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Education Reporter

P-16: Propping Up U.N. School Reforms

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"P-16" reform is a current label for activity that furthers the decades-old UNESCO lifelong education plan to create what has been described in the past as a cradle-to-grave system of human resource development. Thus far, two decades of lifelong education activity — which requires merging general education with so-called vocational objectives for ALL students — has run parallel with U.S. education decline.

"P-16" — short for "pre-kindergarten through grade 16" — involves plans to add preschool (starting at three years old) to kindergarten through the high school system, and link those levels with four years of post-high school activity. Similarly structured are the "K-16" (kindergarten to grade 16) and "P-20" (preschool to graduate school) initiatives.

Education Commission of the States (ECS) — formed in 1965 through the National Governors Association (NGA), with jump-start support from the Carnegie Corporation and Ford Foundation — has monitored state P-16 progress and promoted the reforms at the legislative level.

ECS explains in its P-16 Collaboration in the States (June 2006 update) that the goal of K-16, P-16 or P-20 is to create a "system of education which begins in early childhood and ends after college that promotes access, standards, accountability and life-long learning" where "all levels of education . . . coordinate, communicate and educate as one system instead of several." In Europe and elsewhere globally, this formal education/training through one system has existed under the heading of polytechnical education.

Integral to P-16/K-16/P-20 (lifelong education/learning) is data collection for tracking, monitoring, and sharing information — activities that require significant, ongoing funding for technology hardware, software, and accommodating manpower. (Read more about lifelong education in "Redefining Education for Global Citizenship," Education Reporter, March 2006).

Governors, state education agencies, and privy legislators have worked behind the scenes to build a consolidated school/workforce system that will result in greater centralized control over education and jobs. Some Governors have gone so far as to issue an Executive Order to create state level councils or task forces to strategize and solicit public buy-in.

Groups created by Executive Order: Arizona's Governor's P-20 Council (2005), Delaware P-20 Council (2003), Georgia P-16 Initiative (1995), Kansas' Governor's Education Team (2004), Maine's Task Force to Create a Seamless Pre-Kindergarten through Sixteenth Grade Education System (2004), Rhode Island Statewide PK-16 Council (2005), and the Virginia P-16 Council (2005).

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