Friday, February 24, 2012

How do you get a REPUBLICAN to push a LIBERAL EDUCATION AGENDA?

I wish I had written this, alas, I have not. This is from Suzie Schnell, in Utah. It is absolutely fabulous and I hope you spread it far and wide. She has single-handedly identified why it is that REPUBLICANS are falling IN DROVES for a LIBERAL education agenda! Please, again, post, re-post and send to any legislators to which you feel this could apply!

If you are a Progressive Educator or leader on the National/Federal level and want to get your Education Agenda through quickly to as many states as possible,
you need the support of conservative Republicans
So...

1. You push this agenda through individual "states" instead of at the "federal" level because conservatives like state's rights. 

2. You appeal to their desire for "higher standards" because conservatives believe in an educated populace.

3. You talk about modernizing schools with the latest technology and equipment.

4. You partner with private institutions since it appeals to their sense of capitalism and free enterprise.

5. You talk about college and jobs because this is foremost on their minds in a failing economy with failing schools.

6. You hold national conferences to teach these ideas to state and local school boards and get them to buy into it. You give them all the tools they need to bring this into their own states. You start this process years before you actually bring it into the public's view and then you push it through legislation quickly because "Education is in a crisis". 

7. You write the national standards, assessments and curriculum through gov't partnered organizations so it doesn't seem like the govt is writing them directly. After all, you know it's illegal for the federal government to do much of it so you let huge corporations like the Bill Gates Foundation do it for them and fund it. 

8. You help each State Office of Education write their own bills for implementing this plan by giving them model legislation so all states are coming up with the same laws throughout the land, using the same language, but think they are being independent. The public will believe that each state wrote them independently of the others.

9. You advertise this as a Governor's and State's program to the general public so no one looks behind the curtain.

10. You get as many Republican and conservative legislators and governors to sign on to your agenda using these key words and phrases of "higher standards" and "state initiated", but the best part is that conservatives won't know till it's too late that they are setting up the foundation for a federal takeover of education. Families and citizens don't question these conservative legislators, but trust they are only after state's rights and what is good for the children. Without realizing it, these good legislators have enacted laws to usher in this progressive agenda.

Problems:

1. This whole idea was set up by the Federal Gov't, USOE and dangerous national interests who are working together, like the Bill Gates Foundation, Pearson, Hewlett Foundation and other large private interests set on making billions by partnering with the federal govt, states and local districts for a guaranteed income for years. These Public Private Partnerships (PPP) threaten not only local control, but also real free enterprise for smaller businesses that have not been chosen by the govt for these contracts. What the Federal Gov't cannot legally do, and visa versa, the other partner can accomplish. We have been tricked into thinking this is a locally grown program in each state using local textbook companies, etc.

 In Utah, for example, the Dept of Ed has partnered with BYU's McKay School of Education to come up with online curriculum for the state. They are completely funded by the Hewlett Foundation (http://www.hewlett.org/), a global environmentalist and pro-population control organization based in the Bay Area of California, to write online textbooks for the entire state. Math and Science texts will be coming from C K Foundation (http://about.ck12.org/about/), another Bay Area, CA company which highlights their goals of teaching environmentalism, climate change, and global warming in their Probability and Statistics chapter featured on the home page.

2. The next phase in this federal takeover process is to develop Century 21 Community Schools (http://www.communityschools.org/) which will invite more Public Private Partnerships (PPP). Big corporations contract with federal, state and local school entities to go into these community schools full time, 6-7 days a week, and provide services of free healthcare and dental, PreK-12 education, job placement programs, recreation, daycare, 3 meals a day and every service you can think of for the entire family. This has already started in Ogden School District and Ogden's plan is to make every school in it's district a full service community school. Arne Duncan speaks a lot about this plan and thousands of these schools are popping up all over the nation. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuO_nB7WY9w) All of this data (healthcare, psychiatry records, academic scores, meals, recreation, etc) will be a part of the state and national data base because these families go to a one-stop community center with every amenity they need. No need to go home or church or extended family. 

3. Right now, we're just talking about collecting school records from Pre-K to college to career. That's bad enough. But by setting up extensive data collecting technology, we are easily setting ourselves up for the next step of education when full-service 21st Century Schools will be the growing phenomenon and all that data from all those extra-curricular programs will be included because all these services will be housed together in one place.

4. FERPA, the 1974 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which protects your children's school records from being seen by anyone but local school officials and parents, has now been changed as of Jan 2012. State and local education authorities are now allowed to share data with other government agencies that are not under their direct control, as long as those other agencies are involved in federal or state supported education programs. http://www.forumfyi.org/files/First_Look_FERPA.pdf. Arne Duncan said in a 2009 speech that he would "push states" into sharing student's private information with research firms.

5. Utah State Office of Education has chosen global leader, Pearson, to set up the "federally funded" data collecting technology we need to implement longitudinal data systems to collect massive and complicated data from our schools. http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/1999361/utah_state_office_of_education_partners_with_pearson_for_new/

Please look beyond just the phrases "Common Core", "higher standards", and "state-led program" and compare what is really going on. See how Utah is implementing Obama's National Education Goals. Look to see what these bills in Utah are setting up in the bigger scheme of things for the future.

Simple, local and parent-centered are the answers. We must protect our local control of education, putting parents first in the choices they make for their own children.

Thoughtfully,
Susie Schnell

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Why Would Legislators Want Our Kids in Public School MORE?

Several months ago I wrote a blog, "Please Put My Child In School MORE to Learn Less". I chronicled how I'd read Karl Springer's (Superintendent of Oklahoma City Public Schools) idea to increase the number of hours children should be in school. In fact, Springer wanted the Legislature to mandate a seven-hour school day to improve "education standards". 

[Education standards. Is there a definition for this phrase? I haven't really been able to find one as it appears to be nebulous and apply to whatever money-grubbing activity or liberty-stealing legislation the speaker intends.]

In the blog I outlined the many things my two children still in public education do during a day that apply to absolutely NOTHING educational (as would be indicated by my title). 

Though I am loathe to finish out the school year with the two (especially since our school adopted the absolutely HORRIFYING math curricula, "Everyday Math" - see below), it is certainly a way to keep tabs on the educational nonsense spewing out of even one the most affluent, well-placed elementary schools in the Oklahoma City Public Schools district. For examples, see my posts, "The Zombies Are Coming" (on the global warming nonsense and how it affected my child), and the Pièce de résistance "One Oklahoma Teacher, "Do I Teach To The Test or Teach for Knowledge" (where my youngest son's teacher basically tries to explain why she can't keep my child on a single task long enough to actually master it - basically, I've found, it's my responsibility to do it AFTER school).

So, can you imagine my glee when I found this while reading through the bills assigned to committees for the week - HB3089; Schools; changing the length of the school day; effective date; emergency. The bill was authored by Representative Jason Nelson of the larger Oklahoma City metro area. Guess who argued FOR the bill? That's right - none other than Superintendent Springer.

Peter J. Rudy at Oklahoma Watchdog provided the blow-by-blow discussion on the bill in the Common Education Committee this morning. 

Lynn Habluetzel - ROPE Board member - was watching Watchdog's tweets today and forwarded this tweet to me in a text, "Nelson: we’re trying to make value statement as a legislature that we want a longer school day."


What? A VALUE STATEMENT? Wait a minute. I guess I must be wrong on the whole idea of this Constitution thingy. Apparently, the objective of the legislative process is NOT to create freedom for citizens, but to tie them up with mandates and laws to make VALUE STATEMENTS. The only problem here is that my VALUES are apparently not those of the Oklahoma City Public Schools and Representative Nelson.

I think the final sentences in the debate are important here:
Kern: I think there are more fundamental problems in education. This isn’t increasing time teachers would be working. I don’t think this bill is the answer to what we need.
Nelson: there are some things I’ll never understand. We have people concerned we’re mandating we go 6.5 hours. Well we have a mandate for 6 hours right now. Let’s take that away and give districts billions of dollars to districts and let them do what we want. We’re not talking about creating a standard, it’s increasing the standard. We’re talking about establishing a new base so we’re not the bottom of the barrel. To me this is a common sense approach. We’re not micromanaging any more than we are right now.
Clearly - and according to the first hand knowledge I have of my two children - a longer school day will not solve the issue of the mess that has become public education. How Representative Nelson feels this idea is a "common sense approach", "I'll never understand". 

Trapping children longer in a building where - no matter how much many teachers want to make sure their kids leave their classrooms schooled in needed subjects;
  • the curricula school boards adopt are HORRIBLE - and in some cases hurtful, 
  • there are too many outside hour-eaters (assemblies, plays, field trips, etc.) that take time away from actual teaching and study,
  • teachers have to 'teach to a test' to the extent that they can't teach their children to the level of mastery or the kids won't score well on the tests, but the test scores have to be good to keep the schools AYP number up and eventually to keep from being fired
  • kids don't get the support they need at home because the family unit has been destroyed and teachers aren't to be babysitters (and simply can't be) - nor schools a home or substitute for family

Fortunately for us, the bill didn't pass in a 4-11 vote (I would like to know the four that voted yes, but the votes have not been posted on the legislative servers). 

Unfortunately for our kids, the common sense approaches that will work best for them, don't cost enough money, provide enough kick-backs, elevate anyone's political standing enough or rely on yet another 'program'. Taking off the mandates, letting teachers teach, giving them good resources and concentrating on only Math, Science, Reading, Language Arts and Social Studies, will do the trick. When will we find enough legislators and administrators to concentrate on these factors before themselves? I hesitate to guess, which is why my children will never darken the door of a public school again after this year. 



Reviews of UCSMP Everyday Mathematics (http://nychold.com/em.html)
An Evaluation of Selected Mathematics Textbooks, by Wayne Bishop (May 1997). Prepared at the request of the Core Knowledge Foundation, this is a review of 2nd and 4th grade mathematics materials from Sadlier, SRA McGraw-Hill (CMC), Saxon, and Everyday Learning Corporation (Everyday Math). Bishop ranks Everyday Mathematics a distant last. About Everyday Math 2nd grade he writes: "In normal classrooms with normal teachers, I would characterize these materials as `dangerous.' My impression is that it would be very difficult to be sure that appropriate material has been covered adequately. One can expect a very high degree of teacher variability. Knowledgeable teachers, well grounded in the materials, may be able to pull it off; at least it's clear from the assessment book that there are some things that the children are supposed to know. There is almost no routine practice, although a small amount is built into the activities." The same criticism is amplified for the fourth grade Everyday Math materials.

PS: here is Lynn's letter to Representative Nelson following the meeting:

Dear Representative Nelson,

I was monitoring the Common Ed committee meeting this morning and was glad your bill HB 3089 failed. Once again I think your intentions maybe good, but too many unintended consequences will occur.  Please look beyond the surface problem of "not enough time".   I want to comment specifically on your statement:

Nelson: why do we have schools? To educate children and the longer we can do that every day is a good thing.

I refer you to Jenni White's blog she wrote about how they ( public schools) do so much except TEACH the basics.  
If the schools would go back to the basics  our reading and math scores would go up, which is what everyone seems to want.  
Thank you,
Lynn Habluetzel

Thursday, February 9, 2012

We don't need no badges! I don't have to show you any stinkin' badges!


And so, with similar words (I imagine, I wasn't there actually), our state superintendent opened her news conference announcing that she had finally wrangled Oklahoma an NCLB waiver. After all, it has been asserted over and over and over again that President Obama has broken the law by detouring Congress to offer this waiver PRIOR to the successful passage of the reauthorization of NCLB. By extension, then, every superintendent to take a waiver for their state, is using ill-gotten 'gains'.

Though ROPE and a number of different conservative organizations have decried this move (you can find all the relevant literature and commentary here), Dr. Barresi has been stalwart in her insistence that Oklahoma must have this waiver - even going so far as to play 'enforcer' of sorts by making her board sign a 'resolution' saying they would not allow the "repeal of any of these reforms" or it "would result in the nullification of Oklahoma’s waiver..."  In the event you've been held at gunpoint by the hombres of Sierra Madre for nearly a year, here are the stipulations for the waiver according to EdWeek,
In order to secure waivers from the law, states have to agree to adopt "college- and career-ready" standards, such as the Common Core State Standards approved by 46 states and the District of Columbia; put in place new systems for evaluating teachers and principals; and come up with aggressive plans to improve the performance of low-performing schools.
This situation would be simply fascinating were it not so absolutely maddening. Here we are, witnessing our 'conservative' superintendent apply for (and now collect) federal money imposing more federal mandates while legislators like Representative John Kline, head of the House Education and Workforce Committee is moving AWAY from federal mandates and control. For Heaven's sake, even the National Governor's Association is backing away from federal control of education,
For instance, NGA doesn't want the federal government to dictate how failing schools should be turned around, dealing yet another blow to the department's four School Improvement Grant models, which just about everyone is down on these days.
And it doesn't want the feds pushing any particular set of standards (pretty interesting for the organization that helped make the Common Core State Standards Initiative a reality.)
And so, yet again, ROPE finds ourselves on the other side of 'conservative' while the state superintendent gets her treasure.

For anyone who wants to look through the NCLB waiver request, it can be found here.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Common Core - Yet ANOTHER Link to Progressive, Global, Socialists!

Today I found this article, "District Leaders Get Dose of Teaching Common Core". I thought - great, I'll get a look at what many teachers are telling me behind the backs of their superintendents - that it's going to be nearly impossible with all the other stuff they have to do!

Yes, the article touched on the difficulties of getting teachers 'ramped up' to teaching in entirely different way, but it was even more surprising when I saw this,
Gathered for a leadership-network meeting facilitated by the Aspen Institute, the chief academic officers of the 14 participating districts expressed praise for the approach, but deep concerns as well, about providing the type of professional development necessary to deliver it well in their districts. To preserve the frank, problem-sharing nature of the meeting, the Aspen Institute asked that Education Week not quote district leaders by name.
 Huh? Why would they not want to be quoted? What is the Aspen Institute anyway? What do THEY have to do with Common Core?

Ahh, I love Betty Peters, my friend from the Alabama State School Board who put THIS article in my inbox today, "Aspen Institute Avalanche". This article talks about how the Institute was going to hire Ron Schiller - NPR's (now former) Foundation President - before James O'Keefe caught on him on tape calling conservatives, Republicans and Tea-Party members "racist" and "gun-toting" - among other things. That's not the issue, however. The issue is the following paragraphs,
In August 2004, according to this article in the liberal New Yorker, “a clandestine summit meeting took place at the Aspen Institute, in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. The participants, all Democrats, were sworn to secrecy” and included five billionaires who “shared a common goal: to use their fortunes to engineer the defeat of President George W. Bush in the 2004 election.” The wealthiest of these “hard-core partisans” was George Soros, who had been a “leading crusader for campaign-finance reform.
Soros, through his Open Society Institute, provides support for the Aspen Institute, which runs various activities in support of its stated mission of “foster[ing] enlightened leadership and open-minded dialogue.” Among these activities are its “Justice and Society Seminars,” which often have federal judges as participants. The Aspen Institute has waived the steep seminar fee (currently up to $6,950) for participating federal judges, and also has covered their expenses for travel, lodging, and meals.
Well sure, in this era of Republicans touting really nothing more than warmed-over PROGRESSIVE education 'reform' nonsense, THIS takes the cake!

In fact, if you really have any illusions that ASPEN Institute might just be misunderstood, please note their project called, "Project New Beginning" or PNB. Please note that the very first member of the project is listed as, "American Charities for Palestine".

Sadly, many of Oklahoma's (and America's) 'conservative' leadership (Sean Burrage, Glenn Coffee) have been recipients of the Rodel Fellowship - our own Mickey Edwards is in fact its Director. Here is what the scholarship claims,
The Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership program seeks to enhance our democracy by identifying and bringing together the nation's most promising young political leaders to explore, through study and conversation, the underlying values and principles of western democracy, the relationship between individuals and their community, and the responsibilities of public leadership; to support and inspire political leaders committed to sustaining the vision of a political system based on thoughtful and civil bipartisan dialogue; and to help America's brightest young leaders achieve their fullest potential in public service.
Clearly, yet another effort/organization in which Republicans have tangled themselves without either awareness or care.

Clearly just another reason to STOP THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS INITIATIVE!

PS: here's a little bit from one Bible-believing organization on why the Aspen Institute is so insidiously bad.
PSS: here's a little bit from Axiom for Liberty about how Aspen Institute is involved in identifying American citizens as TERRORISTS

Friday, February 3, 2012

One Oklahoma Teacher, "Do I teach to the test, or teach for knowledge?"




This post stems from the meeting I had with my 7 year-old's teacher on Teacher Conference night. Well, that's not true, it stems from years of research I've done on public education, but it came to a head in NEON LIGHTS for me last night and I had to share.

I have had three children darken the doors of the same public elementary school from kindergarten. From the beginning of the year, when I began to work with Sam (7) on his homework, I was troubled. The math seemed WAY too fast. I mean, he started with addition, but after three or so short weeks, he started subtraction. I couldn't believe it - he in NO WAY had his addition facts down before subtraction began. Consequently, the MINUTE subtraction began, he was lost. It took hours sometimes to sit with him and explain until he could even get the CONCEPT, let alone actually do the problems himself!

But wait! Several weeks later he actually brought home a math paper where he was to ADD THREE NUMBERS IN A ROW!!!! I simply couldn't believe it. I had to show him how to do it and he got it pretty well actually, but I have a Master's Degree in Biology and my husband is an ELECTRICAL ENGINEER!

After weeks of frustration over this situation, we met the teacher and she began to show us Sam's grades.

"Well, Mrs. Jones (not her real name for obvious reasons), I don't really care that Sam's grades are low. I'm going to be taking he and his sister Betty out at the end of the year to home school anyway - and frankly, I am simply disgusted at the nonsensical speed in which your class is going through math. I don't think Sam's grades are necessarily a reflection of his knowledge base, because he keeps moving on to something else before he's really grasped the subject at hand, so he never knows anything well enough to get really good grades."
Mrs. Jones responds,

"Oh, I know Mrs. White. I hate that. I NEVER get to teach for mastery, I can really only teach to the test and NOW I might have to do that to an even greater degree to keep my job!"

Clearly frustrated, she continued,
"I have been a teacher in OKCPS nearly 20 years. We teachers are all kind of conditioned to just teaching whatever new fad the district puts out, knowing it won't last and we'll have to spend our summers getting trained on something else as soon as a NEW fad comes along. It's the testing that causes so many problems. They keep telling us we have to teach more and more every year it seems. How in the WORLD can I get my kids to develop MASTERY in a subject when we can't spend but more than three weeks on it before I have to move on to something else. But then, I have to teach what's on the test, or the kids scores go down and we all look bad."
THANK GOODNESS EDUCATION IS ALL ABOUT THE KIDS! Public education today is about nothing more than what administrators - some who have never even set foot in a classroom and have no idea what a teacher can or can not do in a set amount of time - SAY it is. "They" implement new programs at the speed of light and expect things out of children and teachers that could only be possible in some parallel universe made up of Einstein-like scholars!

Yes, we want our kids to be the best they can be, but THIS is not the way! Why do you think test scores haven't risen in decades and kids get so frustrated and hate school so much they drop out!? Every administrator wants the newest, cutting edge approach to learning. The only problem is, studies show that the donkey works better than the racehorse! Why does better equate with NEW? Why don't we seem to understand that tried and true methods become "tried and true" because they have been shown to be!

I get so sick and tired of being told that home school students perform better because they have one one one direction at home and their education is catered to them. Come on! Many of us put our kids on lessons and let them go at their own speed - when they get a concept they move on!
Mrs. Jones said, "I don't worry so much about the higher kids because they tend to get stuff anyway, and I don't worry about the lower end kids because many of them will need remediation of some kind anyway. I worry about the kids in the middle! I can't even seem to serve them because even they can't keep up."
She also went on to tell us that next year, the school would be using Everyday Math - the WORST example of fuzzy math curricula in education today!

Well, I wonder...maybe that's the way "THEY" actually want all this testing, and new Standards, and crummy curricula, and constant meddling. The more the kids are confused and the lower the test scores get, the MORE "they" get to justify spending money and staff on programs that 'might' work to 'fix' it! After all, who cares about the kids when they're just a means to an end.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

What is HUMAN CAPITAL?

This is SUCH an important article, I felt I should create a blog of it immediately. As my friend Howard and I were talking and consoling one another after he read it today, we both realized that this particular article plugs holes in SO many places where ROPE has really been unable to explain what has gone so horribly wrong in public education today.

The article is cited in my latest research on the P20 database - how we are "tracking" kids using different educational data points in the name of education reform. It will by ready to read by the end of the week and I will provide links to it then. The article below, explains the idea of Human Capital so well, it helps us understand why it is SO wrong for our State Superintendent and other "reformers" to use this term. It is extremely apparent that very, very few of our representatives in government have any real clue as to how or WHY they are being manipulated into creating a communist society all under the guise of "education reform".

Sadly, I think the reason why many Americans can't possibly wrap their brain around this concept, stems from the fact that - having worked at it for more than 5 decades - the communists among us have dis-educated us in civics so brilliantly, that we have no idea what role government is to play in our lives and can be led like sheep in any direction they want to point us. In addition, we have lived in this "sweet land of liberty" for so long (whether it was or not) that not only haven't we been able to see it changing before our eyes, but we have told ourselves that it isn't simply because we can't or don't want to believe it. In fact, I wrote an article for a Notre Dame project describing this phenomenon and how it can be rectified through civic education.

The article on Human Capital was written in the mid-90's. Before or after you read it, please, please at least open this article, "Common Core: Preparing Globally Competent Citizens" and read how, the Council of Chief State School Officers are developing student global competence which fits with the new Standards. Please ALSO note that the article refers constantly to the ASIA Society - one of the most globalistic, liberalistic organizations in America today.
 
It would help if we researched organizations involved with "reform" projects of any kind to determine their roots - and therefore their agenda - but we Americans have been dis-educated from that process as well. Please note what ARE considered global competencies:



If you aren't seeing how this is all fitting together yet, I beg you to read, re-read and read it again. It's right here in front of our faces. We must be prepared. It is absolute NECESSITY at this point in this late hour - when we have very little time to wake up those around us - to understand these concepts and make them known to anyone who will possibly listen.




Is Your Child Human Capital?
Yes, According To The Architects Of The New Global Economy

By Cindy Weatherly
12-7-3

During preparation for a workshop on educational policy in 1982, I was asked by the host organization to prepare a glossary of terms pertaining to my presentation. That request seemed simple enough and a reasonable one, so I set about compiling terms related to CBE (Competency-Based Education) (forerunner of Outcome-Based Education and promulgated by the same man Bill Spady), our fad-of-the-moment in educational reformation toward illiteracy in Georgia.
 
As I said, the task seemed simple enough. However, while still in the "A's" of the alphabet, I developed an overwhelming respect for professional compilers of glossaries. The first word block I encountered was "assessment". Sure it was familiar; we all knew it meant 'test'; but the longer I struggled to apply that definition to CBE the more elusive "assessment's" definition became.
 
The latest word for 'test' was "instrument" and that proved easy to explain. But, "assessment" was a broader term, "assessment" was the noun form of the verb "assess". What did "assess" actually mean? The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) had been in use since its development in the latter 1960's. Had we overlooked a change in emphasis by the Federal level of education implied by the use of the word "assessment" that could be significant?
 
Receiving no help from my small hill of accumulated state department of education materials relating to assessment, I decided to "read the instruction manual": (Webster's New World Dictionary.) Webster's clearly stated:
 
"assess": 1. to set an estimated value on (property, etc.) for taxation 2. to set the amount of (a tax, fine, damages, etc.) 3. to impose a fine, tax, or special payment on (a person or property) 4. to impose (an amount) as a fine, tax, etc. 5. to estimate or determine the significance, importance, or value of; evaluate.
 
"assessment": 1. the act of assessing 2. the amount assessed.
 
This definition disturbed me a little. I had assumed that "assessment" was just the latest educationese for a broad-based test. Had I missed something somewhere? To accomplish the task at hand -- the glossary -- I crafted a definition that read like this:
 
"Assessment: an estimation; determination of the significance or value of. As used in education, a general term for measuring student progress. Conflict in definition occurs when considering that this is a measurement process that is used to determine the value or significance of a particular outcome in educational performance. Therefore, it is not a true measurement, but a process of assigning value to specific tasks, creating a cumulative score for performance instead of an accurate measurement against a standard."
 
It sounded good at the time and spoke to the question of "what are we testing?" which was a growing concern due to the nature of Competency-Based Education's life role skills competencies, which were going to dictate our educational goals -- just like "OBE" does today. Even though satisfied to have introduced the idea that there may be a conflict within the definition of "assessment" as an educational term, I was bothered that I could find no definitions in other dictionaries, including legal ones, which did not have primary meanings related to assigning a value for tax purposes. "Assessment" is primarily a legal term; in fact, the use of the word "instrument" could carry a legal connotation as well. Disturbing.
 
THE FEDERAL ACCOUNTING PROCESS
 
In March of 1984 I had the privilege of giving testimony supporting stringent regulations for the Pupil Privacy Act (the Hatch Amendment) which amended the General Education Provisions Act to offer protection from intrusive questioning, programs, and the record-keeping for parents and students.
 
Again, preparation for that testimony caused me to review the National Center for Educational Statistics' handbook series known as the "State Educational Records and Reports Series". Specifically, Handbook IIR - the Financial Accounting Handbook - alluded to a "unified accounting system" based on the process known as Planning, Programming and Budgeting System (PPBS) which was to be used by all school systems. PPBS involves mandated goals and constant adjustment of resources to ensure that goals are met... the system that is still in use today. In testifying, I drew a projected conclusion:
 
If our financial resource reporting is going to be unified by such a system, then are we not but a step away from unified goals for our educational outcomes? This is assuredly a step toward mandated national curriculum and interstate and interregional tax and financial management revisions... will we not soon be sharing tax resources from region to region as needed to `equalize' educational opportunities and programs deemed `exemplary` or in the `national interest to produce global- minded citizens?'
 
The longer I thought of "assessment" being the "value determined for tax purposes" and the possibility of cross-regional/state sharing of tax resources, the more concerned I became over the idea that the record-keeping and information-compiling might become so tied to the individual student that "assessment" might have a more malignant potential. We were talking about our children here.
 
At that point in time there was a growing emphasis on choice and vouchers/tuition tax credits in education. Since with the money flows the control, could this be part of the "assessment" picture? That would tie an individual student moving about in the "choice market" directly to a federal accounting process both financially and educationally due to national standards being proposed. No one seemed to be too worried about it in the 1980's, but it still bothered me.
 
Over a period of time I shared my concern with close associates -- if "assess" was to "assign a value for tax purposes", then why were we "assessing" children? A theory began to take root and grow in my mind: somehow we were going to allow children's potential worth to society to be measured, and their future life roles would somehow be measured, and their future life roles would be somehow projected, and they would be limited by that assigned worth. What a thought! Could this be possible in the United States [of America]?
 
HUMAN CAPITAL DEFINED
 
Later someone sent me pages from a book entitled Human Capital and America's Future, edited by David W. Hornbeck and Lester M. Salamon. The title itself set off alarm bells because of the connection to education shared by many of the contributors, especially Hornbeck. It was now the early 90's and many disturbing things were happening. David Hornbeck was a highly visible change agent responsible for many radical education reforms in states from Kentucky to Iowa and had been a consultant to many more.
 
Why was Hornbeck focusing on 'human capital'? That had been primarily used in economic and commercial literature. Hornbeck was also identified with changes in "assessment" in the school systems with which he consulted and worked. The book was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1991 and contains an enlightening list of contributors in addition to Hornbeck: Ernest Boyer; Nancy Barrett; Anthony Carnavale; Sheldon Danziger; Marian Wright Edelman; Scott Fosler; Daniel Greenberg; Jason Jaffras; Arnold Packer; Isabel Sawhill; Marion Pines; Donald Stewart, and Lester Salamon.
 
The social and political views of "Human Capitol's" line-up of contributors could be the basis of another whole article, but suffice it to say that most of the radical changes toward a managed populus in this country can be reflected among this group of individuals. Weren't some of them involved in the dis-establishing of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) and turning it into the Department of Education?
 
While references to "human capital" have been the fare of business publications for some time, it has only been in the last few years that this term applied to school children. In Hornbeck's chapter in "Human Capital", 'New Paradigm for Action', he outlined the systemic change which must occur to produce the workforce for the future and fulfill our nation's 'human capital' needs. Hornbeck's "new paradigm of action" looked a lot like old "OBE" -- setting specific performance standards and invoking penalties for schools, teachers and students not meeting them:
 

"If the new comprehensive system is to be outcome-based, careful attention must be paid to 'assessment' strategies. The selection of outcome indicators will be informed by the availability of sound assessment instruments." [emphasis added]
 
Now here was Hornbeck using "assessment" and "instrument" together instead of a substitute for one or the other -- and he had selected the two terms which carried legal usage definitions. Hornbeck asserted that while the NAEP might be universally available, and portfolio "assessments" (notice the use of both words together) would become popular, "the Educational Testing Service (ETS) is investing time and funds in developing new approaches to assessment." He further stated that while most of the present 'assessment' observations are "related to academic objectives"...
 

"Similar sensitivity is required in carefully defining appropriate assessment tools in other areas as well. In citizenship... a method should be developed for expressing qualitative aspects of participation activities... a different 'value' could be placed on 'community service'... physical and mental fitness... problems arise as we confront legal and even constitutional issues (self-incrimination, search and seizure)... Perhaps a school system should plan to have all students undergo a "physical exam" in the fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades as a health counterpart to the academic testing program. Again, the emphasis must be on carefully determining assessment strategies that measure the outcomes to be achieved."
 
All of this is structured because "incremental change is insufficient. Systems must be radically altered to produce what the nation's economy demands in a work force."
 
Weren't we supposed to be concerned about the education of school children? This sounded a lot like literature which proposed "full employment" policies -- much like the billboards and signs plastered on public transportation and public buildings in Grenada -- "Work for everyone; everyone working!" -- before the U.S. invasion to overthrow their communist government.
 
Was this why the Council of Chief State School Officers accepted a contract from the National Center for Educational Statistics to develop what is known as the "SPEEDE ExPRESS? (The Exchange of Permanent Records Electronically of Students and Schools.) This electronic information track can carry the most diverse and extensive information on a student, delivering it to future employers, places of higher education, training centers, health providers (contraceptive histories will be included), the military and a number of other recipients yet to be designated. Then if employers, government and others have input into what should be the outcome of education in this country -- instead of education being academically and informational-based -- then the concept of "assessment as assigning a value" to a child takes on proportions that are certainly Orwellian.
 
What if your child's "assessed" worth doesn't meet anyone's projected goal? Proponents of the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) and the Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) are, in truth, fleshing out the skeleton of assigning a value to a person. Without the CIM/CAM in those states adopting the concept a young person will not be able to apply for a job, drive a car, or do many other things which have never before been predicated on governments' conferring a value on a person's worth to society.
 
The People's Republic of China, a communist country, uses "no conformity" -- "no job" policies to enforce its "one child" policy. Have we understood the direction of these changes? Is this constitutional or moral?
 
ASSESSING HUMAN VALUE
 
The next piece to the puzzle of assessment fell into place when my suspicions were confirmed that we really were assessing "value". The August 1993 issue of "Visions", the newsletter of the Education for the Future Initiative sponsored by Pacific Telesis Foundation, was given out at a legislative committee meeting as part of a packet of information on technology in the classroom and school-to-work transition activities. The lead article was Beyond the Bubble with a blurb reading: "Educators are finding that new ways of teaching require new forms of 'assessment'."
 
On page three there was a column entitled 'Authentic Definitions'. Finally, I thought, I have found an educational publication that will define this word and allay my fears. Sure enough, there was the word: "Assessment - The act or result of judging the 'worth' or 'value' of something or 'someone'.
 
The worth or value of something or someone?! This was confirmation that educational testing had taken an extreme left turn. It was not comforting to realize that our children were going to be assigned a value based on "acceptable performance behaviors in life-role applications" as proposed in PacTelesis Foundation's 'Authentic Definitions'.
 
Knowing that
 
1) Our children would be tracked and that extensively detailed would be electronically compiled and transmitted to select file-users;
 
2) Information would include or be based on a value level assigned to them contingent upon performance - as a child - of life-role competencies;
 
3) Value levels could reflect the scale of achievement outlined in the United States Labor Department's 1993 "Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills" [SCANS] -- which encompasses personality traits and private preferences, and
 
4) The purpose of education has documentably been diverted into workforce training, led me ultimately to the conclusion that indeed the future holds a less than bright prospect for our young people. To be formally assigned a "worth" to society based on your ability as a child to demonstrate that you can perform an "essential skill" should be a foreign concept in a constitutional republic like the one in which we live -- these United States of America.
 
An example of how these efforts at "assessment" have been perverted to the ends outlined above is given in "Crucial Issues In Testing", edited by Ralph W. Tyler and Richard M. Wolf. This book is one in a series prepared under the auspices of the National Society for the Study of Education, which in 1974 included names like William Spady, John Goodlad, and Robert Havighurst on its governing committee.
 
On page 98, within an article by Carmen J. Finley (of the American Institute for Research) is a section entitled "Defining Goals versus Comparison With an Average:"
 

"In the National Assessment program specific objectives or goals are defined and exercises are written which determine how well these goals are being met. For example, in citizenship a major objective is to `Support Rights and Freedoms of All Individuals.' One specific way in which a person might meet this goal is to defend the right of a person with very unpopular views to express his opinion and support the right of `extreme' (political or religious) groups to express their views in public."
 
One exercise which was written to try to tell whether or not this objective was being met is as follows:
 
"Below are three statements which make some people angry. Mark each statement as to whether you think a person on radio or TV should or should not be allowed to make these statements: * = Russia is better than the United States. * = Some races of people are better than others. * = It is not necessary to believe in God."
 
This is the goal-oriented approach. The objectives or goals represent a kind of standard which is considered desirable to achieve. The exercises, if they are good measures, tell to what extent the goals are being achieved. This approach tells very specifically what a person knows or can do.
 
           Jenni's Note:
[THIS IS THE WORDING USED BY THE COMMON CORE TODAY] This article is PRIOR to the Common Core.

I submit that the goals-oriented/performance-based /OBE/assessment approach just outlined tells more than what a child knows or can do. This approach very specifically reveals what a child feels and believes. Remember that "assessments" measure toward predetermined outcomes. Those outcomes represent the judged "worth" or "value" of your children and mine!
 
With the last election cycle (during the Clinton years) hope swept the country that a conservative majority had exerted itself; changes would be made. As a country we'd be snatched from the brink of economic socialism and potential corporate fascism; and sanity would be restored to the halls of government. Right?
 
WHEN RIGHT IS LEFT
 
It just happens that the October 1992 edition of Visions (PacTelesis Foundation newsletter) contained an article entitled "Why Technology?" It began,
 

"Alvin Toffler, the author of such influential books as "Future Shock" and "The Third Wave", has written that the spread of personal computers is the single most important change in the field of knowledge since the invention of movable type in the 15th century. He goes on to state that knowledge is the key to power in the 21st century -- not mineral rights or military force."
 
This was the same publication that carried the definitive definition of "assessment". And wasn't this the same Alvin Toffler who wrote "Creating A New American Civilization", which heralds the coming third wave of global culture, published by the Progress and Freedom Foundation and introduced at their 'Cyberspace and the New American Dream' conference in Atlanta last year?
 
Newt Gingrich, the new Speaker of the House, introduced Toffler as his longtime friend and then sat quietly by to hear Toffler say that national sovereignty was a thing of the past and that he was an avowed secularist. These are the stripes of our new "conservative" future?
 
At the same Cyberspace conference, an array of professionals from many areas of cultural life paraded their contributions to leadership toward the much-touted Third Wave. The spokesperson for education in Progress and Freedom Foundation's lineup was -- and still is -- Lewis J. Perelman, author of "School's Out: A Radical New Formula for the Revitalization of America's Educational System". Perelman advocates what he calls just-in-time learning, privatized public schools, total quality applications, hyperlearning, and many other catchy concepts which are now, of course, getting much attention in the policy debate.
 
It should be noted that in the Preface to his book Perelman cites Wassily Leontief and B.F. Skinner among those from whom he particularly benefited during his years at Harvard in the 70's. Most interesting since Leontief is the acknowledged expert on management by objectives (MBO) -- the forerunner and companion to PPBS. And Skinner was the American father of behavioral psychology, and mastery learning/operant conditioning -- the foundation for OBE.
 
These relationships of Perelman's are important because he supplied the connecting piece to complete the puzzle picture of our children's future. Perelman states on page 316 that. . .
 
"Nostalgic mythology about `local control' should not mask the reality that the state governments have the constitutional authority, call the shots, and pay most of the bill for education. But government, local or otherwise, no longer needs to own and operate school systems or academic institutions."
 
TAXING HUMAN WORTH
 
Now, to the heart of Perelman's alternative proposal which forms the future of "conservative" educational policy and expresses "assessment's" future use:
 
"One possibility would be a 'human capital tax'. The human capital tax might be simply the same as a personal income tax, or might be calculated or ear-marked in a more limited way. Technicalities aside, it's logical that if the government is going to help fund investments in the development of the community's human capital, taking back a share of the resulting gains is a good way to pay for it. In effect, each generation of beneficiaries of such investment pays back some of the benefits it received to the next generation" [value-added tax, ed.] (p. 317)
"We should deal with parents who are 'starving their children's minds' with the same legal remedies we use to deal with parents who are starving their children's bodies. The... media through which a microchoice [voucher] system is provided will give public authorities more accurate information on what individual families and kids are doing than is currently available, making it easier to identify instances of negligence or misuse." (page 318 [emphasis added]
"...there's no good reason why the learner should not be able to purchase services or products from any provider -- whether public or private, in-state or out-of-state." (p. 319)
 
A VALUE ADDED TAX FOR HUMAN WORTH
 
There is the framework. A value-added tax process that will "deduct" from a services/education super-voucher a tax for every level of achievement/skill a student achieves -- true 'assessment'. Standards will be rigid and penalties for non-achievement will be enforceable against the student, his parents, and providers of educational services in order to achieve a trained workforce."
 
The implications for families being disrupted by accusations and prosecutions for Perelman's implied abuse and neglect over "parental starving of children's minds" are startling in their flagrancy. An elaborate and accurate system will track families and students, leaving privacy and confidentiality in the dust. The tax/voucher will follow the student across state and regional boundaries, necessitating a reformulation of tax bases; this could even be extended to foreign sources -- Facilitated by choice and charter school initiatives. (Remember Toffler asserts that national sovereignty is or will soon be a thing of the past. And what about GATT's education provision?)
 
The World Bank has just announced (Associated Press, "The Des Moines Register", 9/15/95) its new formula for estimating a nation's worth. Ismael Serageldin, World Bank vice president for environmentally sustainable development, stated in 'Monitoring Environmental Progress: A Report on Work in Progress' that the system "for the first time folds a country's people and its natural resources into its overall balance sheet."
 
While the World Bank projects that its new system of measuring wealth which "attempts to go beyond traditional gauges" and lists "Human Resources: value represented by people's productive capacity" (e.g. education, nutrition) will take years to perfect, I submit that our process of 'assessment' is a giant step in that direction.
 
I am reminded that in May of 1984 the "Washington Post" published an article entitled "Industrial Policy Urged for GOP." The Institute for Contemporary Studies, "founded by Edwin Meese, Caspar Weinberger and other Reagan Supporters", issued a report that advocated "Republicans shed some of their deep-rooted antipathy to a planned economy." All signals seem to point to the fact that this has indeed happened.
 
Somewhere in all of this is lost the ability to communicate our culture in an organized way and to teach basic skills that can be used whether cyberspace technology is available or not. Didn't we used to call this "education"? Didn't we believe that our children had some choice in their futures?
 
When is 'assessment' really 'assessment'? Ernest Boyer, former Director of the Office of Education and Carnegie Foundation director, once said, "To be fully human one must serve
 
In the future to be fully assessed may mean our Children's worth as a "servant" of the state will be "assigned a value for tax purposes."
 
America, where are you?
 
 

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