The Right View: Education policy that's rotten to the core

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That’s it. I’m done. I am refusing to allow my children to participate in any Common Core-related assessments, surveys, tests – anything, now that testing has begun in earnest in our schools.

Here’s why.

The United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) was founded in 1945. Its educational objectives are to “support the achievement of Education for All; to provide global and regional leadership in education; to strengthen education systems worldwide from early childhood to the adult years; and to respond to contemporary global challenges through education.”

As the only United Nations agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of education, UNESCO’s work encompasses educational development from pre-school through higher education, including technical and vocational education and training, non-formal education, and literacy.

The organization says it focuses on “increasing equity and access, improving quality, and ensuring that education develops knowledge and skills in areas such as sustainable development, HIV and AIDS, human rights and gender equality. UNESCO works with governments and a wide range of partners to make education systems more effective through policy change.” It coordinates the “Education for All movement, tracks education trends and raises the profile of educational needs on global development agendas.”

So our children are being herded into “global development agendas” that our and other governments deem fit.

Alex Newman, a correspondent for The New American, noted that in 1949, UNESCO printed a pamphlet on using the classroom to promote “world understanding,” stating, “As long as the child breathes the poisoned air of nationalism, education in world-mindedness can only produce precarious results.” So, to deal with that, schools should use various means to “combat family attitudes.”

By 1984, J.C. Pauvert had penned a document for UNESCO’s Division of Higher Education and Training of Educational Personnel entitled “A Methodological Guide to the Application of the Notion of Common Core in the Training of Various Categories of Educational Personnel.” It discusses the origins of “the notion of the common core as a process of transmission of knowledge, skills, or behavior that always involves comparable psychological mechanisms, set in motion by identical intentions, guided by learning objectives, put into practice in accordance with strategies and subjected to procedures of evaluation which are also comparable.”

In 2005, Phyllis Schlafly wrote the following in Issues and Action in Education: “President Reagan withdrew the United States from UNESCO in December of 1984 because it was corrupt, anti-Western, and a vehicle for far-left propaganda. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush rejoined UNESCO in 2003, and it’s now found a long sought after means to influence U.S. school curriculum.

“On November 17, 2004 at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, UNESCO signed a 26-page, five year Cooperation Agreement with Microsoft Corporation to develop a ‘master curriculum (Syllabus)’ for teacher training in information technologies based on standards, guidelines, benchmarks, and assessment techniques. It states that the Syllabus will ‘form the basis for deriving training content to be delivered to teachers,’ and ‘UNESCO will explore how to facilitate content development.’ UNESCO Director General Matsuura confirmed that one of the Agreement’s goals is to foster content development, and create a worldwide curricula reflecting UNESCO values. No doubt that is agreeable to Bill Gates because the Agreement states that Microsoft supports the objectives of UNESCO.”

The Gates Foundation then went on to underwrite the organizations that were writing the Common Core standards: the National Governors Association, David Coleman’s Student Achievement Partners, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve Inc. Those four organizations, primarily responsible for development of the Common Core State Standards, have thus far taken $147.9 million in funding from Bill Gates. And I haven’t even touched on the data collection.

In 2010, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, gave a speech at UNESCO in Paris entitled “The Vision of Education Reform in the United States,” where he discussed “new partnerships,” which, he stated, “must inspire students to take a bigger and deeper view of their civic obligations – not only to their countries of origin, but to the betterment of the global community. A just and socially responsible society must also be anchored in civic engagement for the public good.”

Duncan went on to call the governance of education in the United States “unusual,” in that the federal government has had (past tense) a limited role in education policy, and that he and the president have a “cradle-to-career education agenda.” He stated outright that the Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role.

So I’m calling on Gov. Paul LePage to end Maine’s participation in the Common Core State Standards, and to bring back local control.

In the meantime, state Rep. Sara Gideon, a Freeport Democrat who is the assistant House majority leader, recently told MPBN’s Jay Field that “right now, parents do have an option.” She said a U.S. Supreme Court decision gives parents the right to opt kids out of standardized tests.

“The issue is that, in Maine, we don’t have anything in state law that makes this clear,” Gideon said. So she is sponsoring a bill that makes it clear, under state law, that parents have this option, and requires teachers and school administrators to let them know about it.

Rep. Gideon, you are officially my favorite Democrat.

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Julie McDonald-Smith lives in North Yarmouth. She is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer and former chairwoman of the Cape Elizabeth Republican Committee. Her column appears every other week.

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