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Back to December Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 179 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS DECEMBER 2000

"Carpe diem!"
New education 'system' threatens 'American Dream'
Robin Williams starred in a movie as a professor who was willing to do anything to help his students "be all they could be." "Carpe diem" was his cry, and subsequently became their cry. Seize the day! Reach for the stars! Grab the American Dream! Don't let anything stand in your way.

Every day, illegal immigrants cross America's borders in pursuit of what we call the American Dream. For hundreds of years, America has been known as the land of opportunity, and jobs are the key to that opportunity.


Choice of Jobs 
Americans are shocked to learn that planning groups exist at every level of government, in every community in every state, planning the jobs they will hold in the future. This job planning has begun in the schools where the planners are building the new "system" leading to the "new economy."

With the passage of the federal School-to-Work Opportunities Act and Goals 2000 Educate America Act in 1994, then the Workforce Investment Act of 1998 (WIA), most states, including Missouri, bought into this new "system." At the state level, "education reform" bills and executive orders put this "system" in place. In 1993, Missouri's late Governor, Mel Carnahan, fought to secure passage of the Outstanding Schools Act, which radically changed how Missouri schools would operate. It was followed by a number of Executive Orders issued by the Governor to implement the WIA and move Missouri schools further into the "system" of top-down command and control.

The WIA requires each state to establish Workforce Boards whose mission is to allocate resources, fill job vacancies and train workers for jobs the state determines will be needed in the future. In the schools, students beginning in kindergarten are taught about the jobs that need to be filled, and by ninth grade, are expected to have chosen a "career path." Building on the "system" of School-to-Work (Careers), school counselors place students in the workforce during school hours using data supplied by the federal/state Labor Market Information System. Computers enable the planners to process vast amounts of personal, educational, financial and attitudinal data, so as to fine-tune the school guidance counselor's "suggestions" to students about which careers to choose.


How the 'System' Works 
In the St. Louis region, "A committee of public and private interests met to begin launching a strategy resulting in a coordinated, bi-state (eastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois) system that develops and continuously improves the region's human capital . . . .1 (Emphasis added.)

The Committee's report noted that "leaders [must] . . . emphasize the need to build up existing human . . . capital."1 "Because the new economy differs markedly from the old . . . the mission . . . is to build a . . . coordinated, collaborative system that develops and continuously improves the region's human capital."

How is it possible for government to command and control human beings? The report's "Workforce Development Strategy Goals" states: "Support early childhood initiatives to ensure that children are ready to learn at an early age," and "Develop a regional workforce intelligence system to accurately track and monitor workforce demand for the growth and retention of business."


Government Nanny 
"Early childhood initiatives" are government initiatives designed to control early childhood care. How will government agents ensure that you are doing a good job taking care of your child? Home visits? Parent exams? Observations by young social workers who have no children of their own? The systems in place to ensure that children are "ready to learn" when they enter school include record keeping on both parents and children.

Missouri's "regional workforce intelligence system to track and monitor demand" will succeed only if the government has exhaustive and extensive personal information on every individual. Using the Missouri One Stop Information System (MOSIS) software, computers sort and track the information necessary for the state to "guide" a child or adult into the job or "career" for which state planners have determined a need.


The School's Role 
The Outstanding Schools Act opened the door for the Missouri School Improvement Program and the Accreditation Standards for the Public School District. In July 1997, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) published the Standards and Indicators Manual, containing all the mandates that local schools must follow in order to continue receiving state/federal dollars. If a school district does not meet the standards, the state can wipe the district off the map, merge it with another district or take it over.

Note the power of the state to "command and control" the following:

  • "Individual Thought and Attitudes - "Resource Standards: Program Studies 1.1. Each elementary student will receive instruction in . . . comprehensive health (including . . . HIV/Aids prevention education) and career education" (p.5). [HIV/AIDs education is being used to normalize homosexual/lesbian lifestyles, and in some cases, to teach that lifestyle including graphic sexual content.]

  • "Local Curriculum - "Process Standards: Curriculum 6.1 A2. Written curriculum must include . . . general goals for graduates in each subject area or in the students 'Individualized Education Program'. . . [and] cross references to the knowledge (content) skills and competencies students need to meet the goals established by the district and the Show-Me Standards; and, specific, measurable learner objectives for each course at each grade level" (p.16).

  • "Tracking of Each Student's Progress - "Instruction 7.1 C1. Student progress toward identified goals or objectives is monitored continuously through a variety of assessment strategies . . ." (p.17).

  • "Local Schools - "8.7 . . . The district complies with all provisions, regulations and administrative rules applicable to each program implemented," e.g., "Goals 2000, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, Grants for Local Reform, Parents as Teachers" (p.24).

  • "The Student's Job and Future - "Guidance and Counseling 11.1 B2. A system for individual planning, which includes the necessary forms and procedures and begins no later than 8th grade, provides assistance to students, in collaboration with parents/guardians, to develop educational and career plans, and includes assessment, advisement and identification of short-and long-range goals" (p. 29).


Politically-Correct Tests 
Michigan's High School Test in Social Studies for Spring 1999 included questions that asked students to take a stand "in favor of" or "against" "Women in Combat," "Political Action Committees," "Affirmative Action" and "Privati-zation." Students said they were given incomplete data on which to base their conclusions. One student reported that the test contained questions concerning "population," which involved "government planners" solving the problem of "too many people in the wrong place." (In China, goverment planners limit families to one child. Another test taker reported that a reading passage proclaimed that, under President Reagan, "racism was made comfortable."

These questions are especially troubling in view of Missouri's accreditation mandates. "Performance Standards for K-12 Districts: Achievement 16.1. The district uses DESE approved standardized achievement tests closely aligned with the curriculum and instruction to measure the degree to which students have mastered the knowledge and skills in the curriculum . . ." (p.41).

Does this mean students must master whatever the test writers determine are the politically-correct answers for racism and public policy questions?

In Wyoming, the July 15th Casper Star Tribune noted that the Natrona County School District [is] "to bring testing online." The newspaper reported that the new "computer-adaptive standardized tests . . . [will] adjust the test questions based on the students' skill level." Parents need to ask whether these computerized tests can also adjust for political correctness; whether they can change questions in midstream based on the level of political correctness of a student's answers. Will computers be programmed to assess a student's political persuasion and worldview? Will the tests give different questions to different students, with career selection tests guiding the politically-incorrect into lower paying jobs? Once power is consolidated at these levels, freedom becomes untenable.

Will we be able to "Seize the Day" when government tells us what to think, how to think and how to dream? Will tests that measure the political correctness of our thoughts hold the passport to the American Dream?

In the name of education reform, will free choice cease to exist? If so, Robin Williams' movie character would resign, no longer able to proclaim "Carpe diem."


1 "Report on the Status of Interstate Regional Workforce Development Planning in St. Louis, March 17, 2000, submitted to Missouri and Illinois Workforce Development Officials by" the "East-West Gateway Coordinating Council and the St. Louis Regional Commerce and Growth Association."

This article was excerpted from Front Line, Fall 2000, Vol. 22, No. 3. Published in St. Louis, MO. Reprinted by permission.


 
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