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|NUMBER 172||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||MAY 2000|
ESEA Reauthorization Federalizes Public Schools|
The process began with passage of two 1994 laws, the Goals 2000 Educate America Act and the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and was further advanced with passage of the Workforce Investment Act of 1998. This massive new version of ESEA, H.R. 2/S.2, will complete the nationalization of the public schools by Congress and the White House.
A holdover from Lyndon Johnson's Great Society legislation, the ESEA has already cost U.S. taxpayers more than $116 billion. According to the Federal Government's five-year $29 million longitudinal study concluded in 1997, it has failed to achieve its objectives. (See Education Reporter, May 1997 and Education Week, April 2, 1997, p.1.)
H.R. 2/S.2 is the 8th successive five- year plan to increase academic achievement by providing "compensatory education" grants to schools with high concentrations of low-income children. Even with its current price tag in excess of $10 billion per year, the Clinton Administration is unable to make the argument that the law will raise the academic achievement of poor children. In fact, opponents say this "stealth" legislation was designed with very different objectives. Pretending to "educate to high standards," ESEA mandates that all 50 states agree to implement a one-size-fits-all education plan.
The bill calls for mandated "statewide minimum competencies for all children," which is code language for the disastrous and discredited Outcome Based Education (OBE). Also called performance- based education, OBE 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 tests).
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 over implementing the nonacademic job-training system only, not control over standards, content or testing.
Not only does ESEA force OBE and criterion-referenced testing on every local school district in the nation, it 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 School-to-Work Opportunities Act (STW) to guide schools away from a knowledge-based system and toward training for jobs selected by local workforce boards.
STW is the Clinton Administration's vision for controlling the economy. Students will be pigeonholed into jobs to serve the best interests of the local economy as decided by bureaucrats, not by the students or the free market.
Congress has proclaimed that "the Goals 2000 and School-to-Work laws are sunsetting!" While these laws are about to expire, all 50 states have 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 mandates.
ESEA has already moved far in the legislative process because Congress is only now beginning to understand that its "doublespeak" language includes Goals 2000 and STW. 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. The Clinton Plan for Education & the Economy
The Minnesota Department of Children, Families and Learning (DCFL) has distributed a graphic (right) explaining how STW is a government plan to interlock public school "reform" of curriculum with workforce preparation (job training) and economic development (national economic planning). This official state publication states that the STW mission is "to create a seamless system of education and workforce preparation for all learners, tied to the needs of a competitive economic marketplace."
School-to-Work means that the mission of the public schools is no longer to educate children to be all they can be, but instead to train students to take entry-level jobs as needed by the global economy. Critics point to the different motivations of several special interests that mesh perfectly in STW: the Clinton Administration economic gurus (Marc Tucker, Ira Magaziner and Robert Reich) who say they want America to imitate the German school-workforce system, the Clinton Administration education activists (particularly the teachers unions and Education Department bureaucrats) who want to control the school system, and the multinational corporations that seek a poorly-educated but well-trained labor force willing to work for low wages to compete with low-paid workers in the Third World.
The master plan to federalize education and tie it into the workforce originated with the now infamous "Dear Hillary" letter dated Nov. 11, 1992 by Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE). It lays out a plan "to remold the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone," coordinated by "labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels" where curriculum and "job matching" will be handled by counselors "accessing the integrated computer-based program."
At right is a reproduction of the letterhead of Marc Tucker's organization. Members of his Board of Trustees include Hil-lary Rodham Clinton, Ira Magaziner (chief author of the 1994 Clinton health care plan), and David Rockefeller Jr.
Rep. Bob Schaffer (R-CO) correctly analyzed this letter as "a blueprint for a German model of education that would be forced upon the people of America." He said this "moves the country toward a government-managed, government-owned centralized education system from kindergarten past college." He placed Tucker's letter in the Congressional Record on Sept. 25, 1998. The PDF of this letter as entered in the Congressional Record (starts in the lower right-hand corner of page): 1 2 3 4 5 6 7, or the html version is located here.