Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Smart Start Oklahoma Conference Review, Commentary and Research

First Annual Smart Start Oklahoma Conference

“Champions for Change” or

How Much More Than The Already-Allotted One Billion Dollars Per Year Can “Champions” Justify Spending On Unproven Early Childhood Programming In Oklahoma?


(sorry, due to the copious pages of data from the Oklahoma Policy Institute that had to be scanned in, this document can only be viewed through our Scribd account.)

Ferocious Opposition?

A new Wall Street Journal book review today, sparked an absolutely fabulous response by one of ROPE's new friends, Gretchen Logue. The review, entitled, "Learning the Hard Way; The reformers who want to save the public schools are starting to make a difference, against ferocious opposition", also made me wonder whether ROPE and our allies will now be labeled, "The Ferocious Opposition"!

From the article:

"The reformist agenda includes two key components. First, teachers and principals must be held accountable for their impact on student achievement—rewarded with pay and promotion or punished, at the extreme end, with the loss of a job. Second, the current public monopoly in K-12 education needs to be disrupted, by offering more choices. These include privately operated, publicly funded charter schools—schools that are not bound by the usual public-school rules and regulations—and publicly funded vouchers that can be used to pay for private schools."

This argument for school choice in this reform agenda must be discarded because the two main premises are faulty and/or false.

"Teachers and principals must be held accountable for their impact on student achievement—rewarded with pay and promotion or punished, at the extreme end, with the loss of a job." Great idea in theory! But think about it: you are a 5th grade teacher who faces MAP testing. Your class is made up of 8 IEP students (out of 20) and the majority of your kids are "low average". The majority of them have come to you reading on a 3rd grade level. You bring them up as much as you can and they DO make progress, however, most of them don't make a 2 year learning leap in one year, and don't make the 5th grade MAP benchmark as being "proficient". Is that the teacher's fault? Should he/she be punished because of the make-up of those students? Remember, the benchmark for determining a "highly effective" teacher is for the subgroup to pass, it is not enough for the subgroup to progress. Impossible goals ensure failure. No wonder Arne Duncan declares up to 82% of schools will be failing. They can't possibly meet impossible goals!

The second part of the "reform" agenda includes "schools not bound by the usual public school rules and regulations". Okay. If you truly believe that, then the current multi-million lobbyists for school choice have lied to the public. Charters WILL BE UNDER THE SAME MANDATES as traditional public schools: common core standards and the assessments crafted by the consortia. If you are looking to charters to provide innovation, it's not going to happen. All this "choice" does is to move the children from one building to another and have different teachers. If you think the unions are the only problem in education, you will love this plan. If you believe the problems are multi-layered (think faulty curriculum, indoctrination, lack of parent/student involvement), there will probably not be much difference.

The other statement in that "reform" sentence: "and publicly funded vouchers that can be used to pay for private schools" sounds fabulous, doesn't it? How will the private schools like to be under the same federal mandates if they accept federal money? We all know federal money comes with strings...and this means those schools will probably have to adopt themselves to common core standards and federal mandates, thereby defeating the real "choice".

I wish the lobbyists were forced to tell the truth. This "choice" is false choice and will just transfer the money from the unions to hedge fund companies and venture capitalists. Conservatives believe that's the free market. It's not, though. It's taxpayer money funneled to private companies with little personal financial risk. What kind of capitalism is that? And oh, by the way, the taxpayer is funding a system in which he/she has no voice. I call it "totalitarian democracy".


Monday, August 22, 2011

It Isn't So Much Stealth As It Is Ignorance

Today's post from J.P. Greene, "The Stealth Strategy of National Standards" was fabulous. You truly need to check it out. He really hit the nail on the head,

It was also interesting that once I pressed people to say why they supported nationalization out loud, the flaws and limitations of their arguments became apparent — even to themselves. Having to articulate your reasons can serve as a useful check on whether people have really thought something through.


From ROPE's perspective, this is nothing new. In fact, I couldn't help myself and had to make a comment.

Although you have focused with laser beam accuracy on the problems surrounding the CCSSI, another portion of the whole Race to the Top initiative – the P20 database – gets no attention and is even MORE intrusive than the whole federalized curricula contraption. Our organization has been extremely concerned about the amount and types of data state governments will be collecting on CHILDREN and then disseminating to entire arrays of other governmental and sub-governmental bodies, often times without parental consent.

We are so disgusted in fact, that we put together an ExtraNormal video describing one of the P20 meetings in Oklahoma on our YouTube channel. The reason I bring it up here is that the video makes your point in stark relief, Jay.

They (the reformers – whom I liken to Christine of Stephen King fame) believe we MUST have a database to collect information on students from preK to age 20 in order to get students to graduate high school college ready. Sounds good (I guess) until you really THINK about that.

Last week, I’m telling my local school board member about P20 – and all the other horrifying nuggets we’ve uncovered in our paper on CCSSI and RTT. I spent nearly the entire time focused on the face of a woman looking at an oncoming car (Christine) without a clue of why it was about to hit her and what would actually happen if it did.

“But Jenni, we need to collect data on kids to make sure they can graduate high school college ready.”

“Why?”

“Because kids are dropping out right and left and we need to track them to see where they go.”

“So?”

“Well, they need to be in class so we can get them college ready.”

“What’s college ready?”

“A rigorous curriculum that promotes Critical Thinking.” (The same stuff Christine runs on)

“How can you promote critical thinking when you don’t teach them facts to ‘think’ about? And how does collecting birth marks and voting status and blood type help them get facts?”

Long pause…

“Um. Well. Good question.”

Yup. Pretty much.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Education in the Digital Age

By Jo Joyce

Restore Oklahoma Public Education

After spending nearly five hours listening to propaganda promoting policy changes and proponents of post-modern professional pedagogy, I’m pooped. An older woman summed it up best when she asked the panel at the end: If digital education is so great, why did all of you (presenters) have to come here in person rather than have a Skype conference? Amen, Sister.

Friday, July 29th, 2011, I attended the conference, “Education in the Digital Age (McGuigan) sponsored by the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs (OCPA). The following is a short synopsis of this venerable event which served to only create more questions for me than it proposed.

General Lee Baxter (Ret.) opened the conference with the goal of “broadening public thinking.”

Michael Horn of Innosight Institute (InnoSight Institute), who wrote the book, Disrupting Class; How Disruptive Innovation Will Change The Way the World Learns (Johnson) spoke on “disrupting innovation,” a theory that whatever is currently provided (service/product) will eventually be replaced by innovation/discovery. He gave several examples in the shopping industry, car industry, and military industry. Education is lagging behind, although higher education has been “disrupted” by community colleges and on-line colleges like Phoenix.

Horn cites several examples of current uses of digital: to assist a “graduate” with that last class, to offer AP to areas that do not provide it, and when it is “a necessity” i.e. homeschool and homebound. He foresees a greater need in our current budget crisis.

He insists innovation will happen, but he does ask the question, “Is it a good thing?” He sees the positive as a cheaper version of customized education plan (CEP), with something much more exciting than Phoenix’s original “power points,” including video games. He knows teachers will resist for fear of being replaced, but said instead they will have to change from “sage on the stage” to a monitor—which he feels is liberating. He is also aware many schools will not be ready for this, especially the funding.

Andrew Coulson (Andrew Coulson) of CATO Institute quoted statistics on the use of Khan Academy (Khan Academy) which in his opinion confirms the need for digital learning. He questions why education is not “market progressive” when it employs six million people and has a budget of $600 billion a year. He sees engineers as innovators who implement policies from their successes, even though he admits unions do not like competition. He cited other countries that allow competition in education, especially Japan, Sweden, and Britain. He is sure if education were treated as a free enterprise we will see plummeting prices, although we will also face legal and regulatory threats, as well as a demand for universality.

Coulson quoted Thomas Jefferson, “It is tyranny to compel people to disseminate what is objectionable,” knowing we cannot have state funding (or subsidizing) for morally objectionable ideas. Tax credits would avoid this (as opposed to scholarships).

He had a very interesting slide presentation that showed that the more regulations a state had for education, the more “blue” or Democrat the politics of that state were. It also showed that more vouchers/school choice legislation had passed in red states.

J. Rufus Fears (J. Rufus Fears) is a professor at OU. He said that to reform education is the most difficult challenge in the world and is abhorrent to many. He believes when technology takes the lead, then learning can transform, but, he asked, in what direction? He also asked if technology is the greatest tool for freedom, or its cheap cousin.

He thinks languages can be taught more efficiently and better with Rosetta Stone, especially if the teacher has a poor accent. He also states that education, especially higher ed, is an economic enterprise. Dr. Fears pointed out that the regional and state universities provide financial support for small towns, and if they closed the campus, it would result in massive unemployment. He also sees Digital Learning bringing about a loss of the Socratic method of learning, where there are questions asked and ideas freely exchanged.

Dan Lips wrote the paper “Education in the Digital Age: Policy Reforms to Improve Learning Options in Oklahoma(Lips) (Some of the below questions refer to this document.) He admitted to being a pessimist and sees Digital Education as the glass waiting to spill. He sees strong opposition from the unions and special interests. He also sees in ten years there will be incredible change and progress. Current trends show a decline in support of unions and blue state politics, and a legislature willing to stand up to unions. It has become obvious to the public and politicians that the kids are not the focus - the money is.

A new trend of the left supports school choice. Mr. Lips hopes it continues and creates the possibility of Oklahoma being the next state to lead the country in quality education. The many examples of digital education in states like Florida and Utah making progress encourages Mr. Lips. The obvious advantages of free online learning for universities would help all learners.

After taking copious notes from the often long-winded, technologically excited “salesmen and women,” I’m not sold. In fact, after reading Mr. Lip’s paper, I have many more questions than answers about the trend toward digital education.

Questions About Money

  1. Is the sole purpose of pushing digital education to the masses for the benefit of profits to the computer industry? (There are special circumstances where digital can and is being used.)
  2. Are there “power” proponents that are pushing for this “progress” and if so, who and why?
  3. Will competitive bids for contracts be used for all the services/purchases? This will be an on-going job requiring many more employees, not less.
  4. Will teachers be involved in choosing the hardware/software, or will they get it assigned to them by “buyers” in the education department? Will this take a lot of teacher time away from “teaching?”
  5. Coulson said free enterprise brings about innovation and will do so in the education industry as well. This can be good, but when the various book publishers buy out the smaller “competition” they form monopolies eventually, and then there is no competition. Big states, with their own political agendas, have undue influence on textbooks. Like any other industry, the market becomes full of lobbyists and then the only talk about “success” is the profits the companies make—not the number of graduates or what they learned (improved scores?) or successful careers.
  6. Page 12 of Lips’ “Digital Age” – “State-funded ESAs (education savings account) would offer some significant improvements over traditional student-centered education initiatives like pubic school choice and scholarships or education tax credits…spurring innovation among education service providers, including virtual and online learning programs.” But what regulations would they create that would place limits and restrictions on our education?
    1. I bet the internet providers are drooling.
    2. I bet the software salesmen are drooling.
    3. I bet the hardware salesmen are drooling.
    4. I bet the electricity companies are drooling (with rates that will “necessarily skyrocket”).
  7. Currently many states play the blame game with unionized teachers; will this reduce the number of teachers and will this be a problem with the unions? Or will there be more unionized technical employees to replace them? Is digital really cheaper or more effective than “live” teachers?

Questions About Education Theory

  1. Will it not be easier to “indoctrinate” children with a facts-only instruction method, rather than a presenter/discussion method?
  2. In a classroom setting children can immediately raise their hand when questions arise. In a digital setting they may not have a chance to ask questions, or at least they will be delayed until the session is over. Again, a chance for indoctrination, and also confusion and frustration.
  3. The presenters promised a “customized” learning where each family can choose which school, which program works best for his child. This would entail a lot of time with parents investigating the options and meeting the facilitators and sampling programs before making a decision. I can see this being difficult for the average family, and for some it would be an extreme hardship (single parents, for example).
  4. Supposedly working at his own pace, a student could graduate early. Is this always an advantage? Is the child obtaining knowledge and learning how to think for himself; or is he accumulating facts and learning how to follow instructions?
  5. Presenters said digital learning initiatives should be funded only if successful. Would this not lead to shoving off students who have difficulties to other schools or systems to avoid “failures?” Similar to the desperate cheating in Atlanta most likely due, in part, to NCLB’s model of perfection. If we base funding on success, then who wants to accept potential failures?
  6. Teacher’s colleges will have to drastically change their training methods to make teachers more “facilitators” of data, managers of systems, experts at computer repairs (because realistically who can wait on a tech to show up when there will never be enough to go around, and time will be even more valuable.)
  7. Andrew Coulson talked about Khan Academy and (Kumon) after-school tutoring program, and how they are a necessary outcome of a real need. Yes they are a necessity because parents don’t take the time to help their children, many families have two career parents, and since teachers know Kumon and Khan are out there to help, they don’t have to do anything but refer the parents to the “necessary” step.
  8. One suggestion (p. 10 “Digital Learning”) was to “flip” traditional lecture with the digital lesson, so that the lesson is watched at home, and the teacher has “help” time in class. If the kid doesn’t get it at all at home, won’t he return frustrated and the teacher would have to “instruct” any way? I do not see this as an advantage.
  9. Who buys another computer when the kids drop it, lose it, barf on it, step on it, or someone steals it? And who pays for the “Carbonite” back-up system so when they “lose” their homework, it can be recovered from the system?
  10. In the spirit of “green” and saving trees, will we stop at one laptop, or should we have one for the classroom, one on the bus, and one at home. Maybe the students also should have a Kindle, an I-pod, a cell phone—all with internet access and unlimited texting in case they have to text their teacher, if they have a teacher.
  11. Will the free computers, software, internet, repair service, and tech support be paid for by the school system, welfare, homeland security, or a school car wash?
  12. Page 12 (“Digital Learning”) – “Oklahoma policymakers should consider new strategies to provide families with the flexibility to give their children quality in changing the landscape of K-12 education.” Shouldn’t we already be doing everything we can to provide the best education possible for our children, at home, at school, and at policy level?
  13. Coulson offered examples of “choices” in education in Chile, Sweden, England and Japan. Aren’t all of those countries further down the road to serfdom than we are? What they offer is not nearly as important as the overall outcome or lifestyle improvements these “choices” offer.
  14. Coulson really pushed for vouchers or scholarships; however, he did not mention what was in their “Digital…” report concerning the “Blaine Amendment.” This is a law Oklahoma (and 36 other states) passed in the latter half of the 19th century to prevent any state funds going to any religious institution. According to some law groups and think tanks, this would specifically apply to school vouchers if they were to use them at private religious schools.
  15. Bottom of page 4 (“Digital Learning”), stating benefits for teachers as “a more flexible and potentially rewarding career.” Most teachers are in the business because they love children and I fail to see how seeing less of them, but having to work with computer technology, can fulfill teachers’ needs.
  16. Top of page 5 states (“Digital Learning”) “…reduce the number of teachers who are needed, and pay remaining teachers, presumably the most effective ones, significantly more than they otherwise could…” as well as purports to attract highly talented ones because of the flexibility or higher pay. If this is to save money overall, I think that is completely false given the extra tech people required. I also fail to see how teachers will be happier or more satisfied when their creativity will not be needed unless opening packages of software and installing it is satisfying.
  17. Bottom of page 5 (“Digital Learning”) pushes Florida’s Virtual School (FLVS) as a model for Oklahoma to follow. Their motto is “any time, any place, any path, any pace.” Perhaps they mean this as something good, but I think “any pace” could mean as slow as Christmas (Oops, I mean as slow as Winter Break…). If everyone is working at a different pace, how could they possibly do group projects, which the presenters said would still be a part of the socializing in a brick and mortar school.
  18. Bottom of page 10 (“Digital Learning”) suggests that opening Oklahoma’s higher education to “free” on-line learning would “enable motivated students to pursue self-instruction opportunities…like AP…and CLEP.” Don’t the students who are motivated already pursue opportunities?
  19. Would digital learning eventually discontinue the degree programs, fire the faculty, enroll few students, buy no paper books, close facilities, and consolidate disciplines into compact units of learning? All colleges would look like University of Phoenix, a for-profit entity? A McEducation? At least Phoenix requires their students to provide their own computers and modem.

Questions About Education Technology

  1. Technology always has glitches—there will be frustration when technology fails, especially during tests or at times when there is no one around to fix it.
  2. It is supposed to make it easier to move from school to school, but what if different states have different requirements, different programs, or do not allow it at all? Consistency would be paramount for the advantage to exist. Kids have moved from state to state and it does not harm them academically—it exposes them to variety. It could work either way—if they hate their classes in one location, they could improve in the next. If they love their classes, they might be disappointed in the new location. That’s life.
  3. Why are current on-line academies (Oklahoma Virtual School) (Oklahoma Virtual Academy) only accepting students if they sign on for the entire program rather than accept students for only a few classes (stated by the presenters as “a la carte” or blended learning)?
  4. If we can’t fix or manage consistent education with the current constraints and federal/state/local requirements and regulations, why would we think this could improve things? It will make education much more complicated to “manage.”

Questions About the Children

  1. Will this method of teaching actually teach children to THINK, or just how to operate their equipment, and perhaps memorize some of the lessons if they are interesting enough?
  2. Teachers currently are specially trained to be around children. Will it potentially endanger the health and welfare for children to be around so many technical people who are not trained to be around children?
  3. I bet the kids will smile when the system fails, just like they do when a fire drill occurs during an exam. What then? Dust off real books?

Final Question – The Bottom Line:

Is the bottom line improved education (haven’t seen that in 50 years) or is the bottom line how much the local/state/federal governments can save, another way government can distribute the spoils to their cronies, or how much the private businesses that implement the digital plan can profit?

OCPA’s conclusion: …initial empirical evidence suggests that learning online is an effective medium for instruction that, importantly, can be delivered at a lower cost than traditional schooling.”

I do not buy into this at all. I have four children, all in a home school setting, and we seem to have at least one computer or printer that is giving us trouble at any given time, or we need to update something, or the internet is down or frozen. I can only imagine the nightmares involved with maintaining and updating hundreds or thousands of computers, much less the inventory control system.

My conclusion: all the newfangled ideas can bring education to different people in different ways, but it cannot transmit love, or touch, or that special twinkle of the eye, or hugs or gift of freshly picked flowers or all the other intimate moments a teacher-student relation brings. Facebook allows us to see a person’s thoughts instantly from what they miss to what they are tasting, seeing and feeling—more intimate than many people are willing to share, but they cannot send that feeling of touch, and the sympathy tears bring, or the ability to wrap one’s arms around a friend or loved one, and no amount of technology will ever be able to replicate that.

As Dr. Fears mentioned, Socrates established his tradition of inquiry by asking questions and discussing ideas. Today’s teachers still do this because it works, it is enjoyable, and it teaches children to think and formulate ideas by sharing ideas, while being respectful even when they disagree.

Despite all the fabulous new ‘reforms’ imbued into the public education system since 1965 with their excessive rules and regulations, overly ergonomic environment, expensive equipment, flashy textbooks, “green” buildings and buses, healthy school meals – none of it has resulted in actually improving educational outcomes. Teachers who see children day to day know when something is bothering a child and are able to cut them a little slack. When they look upset or angry a teacher can take the time to see if they need a little extra help. Human capacity for caring will benefit children far more than the gadgets that line the pocket protector of someone who doesn’t care about much more than the joys of technology.

Electronic devices may speed up learning for some kids, but the cutting edge of every society’s technological advancements will have little effect on furthering society if children aren’t also ‘learning’ to become stable, mature, reasoned transmitters of knowledge to future generations.

While electronic devices can add to, or even supplement, the human mind, they cannot replace the humanity of the educational process. I don’t think Socrates would approve of a totally Digital Education, and neither do I.


***For a file that includes Bibliography and further resources for study, click here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Review of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills White Papers

A Review of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills White Papers

Pertaining to

H.R. 2536 “21st Century Skills Readiness Act”

By Danna Foreman, Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE)

The philosophical beliefs expressed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills in this white paper are contrary to the principles of our sovereign constitutional republic. Restore Oklahoma Public Education opposes H. R. 2536 (Open Congress) on the following grounds:

  1. An international consortium should not be writing the Educational Policy of the United States.
  2. The whole child philosophy endorsed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills was developed by and for socialists and best serves a socialist society not the Republic of the United States of America.
  3. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills promotes information based learning in order to produce skilled workers for the global economy rather than the traditional model of education where knowledge is obtained through the rigorous study of truth, facts and principles resulting in an educated citizenry.

The Intellectual and Policy Foundations of the 21st Century Skills Framework

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills White Paper entitled “The Intellectual and Policy Foundations of the 21st Century Skills Framework (Partnership for 21st Century Skills) openly espouses the child-centered philosophies of socialists John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky and their theory of social constructionism as it pertains to the “social collective” (page 5).

This white paper is rife with the language of the socialists of whose views they espouse. This cannot be ignored. Americans should not be embracing socialist and couching them as education reform.

Further quotes from this paper include, “John Dewey, perhaps the best-known educator of the 20th century, also responded to the transformations around him. “It is radical conditions which have changed,” he wrote, “and only a radical change in education suffices… Knowledge is no longer an immobile solid; it has been liquefied” (page 4).

And, “Unlike Cubberly, though, Dewey believed the aim of 20th century education was not the production of a labor force, but the enrichment of the individual and society by developing a child’s “social power and insight” (page 5). “Dewey advocated learning by doing and a curriculum that involved the mind, hands, and heart” (Page 2).

Redefining Education

P-21 purports to advocate critical thinking while at the same time stating that the memorization of facts is antiquated, yet how can one reason without a foundation of absolute truths, facts and principles.

“These technologies also change our relationship with information and thus, suggest changes in educational goals. With instant access to facts, for instance, schools are able to reconceive the role of memorization, and focus more on higher order skills such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation” (Page 6).

“For ages, traditional education, with its emphasis on rote learning and memorization of static facts, has valued conformity over novelty of thought. But in today’s world of global competition and task automation, innovative capacity and a creative spirit are fast becoming requirements for personal and professional success. Robinson says, in fact, that humanity’s future depends on our ability to “reconstitute our conception of human capacity” and place creativity and innovation in the forefront of our educational systems” (Page 15).

Interdisciplinary Themes

P-21 proposes integrating interdisciplinary topics with core subjects. Green math is an example. The Common Core Standards content P-21 supports and many states have adopted has been gutted and transformed from knowledge based education to informative learning. A tweet on the P-21 site boasts "Maryland leads in mandating environmental literacy requirement for all grads.” (Williams).

“The Partnership’s Framework stresses interdisciplinary topics focused on four themes with special relevance to modern life: Global Awareness; Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy; Civic Literacy; and Health Literacy (Page 10).

“The Partnership believes interdisciplinary topics are best approached through the core subjects listed above, as their effectiveness, according to curriculum expert Heidi Hayes Jacobs, depends on a solid grounding in the same core disciplines that are linked by these interdisciplinary themes” (Page 10).

Globalism

The P-21 vision for education is unquestionably global in nature. Any ideas of American exceptionalism or achievement are noticeably missing from all papers and P-21 websites.

In the section titled “Education and Global Convergence” it explains how education in the 21st century “must be attentive to the needs of the individual child and to society as a whole” and “we can build on educational goals that have long been a part of our global heritage” (Page 7).

What about our American heritage?

The 21st Century Learning Environments

Whole Child Movement

The white paper entitled “The 21st Century Learning Environments (Partnership for 21st Century Skills) directly advocates the Whole Child Movement which leaves behind the traditional classical method of education rooted in truth and facts in favor of experienced based activity. The whole child philosophy considers rote knowledge antiquated and emphasizes present experience as a preferred means of learning.

“To educate the whole child, though, schools must devote themselves to more than the mind-body connection alone. They must attend to the emotional and social learning needs of children, as well as to more traditional objectives of academic achievement and physical education. While the roots of the whole child movement date back to the child-centered philosophies of John Dewey, current educational research and a new broader conception of student achievement add even greater significance and urgency to its appeal” (Page 4).

Internet Access - a Right

A theme throughout the P-21 Learning Environment white paper is the necessity for all students to have high-speed internet access and this access must be provided in order to ensure “educational effectiveness” and close the “digital divide.”

“Organizational efficiency and educational effectiveness also depend on a flexible telecommunications infrastructure or backbone, with sufficient bandwidth to handle anticipated telephony, Internet, and local area traffic, plus overage to allow for future growth and new applications. To provide guidance, a recent SETDA report, “High-Speed Broadband Access for all Kids,” describes desirable performance standards for both local and wide area networks. A Local Area Network (LAN) for a school or school district needs to cover all physical areas, including classrooms, the library, cafeteria, administrative, counseling, and special services offices. Thus, the LAN should cover instructional, transportation, food service, nursing, and ground and facilities personnel, as well as provide virtual areas for distance learning and remote access for educational purposes.”

“The same SEDTA report calls on communities to provide 24/7 high-speed broadband access in order to create “rigorous, technology-infused learning environments” for students.” (Page 20)

“The report notes that broadband access is especially critical in overcoming the digital divide in rural and low socio-economic areas.” (Page 21)

National Data Centers

The collection of data raises a myriad of privacy concerns such as: Who will have access to the data? With what countries will the U.S. be networking? Why are FERPA guidelines being changed (Regulations.gov) this year to allow the collection of data from a minor without parental consent?

How does the collection of data in the name of education help a child learn to read or excel in mathematics?

“In addition to local area networks, states and countries need to consider deployment of a broadband network linking schools together with their central administration or ministry of education. It may also be advantageous to link such a broadband network to higher education institutions, thereby creating national research and education networks. Data centers, located on the broadband network and centrally running multiple academic and administrative applications, can enable economies of scale and lower servicing costs across a number of educational institutions, while facilitating research, scholarship, and learning at all levels” (Page 21).

School Replaces the Family as the Center of Life

Should America’s schools aspire to overreach into every area of a child’s life when they aren’t even effectively fulfilling the role for which they were established – academics.

“John Dewey long ago conceived of schools as ‘miniature communities.’ ” (Page 22)

“Schools in the 21st century do more than meet academic needs; they function like miniature cities, providing food, facilities, health, security, transportation, and recreation services for their students. Likewise, technology must do more than support than instruction. Powerful enterprise management applications can knit together the many functions of a school, and help make a complex organization coherent and efficient.” (Page 20)

Federal Control

The P-21 is concerned with “decentralized” (state and local) control of our education system and advocates the use of policy to create alignment toward centralized federal and global control.

“Educational policy is never a simple matter, especially in the United States. Much policy originates at the state level, as states are chartered with providing public education. The federal role has been increasing in recent years, though, in particular since the passage of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. Local policies abound as well, as district- and building-level officials determine how to implement state and federal policy.”

“Having a clear sense of overarching objectives can help with alignment. When policies are aimed at the same goals, conflicts among them are reduced. So, as in any planning process, the first step in creating good educational policy is articulating what education should accomplish.”

Policy must serve as the steering mechanism to guide the creation of learning environments that are both more expansive and more inclusive – spaces for learning that offer more people more access to more places and information while also allowing for close-knit social relationships among community members to flourish. Making all this happen is the task before us. It will not be easy, inexpensive, or quick. But it is essential” (page 27).

Conclusion

Knowing the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a global initiative as stated on their own website, why are any elected United States Representatives considering an education policy proposal from an international consortium whose goal is to produce a skilled worker for a global economy rather than an educated citizen necessary to preserve the Republic of the United States?

The P-21 white papers conclude with a quote from John Dewey reiterating their vision of society which is undeniably socialist.

“In creating such learning spaces, we will have come closer to the vision John Dewey articulated over a century ago: “…to make each one of our schools an embryonic community life, active with the types of occupations that reflect the life of the larger society, and permeated throughout with the spirit of art, history, and science. When the school introduces and trains each child of society into membership within such a little community, saturating him with spirit of service, and providing him with the instruments of effective self-direction, we shall have the deepest and best guarantee of a larger society which is worthy, lovely, and harmonious” (Pages 28 & 29).

John Dewey and his plan (Novack) for education has been reiterated throughout American education since Lyndon Baines Johnson inexorably tied the states to the bidding of the federal government (White) through 1965’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (United States Public Law). The progressive theory of education as authored by Dewey so many years ago, has been a proven and dismal failure. Why are we continuing failed policy that not only undermines the ability of students in America to learn, but our sovereignty as well?


End Notes:

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Open Congress. H.R.2536 - 21st Century Readiness Act. n.d. August 2011 .

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 21st Century Learning Environments. n.d. August 2011 .

—. The Intellectual and Policy Foundations of the 21st Century Skills Framework. n.d. August 2011 .

Regulations.gov. Document Details: Family Educational Rights and Privacy. 8 April 2011. August 2011 .

United States Public Law. Sribd. 11 April 1965. August 2011 .

Warde, W. F. Marxists.org. 2005. August 2011 .

White, Jenni. American Thinker. July 2011. August 2011 .

Williams, Matt A. Twitter/P21CentSkills. August 8 2011. August 2011