Equality, Fraternity, Democracy, Social Cohesion, Real Utopias and the Electronic Republic

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If our 21st Cen­tu­ry Lives were just a tele­vised game of Jeop­ardy, the title would be the answer that would be linked to the cham­pi­onship. The cor­rect ques­tion would be: What are the real goals envi­sioned when Edu­ca­tion Reform­ers, politi­cians, and Polit­i­cal Rad­i­cals use the mis­lead­ing term ‘stan­dards’ in K‑12 edu­ca­tion? When that trans­for­ma­tive Glob­al Part­ner­ship we met in the last post says in bold face type on page 8 that “the pur­suit of deep learn­ing goals enabled by new ped­a­go­gies and accel­er­at­ed by tech­nol­o­gy” is a Moral Imper­a­tive that will “guide all of our work,” what goals are real­ly intend­ed? The first part of the title comes from a paper pub­lished in the 1999 ASCD Year­book called “The Role of Stan­dards in Edu­ca­tion­al Reform for the 21st Cen­tu­ry.” We actu­al­ly do not have to assume that there is a link since one of the co-authors, Peter Hill, is also list­ed as a par­tic­i­pant in the new Glob­al Part­ner­ship on page 2 as one of its edu­ca­tion­al consultants.

http://www.carmelcrevola.com/publications/The_role_of_standards.pdf is the paper that once again makes it clear that the word stan­dards is now being used as an Orwellian syn­onym. Trans­lat­ing the Com­mon Core State Stan­dards accu­rate­ly then by its real pur­pose would be Com­mon Behav­ioral and Dis­po­si­tion­al Goals for All Amer­i­can Stu­dents, No Excep­tions. Put togeth­er by DC-based trade groups hop­ing to cash in from the attached new vision of a polit­i­cal­ly-planned econ­o­my and soci­ety. Per­haps staffers who got to go on one of those trade jun­kets to Chi­na and thought that vision would work bet­ter for them. Hill made it clear on page one that the role of stan­dards is to fos­ter “val­ues such as equal­i­ty, fra­ter­ni­ty, and democ­ra­cy” indi­cat­ing he may have always want­ed to par­tic­i­pate in the Storm­ing of the Bastille. Best not to teach why such insis­tences can lead to a bloody Ter­ror fol­lowed by a Napoleon.

Stan­dards also allow for the “flex­i­ble, dynam­ic, and high­ly-skilled work­force” unlike­ly to ever cre­ate that Change the World inno­va­tion that destroys the exist­ing busi­ness of a polit­i­cal crony. Ooops! That was my edi­to­ri­al­iz­ing in a snarky man­ner on the real pur­pose, just like in my book. Page 2 men­tions stan­dards as a means for coun­tries now to “ensure social cohe­sion” and page 3 sees stan­dards as a trans­for­ma­tive tool for a “soci­ety that val­ues equi­ty and a ‘fair go’ for all.”

The lat­est book tied to the World Order Mod­els Project, the 2008 The Glob­al Com­mon­wealth of Cit­i­zens: Toward Cos­mopoli­tan Democ­ra­cy by Daniele Archibu­gi, wants to make “pre­vail­ing world pub­lic opin­ion” the deter­mi­nant of what gov­ern­ments ought to be doing on behalf of their peo­ple, the gov­erned, in the 21st Cen­tu­ry. That aim, of course, puts quite a pre­mi­um on manip­u­lat­ing that opin­ion from the Cra­dle to the Grave, as the cur­rent polit­i­cal slo­gan goes. Or Womb to Tomb in anoth­er vari­a­tion. Archibu­gi does want a rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion where by “virtue of the UN’s Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Human Rights and the sub­se­quent pacts, indi­vid­u­als have been endowed with pos­i­tive rights that they can claim from their own states,” prefer­ably at the local lev­el via those ever com­pli­ant may­ors, City Coun­cils, and appoint­ed region­al com­mis­sions who just love fed­er­al grants.

Now you know why that Dec­la­ra­tion just keeps com­ing up now in class­room activ­i­ties. Archibu­gi wants this rad­i­cal trans­for­ma­tion in world pol­i­tics to come about by per­sua­sion, not force, which is of course all the more rea­son to uti­lize K‑12 edu­ca­tion. All the men­tions of cit­i­zen­ship and civic com­pe­tence we keep encoun­ter­ing, make much more sense when we rec­og­nize the plan to “demand a role for the cit­i­zens of the world” to insist that their “human rights” be pro­vid­ed by their gov­ern­ments. Per­haps as a “moral imper­a­tive”? All the men­tions of dia­logue and cre­at­ing shared mean­ing make much more sense when we read again of an inten­tion to bypass elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives in favor of:

cre­at­ing bet­ter and trans­par­ent con­texts for deci­sion-mak­ing. This is why new chan­nels of rep­re­sen­ta­tion must open up through which the var­i­ous opin­ions may be expressed in a dia­log­i­cal rather than antag­o­nis­tic fash­ion. To be effec­tive these chan­nels demand a greater will­ing­ness on the part of indi­vid­u­als to par­tic­i­pate in the man­age­ment of glob­al pub­lic mat­ters. The mak­ing of a glob­al com­mon­wealth of cit­i­zens requires that indi­vid­u­als are pre­pared to act on the ground of key shared val­ues. What prin­ci­ples of polit­i­cal action must the cit­i­zen of the world sub­scribe to?”

That would be the real rea­son for new ped­a­go­gies and forms of assess­ment to see if the desired prin­ci­ples of polit­i­cal action, need­ed work­force skills to be an obe­di­ent, com­pli­ant drone, and desired per­son­al­i­ty traits are in place. Adding to the quotes from the pre­vi­ous post, this is why New Ped­a­go­gies insists the new “goals for edu­ca­tion and learn­ing” include “skills that pre­pare all learn­ers to be life-long cre­ative, con­nect­ed and col­lab­o­ra­tive prob­lem solvers and to be healthy, hap­py indi­vid­u­als who con­tribute to the com­mon good.”

Now we could make a good case that I con­tribute to the com­mon good by read­ing books on all these plans of trans­for­ma­tion and then tying them to what is com­ing to a school and class­room or your busi­ness place soon, but I believe Michael Ful­lan, Pear­son, the OECD, and the Rock­e­feller and Gates Foun­da­tions want it to be their idea of appro­pri­ate val­ues and the com­mon good. Giv­en all the ref­er­ences to ‘con­sen­sus,’ ‘shared pur­pose,’ and ‘col­lec­tive will,’ there real­ly does seem to be an orga­nized attempt to erase any con­cept of indi­vid­ual sov­er­eign­ty capa­ble of stand­ing supreme against the state. I guess that is what hap­pens when you import your instruc­tion­al prac­tices from the Sovi­et Union, nur­ture the eco­nom­ic vision in a place that wor­shipped Mao, and look to rich uni­ver­si­ties full of wan­na-be polit­i­cal and social plan­ners for the vision of what “We the Peo­ple” is sup­posed to mean in the 21st Century.

The 1995 book The Elec­tron­ic Repub­lic: Reshap­ing Democ­ra­cy in the Infor­ma­tion Age, writ­ten by a for­mer NPR Pres­i­dent and head of the NBC News Divi­sion, laid out the planned tran­si­tion to a par­tic­i­pa­to­ry democ­ra­cy using ICT tech­nol­o­gy. Upfront it asked “What will it take to turn the Unit­ed States into a nation of qual­i­fied cit­i­zens who are engaged not as iso­lat­ed indi­vid­u­als pur­su­ing their own ends but as pub­lic-spir­it­ed mem­bers who are ded­i­cat­ed to the com­mon good?” Why, K‑12 edu­ca­tion reform cen­tered on the Whole Child and guid­ing per­cep­tions and a cur­ricu­lum focused on learn­ing by doing and real world prob­lems of course. Lawrence K. Gross­man left NBC News to be a pro­fes­sor at the Kennedy School of Gov­ern­ment at Har­vard and work on the democ­ra­cy project that became that book. It’s where Jal Mehta of the New Ped­a­go­gies Project grad­u­at­ed from before mov­ing on to Harvard’s Ed School to use its grad­u­ates as tools for the desired pub­lic pol­i­cy changes. See The Chas­tened Dream: Knowl­edge, Action, and Pro­fes­sion­al Edu­ca­tion.

It’s also where the co-authors of the books in the Real Utopias Project, Archon Fung and Erik Olin Wright, are pro­fes­sors. The Kennedy School is also heav­i­ly involved now, by the way, with cre­at­ing ties between the US and Chi­na. CELAP from our last post, in fact, is referred to as China’s answer to the Kennedy School. Real Utopia came out of an actu­al con­fer­ence at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Wis­con­sin in Jan­u­ary 2000, a good time to com­mence 21st Cen­tu­ry Re-Do Plans I sup­pose. Now think for a sec­ond how a deep knowl­edge of his­to­ry and human nature full of facts might get in the way of this purpose:

The Real Utopias Project embraces this ten­sion between dreams and prac­tice. It is found­ed on the belief that what is prag­mat­i­cal­ly pos­si­ble is not fixed inde­pen­dent­ly of our imag­i­na­tions, but is itself shaped by our visions. Self-ful­fill­ing prophe­cies are pow­er­ful forces in his­to­ry, and while it may be Pollyan­na-ish to say ‘where there is a will there is a way,’ it is cer­tain­ly true that with­out ‘will’ many ‘ways’ become impos­si­ble. Nur­tur­ing clear-sight­ed under­stand­ings of what it would take to cre­ate social insti­tu­tions free of oppres­sion is part of cre­at­ing a polit­i­cal will for rad­i­cal social changes to reduce oppres­sion. A vital belief in a utopi­an des­ti­na­tion may be nec­es­sary to moti­vate peo­ple to leave on the jour­ney from the sta­tus quo in the first place, even though the actu­al des­ti­na­tion may fall far short of the utopi­an ideal.”

It may also cre­ate stu­dents like what we are see­ing in Den­ver, Col­orado and what we saw dur­ing the hey­day of the Occu­py demon­stra­tions who have no acquain­tance with any fac­tu­al knowl­edge from the past. Where will they be when OPM-Oth­er People’s Mon­ey-inevitably runs out? Can they become self-suf­fi­cient as an adult or will change by force, rather than per­sua­sion, feel like the jus­ti­fied response?

Is there any place in his­to­ry where depos­ing sov­er­eign­ty from the indi­vid­ual and plac­ing it in a col­lec­tive under polit­i­cal con­trol, actu­al­ly ever dimin­ished oppres­sion? Guar­an­teed to ignite would be the real­i­ty. No won­der per­cep­tion and stu­dent dai­ly expe­ri­ences are being so manipulated.

Next time we will come back to the new view of pol­i­tics in a Real Utopia and the Elec­tron­ic Repub­lic where we each get to be governed.