Skinner Arrives on Your Doorstep

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Charlotte Thomson IserbytDay 28: Skin­ner Hor­ror Files

Trick or Treat?Hornbeck2
In the Fall of 1990 a doc­u­ment was pre­ma­ture­ly leaked to the Iowa pub­lic. This doc­u­ment was a land­mark guide to under­stand­ing the direc­tion that edu­ca­tion reform would take in the decades to come. It was nev­er intend­ed to be reviewed by the pub­lic, but was sup­posed to remain in the upper realms of the edu­ca­tion elite. This Sep­tem­ber 19, 1990 report was titled “First Draft of Rec­om­men­da­tions on the Iowa Ini­tia­tive for World Class Schools,” and it was authored by David Hornbeck.

Dur­ing the late 1980s and ear­ly 1990s David Horn­beck, a change agent extra­or­di­naire who came out of Carnegie, was cyn­i­cal­ly dubbed by par­ents and cit­i­zens as “Mr. Have Word-Proces­sor Will Trav­el.” He trav­eled from state to state as a high­ly paid con­sul­tant and regur­gi­tat­ed near­ly iden­ti­cal state “trans­for­ma­tion” plans to every state board of edu­ca­tion. Since that time he has left a huge wake of con­tro­ver­sy in his path wher­ev­er he has gone to do his social engi­neer­ing. Here is a brief bio:

Hornbeck3Mr. Horn­beck pre­vi­ous­ly served as Philadelphia’s Super­in­ten­dent of Schools, Maryland’s State Super­in­ten­dent of Schools, Pennsylvania’s Exec­u­tive Deputy Sec­re­tary of Edu­ca­tion, Pres­i­dent and CEO of the Inter­na­tion­al Youth Foun­da­tion, an archi­tect of Kentucky’s edu­ca­tion reform law KERA, a part­ner in the law firm of Hogan and Hart­son, Co-direc­tor of the Nation­al Alliance for Restruc­tur­ing Edu­ca­tion, Senior Edu­ca­tion Advi­sor to the Busi­ness Round­table and Deputy Coun­sel to the Gov­er­nor of Penn­syl­va­nia, He has chaired the boards of the Carnegie Foun­da­tion for the Advance­ment of Teach­ing, the Children’s Defense Fund, Coun­cil of Chief State School Offi­cers, Good Schools Penn­syl­va­nia and the Pub­lic Edu­ca­tion Net­work, Mr. Horn­beck served as chair of the Carnegie Corporation’s com­mis­sion that pro­duced Turn­ing Points and chair of the Nation­al Chap­ter I Commission.

Horn­beck­’s “draft” report to Iowa was more hon­est than any of the oth­er state reports he issued. In it he divulged the EXTREME Skin­ner­ian plan to pro­duce “results” in all of soci­ety. Below is an insight­ful arti­cle from the Novem­ber 1992 Iowa Report, “Did Horn­beck Fail?” that gives a broad overview of his plan for edu­ca­tion transformation:

It remains a mat­ter of record that to read Horn­beck is to under­stand Amer­i­ca 2000. His sweep­ing rec­om­men­da­tions explic­it­ly out­line every detail in the future trans­for­ma­tion of edu­ca­tion, not only in Iowa, but also across Amer­i­ca. He was sim­ply re-stat­ing the grand, mas­ter plan at the nation­al level.…

Horn­beck cov­ered the assess­ment test­ing in elab­o­rate detail. His pro­pos­al for Iowa includ­ed every aspect of the new indi­vid­ual stu­dent test­ing that would incor­po­rate feel­ings, behav­iors, val­ues, opin­ions and atti­tudes. He acknowl­edged that the core cur­ricu­lum would be built around the assess­ment out­comes, mean­ing the intend­ed test results.…

Horn­beck was also open and real­is­tic about rewards and penal­ties. Lat­er doc­u­ments would hide the hideous fact that indi­vid­ual schools and teach­ers would be reward­ed and penal­ized based upon their suc­cess at imple­ment­ing the goals of his report. If the stu­dents scored the polit­i­cal­ly-cor­rect way on the new assess­ment tests, then the schools would remain open and the teach­ers would keep their job. If not Horn­beck pro­posed severe penal­ties.

…the rewards and penal­ties… are list­ed on page after page in Horn­beck­’s Draft. Ulti­mate­ly teach­ers will be sub­ject to the same rig­or­ous assess­ment of beliefs, opin­ions, behav­iors, val­ues and atti­tudes as their stu­dents. It is like­ly that the rank and file of teach­ers do not ful­ly com­pre­hend the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of Horn­beck­’s penal­ties, for if they did they might have protest­ed. As it was, the key lead­ers of each state edu­ca­tion orga­ni­za­tion went with the plan, stat­ing only minor objections.

It was in Horn­beck that one could first learn what the term “men­tor” real­ly means, i.e. mon­i­tor. He spelled out a job descrip­tion for an “Iowa Men­tor­ing Edu­ca­tor” who was to trav­el around the state polic­ing and enforc­ing trans­for­ma­tion efforts. These indi­vid­u­als would be giv­en broad, sweep­ing pow­ers to shut down schools, man­age schools defined to be “in cri­sis,” and gen­er­al­ly super­sede any rem­nant of true local con­trol. This shock­ing job cat­e­go­ry dis­ap­peared from lat­er doc­u­ments, but the entire pro­pos­al makes no sense with­out some type of polic­ing enti­ty to enforce change

It was also from Horn­beck that one could first learn that school based shared deci­sion-mak­ing was a lie, and why. Horn­beck laid out in vivid detail how these com­mit­tees should be struc­tured and how they were to func­tion. He made it clear that the entire edu­ca­tion account­abil­i­ty sys­tem in our coun­try and state was to be super­seded by a com­mit­tee of non-elect­ed offi­cials. Vot­ers and Amer­i­can cit­i­zens were thrown out in Horn­beck­’s equa­tion. Insert­ed in was a mod­est con­ces­sion to a token par­ent on the com­mit­tee.… Horn­beck makes it abun­dant­ly clear that his mas­ter plan must be accept­ed in its total­i­ty in order to work.

Horn­beck also spelled out the entire Amer­i­ca 2000 plan, includ­ing ear­ly chid­hood edu­ca­tion, school-based clin­ics, the merg­ing of human ser­vices with edu­ca­tion, and the absolute depen­dence upon tech­nol­o­gy rather than texts.…

Tomor­row, on Day 29 of this Skin­ner­ian Hor­ror Files series, we will pub­lish Part 2 and include sig­nif­i­cant Skin­ner­ian excerpts from Horn­beck­’s “Draft” pro­pos­al to Iowa that was too hon­est about what would become the agen­da of Amer­i­ca 2000, Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, Out­come-Based Edu­ca­tion… and what we now know as “Com­mon Core.” Stay tuned.…