Dec. 27, 2000
As members of Congress are jockeying for chairmanships in the
107th Congress, the committees that handle big money seem to get all
the headlines, but the Education chairmanship may ultimately have the
most influence on policy. Public opinion surveys indicate that
education is America's biggest issue, and the new chairman will decide
quo vadis -- at our current crossroads, which way will Congress go?
School choice may be the most visible education controversy, but
it's not the one that the chairman will be able to resolve because that
is primarily a state and local issue. The chairman will have a big
impact, however, on whether we continue to implement Bill Clinton's two
controversial 1994 laws, Goals 2000 and School-to-Work, or instead call
a halt to the mission and curriculum changes those laws initiated.
"School-to-Work" (STW) is bureaucratic jargon for imposing a new
paradigm on public schools that de-emphasizes traditional academic
studies and replaces them with vocational-technical (Vo-Tech) courses
for all students. There's nothing wrong with vocational education;
that's always been an option for high school students.
But School-to-Work is not an option; it's a federal law,
quintessentially Clintonian. States that accept STW funds, and all
states have accepted them, are subject to STW regulations.
School-to-Work is the mainspring of the Clinton Administration's
audacious plan to impose German/Japanese style national economic
planning to parallel the 1994 Clinton health care plan to take over the
entire health industry, one-seventh of our economy. Indeed, the same
schemers were the principal architects of both plans: Hillary Clinton
and Ira Magaziner.
The writings of Clinton's economic adviser, Robert Reich, show
that he is a frank admirer of the German model, which exercises
government control over the economy by controlling access to the
workforce through the schools. School-to-Work was easily sold to big
corporations which envy the privileged corporate-government
relationship their peers enjoy in Germany and Japan.
The STW paradigm is marketed to public schools all over the
country by Marc Tucker's National Center for Education and the Economy,
whose letterhead boasts the names of Hillary Clinton, Ira Magaziner and
David Rockefeller Jr. The STW paradigm is packaged for Governors by
offering them federal funds, a route to bypass state legislatures and
school boards, and attractive "partnerships" with corporations.
One marketing outreach aimed at Governors is a 501(c)(3)
organization called CDS International (initials not explained on its
letterhead). CDS brags that it has organized STW programs for
representatives of public schools, government, industry and labor in
more than 20 states.
CDS's brochure explains that STW's goal is to move American
children into "The German Dual System of Vocational Training" under
which Germany transfers nearly 70 percent of its students at age 16
from full-time secondary school to spending most of their time as
apprentices in the workplace. National training standards have been
established for each occupation in Germany, and company training is
governed by federal law.
The German system requires the student to spend 3-4 days a week in
the workforce under an employer's mentorship, and only 1-2 days a week
in traditional education learning mathematics, science, social studies
and languages. CDS states, "The dual system regulations and
examinations are products of close cooperation among schools,
government, employers (operating through their associations), and
workers (represented by their unions)."
The STW paradigm involves establishing the mindset that the
mission of the schools is to serve the workforce and the global
economy, rather than to give all American children the basic knowledge
and skills that can enable them to be all they can be. This is why the
1994 STW law dictates that the Secretaries of Education and Labor
"shall jointly provide for, and shall exercise final authority over the
administration of this Act," and why the House committee that wrote
this law is called the Education and the Workforce Committee.
Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), one Congressman now running for chairman
of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has made it clear
which side of the STW controversy he is on. In a December 7 letter
circulating on Capitol Hill, he comes out strongly against proposals to
separate education and the workforce into two committees.
Boehner's letter states in bold italics that "it is simply
impossible to consider workforce and education issues separately. . . .
The two are becoming even more indistinguishable as lifelong learning
becomes absolutely necessary in the New Economy."
The new school-corporate partnership is tantalizing to Big
Government Republicans who spend taxpayers' money and solicit corporate
political donations. Boehner's letter reminds us that "a structure
that allows education and workforce issues together also allows us to
add employers to our coalition efforts."
To have any chance of seizing the initiative on the education
issue, the Republican Congress will have to elect a House Education
committee chairman who understands and opposes Clinton-style School-to-