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.