So after promising no child left behind by last year, the 2015 “nation’s report card” in math from the National Assessment of Educational Progress actually fell for the first time since the feds started measuring it two decades ago and the reading scores were not much better.
A National Education Summit in 1989 hosted by the National Governors Association under the chairmanship of then Gov. Bill Clinton set common standards for all American children as the national goal.
Businessmen were invited to a follow-up summit sponsored by the progressive Business Roundtable that proposed a “business-like” mass production approach to education, creating an organization to advance it called Achieve.
The result of its lobbying was Sen. Ted Kennedy and President George W. Bush teaming up to pass the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, promising “all students proficient in math and reading by 2014.”
Halfway toward the target year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation added muscle to the mix. As the Washington Post’s Lyndsey Layton reported, Gates “didn’t just bankroll the development of what became known as the Common Core State Standards.
With more than $200 million, the foundation also built political support across the country, persuading state governments to make systemic and costly changes” spreading “money across the political spectrum, to entities including the big teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, and business organizations such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”
Even so, Common Core did not really gain critical mass until the Obama administration included it in its 2009 Race To The Top legislation to allow states that adopted the standards to escape the burdens of the No Child Left Behind Act and to become eligible for new government grants.
Not surprising 42 of 51 states succumbed to the political muscle and adopted Common Core Standards for math and reading. In 2010, President Barack Obama proposed that all federal education grants be conditioned on adopting the standards.
Yet, five years later opposition to the standards proved so strong that both House and Senate passed bills to limit the federal role in K-to-12 schooling.
Senate Republican education chairman Lamar Alexander, claimed they would “ban the federal government from mandating any sort of education standards, Common Core or otherwise.”
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray co-sponsored along with senators from Elizabeth Warren to Rand Paul. Alexander explained that if it became law, the legislation “would lessen federal control in the education system and help calm heated debates about Common Core standards.”
Progressive educationists were dumbfounded. They had strained for a century to make education scientific, searching for the formula that would turn children into Einsteins, all equally ready for MacArthur Genius Awards.
The unstated assumption was that children were android-like, all with identical capabilities. The experts simply needed to program them properly.
In Greek android means manlike. Children were human-like but not especially unique or complicated so we experts can devise a scientific plan.
Inventor and Google chief engineer Ray Kurzweil is today’s guru for the movement. He believes computers will think for themselves by 2040 with humans becoming immortal soon thereafter.
He considers the appropriately-named Android phone as the precursor but expects artificial intelligence devices he is developing to actually learn.
Indeed, neural interface technology will allow humans to connect their brains directly to an AI machine as an augment to the individual’s own intelligence.
Everyone would become wise and quick-witted as a result of the machine’s inexhaustible data rather than having to stumble for answers. He claims the individual would still be in control but if the machine acts instantly and authoritatively how could that be so?
Kurzweil hypes another Google exploratory project named Calico which uses genetic research with the goal of ending aging.
He points to mitochondria DNA, which can have negative effects on human development and started as bacteria that were captured and consumed by living cells eons ago controlling some of its negative effects.
It did this by moving part of it to the cell nucleus where it is more easily controlled.
His research goal is to finish this evolutionary process by completing what nature did not, manipulating DNA to finally eliminate aging effects.
The joint result of connecting mind to computers and defeating aging would produce unfathomably smarter and basically immortal beings.
But would they still be human, or become androids?
The whole progressive reform project has been wrongheaded. Kurzweil simply takes the idea of children as androids to its logical conclusion.
Computer technology is great when making binary robots but children might not be quite the same. Or even automobiles.
When Gates criticized the auto industry several years ago as being behind in technology, the president of GM retorted that unlike computers at least cars do not crash twice a day for no reason at all.
Donald Devine is senior scholar at the Fund for American Studies, the author of "America’s Way Back: Reclaiming Freedom, Tradition and Constitution," and was Ronald Reagan’s director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management during his first term. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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