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|NUMBER 149||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JUNE 1998|
Pew Charitable Trusts' Impact on a Community
In a memo dated Feb. 13, 1992 from Marc Tucker of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) to the National Alliance for Restructuring Education (NARE), both of which receive money from the Pew Charitable Trusts, Tucker wrote: "Our objective is to make schools of the kind we have described the norm, not the exception. First in the cities and states that are Alliance members and later elsewhere. Getting there will require more than new policies and different practices. It will require a change in the prevailing culture - the attitudes, values, norms and accepted ways of doing things. We will know that we have succeeded when there are enough transformed schools in one area . . . that their approach to education sets the norms, frames the attitudes, and defines the accepted way of doing things in that part of the world. Then there will be no turning back."
Pueblo, CO is one of the areas Tucker was describing. Pueblo is an Alliance member. The National Alliance for Restructuring Education is a consortium of states and school districts organized in 1991 by the NCEE and the Learning Research and Development Center at the University of Pittsburgh, for the purpose of defining and implementing "performance standards." In 1991, the Pueblo District 60 Board of Education signed a cooperative agreement with the Colorado State Board of Agriculture. This agreement marked the beginning of the transformation of Pueblo's schools. It prompted new policies and practices and has changed the prevailing culture from a formerly "all-American working man's town" to someone else's vision of a global community.
The Alliance, as it is known in Pueblo, was presented to the public as a merging of services, such as maintenance, between the local school district and the University of Southern Colorado. In fact, this Alliance put our local schools under a national advisory board. The board members include our own governor, Roy Romer, who also served on the national Goals 2000 panel.
Pueblo's Alliance agreement was signed early in 1996. Governor Romer wrote a letter to Michael Cohen of the NCEE stating that he was familiar with the intent and the scope of the New Standards Project (NSP) and that he enthusiastically supported Colorado's participation. The NSP is a left-wing organization, led by Lauren Resnick, that promotes the adoption of "diversity" standards. Governor Romer was quoted as saying in the Denver Post and in the University of Southern Colorado's newspaper that Pueblo's membership in the Alliance has his full support, and that if any laws needed to be changed to further its agenda, he'd take care of it. Romer is also on record as having proposed at the National Governors' Association meeting in July 1996 that the NSP should set the benchmarks for the skills students should have.
Pueblo's Alliance, "The Partnership for Educational Excellence," is divided into strategic planning, grant development, and linkages, etc. I will focus mainly on two of the grants that created it - one from the American Association of Higher Education, and the other from the Community Compact for Systemic Change Partnership. Both grants are interconnected, and both are funded by Pew Charitable Trusts. Keep in mind that the NCEE and the NARE are also recipients of Pew's financial largesse.
The American Association for Higher Education's initiatives include standards, assessments and community compacts. Other compact cities include Birmingham, AL, El Paso, TX, Philadelphia, PA, Providence, RI, and Hartford, CT. Hartford, I believe, has abolished its local school boards. This quote from the University of Southern Colorado newspaper gives some insight as to the philosophy behind the Community Compact. Mr. Trujillo, the Alliance grant writer, said this about the compact: "It is a long-term initiative which is very ambiguous, and designed to be that way. People tend to assume that it's a project or an office, or a place or a thing, but it's not. It's not a noun, it's a verb. What it is supposed to do is have influence on other institutions; it's not supposed to become them. You shouldn't be able to find the compact, the compact should be everywhere."
These two grant documents call for the "seamless" collaboration of health, education and labor, systemic change, world class curriculum, and a great deal of data collection and information sharing. The compact calls for employability based on attitudes and ethics so Pueblo can "compete in the global economy." If Pew Charitable Trusts is providing the money behind the Community Compact, then its attitudes and ethics will drive the community. Most parents are unaware that this compact makes them partners with the university, the community college, and the Chamber of Commerce in directing their children's future.
When agreements, contracts, or "partnerships" are clouded in ambiguity, there is no accountability, and there is no accountability in a collaborative community. One unfortunate example of this involved the contamination of a Pueblo school building by chemicals that leaked through a ventilation system. The mishap was prolonged due to poor communication between the Alliance's shared maintenance departments. Some of the schoolchildren will experience long-term adverse health effects because of this incident. The problem remained unresolved for a long time because no one knew who was ultimately responsible for fixing it.
Remember that Marc Tucker advocates "changing the accepted way of doing things." The accepted way of doing things in this nation for more than 200 years has been through representative government. But representative government is eroding under a new system of governance by public/private partnerships.
How has Pueblo changed as a result of this new system? Well, the economy is good. Tourism is being promoted. New restaurants, hotels, and national retailers are moving in, but they require that customer information be entered into their databases, and that their patrons use "customer cards" for all transactions. These are businesses that create part-time, minimum wage jobs with no real benefits.
We find that a great deal of data is being collected everywhere, not only on our consumption habits, but in connection with health care and education, affecting everyone from newborns to the elderly.
In our schools we find the International Baccalaureate Program, the Coalition of Essential Schools, and a "creative" charter school that does not give grades. A tech academy is being housed at a new industrial park, students are job shadowing in the hospitals, and some are working as janitors in the schools for graduation credits. We have numerous teacher in-service days, and we are "building bridges" with sponsoring corporations. We have "Communities in Schools," which brought us school-based health clinics offering free immunizations, sports physicals and an array of referral services.
We have new instruction methods in the classrooms including integrated math, revised history with no textbooks, whole language, cooperative learning, multi-age grouping, peer tutoring, portfolios, etc. "Service learning" is also being marketed. We have new standards-based assessments called the TerraNova Series by CTB McGraw Hill. These assessments consist of subjective essay questions based on attitudes and feelings, rather than fact-based multiple choice or short answer questions. All decisions are made by "consensus" in a facilitated setting, and are based on pre-determined outcomes.
Our media have changed as well, but then the Pew Charitable Trusts has been accused by the press of trying to influence and change its approach to reporting the news. An Oct. 17, 1996 Wall Street Journal article described the foundation as having become "one of the most influential forces in American journalism, writing big checks to newspapers to change the way they cover government and politics."
Pueblo's local paper almost daily promotes progressive education and community collaboration. It has a new look, and features big colorful pictures of children participating in various activities. The religion section is now the faith section, and is very inclusive. The newspaper recently published a pervasive survey with a monetary prize for participation. The results were sent to Pulse Research Company in Portland, Oregon.
Recall Marc Tucker's comment, "We will change the prevailing culture, attitudes and beliefs." Culture, attitudes and beliefs are usually formed by church and family. Does this mean they are changing church and family?
The 1992 Annual Report of the Pew Charitable Trusts describes the new culture. It does not read like a business report, but more like religious doctrine. The foundation advocates adopting holistic approaches; it promotes the "need to gather and integrate a massive array of data, particularly in the area of health care." It promotes comprehensive health care, earth-first pedagogy, and more.
The Report laments that the very young are being "managed by exception rather than inclusion." It notes that "Unless they become visible because of a problem, they are essentially invisible until they reappear at a mandatory school age. The nation needs a system of inclusion for children comparable to the system of inclusion developed for the elderly through Social Security and Medicare."
The Annual Report also says that participating states must reinvent the way they provide services, and effectively "turn their systems upside down." The foundation promotes tolerance, diversity, the nurturing of our nation's children as a whole, and protecting our natural resources. The Report states: "Such a system, if developed as envisioned, would be characterized by a steady, circulating flow of communications between families and service providers, between service providers and agencies, between agencies and local government, and between local, state and ultimately, federal governments" - Marc Tucker's "seamless web?"
This is the religion of sustainable development. It includes holistic beliefs, earth first, zero population growth, redefining family, changing consumption habits, and measuring the individual's productivity. The Pew Charitable Trusts says "our currency is ideas" and that even religious organizations will receive support. The foundation's influence is everywhere: in private homes, in libraries, churches, schools, organizations, and businesses. It has as many as 60 tentacles influencing culture, education, environment, health and human services, public policy, and religion. It's not a noun, it's an action verb, and it's creating a new value system; a new belief system.
While TV, music, and mindless children's literature are stripping our kids of their consciences, a new doctrine is filling the void. It's holistic, having no individualism except where data collection is concerned. It is interdependent and interconnected. All will be assessed, and worth will be measured according to morally significant traits, productivity, and health consumption habits. The new way of doing things erodes representative government with public/private partnerships. Local control is gone. Separation of church and state is a myth. There is a new church for a new age.
Romans 1:21-25 says: "For although they knew God they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him. But their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore, God gave them over in their sinful desires . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped created things rather than the Creator who is forever praised."
Cindy Pospahala is an education research analyst, and has testified before legislative bodies on educational issues. This speech was presented at the Constitutional Coalition's 1998 Education Policy Conference.