Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama and Global Education

Barack Obama was said to oppose mandatory national standards prior to the election; however, you wouldn't know it by the words or previous actions of the new Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Duncan came out strongly in favor of them at a recent meeting of the American Council of Education,
"We have to start by recognizing that our system of education is not aligned. Every state has different high school standards.

If we accomplish one thing in the coming years—it should be to eliminate the extreme variation in standards across America.

I know that talking about standards can make people nervous—but the notion that we have fifty different goalposts is absolutely ridiculous."

The notion that we have fifty standards is not ridiculous; it's the American way and precisely what sets our form of government apart from every other nation on Earth! But that's obviously the problem. We Americans are too independent minded and just don't conform to the dicates of the rest of the world. Duncan wants to fix that by aligning our educational standards to international benchmarks.

The President is deeply committed to this program because it will enable us to spur reform on a national scale—driving school systems to adopt college and career-ready, internationally benchmarked standards."
Duncan did not elaborate on the international standard he would select but given the fact that Chicago Public School System, under Duncan's leadership, has the largest number of International Baccalaureate schools in the world, it's likely that the standards we adopt will be aligned to the International Baccaluareate Organization (IBO) standards and goals.

For those not familiar, the IBO began as a niche educational organization forty years ago and has since become a major influencer of education policy around the globe. The Bush administration endorsed and helped funded IBO and under Obama our involvment in the IBO will likely increase. (Duncan is scheduled to speak at the IB America conference this summer.) The goal of the IBO is to become a socialization center using a universal curriculum for global citizenship based on a common morality.

The book, Brave New Schools explains the essence of global citizenship,
The goal of education is no longer to teach the kind of literacy, wisdom and knowledge we once considered essentials of responsible citizenship. It is to train world citizens--a compliant international workforce, willing to flow with the storms of change and uncertainty. These citizens must be ready to believe and do whatever will serve a pre-determined "common good" or "greater whole". Educators may promise to "teach students to think for themselves," but if they finish what they have started, tomorrow's students will have neither the facts nor the freedom needed for independent thinking.
Defenders of national standards might want to rethink their position; otherwise as a parent of a "global citizen," you may find yourself going before an international tribunal to appeal your child's failing grade because he still thinks God governs the affairs of men not Obama or the United Nations.

As for homeschooling, let's just say that parent-led education doesn't factor into the international educational policy. According to the IBO, "the best place to learn is at school from an early age."

Why am I not surprised?

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