Last winter, as I began piecing together the frighteningly well-choreographed plans for next-gen ed reform, a family member asked me: “Do you mean they actually get together and plan this stuff?”
This family member was rightfully concerned about me, as I looked – for about a solid month – like this:
But here’s the scary truth: they do get together to plan this stuff.
Most of us who follow education reform are well aware of the many foundations involved in the transformation of our schools, as well as the many political groups (American Legislative Exchange Council, the Council for Chief State School Officers, and the National Governors Association, to name only a few) that have been busy pulling strings and pouring millions of dollars into their vision of what schools should be like for everyone’s children but their own.
But even further behind the scenes is a group called Global Education Futures – a spin-off of a Moscow and San Francisco self-described “think-and-do-tank” called “Re-engineering Futures,” who believe that “the best way to predict the future is to invent it.”
According to the group’s website: “We don’t expect change, we find a way to make it.”
Using a technique called “Rapid Foresight,” which involves putting “objects of the future” on note-cards and then voting on whether or not they earn a place on the “map,” Global Education Futures and the organizations it consults with literally map out the future they wish for the rest of us.
Now, if we knew the people planning our futures for us were saints, we might not need to worry so much.
But let’s be real. These people are politicians and heads of big corporations. Chances are pretty good that we’ve got at least a sprinkling of megalomaniacs in this bunch.
According to the group’s website: “the vision for the future which we create during foresights leads to “start-ups and/or change management strategies for corporations & educational institutions” and “policy-making initiatives & civil society action.”
Again, we might be able to laugh this stuff off, if it weren’t apparent that this group appears, in fact, to be remarkably influential.
Tom Vander Ark, whose was instrumental in leading the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s Digital Learning Now Coalition …which was instrumental in creating the “Ten Elements of Digital Learning” …which were adopted by the American Legislative Exchange Council …whose policies have now made their way into the ESEA rewrites and President Obama’s Testing Action Plan… is a board member of Global Education Futures.
Now take a look at this diagram for a comprehensive picture of the plans that Global Education Futures and the groups it “foresights” with have developed for us:
Do you see “blended learning?” I do.
Do you see “personalized learning?” I do.
Do you see “competency” based portfolios? I do.
(Now try something, if you dare: look up the current versions of the ESEA rewrites, and search for some of these very same terms.)
Right now, we are being told that we simply cannot wait for the new ESEA to pass – that children and families have waited too long.
But I’m left wondering: who is it, really, that can’t wait for these changes?
Whose future is it, anyway?