Consider what Sir Michael Barber, the man responsible for quickly implementing many of the major education reforms under Tony Blair, said in 2006 about the United States.
ES: Why has England been able to make so much more progress than the U.S. on education reform?Local control, unique to the United States, is perceived to be "fundamental flaw" that must be overcome before global education reform can be complete. Just let that sink in for a minute.
MB: The biggest problem in the U.S. is how you get reform to scale. The U.S. is full of fabulous boutique projects, but in a sea of underperforming systems. In England, because we don't have federal-state separation or the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive, if you've got the design right you can have a big impact. And Labour in 1997 had a big majority, so it demonstrated you could do reform at scale very quickly.
By contrast, I've recently been in California, which is almost the same size as England in school population, and was struck by the impossibility of doing anything remotely coherent when you've got a state commissioner of education directly elected, a governor directly elected separately, a legislature with a different set of views, and then some powerful mayors. It's not anyone's fault—there are some brilliant education reformers around the U.S., including in California—but to do anything coherent in a context like that is so much more difficult.
The other fundamental flaw that I think is absolutely devastating in the U.S. is that because so much of the school system depends on very local taxation, the distribution of funding is inequitable. You can see how it originates in 19th century American history, but it is a big problem.
Sir Michael Barberr is now influential in United States education reform.
When made that statement, Barber had already left British government and moved on to a position as head of global education at McKinsey and Company. McKinsey along with Achieve, and funding from Bill and Melinda Gates, conducts studies that validate their goal of global partnerships in education. Here's one such report prepared for Ohio.
David Coleman the lead architect of Common Core also worked at McKinsey at about the same time. Coincidence? I don't think so.
Sir Micheal Barber has now moved on to become the Chief Education Adviser to Pearson. (See more at CommonCore) Pearson is responsible for much of the online assessments and curricula for the national standards. There is even talk of a Pearson College Degree. See Barber's newest report An Avalanche is Coming for his plans for higher education.
Coleman has moved on to become President of the College Board, which is aligning the Advanced Placement and the SAT to the national standards. The assessments are scheduled to be implemented in the 2014/15 school year. Can it be stopped. Yes.
Let's turn this around by using the same tactic Sir. Michael Barbour used in England to produce his massive reforms.
"I helped organize and lead a boycott of the national test in 1993, not because I was against testing in principle, but because the controversial policy had been so poorly implemented."Parents and teachers in the United States must boycott the national tests being developed by Pearson and through Smarter Balanced and PARCC because the controversial policy is contrary to the fundamental principles of our Constitution and local control of educaiton.
Sir Micheal Barber believes an avalanche is coming. In his report he quoted Norman Davies who said,
"Historical change is like an avalanche. The starting point is a snow-covered mountainside that looks solid. All changes take place under the surface and are rather invisible. But something is coming. What is impossible is to say when.’He believes citizens need to act boldly and unapologetically to make it happen. I agree but not to achieve his goal of global education but to demonstrate the power of local control and grass roots activism.
Let's act boldly and boycott common core and national assessments and create an avalanche against global education standards. Sir Micheal Barber and his comrades won't know what hit them. Hopefully, they'll finally understand that this "fundamental flaw" is a fundamental principle of the United States of America -- the land of the free and the home of the brave.
And make no mistake about it, global education standards will also affect homeschoolers. See my recent article in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine available online here.