Banishing Any Distinction Between Academic, Technical, and Life/Employability Skills: Active Deceit Everywhere

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Think of me today as hold­ing a micro­phone breath­less­ly inform­ing every­one that I am report­ing live from inves­ti­gat­ing a pot of water that is already at a sim­mer and it’s big enough to hold each of us. The pot has been designed to slow­ly come to a full rolling boil grad­u­al­ly so we will not notice what is hap­pen­ing in time. More like­ly, we will notice what is hap­pen­ing and mis­at­tribute what is caus­ing it. Call­ing for more of the poi­son that is actu­al­ly already destroy­ing us from with­in while advo­cates holler “it’s polit­i­cal frag­men­ta­tion and income inequal­i­ty. More plan­ning. More gov­ern­ment pro­grams. Inte­grate them all now” just as this April 4, 2012 let­ter from HHS, Edu­ca­tion, and the fed­er­al Depart­ment of Labor called for.

But we are nei­ther frogs nor lob­sters and we get to use our still exist­ing Axe­mak­er Minds to cut through the sto­ries we have been deceit­ful­ly, or erro­neous­ly, fed and get out of that pot. I thought I knew so much about where Com­mon Core was real­ly going because of accu­rate­ly dis­cern­ing the essence of how per­for­mance stan­dards [they are behav­ioral cri­te­ria] real­ly worked and that Career Path­ways would require a polit­i­cal­ly direct­ed econ­o­my. I was right, but Geor­gia was pilot­ing some­thing else that is cen­tral to this sto­ry of our intend­ed future. Then in 2006, the Nation­al Gov­er­nors Asso­ci­a­tion for­mal­ly climbed aboard as well. It’s why it need­ed a vehi­cle like the Com­mon Core to remake aca­d­e­m­ic stan­dards and why high school had to be reformed.

Work­force inter­me­di­aries” (ground­ed in a 2003 con­fer­ence in NYC fund­ed by the Casey, Rock­e­feller, and Ford Foun­da­tions) and “sec­tor strate­gies” are the search terms you will need to pull up the plans for your own state or local­i­ty. I have down­loaded many of them in the last sev­er­al days. Enough to rec­og­nize what ter­ri­ble jeop­ardy we were all in even before the WIOA, the Work­force Inno­va­tion and Oppor­tu­ni­ty Act, locked this all thor­ough­ly into place about a month ago. There are lots of NGA doc­u­ments on this, but 

is the most help­ful since it shows high schools on the cov­er as an inte­gral part of this redo.

Sec­tor strate­gies involve politi­cians, pub­lic employ­ees, com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­ing groups in many cas­es allied for­mal­ly with Saul Alinsky’s IAF, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, work­ing with estab­lished busi­ness­es and hope­ful­ly get­ting all involved in com­pa­ra­ble areas (like restau­rants or con­struc­tion) to work togeth­er to cre­ate path­ways to good jobs for low income, for­mer­ly in prison, non-Eng­lish speak­ers, etc. Every­one is bound in oth­er words, but some of us mere­ly finance, while K-12 extin­guish­es our children’s actu­al knowl­edge. Oth­ers are the intend­ed ben­e­fi­cia­ries of a track to a ‘good job.’ As this recent ACT report on build­ing a Nation­al Work­force Skills Cre­den­tial­ing sys­tem put it

, most pri­vate busi­ness­es, even small ones, will become sub­ject to even more reg­u­la­tion as this belief that the pri­vate sec­tor exists pri­mar­i­ly to pro­vide good jobs and train­ing and tax rev­enue becomes per­va­sive.

The recent Aspen Insti­tute book Con­nect­ing Peo­ple to Work high­lights Skill­Works as the long time Boston work­force inter­me­di­ary. What that book did not point out, but I am, is that the Mass­a­chu­setts DoED in 2013 rede­fined Col­lege and Career Readi­ness to get Mass­a­chu­setts school dis­tricts on board with this Sec­tor Strate­gies eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment plan­ning that is now geared around Work­place Readi­ness. The BESA want­ed to make sure the Con­nect­ing Activ­i­ties would be used in the state’s aca­d­e­m­ic and com­pre­hen­sive high schools although par­ents prob­a­bly will not get an accu­rate descrip­tion for the shift. Aca­d­e­m­ic pro­fi­cien­cy is offi­cial­ly no longer enough in Mass­a­chu­setts. 

is the offi­cial pow­er­point.

The ulti­mate goal in each domain is ‘com­pe­ten­cy attain­ment,’ that would be in the Flyv social sci­ence sense of intu­itive, non-ana­lyt­i­cal behav­ior we have been track­ing for sev­er­al posts. As we can see, personal/social devel­op­ment is as impor­tant as aca­d­e­m­ic and aca­d­e­m­ic is no longer about book knowl­edge. Now I am going to piv­ot to the oth­er huge water­shed event we are being lied to about that affects how the Com­mon Core should be seen. I hap­pen to know that Mass­a­chu­setts, Col­orado, Kansas, Min­neso­ta, and Ore­gon were picked by the feds to pilot the inte­gra­tion of CTE-Career and Tech­ni­cal Edu­ca­tion into State and Local Career Path­ways sys­tems. Need­less to say, this will blend nice­ly with Sec­tor Strate­gies for eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment. No one seems to be dwelling on what will hap­pen when the fed­er­al spig­ot of grants runs out and every­one has become a depen­dent and hard­ly any­one knows any­thing accu­rate or mar­ketable, but here we are. By the way, CCSSO, the oth­er for­mal spon­sor of the Com­mon Core is also involved with this inte­gra­tion.

It turns out you see, that apart from the Com­mon Core we keep hear­ing about, there is anoth­er ‘state-led ini­tia­tive cre­at­ed with busi­ness and indus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ effort on a sim­i­lar time frame to cre­ate a Com­mon Career Tech­ni­cal Core that will gov­ern ALL pro­grams of sec­ondary study. ALL means all and this par­al­lel effort involves far more than we might sus­pect. You know how we keep hear­ing men­tions of ‘rig­or­ous’ aca­d­e­mics, well it is what is left after CCTC gov­erns all pro­grams of study under its Ten Com­po­nents. This is why states for­mal­ly reject­ing CCSS nev­er­the­less retain per­for­mance stan­dards to keep the mon­ey from Perkins in DoED and the Depart­ment of Labor. 

shows the frame­work from Wis­con­sin, a state with a long his­to­ry with Indus­try Part­ner­ships and Sec­tor Strate­gies.

So the feds, what­ev­er state leg­isla­tive com­mit­tees may decide by major­i­ty vote or con­sen­sus to the con­trary, have decreed that states are to have Career Path­ways and com­bine “both academic/basic edu­ca­tion con­tent and CTE/skills train­ing.” The com­bo of CCSS and CCTC makes this mar­riage eas­i­er to accom­plish and eas­i­er to hide. In May 2014 the fed­er­al DoED rolled out its Employ­a­bil­i­ty Skills Frame­work that puts per­son­al qual­i­ties, once again, front and cen­ter of future edu­ca­tion in com­mu­ni­ties [hence all the hyp­ing of local] and the states. All of the relat­ed ingre­di­ents I have been describ­ing will of course be omit­ted lest we climb out of the sim­mer­ing pot in time.

We are nowhere close to cov­er­ing all I have read on these top­ics in the last week. I am mere­ly build­ing an out­line to allow each of us to know what is intend­ed and how the so-called Com­mon Core fits into the deceit. It explains why the Cham­bers of Com­merce, rad­i­cal groups intent on polit­i­cal and social trans­for­ma­tion, and leg­is­la­tors and gov­er­nors of both par­ties are so tied to these ideas of nation­al stan­dards what­ev­er the uproar. When I wrote my book, I explained that Com­pe­ten­cy nev­er goes away because it fits the poly­tech vision of John Dewey. Now we know it fits with the new Work­force Readi­ness for all pur­pose of all K-12 edu­ca­tion.

Anoth­er aspect that nev­er goes away in the actu­al imple­men­ta­tion mate­ri­als is 21st Cen­tu­ry Skills. I explained that with illus­tra­tions that remain 100% right on the mon­ey of inten­tions because they fit with the CTE focus on expe­ri­en­tial and real world appli­ca­tions. It’s why those phras­es keep recur­ring now through the rel­e­vance com­mand. There are two P21 papers I did not have when I wrote the book that real­ly lock in this mar­riage of CTE for All Stu­dents and how it comes full force to the unsus­pect­ing sub­urbs. The first is from 2006 and has the long reveal­ing title: ” Are They Real­ly Ready to Work? Employ­ers Per­spec­tives on the Basic Knowl­edge and Applied Skills of the New Entrants to the 21st Cen­tu­ry Work­force.”

That well-con­nect­ed report tells us that “the edu­ca­tion and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ties must agree that applied skills inte­grat­ed with core aca­d­e­m­ic sub­jects are the ‘design specs’ for cre­at­ing an edu­ca­tion sys­tem that will pre­pare our high school and col­lege grad­u­ates to suc­ceed in the mod­ern work­place and com­mu­ni­ty life.” P21 did leave out the part about that work­place being reimag­ined via Sec­tor Strate­gies and the com­mu­ni­ty life being ground­ed in required con­sen­sus and shared under­stand­ings, but that would be how all these actu­al pieces fit togeth­er. “Busi­ness lead­ers must take an active role in out­lin­ing the kinds of skills we need from our employ­ees” and the “busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty must speak with one voice.” Lots of author­i­tar­i­an­ism as we can see sprin­kled con­sis­tent­ly through this vision of our future.

What is huge­ly impor­tant about that report beyond the tells of atti­tude for any­one not with the col­lec­tivist pro­gram is the cite of New Tech High School in Cal­i­for­nia and its project-based learn­ing as an exam­ple of the kind of skills incor­po­rat­ed into aca­d­e­mics desired. New Tech is now a net­work of high schools oper­at­ing in many states and its flag­ship, High Tech High, is the poster child of both the fed­er­al­ly-spon­sored League of Inno­v­a­tive Schools and the Hewlett Foun­da­tion-spon­sored Deep­er Learn­ing frame­works. Project-based learn­ing and prob­lem-based learn­ing is how the CTE mod­el comes qui­et­ly into the sub­urbs.

The sec­ond report from P21 is the 2010 “Up to the Chal­lenge: The Role of Career and Tech­ni­cal Edu­ca­tion and 21st Cen­tu­ry Skills in Col­lege and Career Readi­ness.” It does not just call for break­ing “down silos among aca­d­e­m­ic, CTE and 21st cen­tu­ry ini­tia­tives, pro­grams, and teach­ers” as we now know the feds are pur­su­ing in earnest. The cre­ator of P21, Ken Kay, has since moved on to form EdLeader 21 (has its own tag as I have fol­lowed for a while) . EdLeader 21 is a con­sor­tium of large sub­ur­ban school dis­tricts in or around metro areas, espe­cial­ly in the South. All of the dis­trict supers I have ever looked into involved with this group are what I clas­si­fy as Gyp­sy Supers. Each school dis­trict they get an admin­is­tra­tive job in tran­si­tions to ever more rad­i­cal­ized ver­sions of John Dewey’s vision for edu­ca­tion.

That’s how CTE comes to Atlanta, Char­lotte, Greenville, Raleigh, the DC area, and oth­er dis­tricts who have joined. Since no one employed by state or fed­er­al agen­cies or advis­ing school dis­tricts shows any incli­na­tion of explain­ing all these vital, demon­stra­ble facts to any of us in time to escape from the pot,

I just have.

**As usu­al, where I have giv­en dates and titles of reports here and oth­er spe­cif­ic ref­er­ences but no links, I am try­ing to ensure that par­tic­u­lar­ly dra­mat­ic rev­e­la­tions do not get tak­en down before most of you get a chance to read this post. There is suf­fi­cient info pro­vid­ed to make search­ing easy for any­one who just loves to dou­blecheck me.