"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

Search This Blog

Sunday, February 6, 2011

What Type of Education Does the United States want to Provide for Public Education Students..."Follow Your Passion" or "Human Capital" Blueprint?

I was wondering about the dichotomy between the phrases "find your passion" and "human capital". I thought these would be polar opposites in their meaning and creed for living your life. "Finding your passion" seems more in line with living in tune with your strengths and desires. "Human capital" strikes me to be more of a labeling of human beings; seeing humans as commodities and not as people with dreams and desires and gifts to bring to a workplace or other arena.

We've written about the use of "human capital" as it relates to students and readying them for the workplace from birth to age 20. The Longitudinal Data System required to be implemented by states through the acceptance of common core standards will link student/family data not only to the local school, but nationwide to the Department of Education, Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Labor. Why would information on your child be linked to all these agencies?

Here is information from the US Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences:

What are new requirements for SLDSs awarded in 2010?

Grants awarded in 2010 will fund the creation of and expansion to P20 longitudinal data systems, which include education data from preschool through postsecondary and workforce information, including employment, wage, and earnings data. In addition to 18 other SLDS requirements in the 2010 RFA, SLDSs must now link student data with teachers, i.e., enabling the matching of teachers and students so that a given student may be matched with the particular teachers primarily responsible for providing instruction in various subjects.

Are the P20 data systems funded by these grants required to be "one system"?

No. Although one of the requirements of the 2010 competition is to link early childhood, K12, postsecondary and workforce data, these data do not have to reside in one place or within one agency. Instead, the actual data system could be a series of linked data systems, as long as these systems achieve the required capabilities listed in the RFA.

It is apparent the data on your human capital will be linked for "workforce information" and perhaps other data systems yet undetermined. We can see that this data system will indeed follow your child outside of school in this government report as well as documenting psychometric information:

NCES 2011234 Postsecondary and Labor Force Transitions Among Public High School Career and Technical Education Participants
This set of Issue Tables provides information on the transition of high school career and technical education (CTE) participants into postsecondary education and the labor market during the first 2 years after their high school graduation, from 2004 to 2006. Data are drawn from the Education Longitudinal Study, the most recent NCES longitudinal survey that followed students through and out of high school.
NCES 2010009 Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (ECLS-B) Preschool--Kindergarten 2007 Psychometric Report
This methodology report documents the design, development, and psychometric characteristics of the assessment instruments used in the preschool and kindergarten waves of the ECLS-B. The assessment instruments measure children's cognitive development in early reading and mathematics, socioemotional functioning, fine and gross motor skills, and physical development (height, weight, middle upper arm circumference, and head circumference). The report also includes information about indirect assessments of the children through questions asked of parents, early care and education providers, and teachers.

What does this have to do with "following your passion" type of education vs. a "human capital" approach to education? This publication, Human Capital Review, on cursory reading, seems to make the case for creativity and imagination:

What does it take to lead today? Annie Coetzee points out that leaders tend to be too brain driven. In our search for solutions and achievements, we fail to recognise that the heart is an informational, creative and energetic source of wisdom. She encourages us to be great leaders who lead with our hearts.

and from another article by the same publication:

Albert Einstein’s dream, 100 years ago, was ─ To understand the universe. His genius fundamentally changed the way we look at the universe. His dream and hope were the guiding principle of his personal brand (the ‘gentle genius’). He saw the universe as a puzzle, and he delighted in trying to solve its mysteries. All he needed to contemplate the cosmos was his most valuable scientific tool ─ his imagination. He said: ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ When somebody asked Einstein what would be the one question he would ask God, he replied, ‘Why was the universe created? Because then I would know the meaning of my own life.’

Both of these pieces highlight the need for imagination to be successful and a good use for human capital. I'm still bothered by the term "human capital" however, and can see how human beings are being groomed for the system, rather than the system existing to serve human beings. Is Einstein considered remarkable because of his imagination, where it took him and how he used it? Are the children today going to be given that chance given the immense pressure on them to perform well on standardized testing?

Albert Einstein may very well have been considered a failure in today's testing frenzy as he tested well in mathematics and physics, but failed in an entrance exam for study at the Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule (ETH) in Zurich, Switzerland. We'll talk tomorrow about others' definition of human capital as it relates to today's students. It's not imagination that is revered; rather, it is what the human capital can do for the workforce. Human capital is being used to fill slots, not passions of the soul.

The last person listed in this Human Capital Review is Bill Gates, one of the main proponents and designers of the Common Core Standards:

Bill Gates’ dream, 30 years ago, was ─ To put a personal computer on each desk in each house. Recently he said, ‘When I was 19, I saw the future and based my career on what I saw. I have been right … PC’s have become the most empowering tool we have ever created. They are tools of communication, they are tools of creativityand they can be shaped by their user.’ For a long time the richest person in the world, Gates knew his genius at that time, namely developing and marketing PC software. Since then he has been doing related work with love and passion. His personal brand started with his dream, hope, and his passion for changing the PC industry. Years ago he left Harvard, dropping out because he was too busy fulfilling his own dream to wait around for a Harvard degree. He is truly trying to make the world a better place, with his money, his brains, his personal brand and his connections. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is currently the largest transparently operated charitable foundation in the world.

"Gates Knew his genius at that time, namely developing and marketing PC software". The article goes on to say his passion was to change the PC industry. He seems to have expanded it to include changing the way education is delivered in this country via common core standards and immense dependency on computers and software needs. He apparently now wants to develop and market the education system in the United States:

To remedy the low-quality standards and tests, the foundation will continue its effort to create a national set of standards. (The Gates Foundation has been a lead funder of the American Diploma Project, which since 2005 has spearheaded a voluntary effort by states to sign onto common standards.)

Phillips said the foundation will also invest in creating high-quality national tests that will be examined to see how well they predict students’ success in college. The best test will be made available to any state or school district, free of charge.

As Diane Ravitch states in the same article:

“In a way, being Secretary of Education is less significant than being Bill Gates,” the education historian Diane Ravitch said, guessing that the foundation gives more money annually to education than the U.S. Department of Education has available in annual discretionary funds. “I’d rather be Bill Gates.”

“To me, the scary thing is that they have so much money,” Ravitch said. “From the point of view of, let’s say, the democratic process, it’s frightening. That one foundation should have this much power, more so than our federal government, is alarming.”

Is this the future of educational systems in the United States? Is this for the good of the student or for Bill Gates' plan of supplying educational directives whose purpose is to provide human capital for the workforce? Where is the democratic process in this reshaping of education? Bill Gates is supplying the common core standards tests for "free". This "free stuff" comes with strings attached: the loss of state sovereignty and unfunded mandates for Bill Gates' vision.

1 comment:

  1. Psychometrics is a term that makes my skin crawl. Research any state education leaders, or textbook company leaders, or testing company leaders and a common thread is, many of them studied psychometrics. I won't go into it here but psychometrics is anything but benign or in the interest of the student.... control, marginalization, that's psychometrics.


Keep it clean and constructive. We reserve the right to delete comments that are profane, off topic, or spam.

Site Meter