Archive for August, 2012

Move over ALEC, there’s a bigger fish being fried in the world of education reform by a secretive international group called Bilderberg. Many of my readers may already be acquainted with Bilderberg. They’re not new.  It’s an annual, highly secretive, informal meeting of the world’s ruling elite and world leaders in governance, royalty, defense, agriculture, high finance/banking, and technology, among others. The original conference was held at the Hotel de Bilderberg (thus the origin of the group’s name), near Arnhem in the Netherlands, from May 29 to 31, 1954. It was started by Polish politician Józef Retinger. He and other powerful leaders of national governance and industry were concerned about the growth of anti-Americanism in Western Europe. So they started an international conference at which leaders from European countries and the United States  to promote what they called “Atlanticism” – better understanding between the cultures of the United States and Western Europe to foster cooperation on political, economic, and defense issues. Their goal is to create a new world order that is crafted in their image and to serve their purposes.  Every year, led by the world’s most powerful multinational corporations and political leaders, the group meets in various countries (2012 meeting was held in Chantilly, VA, USA) in absolute privacy.  Any media even allowed to attend the event are forbidden to speak of what is discussed at the meetings themselves. The meeting is invitation only, hosting approximately a few hundred members. No wives, husbands, significant others, or family are allowed to join the invitee.  Secret-service are employed to protect the members and the general public are cleared from the entire grounds while the meeting is being held.

I remember in my child-like naiveté when I believed that Arne Duncan was a person of power and that bending his ear and getting his attention would be a triumph in the name of fighting education reform.  Now wiser I realize he is of little more consequence than a cat’s toy.  The more deeply you dig into this foul mire of education reform you realize he’s low man on the proverbial totem pole.

Then I thought the bigger player was perhaps Pearson Publishers. With their money and power they could (and they do…) bend education reform in a direction which pours billions of dollars of profits into their own piggy banks. That still remains true. But wait…there’s more.

Then I met ALEC (The American Legislative Exchange Commission) and discovered the enormous influence they wield over public policy and state level legislation, steering the course of public education toward privatization. A brilliant free-market scheme for ideological and economic gain.  Led by corporate moguls with a self-serving agenda, they can buy and sell politicians and policy using children and teachers as pawns in their chess game of corporate control over public services and public welfare.  And of course ALEC’s finger prints can be found all over Pearson’s operations.  But wait…there’s more.

This is where I must pause and concede that I might indeed need to rush to the store to buy a roll of tin foil to craft into a hat. What I am about to share is grounded largely in conjecture.  But it’s a conjecture worth serious consideration. Why? Because the researcher in me understands that there’s a difference between coincidental relationships and ones that bear significance.  Researchers look for patterns. They look for frequency. They look for triangulation (various sources of information all supporting the same conclusion).  I will allow you the reader to decide for yourself.  But there are a few things that we in the fight against education reform  know is true-that the education reform is NOT about improving schools, that the people pushing for it are powerful and very wealthy, that they use propaganda and lies to mislead the public toward their own gains, that the tentacles run very, very deep … and that nothing should surprise us anymore.

What I have discovered is that many of the central players, the big ones, in education reform are also directly connected with Bilderberg.  And examining the goals of Bilderbergers (as they are called), I see how they mirror the agenda being led by education reform leaders.  Here are a few Bilderberger connections of note:

1)      Lou Gerstner. According to Forbes:

Corporate leaders like Frank Shrontz at Boeing, David Kearns at Xerox and Lou Gerstner at IBM famously became leaders as well in the effort to reform American schools.  When David Kearns left Xerox, he accepted a request from Lamar Alexander to join him at the helm of the U.S. Department of Education, and, while there, persuaded the Business Roundtable to create New American Schools, a new organization sponsored by some of the most powerful corporations in the United States, for the purpose of funding the development of new, creative designs for America’s public schools.  One of the other partnerships of that era was Achieve, an organization put together by top business executives and the governors, to conduct an annual education summit that laid claim to leadership of the whole national education reform effort.  Presidents of the United States, invited to the annual Achieve summit, made it their business to attend.  It was natural for top corporate heads to join forces with the education governors to build a national agenda for education reform.  They saw the world in much the same way.

Lou Gerstner has been an attendee of the Bilderberg meeting.

2)      Bill Gates.  Of course it should come as no surprise that a man of his wealth and power would be invited to attend Bilderberg. What strikes me are the eerie parallels between his clear and mind-numbing agenda for public education and the philosophy of Bilderberg.  Bilderberg’s goal in a nutshell is to create a New World Order, one led by corporate elite and powerful heads of state with one world police state, one world currency, elimination of national borders, or national sovereignty.  In order to do this they roll out silent warfare against the general public using fear tactics that make people willing to forgo their freedoms in the name of “security.”  Bilderberg (along with the Council on Foreign Relations, but more on them of this plan later)  success depends on finding “a way to get us to surrender our liberties in the name of some common threat or crisis. The foundations, educational institutions, and research think tanks supported by (these organizations) oblige by financing so-called ‘studies’ which are then used to justify their every excess. The excuses vary, but the target is always individual liberty.

Bilderberger’s believe in public surveillance and social control. I can’t help but be reminded of Bill Gate’s efforts to make teachers and students wear galvanic bracelets  that monitor their bodily responses during instruction, microchips in uniforms to track the whereabouts of children, and other surveillance techniques (more subtle perhaps) like high stakes testing that monitors and tracks the personal data for every child and teacher. I cannot help but be reminded of his efforts to promote “world education” in which, through technology, we could create a unified one-world (one size fits all) “state of the art” education system which transcends national borders. I cannot help but think about his role in the push for the Common Core standards. One curriculum for all.

According to one website I found:

“The “Goals 2000” program, developed during the presidency of George H.W. Bush to revamp the nation’s public school system, was born at the April, 1970, Bilderberger meeting in Bad Ragaz, Switzerland. The purpose of the new educational philosophy was the “subordination of national ambitions to the idea of the international community.” Because our schools are “too nationalistic,” children, in the future, will be indoctrinated to consider themselves “world citizens.”

Furthermore, if one critically examines the growing divide between education for the elite versus education for the masses, exacerbated (if not openly promoted) by education reform tactics (punitive HST, Common Core, “choice and charters,” anti-union, and de-professionalization of teaching…) one might see the shadow government, Bilderberg, playing out their own agenda. According to a found document (claimed to be a lost copy of their secret meeting notes):

SCHOOLS: Keep the young public ignorant of real mathematics, real economics, real law, and real history.  The quality of education given to the lower class must be of the poorest sort, so that the meat of ignorance isolating the inferior class from the superior class is and remains incomprehensible to the inferior class. With such an initial handicap, even bright lower class individuals have little if any hope of extricating themselves from their assigned lot in life. This form of slavery is essential to maintaining some measure of social order, peace, and tranquility for the ruling upper class. 

In essence their goal is absolute control of education to program the public mind and train those chosen for various roles.

IS ANY OF THIS STARTING TO SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU? Allow me to go on.

3)      Marjorie Scardino, CEO of Pearson Publishing has been noted as a Bilderberg attendee. You KNEW Pearson had to be in this somewhere, didn’t you?

4)      Rupert Murdoch. Of course the world’s most powerful media mogul would be in attendance at Bilderberg with his buddy Bill Gates. He, through Wireless Generation, is also now the third party holder in a no bid contract to collect and “manage” student test scores and other private data for several states.  Doesn’t anyone wonder why a man with such power and wealth as he would give a rats ass about children’s test scores? Can anyone provide an answer that DOESN’T make me nervous?????

5)      Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor and education privatizer extraordinaire, is an attendee at Bilderberg.

6)      Some of the friendly folks from McKinsey and Company are notably present at Bilderberg. Their fingers in the educational pie are grower fatter by the day.

7)      Sir Michael Barber, of Pearson has not been cited as a Bilderberg attendee. However, Peter Sands, British banker, CEO of Standard Chartered, is.  And he has worked, through their shared allegiance to McKinsey and Company, with Sir Barber who has given keynote speeches with titles such as, “The Prospects for Global Education Reform.”  Remember, Pearson, like Bilderberg, has a global outlook on managing world affairs toward their own agenda.  Scardino’s presence at the meetings probably suffices.

8)      Jeff Bezos. The entrepreneur of Amazon.com fame is also a huge proponent of  charter/choice education reform.

He is a noted Bilderberger attendee. He is also a huge proponent of using technology and “big data” in education on a global scale.

9)      Colin Powell. Attendee at Bilderberg. Again, an obvious choice for obvious reasons. But, Colin Powell and his wife Alma Powell are also part of GradNation Summit, an effort sponsored by the America’s Promise Alliance (run by Alma Powell). This movement goes back several years but is now conveniently resurfacing with a zeal right on the heels of the announcement that education is now a matter of “national security.” From their own website GradNation states:

In consultation with the U.S. Department of Education, we will track ten measures that research has proven predict student success. We also encourage communities to measure other factors. For instance, tracking school attendance, behavior indicators and course grades in math and English at the local level serve as a valuable early warning signal, even though reliable sources of data do not yet exist on the national level.

Presenting sponsors for GradNation include: State FarmInsurance Company. Other major sponsors include the Simon Foundation for Education and Housing, ING Foundation, Walmart Foundation, AT&T, The Boeing Company, the Pearson Foundation, Jim and Donna Barksdale, DeVry, The Packard Foundation, Target Corporation, Philip Morris USA, an Altria Company, Fidelity Investments, Ritz-Carlton, Annie E. Casey Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation, and Wellspring.

10)  The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). I saved the best for last. CFR is noted as an extension, or sister group perhaps, of Bilderberg. Along with Trilateral Group, the three constitute the three most powerful secretive societies in the world. Guess what else the CFR does in its free time? It sponsored (designed perhaps?) an educational task force.  According to their own website:

“The United States’ failure to educate its students leaves them unprepared to compete and threatens the country’s ability to thrive in a global economy and maintain its leadership role, finds a new Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)–sponsored Independent Task Force report on U.S. Education Reform and National Security.”

If you’re feeling lost at this point please refer back to the quote about Bilderberg:

“… finding a way to get us to surrender our liberties in the name of some common threat or crisis. The foundations, educational institutions, and research think tanks supported by (these organizations) oblige by financing so-called ‘studies’ which are then used to justify their every excess. The excuses vary, but the target is always individual liberty.”

What is CFR’s solution to the national security “threat?” The Task Force proposes three overarching policy recommendations:

  • Implement educational expectations and assessments in subjects vital to protecting national security. “With the support of the federal government and industry partners, states should expand the Common Core State Standards, ensuring that students are mastering the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard the country’s national security.”
  • Make structural changes to provide students with good choices. “Enhanced choice and competition, in an environment of equitable resource allocation, will fuel the innovation necessary to transform results.”
  • Launch a “national security readiness audit” to hold schools and policymakers accountable for results and to raise public awareness. “There should be a coordinated, national effort to assess whether students are learning the skills and knowledge necessary to safeguard America’s future security and prosperity. The results should be publicized to engage the American people in addressing problems and building on successes.”

These initiatives work in perfect tandem with Bilderberg’s long range goal of “centralized control of all education

Surveillance and control? A new world order? Yes, it sounds Orwellian, I know. But when I look at the patterns (correlations) between Bilderberg’s goals for global power and control and the education policies being launched upon us, when I look at the means of data tracking, surveillance, and monitoring of children now available and held in the hands of the powerful few, when I look at the undeniable numerous overlaps between those who attend Bilderberg and those ruling the education reform roost, when I look at how the ideology behind Bilderberg mirrors the outcomes of our education reform policies … I am starting to wonder if those who DON’T see these connections should be the ones wearing the tin foil hats. I’ll let you decide.

School is almost here!

it’s easy in the fray of education reform, and the uphill battle against it, to forget sometimes the most powerful solution, is the simplest.  We create petitions, write blogs, publicize research, hold meetings, contact state representatives….the list goes on.  BUT-As they say in an airplane as you’re taking off, the nearest exit may be behind you.  The surest way to end education (de)form, corporate profiteering off of tax payer dollars and schools, and this war on children, is in fact free, available, and standing right here in front of us. OPTING OUT. The day when all children, parents and teachers refuse to take the high stakes tests.

Below is the letter I plan to submit to my son’s school in just a few short days.  It was cobbled together from other sample letters that are available at www.unitedoptout.com.  I found a compelling sample letter documenting religious reasons at http://nopssa.blogspot.com/2011/03/march-8-2011-michael-hardy-acting.html

I am going the route of religious reason and use large portions of that sample letter. Why? As far as I know, no one has opted their child out in the state of MD (yet…) and the legal entanglements are unknown. I am arming myself with as many defenses as possible.

If you are considering opting your child out of high stakes testing and DIBELS reading assessments, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Remind your child’s teacher (and administrators) that opting out is not meant as an attack on them.  In fact, you might point out that if MORE parents opted out, the punitive and developmentally inappropriate curricular and testing policies might actually come to a halt! We opt out to SUPPORT teachers and schools.

2) Arm yourself with data! It’s hard not to get emotional, of course. But you are not opting out because you’re emotionally irrational-you have FACTS, too many to even keep track of-that demonstrate the ill effects of high stakes testing on children’s health, well being, schools, and whole communities. It robs your child of the education they should be entitled to.

3) Provide alternative assessments and activities that your child can do that day. If there is a strict attendance policy avoid simply pulling your kid out on testing day. Work with the school to find meaningful things that your child can do during that time. In lieu of the test itself as a form of assessment, recommend portfolio-based projects, and other evaluation tools, which leads me to #4

4) Remind the school that you are NOT opposed to tests in general, nor having your child assessed or evaluated. Those of us opting out ARE opposed to the uses and abuses of HIGH STAKES testing, on both our own children as well as its undue and unchecked reign over classrooms.  It has absolutely no benefits to children or teachers to improve teaching or learning.

5) Keep it simple. Stick to a few hard and fast and easily understandable facts when presenting your case to the school administrators. Going into the entire history of ALEC and corporate ownership of policy, tests, and schools are compelling indeed, but keep the explanations to a minimum or else you will lose their understanding.

Simple: My child will not be used to profit testing companies. They were designed to create a money trail for those designing and evaluating the tests, and those who can profit from school turn around models. Schools and children are being set up as niche market for new products that are neither beneficial or necessary. Schools and children and being set up to fail. These tests create abusive learning conditions. My child, all our children, deserve better than this. It will not stop unless we, as parents, stop it.

DRAFT LETTER

Dear  County Administrators,

My son Conor  is in 2nd grade for the 2012-2013 school year.  I am writing to inform you that I refuse to have my children take part in the (practice) MSA’s, DIBELS, or other forms of high stakes standardized testing because it is in conflict with my religious beliefs.  I have been advised that even a medical or psychological concern meets this criteria, as long as I claim it’s religious. However, in this case my Catholic faith teaches me that it is a sin to participate in an action I know to be a fraud and to be harmful to my children and to my community. In lieu of the high stakes standardized tests I request that my son be given alternative forms of assessment to include but not limited to teacher made assessments, projects, and portfolio, to be determined at the discretion of my son’s teacher.

Ten years of research and analysis by academic experts working at universities from Penn State to Harvard (as opposed to politicians like Michelle Rhee or college drop-outs like Bill Gates) conclusively prove that high stakes like the MSA testing harms children, undermines and restricts curricula, and punishes schools that serve the most vulnerable members of our society — kids with special needs and kids in poverty.  There are mountains of documentation out there.

I find such testing morally and spiritually unethical, based on the following facts. High stakes testing:

AFFECTS SOCIO-EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING: Our system of constant testing seems designed to produce anxiety and depression.

KILLS CURIOSITY AND LOVE OF LEARNING: Actually limits and reduces the amount of QUALITY learning experiences. Rather than focusing on a child’s natural curiosity, HST emphasizes (and drills in) isolated facts limiting teacher’s ability to create environments  that stimulate a child’s imagination.

ACTUALLY REDUCES A CHILD’S CAPACITY FOR ATTAINING NEW KNOWLEDGE: If children cannot actively make connections between different topics of study, they don’t remember what they learn from day to day. Most standardized tests are still based on the recall of isolated facts and narrow skills. (www.fairtest.org).

HIGHER ORDER THINKING IS REPLACED WITH SKILL, DRILL AND KILL: Most tests include many topics that are not important, while many important areas are not included on standardized tests because they cannot be measured by such tests. Teaching to the test does not produce real and sustained gains on independent learning measures.

NARROWS THE CURRICULUM: The loss of a rich curriculum has been documented in research, in the media, and in teacher testimony. Forget art, music, and PE (in spite of the decades of research that correlates student overall school achievement to participation in these experiences). State-wide testing focuses only on math and reading. And with these critical subjects, teachers are forced to focus only on those test taking strategies that reflect the way material is presented on the tests.

LOSS OF SOCIALIZATION AS A CENTRAL CORE OF LEARNING: The opportunity to learn to socialize through recess, and collaborative classroom activities reduces children’s opportunities to develop healthy social skills. Being seated alone at a desk all day isolates children from learning how to develop community-based problem solving skills they will need as adults.

MOVING FROM PUBLIC SCHOOLING FOR THE COMMON GOOD TO PRIVATIZATION OF ALL SCHOOLS: 80% of all schools are anticipated to fail meeting their federally-mandated test score goals (called AYP) by 2014. Private sector charter schools are invited to take over local public school not meeting federal rules. Our tax dollars—intended for public schools for the common good—are then diverted to these for-profit enterprises, often run by hedge fund entrepreneurs.

DIVERTS GREATLY NEEDED FUNDS FROM SCHOOLS TO CORPORATE INTERESTS: The Department of Education has invested 4.5 BILLION dollars (Krashen, S., 2008) in developing new tests while millions of schools have cut art, music, and suffer from limited resources including clean drinking water or air conditioning.

TEACHING TO THE TEST: Schools, grades K-12, on average, spend 10-12 WEEKS before the testing solely on test preparation, replacing meaningful hands-on instruction with skill and drill.

According to the U.S Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, I am protected by my rights to religious/spiritual freedom and this federal law supersedes state in regard to parental control over one’s child. Under the law, you cannot deny my request.

Parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents posses the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” (Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35) The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399). In recognition of both the right and responsibility of parents to control their children’s education, the Court has stated, “It is cardinal with us that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents, whose primary function and freedom include preparation for the obligations the State can neither supply nor hinder.” (Prince v.Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158)

I understand that you and others in the administration here really have your hands tied on this issue. Under the law you must get 95% of kids tested. But it’s wrong.  It is all based on lies and deceit and greed and corruption. My faith demands that we must fight against this. But to continue to participate in this corrupt farce is to undermine the very core of public education. Those pushing for ever increasing testing and “accountability” have made their agenda crystal clear: school closings, vouchers and eventually privatization, turning over education to for-profit companies.  Private schools run by the Catholic Church and the Friends Council on Education are not for profit; they do not participate in this testing; their students receive a great education. For-profit schools run by large Educational Management Organizations (EMOs) have a dismal record, but that is the next step as more and more schools fail to meet AYP as we approach 2014. Eventually all schools will be closed down, reorganized and ultimately turned over to private for-profit EMOs.
We are told that private for-profit companies can do a better job than you and others who are committed to public education because of the free market. The free market resulted in scandals ranging from Halliburton and Blackwater in Iraq, to the Enron debacle, to the recent outrage in our own backyard with private for-profit prisons for kids. When our tax dollars are involved, greed and corruption run rampant in the “free market.”

Please understand I am not doing this to hurt the teachers or the school.  I know that until parents say NO to the destruction of our children’s education, the abuses to our schools and communities will not stop. I refuse to be complicit in condoning such education malpractice.

Sincerely,