"For me, the most important lesson
[of the Freedom Movement] is that by respecting the fact that fellow activists could passionately disagree over strategy and tactics—yet remain allies—they strengthened SNCC and the Movement as a whole."
From Bruce Hartford's article in the current issue of Urban Habitat.
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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Common Core in it's historical perspective

Here's a very very brief outline of my PhD dissertation

1. business LEADERS have always determined what educational policy is -- business leaders fundamentally alter schooling to meet their needs to sort and socialize the work force. When the nation's economic structure alters, the school system's structure has been changed by business.

2. fundamental education reform has happened 3 times in U.S. history:
  • 1848 -- creation of standardized, hierarchical public school system
  • 1890's -- creation of comprehensive high schools and tracking system using standardized tests (working class tracked into vocational education; middle class tracked into college prep courses).
  • 1989 -- creation of high-stakes testing (attaching High stakes to the standardized tests that have been in use since 1890s)

3. these three transformations of the public school system match the three major transformations of the U.S. economy.
  • 1840s' -- transition from agricultural to manufacturing society
  • 1890's -- transition from manufacturing society to industrial
  • 1980's -- transition from industrial to service economy

4. beginning in 1990's the Business Roundtable engineered a coalition of business groups and educators to pass "high-stakes legislation" in all the state legislatures. By 2000, only 16 states had passed high stakes testing:
  • a. state content standards
  • b. state mandatory standardized tests
  • c. rewards and sanctions connected to test results

5. so, frustrated at the state level, the BRT went to Washington D.C. and lobbied Dems and Republicans to rewrite the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act to reflect high stakes testing policy. the result was NCLB, in the hopes that lobbyists could use NCLB as LEVERAGE to get the recalcitrant state legislatures (those resistant to HST) to pass HST legislation. Many more states came on board during the next 10 years.

6. NCLB was set to expire in 2007. It was SO UNPOPULAR that congress didn't want to touch it with a ten foot pole, in spite of heavy lobbying by the BRT inspired coalition to reauthorize the law. In 2008, Obama campaigned to rewrite the law to respond to criticism. When in office, he hired Arne Duncan ( the NEA has recently called for Duncan to resign) who essentially replaced NCLB with Race to the Top. This has been equally widely unpopular.

7. Business CEO's, frustrated by teacher, parent and student sabotage of high stakes testing have now settled on a "common core" set of standards to once again, be enforced by standardized tests.

What is the purpose of HST/Common Core? The top CEOs want to increase the number of college graduates in STEM fields -- to increase the supply far beyond the demand, so as to lower their wages. HST failed to do that, so Gates et al got Congress to expand the H1B visas to bring in foreign born "knowledge workers" at half the price of native bred STEM. also, majorly outsourcing computer programming et al to India and China and anywhere where they were cheap.

Top down education reform doesn't work. it doesn't get the willing participation of those who are actually implementing it. and the more administrators threaten, cajole teachers, the more teachers resist in any way they can. Teachers had different goals for their students than business leaders have. the clash of goals in schools and in the classroom frustrates everyone.

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