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|NUMBER 179||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||DECEMBER 2000|
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.
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.
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."
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.
Note the power of the state to "command and control" the following:
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.