April 12, 2000
Congress is about to pass legislation that will federalize every
local school district and spell the end of local and state control of
America's public school classrooms. Mindful of Ronald Reagan's words,
"You can't control the economy without controlling the people," Bill
and Hillary Clinton have found the way to control the economy by
controlling America's schoolchildren.
The plan started with the passage of Bill Clinton's two 1994 laws,
the Goals 2000 Act and the School-to-Work Act, and we were moved
further in the same direction with his Workforce Investment Act of
1998. Now, with the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA),
H.R.2/S.2, the Clintons are about to complete the nationalization of
the public school classroom.
This massive education bill is the eighth successive five-year
plan to increase academic achievement by providing "compensatory
education" grants to schools with high concentrations of low-income
children. It is more ambitious and comprehensive than the Clintons'
discredited 1994 health care plan.
A holdover from Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation, the
ESEA has already spent more than $116 billion. According to the
Federal Government's five-year $29 million longitudinal study concluded
in 1997, the ESEA failed to achieve its objectives.
Unable to make the argument that ESEA, with its current price tag
in excess of $10 billion per year, will raise academic achievement of
poor children, the Clintons designed this "stealth" legislation with
very different objectives. Pretending to "educate to high standards,"
ESEA mandates that all 50 states agree to implement a one-size-fits-all
How? The bill calls for mandated "statewide minimum competencies
for all children." That's code language for the disastrous and
discredited Outcome Based Education (OBE).
OBE (also called performance-based education) is measured by
"criterion referenced tests" that assess students against a low
threshold of achievement (formerly associated with the letter grade
"D"), rather than by "norm referenced tests" which measure how well
students master a body of knowledge in comparison with other students
(such as the ACT, SAT, GRE, Iowa Basic, and Stanford Achievement
ESEA's purpose is to tie schools to the floor of minimum
achievement rather than to the ceiling of educational excellence and
possibilities. The oft-repeated phrase "all children will learn"
really means that all children will be taught only the low level of
learning that is actually reached by all children.
The term "minimum competencies" doesn't sell well to parents and
the taxpaying public, so a linguistic bait-and-switch occurs throughout
the bill. "Standards" means minimum levels, "accountability" means
accountability to the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor,
"integrated curriculum" means integrating job training into the school
day, and "local control" means control only over implementing the
nonacademic job-training system but not over standards, content or
Not only does ESEA force OBE and criterion-referenced testing on
every local school district in the nation, ESEA cements into place the
goals of nationalized curriculum, nationalized testing and national
teacher certification, which were envisioned in the 1994 Goals 2000
Act. ESEA also continues the radical changes required by the 1994
School-to-Work Act to guide schools away from a knowledge-based system
and toward training for jobs selected by local workforce boards.
School-to-Work is the Clintons' vision for controlling the
economy. Students will be pigeon-holed into jobs to serve the best
interests of the local economy as decided by the bureaucrats, not into
careers chosen by the student.
"But," Congress proclaims, "the Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws
are sunsetting!" Nothing could be further from the truth.
While those laws are about to expire, all 50 states adopted them
and ESEA requires that states certify they have adopted "challenging
content standards and challenging student performance standards . . .
with aligned assessments." That is bureaucratic jargon for continuing
the 1994 Goals 2000/School-to-Work mandates.
ESEA has already moved far in the legislative process because
Congress was hoodwinked by the bill's doublespeak language and only now
is beginning to understand that the Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws
have morphed into ESEA. If ESEA passes in its current form, every
public school district will be forced to continue implementation of the
revolutionary restructuring required by the 1994 laws.
ESEA is not stand-alone legislation but works in tandem with other
federal, state and local programs to mesh curriculum, graduation
requirements and public funds into state-filed, federally-approved
Unified Plans under the Workforce Investment Act. Under the guise of
education "reform," all traditional public school curriculum, testing
and teaching methods are being replaced with a job training system
modeled after failed socialized economies in Europe.
ESEA will fulfill Bill and Hillary Clinton's dream of national
economic planning fed by a federalized workforce training system
domiciled in the public schools. ESEA is the capstone of their plan to
restructure our American system away from free enterprise, academic
achievement in schools, and the freedom of individuals to select their