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Condi Rice-Joel Klein report: Not the new ‘A Nation at Risk’

Ohanian Comment: Maybe the good news about the junk report from the Council on Foreign Relations is that the New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle just used an Associated Press account and when I put 'Council on Foreign Relations' into a search at NY Post I got this: "George Clooney speaks in front of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York."

The New York Daily News had a different George Clooney story, as did Los Angeles Times. The Washington Post refers one to a CBS radio spot featuring Condoleezza and to Valerie Strauss' blog debunking it.

The fact that the Burlington Free Press didn't the report is just a function of the fact they have very very little education coverage.

Putting "Condoleeza Rice." co-chair of the task force that produced this report, into a search makes this pop up in a number of papers: "Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says this is no time to give up on Afghanistan . . . ."

Julia Levy's 2011 wedding announcement in the New York Times identifies her as project director of the independent task force on United States education reform and national security. Before that, she was the director of communications for the New York City Department of Education. She has an MBA from Columbia. AND her father is the chief economist of Bank of America and works in Manhattan. He is on the governance board of the Research Alliance for New York City Schools, a nonprofit group that does research on education policy. It lists two funders: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Ford Foundation.

The fact that Levy rated one of those "cute," off-beat New York Times wedding announcements featuring her love of a certain type of cookie, is evidence of her power connections.

OK, frivolity aside, just what do the report-writers mean by "national security readiness audit" What is this security readiness?

Whatever the real intent of all the saber rattling rhetoric is, here's the kicker: in her introduction to the report Julia Levy, Project Director, thanks "the several people who met with and briefed the Task Force group":

  • U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan

  • Mary Cullinane formerly of Microsoft [Philadelphia School of the Future] [now Vice President of Corporate and Social Responsibility for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]

  • Sir Michael Barber of Pearson

  • David Coleman of Student Achievement Partners

  • They were briefed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and DAVID COLEMAN.

    Teachers don't count.

    Parents don't count.

    Students count only as eligibility quotients for the military.

    Is this whole thing just a publishing venture?

    NOTE: The states, the unions, and the professional organizations accepted the Common Core without a whimper. Local school personnel march in obedient step. So now we're entering the second stage: ramp up the Common Core. Ramp it up until it destroys public schools. Then the privatizers can move in.

    Reader Comment: These are the very same shameless people, awash in criminality, that brought us: NAFTA, deregulation, the Iraq war, Abu Graib, the real estate boom, and the melt-down of our economy -- that brought out nation to its knees in other words. Now they want to destroy public education.

    Stephen Krashen letter to Seattle Times: The Rice-Klein task force ( Education woes linked to national security, March 19) ignores the facts about American schools. There is no evidence that American schools are failing. Middle-class American students in well-funded schools score at the top of the world on international tests; our overall scores are unspectacular because we have the highest percentage of children living in poverty among all industrialized countries.

    This means that the major problem in American education is not a lack of standards. The major problem is poverty, which means food deprivation, lack of health care, and little access to books. The most ambitious standards, the highest quality teaching and the fanciest technology will have little impact when students are hungry, ill, and have little to read.

    Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential;
    Coles, G. 2008/2009. Hunger, academic success, and the hard bigotry of indifference. Rethinking Schools 23 (2);
    Rothstein, R. (2010). How to fix our schools. Economic Policy Institute, Issue Brief #286. http://www.epi.org/publications/entry/ib286;
    Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership 55(4): 18-22

    By Valerie Strauss

    A new report being officially released today --by a Council of Foreign Relations task force chaired by Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice--seems to want very much to be seen as the new "A Nation at Risk," the seminal 1983 report that warned that America's future was threatened by a "rising tide of mediocrity" in the country's public schools.

    It's a pale imitation.

    The U.S. Education Reform and National Security report, to be sure, has some similar language and themes of a Nation at Risk. It says (over and over) that America's national security is threatened because America's public schools aren't adequately preparing young people to "fill the ranks of the Foreign Service, the intelligence community, and the armed forces" (or diplomats, spies and soldiers).

    But it takes a very different view of the public education system than the authors of "A Nation at Risk," who sought to find ways to improve public schools and treat the system as a civic institution. The new report seems to look at public schools as if they are the bad guys that need to be put out of business, with a new business taking over, funded with public dollars.

    A Nation at Risk made some basic recommendations, which included improving the curriculum, raising expectations for all children and improving the teaching force.

    The Klein-Rice report makes three broad recommendations to fix the stated problem.

    It calls for:

  • expanding the Common Core State Standard initiative to include subjects beyond math and English Language Arts;

  • an expansion of charter schools and vouchers

  • an annual "national security readiness audit" that would look at how schools are addressing the country's needs through increased foreign language programs, technology curriculum and more.

  • The report cites lots of statistics that paint public schools in the worst possible light, and continues the trend of comparing America's educational system with that of high-achieving countries -- but doesn't note that these countries generally don't do the kinds of things these reformers endorse. Its recommendations would lead to further privatization of public schools and even more emphasis on standardized testing.

    Any reader of this blog may recall a post I recently did where I spelled out what the report would say well before it came out. I was pretty much on target. How did I know? The president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass, chose Klein and Rice to be the co-chairs, according to Anya Schmemann, the council's task force program director. And he most certainly knew what kind of report he would get.

    Klein was chancellor of of New York City public schools for eight years, running it under the general notion that public education should be run like a business. He closed schools, pushed the expansion of charter schools and launched other initiatives before resigning in 2010 after it was revealed that the standardized test scores that he kept pointing to as proof of the success of his reforms were based on exams that got increasingly easy for students to take. Now he works for Rupert Murdoch.

    When one member of the commission suggested that people with dissenting views be brought before the panel to present other ideas, and Diane Ravitch's name came up, Klein vetoed it, members of the panel said. Ravitch is the leading voice against the test-based accountability movement and "school choice," but Klein, who has long had tense relations with the education historian, didn't want the panel to hear from her.

    Rice was secretary of state under president George W. Bush. She has expressed her admiration for Bush's key education initiative No Child Left Behind, which ushered in the current era of high-stakes testing but has now been called a failure by both Republicans and Democrats.

    And talk about stacking the deck! The task force had 30 members, including a long list of people who support the kind of reform Klein implemented in New York. They include Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America; Margaret Spellings, former secretary of education; Jonah M. Edelman of Stand for Children, and Richard Barth of the KIPP Foundation. There were some members with differing perspectives, including Stanford University's Linda Darling-Hammond and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, but they were in the small minority.

    Here's the complete list of committee members. Five of the members have astericks by their names, indicating that they wrote dissents to the report.

    Carole Artigiani*, Global Kids, Inc; Craig R. Barrett, Intel Corporation; Richard Barth, KIPP Foundation; Edith L. Bartley, United Negro College Fund; Gaston Caperton, The College Board; Linda Darling-Hammond*, Stanford University; Jonah M. Edelman, Stand for Children; Roland Fryer Jr., Harvard University; Ann M. Fudge; Ellen V. Futter*, American Museum of Natural History; Preston M. Geren, Sid W. Richardson Foundation; Louis V. Gerstner Jr.; Allan E. Goodman, Institute of International Education; Frederick M. Hess, American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research; Shirley Ann Jackson, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; Joel I. Klein, News Corporation; Wendy Kopp, Teach For America; Jeffrey T. Leeds, Leeds Equity Partners, LLC; Julia Levy, Culture Craver; Michael L. Lomax, United Negro College Fund; Eduardo J.Padrón, Miami Dade College; Matthew F. Pottinger, China Six LLC; Laurene Powell Jobs, Emerson Collective; Condoleezza Rice, Stanford University; Benno C. Schmidt, Avenues: The World School; Stanley S. Shuman, Allen& Company LLC; Leigh Morris Sloane, Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs; Margaret Spellings, Margaret Spellings and Company, Stephen M. Walt*, Harvard Kennedy School; Randi Weingarten*, American Federation of Teachers.

    Associated Press

    Schools' failures risk U.S. future, report says

    March 20, 2012

    Alex Brandon, Associated Press

    The nation's security and economic prosperity are at risk if America's schools don't improve, warns a task force led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, the former chancellor of New York City's school system.

    The report cautions that far too many schools fail to adequately prepare students. "The dominant power of the 21st century will depend on human capital," it said. "The failure to produce that capital will undermine American security."

    The task force said the State Department and U.S. intelligence agencies face critical shortfalls in the number of foreign-language speakers, and that fields such as science, defense and aerospace are at particular risk because a shortage of skilled workers is expected to worsen as Baby Boomers retire.

    The panel said 75 percent of young adults don't qualify to serve in the military because they are physically unfit, have criminal records or inadequate levels of education. That's in part because 1 in 4 students fails to graduate from high school in four years, and a high school diploma or the equivalent is needed to join the military. But another 30 percent of high school graduates don't do well enough in math, science and English on an aptitude test to serve in the military, the report said.

    The task force, consisting of 30 members with backgrounds in areas such as education and foreign affairs, was organized by the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York research and policy organization focused on international issues. The report was scheduled to be released today.

    Too many Americans are deficient in both global awareness and knowledge that is "essential for understanding America's allies and its adversaries," the report concludes.

    "Leaving large swaths of the population unprepared also threatens to divide Americans and undermines the country's cohesion, confidence, and ability to serve as a global leader," the report said.

    Rice and Klein said in interviews that they are encouraged by efforts to improve schools such as the adoption of "common core" standards set in reading and math in a vast majority of states and the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" competition, in which states compete for federal money in exchange for more meaningful teacher evaluations.

    But, they added, the pace to improve America's schools must accelerate.

    "The rest of the world is not sitting by while we, in a rather deliberate fashion, reform the education system," Rice said.

    Weak Schools Said to Imperil Security

    Wall Street Journal

    March 20, 2012

    by Jason Dean

    Flaws in U.S. schools are increasingly causing a national-security risk, producing adults without the math, science and language skills necessary to ensure American leadership in the 21st century, warns a report issued Tuesday by the Council on Foreign Relations.

    Warning that "the education crisis is a national security crisis," the report says that too many schools are failing to adequately equip students for the work force, and that many have stopped teaching the sort of basic civics that prepare students for citizenship. Resources and expertise aren't distributed equitably, often hurting the most at-risk students. The situation, it says, puts the country's "future economic prosperity, global position, and physical safety at risk."

    The report notes that U.S. students have performed poorly on international assessment tests against those from other nations that are making rapid strides. It points to reported shortages of qualified workers in the U.S. life-science and aerospace industries, and notes that the State Department and intelligence agencies are "facing critical language shortfalls in areas of strategic interest."

    It cites a recent study saying that more than half of Americans aged 17 to 24 aren't qualified to join the military because they drop out of high school or graduate but lack the math, science, and English skills to perform well on standardized military-qualification tests.

    The authors recommend expanding core standards for states--now focused on math and literacy--to science, technology and foreign-language skills. The report urges wider use of charter schools and other alternatives to neighborhood public schools that are underperforming, and it suggests an annual "national security readiness audit" to help policy makers and citizens assess the "level of educational readiness."

    The report acknowledges the persistence of the problems it highlights, noting that many of the same risks were identified in "Nation at Risk," a 1983 report commissioned by the Reagan administration that warned of "a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and a people." But it cites reasons for fresh hope, including growing public awareness of the issues and bipartisan support for measures to address them.

    "This country has a real but time-limited opportunity to make changes that would maintain the United States' position in the world and its security at home," it concludes.

    The report was prepared for the New York-based nonpartisan think tank and publisher by a task force of 30 members from business, academia, government and education groups, including Louis Gerstner, former chairman of International Business Machines Corp., Margaret Spellings, former U.S. education secretary under George W. Bush, and Wendy Kopp, founder of Teach for America, which recruits college graduates to teach in inner-city schools.

    The group was led by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, a former New York City schools chancellor who is now executive vice president at News Corp. overseeing its education division.

    News Corp. owns The Wall Street Journal.

    Six members of the task force offered "additional and dissenting views," including Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, a leading teachers union. While praising the task force's goals and endorsing the report, she criticized it for "placing inordinate responsibility for school improvement on individual teachers" and for "promoting policies like the current topdown, standardized test-driven accountability that has narrowed the curriculum and reinforced the teaching of lower-level skills."

    — Valerie Strauss and Alex Brandon and Jason Dean
    WaPoAnswer Sheet & Assoc. Press & Wall St Journal





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