"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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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are Arne Duncan's Educational Reform Plans from a Republican Playbook?

Check out then Conference Chair of the Republican Party Lamar Alexander talking about educational reform at a governor's conference in 1989.  Do some of these Republican reforms sound like Arne Duncan's Race to the Top reforms?

From the youtube description:

Lamar Alexander lays out the plan to restructure education at the 11-2-1989 Governors Conference on Education in Wichita, Kansas. The Conference title was "Schools, Goals and the 1990s". As George Bush, Sr's Secretary of Education, he implemented education restructuring as America 2000 that specified creation of the New American Schools Development Corporation. He is currently senior Senator from Tennessee and Conference Chair of the Republican Party.

Transcript of Speech

1989 Governors Conference-Lamar Alexander

.... As far as I know, this is the first state summit following the President's summit, and I think that's a great credit to your governor of the State of Kansas, to be doing that. At least your timing is good!

I would suggest three things:

Number 1: Find out what's really going on because I don't think most people know---- what's going on in schools, how children are growing up, what's really going on in the world.

Number 2: I want to suggest that you create, in Kansas, a brand New American School. Brand New American School.

Number 3: I want to suggest that when you do that, you help that new school develop some new goals and new report cards for itself.

I would go down to the maternity ward of the local hospital, or whatever you call the part of the hospital where the nurses are who are there when the babies are born. Find out how many babies are born out of wedlock, how many babies are born with single parents. Just so you know that!

I would think the Brand New American School would be year-round, open from 6:00 to 6:00.

A second characteristic might be that these schools will serve children from age 3 months old to age 18. That may be a shocking thought to you; but, if you were to do an inventory of every baby in your community and think about what the needs of those babies were for the next four or five years, you might see that those needs might not be served any other way. They have to be served in some way and maybe around the school. Or, if you study a little more, you might go back and think the school might have to serve the pregnant mother of the baby in terms of prenatal healthcare....

...teams of teachers. Albert Shanker suggested that maybe there ought to be a team of teachers attached to a child from the day that child arrives in the school to stay with that child all the way to the 8th grade.

All this would mean there would have to be a very professional corps of teachers, wouldn't it? They'd have to be very, very good because they would have to be dealing with lots of volunteers. We have a big national service feeling in America today. Why aren't those people working in schools? Well, one reason is it's hard to handle volunteers!

So, this team of highly trained principals and teachers would have to have career ladders. They would have to be master teachers. They would be paid $50,000-$60,000-$70,000 a year to create a Brand New American School in every state capital.

The great advantage of that is there wouldn't be all these arguments of whether to do this program, or that program, or which one to do first. You wouldn't do any of them! You would create just one school and you'd give the responsibility to one person who would form one team. You give them one year or so, and if they succeeded, then all the rest of us would want to be in that school, too! Wouldn't we?

Senator Alexander advocated for:
  • Tracking students from birth
  • Community schools providing various services other than academics
  • School open year round
  • 12-hour school days
These ideas from 1989  have been incorporated into Arne Duncan's Race to the Top mandates. Later postings will provide information on how educational policies presented at this 1989 Governor's Conference foreshadowed the elitist takeover of education we currently find ourselves.  

You can thank George Bush Sr. for arranging this conference.  

1 comment:

  1. Of course Arne Duncan's plans came from a Republican playbook... it is part of the Republican (proregressive variety, not conservative) playbook - it always has been, from the start of the Republican party.

    The very first Dept of Education was established, after years of effort, by a powerful Republican proregressive, Vermont Representative, and later Senator, Justin Morrill, in 1862, after being sold as a way to , literally, make rebellion unthinkable:

    "...There had been many previous attempts to establish something like national public schooling, but none got off the ground until the ‘lucky break’ of the Civil War, something which would not have surprised Heraclitus (“war is the father of all things,” ) in the least , and here it proved a perfect pretext for the very first strain of common core standards, and after Morrill failed with two previous efforts, vetoed by Presidents Pearce and Buchanan, the Civil War enabled him to put it through as a War Measure (!). Rep. Morrill said:

    “The role of the national government is to mould the character of the American people." and that "Ignorant voters endanger liberty. With free schools in the South there could have been no rebellion in the future...when our youth learn to read similar books, similar lessons, we shall become one people, possessing one organic nationality."

    Common Core Standards are nothing new, only the extent to which they are being imposed upon us is. Standards aren't themselves the problem, and that they are common is not even the problem; that they are arbitrarily drawn is the beginning of a problem; that they are measured by the federal govt and tie states to behaviors and actions and obligations through the carrot and stick of funding is more of a problem, but the real problem is the educational goals they serve - when the Federal Government sets out to 'mould the character' of the American people... that is the one thing you can be certain that will be accomplished... along with the mother of all unforeseen complications. ...

    Federal involvement in Education was finally sold by Morrill as a war measure, but his motivation was to 'modernize' the country, to displace the old fashioned ideas (which made America possible) of educating students to be virtuous self-governing people, capable of living in liberty... and instead fit them for more practical, useful purposes 'better suited to their capabilities' (elitism is central to it) that would enable businesses to better prosper.

    The ideas of proregressive 'Republicans' have not changed one whit in the century and a half since.


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