Lilywilliams

 

Lily  Tang Williams was “born in the wild west of China, Sichuan province near Tibet,  and raised with her two sibling brothers by illiterate working-class parents. Lily grew up facing poor living conditions, food rationing, political, and social chaos.  She came to America seeking freedom that was sorely lacking in her country. Earning her Master’s degree at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work in 1988 she has attempted to live the American dream. Williams recently ran for the Colorado House District 44 as a libertarian candidate on a platform to “make my community, state, and country a better place to raise our children, run a business, and forge a future filled with freedom and prosperity.”  She has been a vocal critic of common core and was given the usual three minutes to testify before the Colorado State Board of Education about her concerns. The video of her testimony is linked below. Sometimes it takes someone viewing our system from the outside to help us see the trajectory we are on and problems we have.

“Common core, in my eyes, is the same as the communist core I once saw in China…. Nationalized testing nationalized curriculum and nationalized indoctrination…. I cannot believe this is happening in this country. I don’t know what happened to  America, the shining city on the hill.”

“Chinese children are not trained to be independent thinkers….They are trained to be massive skilled workers for corporations. And they have no idea what happened in Tienanmen square in 1989 where government ordered soldiers to shoot in own 1,000 students.”

They don’t learn their own history. They don’t know how bad their government has gotten, because they have centrally controlled education which controls the curriculum and the message.

Her story was picked up by FreedomWorks and it is a cautionary tale that more Americans need to read. Excerpts of that story are included below to give you an idea of where Ms. Williams came from:

I am an Chinese immigrant who come to America to seek freedom from the Communist China. I was born right before China’s Cultural Revolution and grew up in Chengdu, Capitol of Sichuan province, China. As you know, in China there is only one party that is truly in power: The Communist Party. The government, which is the Communist Party, controls everything: Factories, schools, the press, hospitals, land, and universities. Growing up there, I never heard of such a thing as a “private company.” There were no choices of any sort. We were all poor. We had no gas or stove, no TV, no phones, no refrigerators, and no washing machines. In the cities, electricity was rationed. In the countryside, there was no electricity…

I was eager to go to school when I turned 6 years old. My parents did not let me to go to school because they needed me to babysit my younger brother who was one year old. They could not afford his child care. I cried for a long time that night. My parents felt so guilty so they bought me a movie ticket next day. Finally, I went to school at age of 7. I was so happy and motivated to be a top student. As a child, we were brainwashed in public school every day. We were taught that two-thirds of the world population were suffering and living in hunger and our socialist country was the best. We didn’t think that maybe China should be counted as part of the two thirds of suffering humanity! We believed whatever the government told us because we did not know anything else. I thought the other countries must be hellish if they were worse than we were. Anyway, we chanted daily: “Long Live Chairman Mao, Long Live the Communist Party. I love Chairman Mao.” I was so brainwashed as a small child that I could see Chairman Mao in the clouds or the cooking fire. He was like a god to me. We were required to read all of Mao’s Red books, wear Mao’s buttons, write journals, and confess any bad thoughts to Mao. [think CDC Youth Risk Surveillance System Surveys)

We were required to conform, not stand out as an individual. I was held back to join the Young Pioneers because I was not humble enough (I told my classmates I should be in the first batch to join due to my 100% grade on every subject and they reported on me). [When everyone is to taught conform and the message is universal in all schools, non-conformists stand out and become a threat to everyone. Having the right attitude is important to CCSSO as they have stated in their report Knowledge, Skills, and Dispositions: The Innovation Lab Network State Framework for College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness, and Implications for State Policy.  The Student must develop key “underlying dispositions or behavioral capacities” in order to succeed,” so measuring these dispositions is critical.]

The big powerful state from top to bottom was always watching us very closely: from Beijing’s central government to our neighborhood block committees and police stations. We had no rights, even though our constitution said we did. It was very scary that local police could stop by our home to pound on the doors at night for any reason. The government told us how to dress (Mao’s suit), what to buy and eat (coupons), where to live (household registration system) and what to read (government newspapers). The land belonged to the people (the government actually) and citizens were not allowed to have any weapons or off to prison they would go. Things have changed a lot in China since the open door policy of Deng Xiaoping really got going in the early 1980s; people have more freedom than ever before to start businesses, get jobs in another city, travel overseas, etc, but the political system is still fundamentally the same one party rule.

My favorite teacher in high school told me that he was sent to a Re-education Labor Camp because the Communist Party punished those who criticized the party even though the party was asking for feedback. [How might the government use the information they ask for in the American Community Survey against you?] His health was ruined during those years. He said “China is not a country of laws.” I was determined to study law in college. After three whole days, eight hours of testing each day, I scored very high and was admitted by Fudan University (one of the top five universities) in Shanghai law school. I became the first one in my entire extended family ever to go to college. When there I was depressed to find out that what we learned in school and what was reality were totally different things. The society was not ruled by law but ruled by men. [Men like Arne Duncan who single handedly decided to make NCLB waivers conditional.] After I became a law school faculty member at Fudan University in Shanghai, I had to be careful about what to say in the classroom or during the party political study and self-criticism meetings. My leaders in law school even intruded into my private life telling me, for example, that I received too many letters (I was too social), or I should not go to my boyfriend’s parents’ house for dinner and spend a night. I was a law school faculty member and yet I was still being treated as a child!

I realized I could not really have the personal freedom I dreamed to have if I stayed in China, so I decided to re-enter school in the USA. It was a long and stressful process for me to step down from my position and leave China. I went to the local security office to apply for my passport seven times and was treated as a deserter with papers literally thrown at my face. My law school made me sign a paper saying that I must return to my job in Shanghai after two years of graduate study, or they will eliminate my position and send my personnel file (everyone has one in China which follows you from birth to death) [sounds like the state longitudinal data system]  to my hometown in Chengdu, which would be a death sentence for my law teaching career. However, I was determined to leave and did not care about what I had to sign.

[read more here]

It is immediately apparent to someone who has experienced centrally controled education elsewhere that the mere concept of a common set of standards that all children must be taught is dangerous. Tie that with a mandatory test (whose results will be reported by the individual student level to the central government) that will force a common curriculum and you have the same type of system that Communist China has. It is the arrogance of the elite to think that there is anything unique enough about America that would prevent us from ending up in the same place as China. There are too many parallels in her story to things that are happening today in this country to think that we are in any way on a different path than they were.  The only thing different is that, at this moment, we have the potential to wake up and turn the car around.

 

Published November 17, 2014

Anne Gassel

Anne has been writing on MEW since 2012 and has been a citizen lobbyist on Common Core since 2013. Some day she would like to see a national Hippocratic oath for educators “I will remember that there is an art to teaching as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy and understanding are sometimes more important than policy or what the data say. My first priority is to do no harm to the children entrusted to my temporary care.”

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