In an earlier post today, I described the use of FUD (fear, uncertainty,and doubt) to destroy public confidence in public education and thus pave the way for privatization. The vendors of FUD say our education system, which made this country great, is failing; that it is obsolete; that we are losing the global race. It is a massive hoax, a fraud, a lie. They want to frighten the public and open the door to privatization and profiteering.
Robert Shepherd shows how FUD works in the marketing of Common Core, which was created to address our allegedly failing schools. Just remember: our schools are NOT failing. Our society is failing to address the real crisis of our time, which is that nearly one-quarter of our children live in poverty, and many are racially segregated as well. The Commin Core won’t change those scandalous realities.
Shepherd, an experienced curriculum developer, writes:
“And be these juggling fiends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense
–William Shakespeare, Macbeth
According to the amusing Wikipedia article on the subject, agnotology is the intentional cultural production of ignorance. It’s what advertisers and the leaders of oligarchical states do. They manufacture ignorance in order to further their goals. When it became clear to the cigarette companies that their product was extremely dangerous to people’s health, they started running ads that read “9 out of 10 doctors agree, there’s not a cough in a carload.” That’s agnotology.
One of the primary means by which the agnotologist works is equivocation. Equivocation is a kind of lying that SOUNDS as though it might be true. To see agnotological equivocation brought to the level of a high art, you need but look no further than the webpage from the Common Core State Standards Organization (the CCSSO) that describes the “myths” surrounding the Common Core. Each “myth” described on the Common Core page and in other Education Deform propaganda is, in fact, the unspun truth. In other words, the Education Deformers are highly accomplished agnotologists. A few examples will illustrate their technique:
“The Common Core State Standards were developed by teachers”
means that teachers had almost nothing to do with them, that a few teachers were selected to rubber stamp work done by amateurs from outside the profession who were hired with money from plutocrats and given the task of hacking those standards together based on the lowest-common-denominator groupthink of the state standards that preceded them.
“The standards were freely adopted by the states”
means that the USDOE gave the states no choice but to adopt them or suffer severe penalties that would come from not getting NCLB waivers. The “State” in “Common Core State Standards” is, quite simply, a lie. The standards were not developed by states but by a PRIVATELY HELD pair of organizations that hold a copyright on them.
“The new standards will unleash powerful market forces to encourage innovation”
means that the national standards will create markets at a scale at which only monopolistic providers of unimaginative educational materials can compete. It means the Walmartization, the Microsofting of U.S. education. It also means that in due time the CCSSO and the National Governor’s Association, or NGA, will start using the legal system to control the market for educational materials by deciding what materials will and will not receive its OK to claim alignment with its PRIVATELY HELD standards.
“The states are free to adapt the standards as they see fit”
means that the states can’t change them at all, that the most states can do is to add a few, but very few, standards to the CC$$ bullet list. The number of standards added can be no more than 15 percent of the total, and otherwise, the standards must be adopted without change (and without any mechanisms for change in the future other than the whim of the private organization that created the standards to begin with).
“The plutocrats have no seat at the table where educational policy is made” (Arne Duncan)
means that a small group of plutocrats paid for and directed the creation of the standards, the revised FERPA regulations, the new VAM systems, and the USDE technology blueprint. It also means that those same plutocrats are providing a lot of the money that is going into the development and marketing of the new national online bubble tests. It means that education policy is being made based on what serves the financial interests of the plutocrats. It means that the current deforms are the plutocrats’ business plan.
“The standards are not a curriculum”
means, in math, that they are a curriculum outline and in ELA that a) they dramatically narrow the possibilities for curricula and b) contain a great many items that clearly do specify curricula
“The standards don’t tell you how to teach” or “The standards do not specify pedagogical approaches
means that some pedagogical approaches are required in order for the standards, as worded, to be met and that MOST APPROACHES that might be conceived by independent teachers, scholars, researchers, and curriculum developers are precluded.
“The new national tests introduce breakthroughs in question types in order to test high-order thinking”
means that some minor online variants of fill-in-the-blank, matching, ordering, and other stock bubble test questions types have been introduced. So, for example, instead of filling in a blank, the student clicks on and moves an item to a blank.
“US schools are falling behind on international tests, thus making the standards and new national assessments necessary,”
means that US schools appear to be performing poorly if one does not correct for the socioeconomic status of the kids taking the test. If one does correct for SES, US schools and students lead the world.
“The Secretary of Education is the chief officer of the national public school system”
means that he is the fellow whom the oligarchs have put in charge of dismantling that system and replacing it with online and brick-and-mortar charters, voucher systems, and private schools run by well-connected profiteers.
“We’ve seen great improvements due to the accountability system put in place by NCLB”
means that scores have been almost flat and that the more than a decade of standards-and-testing that was supposed to “Leave no child behind” hasn’t worked at all to change overall outcomes or to put a dent in the achievement gap.
Poverty is not destiny”
means that the powers that be are going to ignore poverty and use the whips of VAM and testing instead.
So, agnotology, and, in particular, agnotology via equivocation, has become the PRIMARY MEANS OF GOVERNANCE of our K-12 educational system. In other words, our national education policies are, cynically, being formulated and enforced via LIES and, in particular, via means of that variety of LYING known as EQUIVOCATION.
And the leaders (LIARS) doing this governance are counting on having made the public so ignorant, via such equivocation, that it will not oppose their complete circumvention of democratic processes.
They are counting on the fact that their plutocrats, the guys with the checkbooks, can buy all the PR that is needed to keep the people in ignorance.
That’s how things work in a banana republic. The plutocrats purchase the political muscle to carry out their plans. In time, that muscle, the leaders/liars don’t even try to hide the fact that they are lying. They do it completely shamelessly. In fact, being able to lie shamelessly without having anyone call you out on it is a sign of enormous power, and to such people, to quote Kissinger’s infamous line, “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”