A patron asked me to explain my opposition to Common Core, to the college-and-career-ready goal that sees our children as “human capital,” and to some of the statements in Alpine’s Mission, Vision, Values and Goals that puts me in the awkward position of supporting my teachers and administrators and still speaking up for what I believe.
I see the political and ideological lines referred to in The Deseret News article as a clear-cut division between the traditional, conservative philosophies and the liberal, progressive agenda. Speaking up can be risky, as the quick label is conspiracy-nut with a tin-foil hat, and I have felt the sting of derision. Still, I owe it to my voters to express and explain, to stand up and speak out.
The liberal agenda has always been around, with many names and many iterations. It’s the idea of a perfect society with central control and shared wealth. There have been numerous experiments throughout history with central management to equalize wealth, that is to redistribute whatever people have to make everything equal for everyone.
It’s social engineering, and it has never worked and never will. But it is continually rolled-out with the idea that this time it will be done right. The early Pilgrims started with that idea, until they almost starved and switched to individual ownership. JFK had the New Frontier, LBJ the Great Society and the War on Poverty, and today it’s Obamacare and Social Justice. It is no conspiracy, it is an open political philosophy embraced by many well-meaning people. But it is not justice, social or otherwise, for a power (government) to take what some formula has decided is fair and spread it around. The Poles were happy when the new Communist government broke up the huge landowners’ wealth and shared their property, but they squealed indignantly about their “rights” when the same government took over their private farms to set up communal projects.
By contrast, the alternate viewpoint is a system of free will and individual choice and accountability. It can be messy, with its own set of problems that can leave some messy, less-than-desirable debris. But free men have a better chance of solving problems than relegating them to a central power to social engineer, which has never worked and never will.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Socialists began an organized push at the turn of the last century, preaching, teaching, and proselyting to achieve the seductive goal of everything being “fair.” When the United Socialist States of Russia, the USSR (the Communist party), took over Russia in 1917, the word “socialist” became unpopular and morphed to “progressive,” but the premise of redistribution of wealth was still the underpinnings.
There were many splinters from the socialist movement, with many different names and focuses (foci, if you are proofreading this). Some were simply anarchy, railing against “the Man,” while others were well organized, such as the Humanist Society which elected leaders, held conferences, and published magazines. Their first president was John Dewey, a name known and revered in educational circles even today. The first item on their list of beliefs was that there is no God, and down the list they cite relativism, or the idea that there is no absolute truth, it all depends.
Leaders in the early movement worked hard and rose to the top in three major areas: government, education and the media. If you look at a map of the United States, you will see the vast middle of the country colored conservative red. The blue areas of concentration are on both coasts and the big cities: Hollywood, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, and most university towns.
GOALS IN EDUCATION
It’s easy to spot the liberal agenda in politics. It’s the platform of the Democrats, or the Left. And we certainly see it in the media, just listen to the news, or the Hollywood celebs on this crusade or that. And we know it flourishes on the college campuses.
In education it’s not so black and white. And many of the progressive goals sound great, and good people see goodness. I work with the best people in the world, doing commendable work and achieving great goals. It isn’t the details that alarm me as much as looking at this big picture and sometimes seeing the progressive goal for centralization, standardization, and equalization.
The fuss, and the passion, is currently with Common Core, including SAGE testing and the possibility of data mining, created by a national committee with national standards and goals, the very definition of central control. We are allowed to add 15% but cannot delete any part, and teachers and parents can’t to see the tests, except for fifteen parents with one encounter under questionable circumstances.
And liberals never give up, these are just the latest iterations. When these fail, and they will, they will trot out more new programs with the same agenda: more central control and more social engineering. Watch for the next new reform to be global and based on environmentalism.
Call me crazy. But I have my own vision for education, education with a goal of seeking truth and light. It’s a Utah vision, for Utah kids, Utah parents, and Utah schools. I see a hundred points of light, hundreds and hundreds of classrooms, free to innovate and individualize and create, working under the aegis of the State of Utah, Constitutionally given the authority for education within its boundaries. We have the talent to create the best education system. We are unique—let that uniqueness be our strength. Let us be independent in our stand for what we know to be true and correct.
I have taught all over the country—Texas, California, Washington, D.C., New York, Utah; and in many parts the world—the Caribbean, the South China Sea, Mexico; and I say unequivocally that we have the best teachers, the best administrators, the best schools. We don’t need to be “common,” we are already exceptional. Let’s harness that exceptionalism and stand independent, Utah education for Utah children.