On Wednesday, President-Elect Donald Trump became the latest leader in a succession stretching decades into the past to prove that it matters not who is in charge: the Big Education Agenda – the real agenda – is all but indestructible.
With his pick of billionaire Betsy DeVos for the role of Secretary of Education, Trump signaled either his willingness to go along with the war being waged on our children by the Education-Industrial-Complex, or his ignorance of what is actually happening to our schools.
Either way, the troops march on.
Despite claims that she opposes Common Core (an assertion that is not only dubious but also, given the Core’s ability to morph into whatever form it desires, largely irrelevant), DeVos is decidedly devoted to the cradle-to-grave, data-driven workforce development system that has been in the works since at least the 1950’s.
This agenda, as I have written previously, is a chameleon – easily blending into its ideological surroundings depending on whom it is being marketed to.
Hillary Clinton, for example, spoke of her desire to expand “community schools,” leading many to believe that her priority would be investing in traditional, locally operated public schools. With billions of dollars in support from foundations like the Gates-funded Knowledgeworks Foundation and its subsidiary, StriveTogether, however, the term “community schools” has recently taken on a whole new meaning.
Across the nation, corporate and Wall Street-driven organizations are building data-sharing networks that, they hope, will allow the “community” – any business or nonprofit, corporate or otherwise, that is standards-aligned and willing to gather and share data with our Wall Street and government overlords – to actually be the school. Toting “data backpacks” with them from one locale to the next, the hope from on high is that most children will do most of their “learning” by way of virtual or “blended learning” programs.
Now, Trump and DeVos are promising more “school choice,” while leaving the masses to imagine, as Hillary did, what this might mean.
And so, as parents picture using their tax dollars to choose between the French immersion school on the corner and the Catholic school down the street that eschews all the heavy-handed federal mandates that burden their local public school, they are deliberately diverted from the fact that “school choice” will very likely look nearly identical to what I just described above: a system in which children will receive vouchers, or Educational Savings Account (ESA) debit cards, that can be used anywhere that is standards-aligned and data-minable. Most “learning” will happen virtually, as that is where the real money can be made and real Skinnerian brain-washing can occur.
(By the way: when you hear hand-wringing from our national union leadership over the DeVos appointment, ask them why they signed onto this document, which describes the system above nearly to a tee.)
Recently, Mrs. DeVos told Philanthropy Roundtable:
“It seems to me that, in the internet age, the tendency to equate ‘education’ with ‘specific school buildings’ is going to be greatly diminished.”
She also said that “digital learning is in its infancy relative to the influence that it can and will have.”
(Now take a look at what happened recently in DeVos’s home state of Michigan, where low-income students in Detroit were used as guinea pigs in an all-but-undercover plot to develop and market digital learning software.)
It should come as no surprise, then, that Senator Lamar Alexander, who sponsored the wretched reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Act that is chock full of all the sticks and carrots and embedded legislation to kick this long sought-after vision into high gear, is so pleased with the DeVos pick.
Back in 1991, Alexander told EdWeek that he envisions a system where “school districts don’t have the exclusive monopoly to operate what we call public schools.”
Now, Alexander says he is eager to work with DeVos on the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Which means we are in serious trouble.