future with nothing more than a grand experiment called Common Core Standards.  Our children deserve more.  Our teachers deserve more.  Our country deserves more.  Education reform is the civil rights issue of our generation, and sadly, parents, teachers, and students have been left out of the process.  

President Lincoln once said “the philosophy of the classroom today, will be the philosophy of government tomorrow.”  With Common Core, new standardized tests have inundated classrooms with problems of their own.  Teachers find themselves “teaching to the test” more and more.  These tests violate our states’ rights.  I wonder if parents realized that all states aren’t created equal in Common Core tests?  Shouldn’t all states, under “common” standards for everyone have everyone’s equal input on how students are tested? 

What about privacy under Common Core?  Why didn’t local boards of education tell parents about the changes to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act?  Do parents realize their child’s data, including biometric data such as fingerprints and retinal scans, is being placed in a state longitudinal data system and shared with others? 

If our philosophy of the classroom is to violate states’ rights, use children and teachers as guinea pigs, and hide from parents the fact that their child’s data is no longer private, it can only be inferred that the philosophy of government tomorrow will do the same.  What is America becoming? 

As I watched President Obama place his hand on the bibles of Dr. King and President Lincoln, the history teacher in me was overjoyed to watch such a patriotic moment in U.S. history.  And yet, I was crushed at the realization that if we do not stop Common Core and preserve the United States educational system, the philosophy of our government tomorrow will not be the America we know and love.

STEM Makes No Sense

STEM-Education1According to Marc Tucker at EdWeek:

Here is an interesting fact.  The countries that are producing more people with higher skills in mathematics, science, engineering, technology and science don’t have STEM programs.  When we do benchmarking research in those countries, we don’t hear their educators talking about STEM priorities.  We don’t hear their industrial leaders doing that either.  The term is not used.  The programs don’t exist.

What is going on here?  How come they are doing better at this when we have STEM programs and they don’t? 

The answer is that they have education systems that work and we don’t.  When we start falling behind in an area, we invent a program.  When they start falling behind, they ask, What’s wrong with our system?  And they fix it.  The truth is that “programs” won’t work in an arena like this.  The causes of our poor performance in these disciplines run deep.  Those causes implicate the inner workings of our education system.  It is not possible to ring fence the STEM subjects from the system itself, nor is it possible to build a strong secondary school STEM program on a weak elementary school curriculum.  If you try to do that, you will fail.  If you think that you can fix the problems in the STEM subjects without fixing the larger system, you will find that any progress you make will be limited and even that progress will disappear very quickly as the system reverts to form as soon as your back is turned.  This is not because educators are opposed to your objectives or fail to share your hopes for their students.  It is because they are as much trapped by the system as you are.  We are all in this together. 

Read the whole thing.

Another reason why the current course Jeb Bush, Bill Gates and company are leading us on is asinine.  They are not committed to making the changes that are actually necessary.