"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

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Did Arne Duncan Make up a Bunch of Lies to Get $4.35 Billion for a Scam? (Race to the Top and Common Core Standards)

Have we just been scammed by Arne Duncan and the Department of Education?  Secretary Duncan bemoans the fact American children don't score high enough on standardized testing, there aren't enough "highly effective" teachers, there is not educational equity, we need to make all educational decisions on data (which is presently lacking), our kids are not college ready and all children must attend to college for the country to remain competitive.

Watch this video from Heidrick and Struggles, a private search firm on the lookout for talent on a global level:

2011 Global Talent Index - Overview & Methodology from Heidrick & Struggles on Vimeo.

The Global Talent Index is a unique research study designed to identify where talent is located in the world today and in the future. The purpose of this analysis is to help organizations identify potential talent challenges as well as opportunities around the world.

What country came in first as having the most talent?

The United States. 

What was an important component in achieving this rank?  Why, the "excellent education" the United States offers.

If our education is so excellent (number one in attracting and keeping talent), why are we instituting global initiatives, common core standards,and mandates to ostensibly catapult our students into a higher position or score?

What is all the brouhaha about the failing educational system in American and how American students are so far behind?  Does this private company which ranks the US as number one in talent have access to different data than the Department of Education has?  Could American taxpayers have been fleeced by this administration for purposes other than to improve educational services and train our students to become globally competitive?  According to this firm, the United States was doing very well without this mass infusion of billions of dollars, mandates and the nationalization of education.

What exactly is going on? 


  1. "Have we just been scammed by Arne Duncan and the Department of Education?"



  2. "Does this private company which ranks the US as number one in talent have access to different data than the Department of Education has? " It has access to different assumptions. American educationists, since nearly the beginning, around 1800, decided that real knowledge and learning had to do with what was quantifiable, which meant that Math was the most important subject, and everything else according to how easily it could be tested and quantified.

    The result was that what had been the central pillar of Education in America, the Education which the Founders era sprung from, quality works of history, literature and religion, were the least quantifiable, and so targeted for expulsion from the curriculum, Homer, The Bible, Virgil, Plutarch, Aeschyles, Cicero, etc., were out, Social Studies essays by commitee were in. They were replaced with the unimaginative dry rot of textbooks, which no one reads, or remembers, nor can anything be learned from them, but which with True/False or Fill in the blank quizes, are easily tested, and quantified.

    Even Math, whose original purpose was not to teach how to calculate how long it takes to get from Point A to Point B with how many gallons of gas and wouldn't it be better if the car ran on green energy, but as the clearest method for examining how to think clearly (Plato's academy was said to have a sign that said "None but Geometers may enter here"). Kids aren't stupid, they can tell that figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B in the greenest possible way, is worthless, and they won't bother beating themselves up over it. Those who do learn math, if you talk to them, took to it because they saw a glimpse of the original purpose of the subject, in spite of their classes.

    But Americans endure school, hating its unimaginative drudgery, and can't wait to get out of it so that they can do what they want to do, read, play games, have fun, exercise and use their imagination as only a free people can (check your history, you'll see that the civilizations that were the most free, had the most enthusiasm for sports & games).

    We aren't the most talented people because of our ability to calculate the greenest path from Point A to Point B, but because of our enthusiasm for Sports, X-Box, Movies, etc.

    If Arne Duncan really wanted to see an increase in our talent, he'd focus on exposing students to a higher quality set of imaginative works, Homer, The Bible, Virgil, Plutarch, Aeschyles, Cicero, etc., but he won't. People Educated on that, do things like write the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He's more interested in reforming us into a grey little people who want to know the greenest path between Point A and Point B.

  3. Excellent comments, Van.

    After writing this post I thought about how data can be useful, but people are NOT their data sets. You make an excellent argument on what school has become and how students can't wait to get to what really interests them. So if a student endures school but puts his/her passion into his/her interests, the data gathered at school will not accurately describe that student.

    Maybe that is what we see in society. The "smartest" (dictated by test scores) may not be the most "successful" or talented. And what is the US doing? Determining everything about a student based on data which may or may not be accurate about that student AT THAT POINT IN TIME. Kids (and adults) DO change. However, kids better change before 8th or 10th grade, otherwise they'll be put in a track that may not be appropriate for their talents. Oh well. They had their chance by age 14. Too late!

    I totally agree with your last paragraph. That's the fundamental transformation of education right there. The erasure of imagination and concentration on data. The erasure of personality and individualism. Why do you think Common Core standards are...."common"?

  4. Common Core Standards will do nothing but dumb down our students. Have you seen them? They are theoretically and pedagogically wrong as well as developmentally inappropriate.

  5. I think what is going on is that Arne Duncan talks out of both sides of his mouth. He is prominent in the "reform" movement which seeks to undermine public education by privatizing it. Charters are high on his list as you probably know. The public $$ for education has long been a target of those in the education industry. My guess is after his Ed Secretary term is up Mr. Duncan will be a highly paid lobbyist for even more privatization of public schools.


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