Monday, March 25, 2013

United Nations, Microsoft, Data Collection And The Beginnings Of Common Core

In April 2000, the United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) met in Dakar, Senegal. UNESCO's goals are "to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. Other priorities of the Organization include attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning, addressing emerging social and ethical challenges, fostering cultural diversity, a culture of peace and building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication." 

"Education for all", "lifelong learners" and "quality education" are all familiar buzz words used today.  

Back in 2000, during his final days in office, Bill Clinton's Administration signed off on a UNESCO agreement known as the Dakar Framework for Action, "Education for All."  This was a set of education goals to be achieved by 2015.  In fact, Obama's National Economic Council Director, Gene Sperling, spoke at the UNESCO 2000 Conference.  At that time, Sperling was Clinton's NEC Advisor.  Some of the Dakar Framework commitments include: 

Expanding and improving comprehensive early childhood care and education, especially for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children; 

Ensuring that by 2015 all children, particularly girls, children in difficult circumstances and those belonging to ethnic minorities, have access to and complete free and compulsory primary education of good quality; 

Improving all aspects of the quality of education and ensuring excellence of all so that recognized and measurable learning outcomes are achieved by all, especially in literacy, numeracy and essential life skills.  

(The first subjects of the Common Core State Standards were in English Language Arts and Math)

The Dakar Framework directs participating countries to achieve these goals by investing in NATIONAL action plans.  Much of the Framework also includes the development of monitoring systems.

Ensure the engagement and participation of civil society in the formulation, implementation and monitoring of strategies for educational development.

Develop responsive, participatory and accountable systems of educational governance and management.

Systematically monitor progress towards EFA goals and strategies at the national, regional, and international levels.
Build on existing mechanisms to accelerate progress towards education for all. ..We affirm that no countries seriously committed to education for all will be thwarted in their achievement of this goal by a lack of resources.
Undertaking more effective and regular monitoring of progress towards EFA goals and targets, including periodic assessments.

It is...essential that new, concrete financial commitments be made by national governments and also by bilateral and multilateral donors including the World Bank and the regional development banks, by civil society and by foundations.

Political will and stronger national leadership are needed for the effective and successful implementation of national plans in each of the countries concerned.

 Common Core was "state-led?"  Really?

In 2006, UNESCO published a
UNESCO-Private Partnership brochure emphasizing that working with the private sector is a necessity, not an option.  They state that "Responsible behavior, global citizenship, solidarity and peace are at the centre of UNESCO's value propositions.  They also make good long-term business sense by positioning the private sector and, in particular, the business community as key drivers of sustainable development." 

Some of these private partners include Bill Gates' Microsoft, Cisco and INTEL.  The same companies who funded the writing of the CCSS, the assessments and data collection.

In October 2012, the 6th UNESCO Collective Consulation of NGO's on Education for All meeting took place in Paris, France.  This was a meeting to discuss the final push for EFA by 2015.
One of the final goals listed included:
Improving data collection and developing capacity for its effective use, are essential for effective policy and governance. Disaggregated data should be generated and used in addressing inequalities.

Member States guarantee institutionalized mechanisms for civil society participation in policy development and monitoring at the national level.

UNESCO secures and disseminates quality data and analysis, and assists Member States to strengthen their database systems in order to inform policy development.

Now, why would the United Nations be interested in collecting this kind of data?  Particularly, disaggregated data?  And why did our country sign off on this intrusion of our privacy?
Is it any wonder why Bill Gates and Microsoft joined with UNESCO in 2004 to "support the use of technology to transform education, reduce poverty and help address the digital divide?"

Would you be surprised to learn that Microsoft, Cisco, INTEL and the International Science and Technology in Education (ISTE) teamed up with UNESCO on an Information and Communication Techololgy (ICT) program to develop the ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT) project?

Which might be known under their other name...the Common Core

You might recognize one of the goals:

 Knowledge Deepening:

The aim of the knowledge deepening approach is to increase the ability of students, citizens, and the workforce to add value to society and to the economy by applying the knowledge gained in school subjects to solve complex, high priority problems encountered in real world situations of work, society and in life generally. Such problems might relate to the environment, food security, health, and conflict resolution. With this approach, teachers should understand policy goals and social priorities and be able to identify, design and use specific classroom activities that address these goals and priorities. This approach often requires changes in the curriculum that emphasize depth of understanding over coverage of content and assessments that emphasize the application of understanding to real-world problems.

If only there was a way for other nations to compare THEIR standards to ours. 

"The absence of a common internationally recognized standard in the area of ICT integration, as well as training based on those standards, prevents having a consistent method to assess teacher competency."

Oh wait.  They're already working on that.

Common Core in the Arab World