Growing discomfort with P21?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on

EdWeek‘s Stephen Sawchuk gives a wide-ranging look into the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (subscription req.)

After seven relatively quiet years of work, P21 is facing a vocal chorus of detractors of its initiative, primarily from among advocates for a liberal arts and sciences curriculum. (“Backers of ’21st-Century Skills’ Take Flak,” March 4, 2009.)

“The closer we look, the more P21’s unproven educational program appears to be just another mechanism for selling more stuff to schools,” Lynne Munson, the president and executive director of Common Core, a Washington group that advocates a stronger core curriculum, wrote in a recent blog item.

Ken Kay, the president of P21, may consider that criticism to be a “cheap shot.” I haven’t looked at the P21 effort from the perspective of who stands to gain, but Sawchuck notes news to me in that P21 was housed with a DC-based tech lobbying firm. Half of P21’s $1 million in expenditures in 2007 went to Ken Kay’s E-Luminate marketing firm.

Not good news about P21 but Pioneer has focused on the group’s thin gruel as regards academics and attainment of knowledge. Ken may boast of P21’s “thoughtful set of design specs” for skills, but it’s so “20th century education” in its anti-academic approach (also, try the full mss. from Diane Ravitch).

It is very interesting to see who is in and who is out in this group. The School Board Association is in. On the union side, NEA is in. AFT (see in video linked above AFT’s Toni Cortese) has been critical. Intel, MS, Apple and others are in. Google is out so far:

Google Inc., the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology giant that pioneered the eponymous Web search tool, is a notable holdout. It generally supports P21’s goals, but is weighing whether to join, said Cristin Frodella, the company’s senior product-marketing manager for education.

The undertone in the article is that the blowback on P21 is growing. That’s a good thing. While the School Board Association and the NEA will stick with P21, that’s to be expected. They were there at the start, and they have never been big on standards, academic excellence and the rest.

But what about business members? How long before they move from a little uncomfortable to seeing this is a liability?