Monday, April 7, 2014

Pathways of Deception: Exposing the Innovation Lab Network

Before we delve into this labyrinth of of lies, we must first define the words according to the education reformers’ definitions.  

Innovation: Interagency cooperation, shared knowledge, synergy between partners.  ‘Innovation’ occurs when states and their agencies cross departmental barriers, share data results, and thus create a streamline process, of transformation, from beginning to end.

Lab:  A three tier system of accountability -- state, city and school district.  

The lab has three parts to it. First, we have the school district; this is where the bulk of the experimentation, or transformation, is carried out at a student-level.  The second tier is the city, where municipal policies will be created that support the transformation of the local schools.  Third, we have the state; the legislature and educational policy experts alter current education laws and introduce new ones that align with the desired outcome.

(All right, I think we have sufficiently defined the code words of the reformers.)

Moving on let’s unravel the agenda behind the ILN (Innovation Lab Network).

(Did any of you catch the inclusion of ‘citizenship readiness’ into the ubiquitous marketing pitch of ‘college and career ready’?)

On the first page of this document, or shall we say manifesto, within the first paragraph we find their purpose: “[they] sought to guide state education systems toward a more clearly articulated definition of CCCR (College, Career and Citizenship Readiness) consistent with a broadened understanding of the student characteristics necessary for success in the 21st century.”  In non-eduspeak terms this means they are trying to define CCCR by defining student behavior and beliefs that they believe are consistent with attaining CCCR.  ‘Non-cognitive skills’ is also what wording they use to define attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.  

The ILN’s Framework was informed by several assumptions.

* Every student should graduate college, career and citizenship ready.
So for those of us who don’t aspire to their definition of CCCR, there will be no escape.  

* Causing consistently high levels or learning among young people from widely varying backgrounds and with diverse needs will require radical changes in current beliefs, policy, practice and structure.
The alteration of our children’s beliefs is essential for the success of this initiative. Current education policies must be re-tooled to fit the new Framework. Traditional educational practices must be shelved and the new, experimental models embraced.

*Citizenship readiness, or preparing America’s youth to be contributing members of the larger society, is a fundamental mission of public schools.
Make no mistake, friend, they are not referring to American citizenship.  Their inference is global citizenship.  The ‘larger society’ that they speak of is the global community.

The ILN resolutely states that students must graduate possessing:

  • Knowledge -- ‘mastery of rigorous content knowledge across multiple disciplines and the facile application or transfer of what has been learned,’

Mastery means to meet the proficiency standards, benchmarks, that have been strategically placed along the learning pathway.  Multiple disciplines refers to varying perspectives on the subject.  Facile application simply means done with ease or without complication.  So constructing the sentence in layman’s terms would cause it to read like this: meeting the proficiency standards across varying perspectives on the subject and the easy transfer of what has been programmed.

  • Skills -- ‘the strategies that students need to engage in higher-order thinking, meaningful interaction with the world around them, and future planning, and’

More plainly put, the abilities to engage in ‘critical, logical, reflective, metacognitive, and creative thinking whose processes are activated by when the individual encounters unfamiliar problems, uncertainties, questions or dilemmas’ (that big long definition was just for higher-order thinking), service to the community (don’t forget we aren’t just talking about your neighborhood now -- the global community is the larger community), and (honestly I haven’t been able to figure out what they mean by that vague term ‘future planning’...perhaps how they fit into the managed economy?)

  • Dispositions -- ‘mindsets (sometimes referred to as behaviors, capacities, or habits of mind) that are closely associated with success in college and career.’

Surprisingly enough, they left this definition very plain.  Habit of mind could also read ‘belief’.  Beliefs or behaviors that are proven to provide them with the outcome they are seeking.

This trifecta of metacognition (or knowing about knowing) is labeled by the ILN as KSD (Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions) and they also call them deeper learning outcomes which they believe that ‘[t]hey have concrete meaning and can be expressly taught, learned, and measured.’ (Be sure to keep that in the back of your mind as we journey deeper into the labyrinth -- deeper learning outcomes refers to the child’s abilities to be proficient in the subject matter, engage in higher-order thinking, and the alteration of their behaviors and beliefs.)
Let’s read that one more time, the ILN holds to the theory that attitudes, behaviors, and beliefs can be taught, learned and measured.  Why would they need to measure a child’s beliefs?

The goal of this Network is to create petri dishes of managed thought and behavior in order to bring about the transformation of our American education system.  

Our mindsets of education in the past, could have, once upon a time, been found in the following quotes.

“Education is the golden key that unlocks the door of freedom.”
-- George Washington Carver, scientist

“Education is simply the soul of a society as it is passed from one generation to the other.”
-- Gilbert K. Chesterson, English writer

There was once a time when people believed education was essential to maintaining freedom and that it was a way to enshrine the values of that society for future generations.

Now, the grand transformation of society has begun.  No longer is education for personal enrichment, no it has become a vehicle for social change.

“The aim of education is the knowledge, not of facts, but of values.”
-- William S. Burroughs, American novelist

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically.  Intelligence plus character -- that is the goal of true education.”
-- Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights activist

Knowledge of the truth, of facts borne of evidence, is no longer necessary in the schools. The illegitimate child of societal transformation has infiltrated our school systems and squandered our rich legacy of independent thinkers and innovators.  Our problem is we don’t recognize the impostor because of all the official sounding titles she wears.

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