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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Reframing the Common Core discussion: A battle for our freedom

By Laurie H. Rogers

“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” – Voltaire
“The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it.” – George Orwell



If I were to build a list of the worst systemic problems in public education, the Common Core State Standards would not be at the top of the list. The Common Core (CCSS) is a huge problem, to be sure. It’s dictatorial, inadequate, experimental, expensive, developmentally inappropriate, politically infused – it’s nearly everything critics have said it is. But it isn’t the worst problem we face.

That dishonor goes to The Network, a moniker I’ve given to the conglomeration of corporate and government interests (and their allies) that have seized control of America’s classrooms. The Network is huge – containing most of the K-12 education mob, plus its allies in the Department of Education; colleges of education; unions; media; government agencies, associations and legal teams; foundations; corporations; legislatures; fundraising groups; colleges and universities; business; and even the courts.

The Network prefers to operate quietly, promoting supposedly good intentions. Its hallmark phrase: “It’s all about the kids.” But try opposing The Network on behalf of a child – yours or anyone else’s. If you can’t be put off, persuaded, ignored, bullied or bought out, The Network has no problem getting nasty. The more honest and honorable you are, the nastier The Network becomes.

This isn’t about left or right, Democrat or Republican. It’s about “in” and “out”; money and power; agenda and ideology. The Network spends a lot of taxpayer money growing itself, feeding itself and shielding itself from accountability. The bigger it is, the more power it has. The more power it has, the more friends it gains. The more friends it gains, the more money it gets. The more money it gets, the bigger it grows – even as it completely fails our children. Allies of all stripes play along.

In Washington State, legislators and judges now tout the additional billions they’ll rip from taxpayers for failed school districts. They don’t say how much is spent currently or what it buys. They don’t hold districts accountable. Education already is a bottomless pit of wasted dollars; they don’t seem to care.

Parents must understand: The Network will never properly educate our children. A) It doesn’t know how. Its power structure has lost any sense of how to teach academics sufficiently, efficiently and effectively. B) It doesn’t care. The agenda is to gain money and power; push a particular political view onto the next generation; maintain position and income; and avoid accountability and transparency. Some allies work agreeably with The Network; others accept the benefits of looking the other way.

This is how we were stuck with the CCSS. They claim it will raise the bar and foster international competitiveness, but unless they mean to foster competitiveness IN our competitors, their claim is easily disproved by a comparison of what they’ve done versus what happens in the classrooms of our competitors. The CCSS is designed to deliver the agenda in such a way that it cannot be overcome.

The Network wants freedom, choices and privacy for itself, not for us. If it’s successful, it will have replaced the light constraints of a free people with the ropes and chains of the subjugated. To have what it wants in education, The Network must have it all – K-12, secondary education, early learning, preschools, private and faith-based schools – and someday – mark my words – homeschooling. Dissenters spend time and energy fighting off the CCSS but almost none fighting off The Network. Thus, they can’t defeat the agenda, and The Network knows it.

A few in The Network believe they’re doing right by children, but most deceive themselves and us about their level of independence -- as they accept money, votes or benefits or do The Network’s bidding. You can establish who’s “in” by: following the money; speaking up publicly; or asking for help in opposing the agenda. The players and sycophants will undermine your message or crush it.

The Network will not tell the truth about the CCSS, for example. It was destined to be authoritarian and politically useful – not academically excellent. Nationalizing systems can work well for widgets, but not for children, learning, individuality or freedom. Politically biased, uninformed by what works elsewhere, and academically counterproductive, the CCSS is a national experiment on children and dangerous to the nation. The people who control it and push it aren’t accountable for it. It’s a lesser product than what many states had. It was deceitful from its inception in its adoption, writing, content, promotion and implementation. This was a bipartisan deceit – Republicans are as guilty as Democrats.

The CCSS is a godsend for district leaders, however. Many lack the knowledge necessary to identify a solid curriculum. They habitually adopt programs that are unproved or proved to be failures. The failures of the CCSS won’t be known for generations, so they’ll have lots of time to retire in comfort.

In math, the CCSS is cementing processes proved over three decades to be failures. Nationalization of education is how extreme constructivists plan to ultimately win the “math wars” – by using the CCSS to mandate their stupid methods across the country. They will destroy more generations of students and further endanger the country.

In English, the CCSS is allowing districts to eliminate great literature, replacing it with “informational” (pro-government, pro-extremist) material. Much of the history, culture, context, and factual information that would help to inform a student’s “critical thinking” has been or is being removed or minimized. Ray Bradbury, author of Fahrenheit 451, once presciently noted: “You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” The CCSS is doing that.

In history and civics, the new themes are content-light and opinion-heavy, pro-victimization, anti-Christian and anti-patriot. America is to be portrayed as bigoted, imperialistic, genocidal, misogynistic and anti-immigrant. Great historical figures and much daring and innovative history are to be eliminated, criticized or minimized. (This is what happens when those who view America with contempt are given free reign over academic standards.)

If the CCSS was ever about helping students academically, its promoters would have had proof of its efficacy – a track record of success. They don’t have it. The CCSS is an unproved product. Unfortunately, as bad as it is, the CCSS is just one tentacle of the monster. The Network remains largely hidden as its agenda oozes out around us, like a nasty sludge. It’s difficult to confront and defeat what we can’t see. It’s an ongoing challenge to explain this to people who would rather not believe it.

Another tentacle is the privacy-destroying longitudinal data systems. Another is the flawed testing, all online. Another is teacher evaluations, based on the faulty premise that good teachers can overcome bad curriculum, policy and administration. Another is the de facto federal takeover, now seeping into private schools, preschools, daycares and colleges. Another is the creepy technology: emails for children (that disallow parental access); scanning of driver’s licenses; and biometric intrusions on children.

We try to put all of this under the umbrella of the CCSS, and we can’t, because the CCSS is not the umbrella. We struggle because we’re missing the point. These are tentacles of the same monster. They’re separate – related but independent. It’s fascist, it’s corporatist, it’s dictatorial, selfish, larcenous... Call it what you like, but The Network is in charge and not accountable to anyone.

This is how national tyrannies are born.

The Network’s strengths are in its size, money, and near-sociopathic ability and willingness to lie on a daily basis and with impunity. It benefits from our ignorance and passivity. It’s easy, safe and pleasant for us to believe that government/corporate “partnerships” are benevolent and that the government is still on our side. We are failing to recognize our new reality.

It’s almost too late. The Network now determines problems, makes decisions and provides solutions. It essentially has oversight over itself, and it’s rapidly gaining power over the rest of us. It cares less about the children or our rights than it does about protecting its interests. The finer details of the content of the CCSS were always immaterial – a distraction. The CCSS will be whatever The Network wants it to be. The goal was that we lose our power as individuals. Graduates won’t know they’ve been manipulated. The Network wants to be the decider; we are to be the obeyers. Hop to it.

It’s risky to draw this picture for the public. Network allies will kick into gear to mock and undermine the message. Since 2009, I’ve watched this come to fruition, hearing lie after lie about it, even as the dark truth blossomed right there in front of our face. We asked for help from legislators, board directors, government watchdogs, and the media -- only to find out that most are part of The Network.

Sometimes a conspiracy “theory” isn’t a theory.

Fighting it off requires a certain mindset about freedom, knowledge, the law, the Constitution, and individuality – hence The Network’s attacks on those things. The Network is self-regenerating, with a long institutional memory. If it loses a tentacle to a determined group of dissenters, it grows another and renames it. In math, it can be Outcome-Based Education; New Math; Reform Math; inquiry-based math; student-centered learning; or constructivism. If a state rejects the CCSS, The Network can keep it in place under a different name. The Network isn’t worried. It intends to win. For the kiddoes, of course.

This is grim, so I hate to leave it here. This is America, and in America, it’s never over. But we’re now in a battle for our freedom, and most of us appear to not know it. It isn’t going to be a walk in the daffodils. The battle cannot be won by a few of us while the rest wait to hear how it went.

More citizens must become motivated, questioning, informed and involved. We must learn, vote, dissent, and inform others (including the few in The Network who will listen). We must stop supporting powerful people who demand that we acquiesce to The Network. We must vote against legislators who vote for The Network. We must walk away from schools run by well-heeled administrators and board directors who express solemn concern over students they never actually help. The Network prefers that we remain uninformed and obedient. As we wait in vain for it to do the right thing for our children, it advances the agenda. It’s symbiotic to itself but parasitic to the rest of us.

Americans have been asleep for too long. This battle is necessary to our children’s future as free Americans. If we don’t save them now from The Network, we risk losing them to it forever.


Please note: This information is copyrighted. The proper citation is: 
Rogers, L. (September 2014). "Reframing the Common Core: A battle for our freedom." Retrieved (date) from the Betrayed Web site: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

7 comments:

Beth said...

This is one of the best anti-Common Core essays I've read yet. All along I've been saying that if CC is defeated, the problems with public education will remain. You've been seeing it since 2009, I've been watching since the early 90s, when I took my child out of the public school. They've been trying this since the 50s and now have succeeded because parents have completely abdicated the responsibility for educating their children, to the government. Calling it the "Network" was brilliant, that's exactly what it is and why it's so hard to define and defeat.

Niki said...

I remember a paraprofessional in my school who was the head of her union. She gave me grief, a lot, about things the paraprofessionals didn't like. I asked her if she would be willing to be the coordinator of the paraprofessionals and thus respond directly to the para's needs. She eagerly agreed. Within a month, she came into my office and closed the door. She was disgusted with her colleagues because of their constant demands. I thought, "So until you are in the middle of the mess and trying to clean it up, you don't appreciate the mess." It was a moment of enlightenment for her. She passed the light back to me, of course.

The purpose of my tale is that most folks don't give a rat's behind about the mess around them until it touches them personally. They don't like a lot of what's going on but they don't want to get involved. Too often, when the citizens DO care, it's too late and the mess has become so big it will take generations to clean it up.

This is how I feel about education and, frankly, America. It's hard for me not to be a defeatist today, but I've seen it is not enough to keep telling people to wake up. Real disaster has to happen. We are on the precipice.

We do indeed get the government we deserve as a people because elections say far more about us as voters than they do about those elected.

I do pray for our country, both its people and its leaders, and seek guidance in taking care of my share of the problems. After 55years of working, my energy is waning, though.

niki said...

Laurie,
I forgot to add that I think your analysis is brilliant. We tend to have very narrow vision and not see the bigger picture. Well, it takes a lot of work to see the bigger picture. Thanks for doing that work!

This blog needs to be published in some major media. Are you going to submit it?

R. Craigen said...

You're right, Laurie. In UK, they use the term "the blob" for what you're calling "the network". It stands for "BLOated Educational Bureaucracy". It is also a deliberate reference to the awful B movie Sci Fi thriller from way back in the dark ages. The Blob in question was an invading alien that simply absorbed attempts to attack it, becoming more powerful after each assault. Think of how CCSS is being absorbed into the Progressive Education agenda when part of the impulse behind it was to establish better, more rigorous standards. That's "the blob" at work, and that's the way it operates. Look up the blob on some UK sites and you'll see that they are FINALLY coming up with some effective responses. I was at the ResearchEd conference in London a couple of weeks ago and learned a huge amount. They have navigated this learning curve and found some solutions that we are still missing in North America.

Research Ed, by the way, is coming to NYC this Spring!

Bruce Price said...

An excellent, wide-ranging article.

A big factor in the Network is our silent media, specifically newspapers. I've been writing about this for years, pointing out that newspapers need readers and should therefore be totally involved in elementary education and making sure that every kid can read. They aren't involved at all. Really shocking.

My paper here in Norfolk, where we have many bad schools, has never run an article about anything deep in education. In the last month or so, I've been contacting the so-called conservative newspapers around the country. I can't find anybody who wants to even discuss the subject.

Here's an article I recently put on American Thinker: "Where are the newspapers on education?" QED: the main point is that everybody should do everything they can to prod and provoke their local media to do more on education. Write letters. Suggest articles. Complain.

http://www.americanthinker.com/2014/09/where_are_the_newspapers_on_education.html

.

Richard P Phelps said...

This sums up the problem in US education. Imagine how difficult it would be for someone in Switzerland to understand our problems. There, the town council, not Ed School grads, hire and fire both the administrators and teachers in the local primary school. Other stakeholders, such as business and higher ed execs, have a say-so at the upper secondary level. And, national stakeholders have a say-so at the higher education level.

But, in the early years, the parents in the local neighborhood decide, and that is as it should be. Granted, in our country this may not work. But, that is only because our citizens have been disenfranchised by the "progressive era" reforms that allowed educators to put their own self-interests first.

Richard P Phelps

Jenny Hatch said...

A most excellent analysis of the problem...

Here is my story about our family's educational journey: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00CNFV4IC

God Bless America!

Jenny Hatch