Archive for June, 2016

“Career and College Ready?”

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Pearson, of course, was ahead of the pack as usual… developing a school- to -labor pipeline that suites the corporate masters.  As this blog explains, Competency Based Education becomes the framework for “badges” instead of credit hours and prepares students for career and college which is code for the new “gig” economy. According to Pearson: “Alternative learning credentials including college coursework, self-directed learning experiences, career training, and continuing education programs can play a powerful role in defining and articulating solo workers’ capabilities. Already badges that represent these credentials are serving an important purpose in fostering trust between solo workers, employers, and project teams because they convey skill transparency and deliver seamless verification of capabilities.”

I could -at this point -just say ’nuff said.

But I won’t.

CBE 101

First, a brief background: Competency based education (or CBE) has been a rapidly developing alternative to traditional public education. While proponents tout it as “disruptive innovation” critics examine how disruptive translates into “dismantle”, meaning that CBE is a system by which public schools can, and will be, dismantled. This is not ancillary. It was designed to create a new privately-run profiteering model by which education can be delivered to “the masses.” Think: Outsourcing.

CBE delivers curriculum, instruction and assessments through online programming owned by third-party (corporate) organizations that are paid for with your tax dollars. Proponents of CBE use catchy language like “personalized” and “individualized” learning. Translation? Children seated alone interfacing with a computer, which monitors and adjusts the materials according to the inputs keyed in by the child. See Newton’s Datapalooza here.

So gone are the days of “credit hours” earned by spending a certain amount of hours in a classroom. Instead, children move at an individual pace detached from the larger group or collaborative learning experiences which CBE pimps try to warn us are ‘keeping certain kids back” from their “true potential.”

The immediate advantages of control and profits for the neoliberal privatizers is quite evident and well documented. See Talmage for more on CBE history and my own summary here.

Let’s summarize what the outcomes of the CBE paradigm of public schools will be:

  • Disenfranchises teachers who are replaced by computers and third party providers (now LEA’s with access to student private data). This erodes a unionized teacher workforce.
  • Eliminates collaborative interactive learning activities in favor of individualized one-on-one learning with a computer program
  • Course credit will no longer be counted by credit hour but by completion of a series of exercises, tasks or data driven curriculum which provides the student with a “badge of completion” (see Pearson).  The amount of time spent in a classroom experience is no longer a determining factor in evaluating success.

In their own words, The Business Round Table explained how Career and College ready objectives are designed in the likeness of their corporate sponsors. The Common Employability Skills paper states: “Educators and other learning providers will also have an industry-defined road map for what foundational skills to teach, providing individuals the added benefit of being able to evaluate educational programs to ensure they will in fact learn skills that employers value.”

Let me restate that again: “EDUCATORS WILL HAVE AN INDUSTRY-DEFINED ROAD MAP.”

The industry road map today in 2016 leads to a gig economy.

What’s a Gig?

Meet the gig economy. What exactly is a gig economy? It’s what CBE becomes when it’s all grown up and graduated. According to gig economy critic Stephen Hill: The gig economy is “….a weird yet historic mash-up of Silicon Valley technology and Wall Street greed”  which is being thrust  “upon us (as) the latest economic fraud: the so-called ‘sharing economy,’ with companies like Uber, Airbnb and TaskRabbit allegedly ‘liberating workers’ ’to become ‘independent’ and ‘their own CEOs,’ hiring themselves out for ever-smaller jobs and wages while the companies profit”.

If the history of public schools in America is the history of labor production and preparation (i.e. 19th c factory model schools for a factory society) it holds true that we are now trying to create gig-driven schools to prepare children for the new gig economy. Just as factory model schools prepared children for factory jobs, it’s no coincidence that the CBE framework is a “mini me” of the gig economy itself. And the CBE framework was developed and is funded by the same corporations and organizations like iNACOL and ALEC who are the profiteers of a new gig economy. Just think of how the gig-driven culture reflects the long awaited goals of ALEC model legislation which dismantle collective bargaining, living wages, and other labor rights.

In 2015 the ALEC Commerce Task Force “Celebrated the ‘Gig’ Economy” at an event in which they held workshops on the “Gig Economy” and “What’s Next for the ‘Sharing Economy’–A Discussion on Principles on Best Practices,” which will likely lay the groundwork for further efforts to undermine worker protections. Naturally, their model bills sponsored by the Education task force members directly intersect with the model bills put forth by the Labor task force as well.

In response to this 2015 event, ALEC bragged in their own website that, “With new policies ranging from reducing the income tax burden, to deregulating the ‘gig economy,’ to pension reform, good news in Arizona is plentiful.”

The National Network of Business and Industry Associations, calls itself “an innovative partnership that joins 25 organizations focused on better connecting learning and work.” Their goal is to develop tools that:

  • articulate the common employability skills required for workers across all career fields;
  • rethink how various professional organizations build credentials to help workers move easily between professions (think: Open Badges); and
  • increase the use of competency-based hiring practices across the entire economy (Pay for Success).

One can begin to see how easily CBE fits in with the BRT goal in their Common Employability Skills document where they write: “This model can take its place as the foundation for all industries to map skill requirements to credentials and to career paths.” They add that educational institutions will be EVALUATED based on their ability “to ensure students will in fact learn skills that employers value.”

So let’s summarize ….

In a gig economy, gone is the routine 9-5 work hours by which traditional salaries are determined. Instead gig jobs are paid by the completion of tasks regardless of the hours.

In a freelance world, where jobs are merely a series of gigs strung together, the new ESSA “pay for success” framework fits right in.

Pay for Success is a gig framework for education.

So when jobs are free lanced there is little opportunity for a unionized workforce and there are no benefits (thanks ALEC). There is no collective work space or shared workforce experience. Most work can be done independently, online, and from home. After 12 years of schooling under this framework the future workers of America will be primed to fall right into their pre-ordained place in the gig economy, where they will now feel right at home.

Just as “manufacturing companies and Silicon Valley have begun increasingly to rely on private contractors to hire temps and freelancers” (Hill, 2016)  so have public schools, with the advent of the new ESSA bill, increasingly use private contractors to provide public education (temps being TFA and freelancers represented by Pearson, K12 Inc and the like).

Gig proponents might call it “independent” labor which “frees” workers from the messy attachment to brick and mortar workplaces and money tied to work hours. It’s the mirror image of CBE proponents advocating for students to be “freed” of credit hours tied to hours spent in brick and mortar classrooms.

The gig advocates mantra of “We don’t have to hold on to the model of the 40-hour workweek for a corporate employer” eerily reflects the CBE reform mantra of “students should not have to hold on to credit hours for a traditional model of education.”

Just as CBE has become the bastion of cost-effectiveness in education for profits to CBE delivery systems in a world of austerity (neoliberal capitalism on steroids), so the gig economy streamlines the costs to corporations- who can now eliminate messy expenses like your 401k, health insurance, unemployment insurance.

This project-to-project freelance society (as opposed to long term consistent employment within one organization) will not trouble a student who has freelanced their way through school, from Open badge to Open badge, with no sense of collaborative or collective sensibilities in their learning experiences, or familiarity with relationships between time and place representative of stability or community. In this freelance society and freelance education system, people cobble together a string of independent “gigs” in which they work independently at their own pace. Gig workers are never really “on the clock” because they are never “really off the clock” either–just as CBE students are never focused on time in learning, but are focused on pushing through each module of the CBE framework in order to accumulate “credits” as quickly as possible.

Another way of conceiving of Pay for Success is the “Learning is Earning” framework, which outlines how CBE and the gig economy work together.

According to Pearson:

“A decade from now, when solo workers comprise the majority of the American workforce, I think it will be common for all of us to point to digital credentials and badges as a better way to talk about our own expertise and the know-how of others. Trusted digital credentials will strengthen the new economy by removing some of the high-frequency friction and inefficiencies of project work. Digital, verifiable credentials owned by each worker will ease employer uncertainty while forming project teams. And at the same time, badges will help each of us to identify relevant new work projects and navigate toward just-in-time (aka “gig”) learning opportunities.

Also read about LinkedIn, CBE and gig economics here.

Gig employers and CBE policy makers tout this  as “freedom”—freedom from stability and security, for sure.

Nunberg, in his NPR commentary suggests, “If “gig” suggests the independence you get when you’re not tied down to a steady lifetime job, then just think of the freedom we’ll all enjoy when the traditional job is consigned to the scrap heap of history, and the economy is just gigs all the way down.”  I fear that public education, no longer tied down to time or place, like stable jobs, will too be consigned to the scrap heap of history.

“Venture philanthropists have transformed the educational terrain, significantly tilting it in a neoliberal direction, often using their expressed desire to help hard-hit communities to support their interests in changing the face of public education” (Spence, 2016, p. 96).

There exist many powerful organizations and leaders who, while they claim to want education change, will avoid any effort which actually disrupts the existing power structure. No plea to legislation, petition, or review panels on testing or equity will do much of anything except expend another decade of energy while the push to privatize rolls forward. We do not have that kind of time. Decades of neoliberal polciies like ESEA since 1965 (NCLB, RtTT, now ESSA) pay lip service to change, equity and quality, while doing the precise opposite behind closed curtains and beyond the eye of public scrutiny. Legislation of ESSA is directly manipulated by corporate interests and it’s going to serve the free market ideology before it serves the common good.

My task here is not to claim to have created some new idea…but to draw together shared ideas of three brilliant radical authors (and a specific book from each). Together they create a triumvirate case for the necessity of systemic and wholesale collective ideological shifts in thinking and behavior in order to fight for ourselves, our schools and our planet.

Chris Hedges (2015): Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt

Naomi Klein (2015): This Changes Everything: Capitalism versus the Climate

Lester K. Spence (2016): Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics

I hope to distill their ideas in juxtaposition with one another, making a case for the necessity of their suggestions. You might read each of their books for yourself, but here I summarize key points, arguing that these three great authors are all saying similsr things though separate from one another, and that what they have to say warrants our attention.

What they (and I) argue for is a complete transformation of the existing system if we are to truly develop sustainable equitable and democratic public schools. They, like I, believe that anything short of that is merely rearranging the furniture on the Titanic. This is because we are up against something deeply insidious; global, systemic and nearly invisible in its reach and influence: a global neoliberal paradigm which pervades every institution, as well as our social behaviors and understanding of what is “ethical.” The mechanism of control for a neoliberal paradigm is centered on the control of ideas — making public education the Ground Zero of the neoliberal agenda.

What sets their solutions (to racism, capitalism and climate change) apart and what they share in common is that each has the notion that in order to have real sustainable alternatives, the existing systems of power cannot be negotiated with anymore; we must have an entire systemic/paradigmatic shift that is economic, political, cultural and social. Hedges reminds us that we “live in a system that is incapable of reforming itself” (p. 87).  We therefore must reject its continued legitimacy in favor of largescale seismic change.

Rather than continuing with strategies like “Tell you state representative you oppose XYZ” or, “Sign this petition to ask your state representative to do XYZ,” the ONLY thing we should be telling our state representative is to “GET THE F)$& OUT OF OUR WAY before we run them over” (merely as a common courtesy really) because THEIR days in power are numbered.

This is a people’s movement, not a “mother may I” movement.

There exist many powerful organizations and leaders who, while they claim to want education change, will avoid any effort which actually disrupts the existing power structure. No plea to legislation, petition, or review panels on testing or equity will do much of anything except expend another decade of energy while the push to privatize rolls forward. We do not have that kind of time. Decades of neoliberal policies  like ESEA since 1965 (NCLB, RtTT, now ESSA) pay lip service to change, equity and quality, while doing the precise opposite behind closed curtains and beyond the eye of public scrutiny. Legislation of ESSA is directly manipulated by corporate interests and it’s going to serve the free market ideology before it serves the common good.

Currently we rely on others with power and money to change things. We appeal to our legislators. We advocate for piecemeal adjustments to existing laws (ESSA) and tell ourselves compromise is necessary, that change is slow, and that we can’t expect too much. It’s time to discredit these power dynamics. We don’t have time to be polite. Let’s stop bringing a dust broom to do battle with zombies. The neoliberal paradigm influences not only how we do business but how we perceive ourselves and the world, and “replaces the democratic with the free-market, assuming that individuals making market-oriented rational decisions generates better decisions (and individuals) than individuals engaged in politics-voting, debating, protesting, collectively acting in the public” (Spence, 2016, p. 114).

Why do we pay credence to Relay Graduate School “trainers” who come into our schools and tell us how to teach? Why do we follow Pearson scripted lesson plans even when they suck? Why do we administer meaningless tests that bring children to tears? Somewhere along the lines we forgot about our OWN power. Reclaim it.

Klein says it best: “The process of taking on the corporate-state power nexus that underpins the extractive economy is leading a great many people to face up to the underlying democratic crisis that has allowed multinationals to be the authors of the laws under which they operate …. What is a democracy if it doesn’t encompass the capacity to decide, collectively, to protect something that no one can live without?” (p. 361). But how might we begin? With the help of these three radical notable scholars, I will attempt to outline a way out of our MC Escher-like dilemma.

Here are some “take aways” I found consistent across each book

Reject a Seat at the Table: Nothing renders a radical movement less radical than by giving it a seat at the table of existing power. It is clear to many of us that organizations (even who may support a radical grass-roots democratic ideal), find themselves subsumed by the system of powerful elite and therefore are often at best rendered toothless. Hedges referring to environmental issues says “The Big Green environmental groups that worked within the legal parameters were largely ineffectual and often complicit in the destruction of ecosystems they claimed to protect.” Klein states this same thing. This is true of educational systems as well. Whether we are referring to the NEA or the NAACP, power can be attractive and can be a seductive way to silence real dissent when a seat at the table is promised.  Hedges, citing Camus, writes, “every revolutionary (who achieves power) ends up becoming either an oppressor or a heretic” (p. 93).

As with environmental policy, education laws such as ESSA, “are not designed to protect (students). The laws are designed to, at best, regulate (educations) continued exploitation” (Klein) at the hands of the edu-tech and data mining industries. The national leadership of large education institutions, like the Big Greens have, “entered partnerships with fossil fuel companies (never mind The Nature Conservancy, with its’ own Texas oil and gas operation” and this eerily reflects AFT and NEA partnerships with efforts funded by Eli Broad and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations (or Weingarten’s buddy buddy relationship with Hillary Clinton). National union leadership (like the Big Greens) can bought off and influenced by large donations to look and sound as if they are doing something to help address the problems but in fact do very little to disrupt the power structure driving those very problems.

Connect the Dots: IT’S ALL CONNECTED: The corporate interests that are driving privatization and global control of health services, access to food and water, and management of other public institutions (i.e. prisons) are the SAME corporations, using the same playbook, to dismantle public education.  And this issue is GLOBAL.  The existing structure is, as Klein illustrates (p. 48), hierarchical (top down) whether by government or by corporations (since the latter owns the former), and highly “individualistic” (think, CBE as the new model for individualized learning at one’s own pace and interests, aka computer-based learning).  The same ideological interests in big coal and oil support the ALEC agenda to eliminate public education. Think-tanks and corporate sponsored researchers work diligently to influence public education policy with questionable data.

Labor rights and ecological issues are deeply tied with education issues. We need to reach beyond our silos and work together across issues. Also realize that WE are connected to each other.  Many of us might still enjoy good quality public schools. But we should care nonetheless. Klein sites Thomas Paine who wrote, “It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow.” We must start caring about Others because the pillaging usually reserved only for the marginalized and poor (closing schools in NOLA for example) is coming home to roost in increasingly privileged communities and schools. This affects ALL of us.

Make strategic distinctions: The difference between the neoliberal “progressives” and the radical left is not in identifying the concerns (hunger, poverty, opportunity, equity)….one of the hallmarks of neoliberalism is how it hijacked the narrative about concern for humanity. So we cannot fight neoliberalism on that front. Socially leaning corporations can easily state that they “are fighting the causes of hunger” or “seeking solutions to create a more just peaceful and verdant world” (to quote an ad from NPR).

Where the radical can distinguish itself from neoliberal progressive rhetoric is in identifying the causes and solutions to these concerns. We need to publicly highlight these arenas as well to generate public awareness. Whenever we say “We are for equity” or “we are for ending poverty” the neoliberal philanthropic billionaires can simply point out “We are too! And we have the money to make it happen.” Our strategy must focus on PROCESS of change (who are the decisions makers) and what will change look like once it’s happened? Neoliberal efforts force all thinking and behavior in public institutions towards market ideals.

A radical people’s movement dismantles market values in public spaces in favor of humanistic and shared values rather than competitive human capital. Such change (unlike that framed by neoliberal philanthropists) rests on an idea of public good or public space as “the idea that there is a community interest that benefits all of its individual members and with ‘the commons’ or the idea that shared community resources which cannot and should not be hoarded or made private” (Spence, p. 7).

 Change the language: Try using the word “neoliberalism” in line at the grocery store and see how far that gets you. Even medical professionals try to use non-medical terms like Lou Gehrig’s Disease instead of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis when speaking to non-medical people. So can we call neoliberalism something else? The influence of Occupy was effective in coining the term “the 99%” or “the 1%”. Most people now understand what is meant by those terms. The effects of neoliberalism are certainly real enough. People feel it every day. They see it. But we need a way to articulate it so as to develop an education/awareness framework that people can grab on to. Even “privatizers” is too erudite. But if we refer to the neoliberal agenda as “corporate greed” or how reform puts CEO interests before those of children or communities…those are ideas most people can wrap their heads around.

One of the most powerful tools of the neoliberal arsenal is their ability to hijack language. For example, a favorite term du jour is personalized learning which in reality is little more than a strategy of maximizing Human Capital.  Spence illustrates, “These neoliberal ideas radically change what it means to be human, as the perfect human being now becomes an entrepreneur of his own capital, responsible for his personal development. These ideas also radically change what it means to be free-freedom is redefined as the ability to participate in the market unfettered” (p. 113). Wolin (2008) echoes this statement saying:

“The achievement represents the removal of the barriers that make Superpower’s empire possible: the conquest of space and the compression of time …the tyranny of efficiency and the subversion of democracy’s requirement that time be defined by the requirements for deliberation, discussion, reconciliation of opposing viewpoints, all of which suddenly seen ‘time consuming’” (p. 233).

Personalized learning is sold on the idea that siting is a room learning with others in a waste of time and a waste of money. Personalized learning pits learner against learner, seeing who can garner greater personal human capital through badges or certificate earned in the quickest amount of time. If we though grades and test scores were malignant motives which turned children into little more than letters or numbers, wait until they are earning badges.

Neoliberalism hinges on a distorted narrative of “personal freedom” really embodied by little more than consumer choice. Hedges points out that “the vast distance between perceived reality and the official version of reality is characteristic of totalitarian systems” (p. 55). Gone is a narrative (and reality) of shared public responsibility or freedom of thought or behavior outside the bounds of what can quantified as a form of capital gain or loss. Technology is spun as a necessary fundamental component of 21st century learning despite the lack of ANY evidence to suggest it actually promotes greater or richer or deeper learning for children. The push for technology to wholly replace public schools as we know them exemplifies the power of global corporations (free market on steroids) to “continuously innovate and expand” (Wolin, p. 138) [1].

In contrast to this, Hedges suggests that resistance “is first about learning to speak differently and abandoning the vocabulary of the ‘rational’ technocrats who rule” (p. 70).

Short and Long range: How do you get people to operate against their own short-term interests in favor of their long-term interests? This is a struggle against human nature. We struggle with the idea of pain now for benefit later (which we may never see) such as saving money for retirement or eating for long-range health benefits (instead of that plate of fries). But this was what Montgomery bus boycotters did in the 1960’s. The majority of boycotters were those most affected by the boycott—those who relied on the buses to get to work and thus were risking loss of employment (more so than those boycotters who owned cars or had alternatives). Similarly, in the testing refusal movement, students of color in lower-income urban communities may face greater consequences from refusing the tests than do their white suburban peers, but it is equally true that they suffer more greatly at the hands of reform if and when they DON’T refuse.  We must frame what we do as civil disobedience and nothing less. We must examine long-range change versus short-range consequences.

Focus on the Local Common Spaces: We need to move forward “bird by bird” as Anne Lamott [2] would say. Change must be local if it is meet the criteria of the other items listed above in any genuine or viable sense. “Sustainable organizing is more likely to occur in response to a local issue” (Spence, p. 143); one that affects people directly. When we talk about making long-range goals, the next question should be: who is defining those goals?  Spence also writes that, “It requires a politics attuned to the type of long-term institution building that builds the capacity of individuals to govern and devise alternatives themselves.” (p. 146). This speaks back to the idea of long-range versus short-range visions. If our efforts are dedicated to communities, then action and solutions must be generated on a local level as well. What is needed in Baltimore will not be the same as what is needed in Detroit when it comes down to specific action plans.

Corporate and state ownership have ceased to be viable options that benefit the average human being (the 99%). We must re imagine ways to provide public services as a common good. As Klein says, “All of this is why any attempt to rise to the climate challenge (I add, education challenge) will be fruitless unless it is understood as part of a much broader battle of world views, a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect” (p. 460).

Hope is Possible. Are we Ready for It?

“The only route left to us, as Artistotle knew, is either submission or revolt” (Hedges, p. 66).

We cannot rely on the powers, institutions, and organizations that brought us this neoliberal jumping off point to pull us back from the cliff of extinction. We must look toward more radical notions of local, collective and rhizomatic democratic practices that allow us to look toward each other, rather than at power brokers, for solutions that serve us. We must create new alternative systems of economic and social justice that move beyond the reach of the existing system. We must think subversive and radically about how to protect education as a public good that provides for the needs of all our children. Don’t think for one minute that legislative or institutional adjustments within the existing framework will do this. Think of how “less testing” in ESSA was a Trojan Horse for Competency Based Education.

How do you know if an education reformer is lying? His or her lips are moving.

I’ll conclude with the authors own conclusions to their books (with my own insertions in italics):

Klein: Because these moments… (of crisis which create opportunities to seize change)… when the impossible seems suddenly possible are excruciatingly rare and precious. This means we must make more of them. The next time one arises, it must be harnessed not only to denounce the world as it is, and build fleeting pockets of liberated space. It must be the catalyst to actually build the world (…and public education) that will keep us all safe. The stakes are simply too high, and the time too short (…and our children and democracy matter too much), to settle for anything less.

Spence: “We already have the seeds for a new institutional framework that re-roots the economy in politics and in the public interest. To show that we are not alone, and that a number of people recognize another way of life is possible. There aren’t as many of us as we’d like, but there are far more of us than we think” (p. 147).

Hedges: “The fight for life goes somewhere—the Buddhists call it karma—and in these acts we make possible a better world, even if we cannot see one emerging around us” (p. 226).

[1] Wolin, S. (2008). Democracy Inc: Managed democracy and the spectre of inverted totalitarianism. Princeton, NJ; Princeton Press.
[2]  “Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my  brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy.  Just take it bird by bird.'”  (Lamott, A. [1995] Bird by bird: Some instructions on writing and life)

 

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Social impact bond projects are very definitely privatisation. PFI/PPP projects have effectively privatised the design, finance, construction and maintenance of much public infrastructure. Now social impact bond projects potentially privatise the design, finance, service delivery, management, monitoring and evaluation of early intervention and prevention policies.”

Step One- Curriculum: Common Core standards created one set of standards (modules) (originating from a global agenda circa 1985) For a full history of support for this outline click the link.

According to a promotional flyer created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:

“Education leaders have long talked about setting rigorous standards and allowing students more or less time as needed to demonstrate mastery of subjects and skills. This has been more a promise than a reality, but we believe it’s possible with the convergence of the Common Core State Standards, the work on new standards-based assessments, the development of new data systems, and the rapid growth of technology-enabled learning experiences.” 

So that…

Step Two-Testing: There can be one consistent numerical metric by which to measure student outcomes (PARCC)

So that…

Step Three- We can have modularized Competency Based Assessment: Instruction and ongoing testing can be delivered via technology ….

Competency-based education has been part of Achieve’s strategic plan for a few years, … states and national organizations that have made this topic a priority: Nellie Mae Education Foundation, iNACOL, Digital Learning Now, CCSSO and NGA.”

Pearson. “With competency-based education, institutions can help students complete credentials in less time, at lower cost.”

So that…

Step Four– We can have Pay for Success (or) Social Impact Bonds (evaluated for their “success” via the competency/outcomes based model) replace the funding infrastructure of public schools….

CTAC, the Boston-based Institute for Compensation Reform and Student Learning at the Community Training and Assistance Center partners with departments of education to develop and promote student learning outcomes (SLO’s). William Slotnik is executive director of CTAC. He advocates for VAM and merit pay schemes. “William Slotnik,… has argued that performance-based compensation tied directly to the educational mission of a school district can be a lever to transform schools.”

According the National Governors Association (NGA): “CBE can be a way for states to pay for the outcomes they want if supported by a funding formula that allocates dollars based on student learning, not simply time spent in a classroom or full-time equivalency” http://www.nga.org/files/live/sites/NGA/files/pdf/2015/1510ExpandingStudentSuccess.pdfm

ESSA was designed to open the flood gates for neoliberal profiteers to not only profit from public educations services (I,e. tests or curriculum) but to completely own it. See Fred Klonsky who concurs with Mercedes Schneider that “these bonds are an open door for the exploitation of children who do not score well on tests.” Social Impact Bonds have been criticized as a central piece of ESSA as noted by BATS: “‘Pay for Success’ from Every Student Succeeds Act  as it is located in Title 1, Part D, Section 4108, page 485. Social Impact Bonds favor financial investors and NOT KIDS! In Title IV, A in the section titled Safety and Healthy Students, page 797, Social Impact Bonds are defined as ‘Pay for Success.’ Investors are paid off when a student IS NOT referred to special education. ”

The entire system of reforms over the last three decades have been a step by step sequence of actions designed to privatize public education as a for- profit enterprise of Wall Street investments.

Social impact bonds are a development in the mutation of privatization … The new emphasis on financialising and personalising services to create new pathways for the mutation of privatisation recognised that health, education and social services could not be sold off in the same way as state owned corporations. It ensured marketisation and privatisation were permanent and not dependent on outsourcing, which could be reversed by terminating or not renewing contracts (Whitfield, 2012a and 2012b).”

Again, the NGA: “In addition, leadership, promotion, and pay structures might look different in a CBE system that asks educators to take on new, specialized roles. Underpinning many current policies are labor contracts, which specify the educator’s role based on specified amounts of class time. Such policies would not only be unnecessary in a CBE system but would significantly impede the adoption of such a system.”

You dismantle labor unions on a global scale, which was, the goal of ALEC and the World Bank back when they began devising these policies. The following is an outline from the World Bank link on Global Education Reform,  summarizing what they think are key issues:

      • Decentralization & School-Based Management Resource Kit
        Directions in Development: Decentralization Series
    • Financing Reform
      • Vouchers
      • Contracting
      • Private Sector
      • Charter Schools
      • Privatization
      • Private Delivery of Services
    • Teacher Reform
      • On-line resources related to teacher career development
      • Teacher Evaluation as part of Quality Assurance
    • Curriculum Reform
      • Country Examples of Curriculum Reforms
      • Accountability in Education
      • Standard in Education

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

One report I found by Pauline Lipman (2012)  summarizes all of this quite nicely:

 “Under the Global Agreement on Trade in Services, all aspects of education and education services are subject to global trade. The result is the global marketing of schooling from primary school through higher education. Schools, education management organizations, tutoring services, teacher training, tests, curricula online classes, and franchises of branded universities are now part of a global education market. Education markets are one facet of the neoliberal strategy to manage the structural crisis of capitalism by opening the public sector to capital accumulation. The roughly $2.5 trillion global market in education is a rich new arena for capital investment …and testing is a prominent mechanism to steer curriculum and instruction to meet these goals efficiently and effectively.”

The 2011 ALEC Annual Conference Substantive Agenda on Education shows their current interests:

“…the Task Force voted on several proposed bills and resolutions, with topics including: digital learning, the Common Core State Standards, charter schools, curriculum on free enterprise, taxpayers’ savings grants, amendments to the existing model legislation on higher education accountability, and a comprehensive bill that incorporates many components of the landmark school reforms Indiana passed this legislative session. Attendees will hear a presentation on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ initiative to grow great schools, as well as one on innovations in higher education.”

According to one European white paper: “Philanthrocapitalism is the embedding of neoliberalism into the activities of foundations and trusts. It is a means of marketising and privatising social development aid in the global south. It has also been described as Philanthropic Colonialism … It’s what I would call ‘conscience laundering’ — feeling better about accumulating more than any one person could possibly need to live on by sprinkling a little around as an act of charity. But this just keeps the existing structure of inequality in place. The replacement of public finance and grants from public/foundations/trusts to community organisations, voluntary organisations and social enterprises with ‘social investment’, requiring a return on investment, means that all activities must be profitable. This will have a profound impact on the ability to regenerate to meet social and community needs. The merging of PPPs, impacting investing and philanthrocapitalism would be complete!”