This is a presentation I gave at the Utah Eagle Forum convention on 1/17/15. The text of the speech follows the video.
Does the name Marc Tucker ring a bell? If not, back in 1992 when the Clintons took office, Marc wrote Hillary a now famous letter laying out a plan “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.” (http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/marc_tucker/)
Two weeks ago, EdWeek published an interview Marc Tucker did with Gene Wilhoit, head of the CCSSO who was funded by the Gates Foundation to create Common Core. This is the first exchange in the interview.
Marc Tucker: Gene, you played the key role in the development of the Common Core, a remarkable achievement. Twenty years ago, our New Standards Project set out to achieve much the same goal. We did not reach the goal line, though. How would you account for your success?
Gene Wilhoit: You were ahead of your time. The country wasn’t ready for this idea politically and the states did not have the capacity to implement it. But the idea you put on the table twenty years ago grabbed my attention and has been an issue for me ever since.
Isn’t it cool when people who have called you as a conspiracy theorist, openly admit that you’ve been right all along.
Some of you may not be aware of this if you are new to the issue, but Utah received $9 million from the feds a few years back to create a Statewide Longitudinal Database System. The Utah Education Network issued a press release and called it the P20W system.
P is for Preschool
20 is to track students through a doctorate
W is for Workforce
In other words, Utah accepted federal money to create a cradle to grave tracking system of Marc Tucker’s Fascist dream.
Oops, the F word. Better get used to it. Common Core is from the merger of corporations and government running the education system.
Further evidence that this is truly a “cradle” move is the new federal database scheme that contains 187 pages of individual single spaced lines on what should be tracked on kindergarteners and first graders by their teachers, which includes reaching into the home.
Yesterday I went to lunch with 3 of our bankers and my boss. One of the bankers turned to me and said, “didn’t you say something about Common Core a couple years ago? Can you tell me anything about it?”
All 3 of the bankers were experiencing the nightmares of Common Core with their children. Unable to help with their homework, having to look for explanatory videos online about how to work a problem and then being appalled when their own children got the right answer but were marked wrong for not doing it the crazy way the teacher wanted them to do.
The good news is, parents are now waking up and asking what’s going on and where do I point the finger.
I am grateful for this opportunity to come and share some thoughts with you about education issues that are important to me. My life over the past 11 years has been a journey I never intended to take but has led me to develop some wonderful friendships with people who value freedom.
Lets start with this:
My dad took this picture shortly after my birth. (an acorn)
Implanted within this small nut by its creator is the blueprint for something greater. It’s bigger on the inside…
When planted in good soil and nourished and given sun light, it can achieve the full measure of its creation. (Oak tree)
How do animals learn?
By play, by mimicking its parents, by playing like an adult until one learns how to be an adult.
Isn’t it the same for humans? If we are the offspring of God, then can we not believe that he has implanted within each soul the craving and the thirst for knowledge? Is this not done by imitating the actions of adults and practicing at it until we become one? We grow from one responsibility to another.
Today I want to express something about the divergent tracks of education, compulsory education vs. free will. Without a doubt, I’ve learned far more after my K-12 education than what I did in it. I want to share with you the idea that children can and should be trusted with greater freedom than we currently give them. Then I want to propose a pilot test.
Compulsory education in America started in the 1800’s.
By 1959, the United Nations issued their “Declaration of the Rights of a Child.” Principle 7 reads:
“The child is entitled to receive education, which shall be free and compulsory…”
Normally when someone says something is free you think, one of two things. 1) they couldn’t sell it and they’re giving it away, or 2) there might be a deal to take advantage of. In this case it’s a bit more like “I’m gonna make ‘em an offer they can’t refuse.”
Has anyone here read John Taylor Gatto’s book, Weapons of Mass Instruction? If not, just read this book. I just finished it this week and I will never look at compulsory education the same way. Mr. Gatto taught for over 30 years was New York City’s teacher of the year 3 times, and teacher of the year for New York state once as well. He shares this.
“The first national commissioner of education right at the start of things declared that self-alienation is the goal of schooling. School disconnects, as it was charged to do. It is Caesar’s divide and conquer strategy brought to peak efficiency. Children are divided from their families, their traditions, their communities, their religions, their natural allies -other children- their interests, and on ad infinitum. They are…disconnected from the experiences of risk-taking and adventure in which the grand discoveries of history have been fashioned.”
John Taylor Gatto, Weapons of Mass Instruction, pg. 130
He also shared this quote in his book. It’s in a letter from the general education board of Rockefeller (a high school dropout) and Carnegie (elementary school dropout) who both pushed compulsory public education.
“In our dreams, people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding hands. The present educational conventions [intellectual and character education] fade from our minds, and unhampered by tradition we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, educators, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple … we will organize children … and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.”
If that doesn’t disturb you, I don’t know what will.
As I have pondered these things over the past several years, I have had to engage in some serious contemplation of what it means to be educated. It’s not easy for me, because ingrained in my publicly educated mind is that how you grew up is how everyone else should. That the things we experienced should be experienced by others.
For example, last week one of our new state school board members posted a question on Facebook to get feedback from people about a legislative proposal to require a fourth year of high school math from our children. A computer science professor from BYU said he thought children should all have a required class on programming because of the tech-driven society we live in. That could be very useful. As a CPA I also think children should know something about economics and basic business principles, but the simple fact is, not everyone needs these things and requiring it of them when they don’t have the interest, is detrimental in many ways.
What is our natural inclination when someone tells us we have to do something we have no interest in? We reject it. Often, we fight against it. Our behavior changes because our fundamental free will, or agency, is violated. In dealing with free beings, the only way to communicate is through persuasion, long suffering, and love.
Telling students what they have to learn leads to a lot of students who aren’t having their needs met. Many of them drop out of school.
The Washington Times last month carried an article commenting on Utah’s graduation rate being up 2% last year to 83%. That’s for White students. For Blacks it sits at 66%, and low socio-economic students is in the 40’s. So 17-almost 60% of these student groups are leaving school because they don’t see the value in the experience. Why?
What do we call it when someone else decides where we have to be, what we have to do, the environment in which it is set, and the duration? We get used to someone else directing what to do, where to do it, when to do it, how to do it, how long to do it, and how we’ll be evaluated as they move us toward our release date. Is that education? Or prison?
Frederick Douglas once said, “it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
I think there are a lot of broken adults in society who maintain the belief that someone needs to direct a portion of their lives. They aren’t self-sufficient and I think some measure of blame is on public education.
We tell children we have to prepare them for a diverse global economy and then subject them to the exact same common core. A diverse global market demands that children have diverse experiences that allow them at an early age to develop a personal sense of meaning about their interactions with the world.
Compulsory education weeds out divergent thinkers. Those that can’t conform to a one-size-fits-all mold are told they are failures. How many Einsteins have we destroyed by telling them to sit still. Do your homework. Get an A. Einstein was a dropout. Edison was a dropout. Ben Franklin did 2 years of public school and went to work, which today violates child labor laws. Heaven forbid we get another Ben Franklin in our country who only goes to school for 2 years!
How do we expect children who have never tasted the risk and reward of freedom to preserve it for future generations? We’re training them that it’s perfectly acceptable to tell others what to do with their lives by our very actions. Not only do we embrace this conditioning, we demand it as a right and demand our neighbors be criminally charged if they don’t put their children into public schools. Black is the new white.
Why aren’t we asking children from a younger age, what do YOU want to learn and how can we help you succeed?
Think about a time when you were really excited to learn about something. Think about how much energy you gained because you were excited about it. Then contrast that with some other subject you were required to study that you had no interest in. You probably procrastinated the required tasks, or perhaps failed to even complete it. That was the story of my life in school.
I believe there are two things that should take place with regard to these issues. Well, actually 3. I think compulsory education has to end but I’ve talked enough about that.
First, when thousands of children a year are dropping out, I think we need to completely reassess the value of a public education. We obviously aren’t offering something they value. If there are characteristic signs of who those children are, we should watch for it and engage them in a pilot program that would allow their school experience to be more greatly tailored around things they have an interest in. As their interest catches hold, and we mentor them in their interest, their skill and talent in that area will increase. Their energy will increase, their desire to learn will increase, and hopefully they will experience the desire to achieve something and want to excel in math and English as they see them to be complimentary subjects.
Second, I believe we need to offer much greater individualized experiences for students. We need to step back to character and intellectual development, which means more time for students to ponder. Less assignments, less class time, and more time to engage in thinking and we can help them have meaningful direction in that area, but without homework. When we allow students the time to pursue their own interests, real maturation takes place. They need to see adult role models who have walked the path they have an interest in. They need to see adults inviting them into the adult world at a younger age. Our children don’t need to be held hostage in a K-12 incubation bubble. They could easily graduate early and do meaningful things including college and careers. Our whole computer industry was founded by dropouts.
A couple months back my 9th grade daughter came to me (this isn’t her. She’d kill me if I showed her picture so this is self-defense) and said, “Dad, I’m overwhelmed at school. I don’t have any time to think and do things I want to do.” This is a girl who homeschooled a couple years ago and then wanted to go back to public school, so I said, “Willow, in order for you to do this, your first assignment from me, your new teacher, is to write a paper on why I should let you homeschool.” The next day she handed me the paper. Here’s the conclusion…
“So basically, it seems like when you have an environment that’s less stressful without the negative influence of others and it suits you, the work and study you’re doing is less like work and study, and you can enjoy the things you’re doing without being ridiculed. You can become a Benjamin Franklin or George Washington or Joseph Smith, always knowing where you stand. I can’t prove to you on paper that you can trust me to homeschool, because even then you may or may not believe me, but if you give me a chance, I will show you that I can homeschool and try to do my best. It is my choice and my will that will either lead me to a life of greatness, or a life of, well, not greatness.”
How could I turn that down? I asked what she might like to do for an art experience and she said “woodcarving.” I had no idea. You can’t even do that in school.
I love what she said about when you’re doing what you want to, it’s not work. It’s enjoyable. It captures our interest and our intellect. We gain energy from it and go deeper.
I wish one bold school district would pilot test these ideas and just let parents opt their children into such a program and see what happens. I predict that within 5 years, perhaps half of the school would be in such programs and that they would be maturing at younger ages, and moving forward with solid plans for the future in fields of their interest.
What I know is this. Compulsory education is destructive to the soul. I think it’s time for an experiment in individualization for our public schools. This will require local control of education, to allow local schools to develop plans based on the interest of students. Please talk with your legislators about moving us toward local control.