|Back to April Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 183||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||APRIL 2001|
|Colorado School Board Rejects STW|
Johnson was pleased with the outcome of the vote, but regrets that "some really strong statements" had to be removed from the original draft in order to get the resolution passed. "The original language was awesome, but the final resolution is still good," she says.
Deleted statements include: "Whereas, a system of workforce development boards charged with predicting the jobs of the future in local communities, which meet the needs of the community and local businesses rather than the needs of students, have been established in Colorado"; and "Whereas, work-based learning and integrated learning based on career pathways chosen by workforce development boards violate the student's constitutional right to liberty. . . ."
A number of Colorado elected officials have praised Mrs. Johnson's work. Three Congressmen and one Senator endorsed her STW resolution in writing: Congressmen Bob Schaffer, Joel Hefley and Tom Tancredo, and Sen. Wayne Allard. Sen. Allard wrote: "This resolution promotes the idea that state and local officials should have the authority to decide how federal funds are best used to prepare today's children for the future. Federal financial support should not encumber local programs with federal mandates. . . ."
Rep. Tancredo stated: "As a former public school teacher, I believe all students should have access to a quality education and that these students should not be steered into jobs or duties that are against this fundamental right."
Rep. Hefley's letter noted: "The School-to-Work plan being implemented in our state has many disturbing elements that I believe go too far in 'career tracking' students. I do not like curriculum development where work-based learning and occupational learning are coupled with academic instruction for all students."
Congressman Schaffer promised to work with colleagues "to return more decision-making authority in education to the state and local levels." He cited the Education Flexibility Partnership Act and the Academic Achievement for All Act, which he indicated have been passed to that end. "In addition," Schaffer wrote, "we are fighting to make sure the federal School-to-Work program is defunded for FY 2001."
Patti Johnson's supporters describe her as a tireless champion of parents' rights during her five years on the Colorado State School Board. At her instigation, the board in 1999 became the first in the nation to pass a resolution warning of the possible negative effects of mind-altering prescription drugs, such as Ritalin, on children. (See Education Reporter, Dec. 1999.) Last September, Mrs. Johnson testified before a congressional subcommittee on this issue, and Rep. Schaffer credited her testimony for the hearing's success. "The hearing generated much interest among the public, causing committee members to schedule additional hearings in the future on behavioral drugs," Schaffer said.