|Back to January Ed Reporter|
|NUMBER 252||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||JANUARY 2007|
|Marc Tucker's New Education Initiative|
On December 14, 2006, Marc Tucker released his new education proposal, "Tough Choices or Tough Times." His plan reads like a bad novel. It is mostly rhetoric, and the claims he makes are fantasy-land variety. If America adopts his plan, according to Tucker, the following will happen: "No one will fail," he says; and, "We can send almost everyone to college and have them do well there," Tucker insists; and "95% of our students will [be qualified for college]," according to Tucker. Such wild claims are not only unreasonable, they are bizarre. Any experienced teacher knows they are utopian, at best. And does Tucker offer any real evidence his plan can improve education? He does not.
What is Tucker up to? When reading his proposal, it becomes evident that Tucker has bigger things in mind than merely helping kids learn. The heart and center of his master plan is stated on page 1, paragraph 1, of his Executive Summary. Tucker there says that to compete in the world economy, the United States must "adopt internationally benchmarked standards for educating its students and workers."
Can Tucker succeed in selling his radical system? He may. He is counting on business to help sell the proposal. Many of them will see the plan as a way of certifying the same basic job skills for all the workers of the world with the training done at taxpayer expense, no less. This way businesses can move skilled workers around the world the same way they move minerals, oil and technology.
Tucker's new proposal, like his earlier one, also makes all education vocational (Karl Marx saw education the same way). But will it work to reduce education to being good for vocation only, to define education merely as the provider of "human resources" for business? It will not. Kids will figure out that their worth is being measured in terms of being assets for large corporations. They will see that they have been reduced to being cogs on impersonal economic wheels.
Under Tucker's plan even college is viewed as strictly vocational; college just prepares one for different vocations. Tucker's plan won't work because it severely limits our freedom and it defines people's worth only in terms of dollars and cents the utilitarian philosophy of education. Kids are reduced to being resources whose lives will be directed by someone else. Kids will realize the whole philosophy of education has changed - they have become objects. Kids intuitively know they were made to be much more than that.
Kids have other aspirations such as marriage and family, hobbies and entertainment, understanding themselves and the world in which they live, music, art and athletics, freedom, being loyal Americans, serving in the military, being good citizens and good neighbors to those less fortunate. Kids have aspirations of what it means to be human. Tucker wants to control people the same way we control iron and coal.
We need to build on our strengths, not destroy them. The strength of our economic and education systems has been the degree to which they have been free - thus providing opportunities for people to be innovative and creative. You can't have freedom and innovation if you reduce people to being controlled objects. The Marxist view of education doesn't work because it treats people as less than human.
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) solidified the federal government's role in controlling the school's academic program. It did so by (1) requiring all states to adopt state curriculum standards (which are mostly based on the Federal Curriculum), (2) requiring schools to eliminate achievement differences measured by "adequate yearly progress" (AYP), an impossible Marxist objective, and (3) requiring that the NAEP (National Assessment of Education Progress) be given in all states to ensure that states don't deviate from the fed's lead. (The NAEP is based on the Federal Curriculum.)
The education radicals complained, however, insisting that states still had too much leeway in defining their academic program. Not any more. That already-limited freedom would disappear under Tucker's new proposal because it transfers the education-content authority away from local schools, states, and away from the federal government, over to the United Nations. Decision-making authority takes another giant step away from the parents and local communities. The education branch of the UN (UNESCO) has already been writing curriculum and has begun to write textbooks - much of it taking place under the UN education program known as International Baccalaureate (IB).
The UN's required content will also include its Universal Declaration of Human Rights which says that people have no "inalienable" rights but have only those rights the UN says they have. This UN document also clarifies that education must promote the UN and all its activities and says that the UN is the highest court of appeals on all human rights issues, higher even than our own Supreme Court. The UN's required content will also include the dictates of its Treaty on the Rights of the Child, which says that parents have no right to decide what their children will be taught. That right will now belong to the UN.
Who are the Tucker supporters for this radical plan? They are the same old gang that gave us Goals 2000 and School-to-Work: former Michigan Governor, John Engler; former Clinton Secretary of Education, Richard Riley; former Clinton Under-Secretary of Education, Michael Cohen; former Carter Secretary of Labor, Ray Marshall; and Fordham Foundation President, Chester Finn to name a few.
How does Tucker propose to accomplish this massive shift of political power? He would:
Tucker's cost estimate for his plan is as ludicrous as the claims he makes for it. He says it will cost $7.8 billion per year more than we are now paying. That estimate assumes that his goals, such as having 95% of students perform so well they will succeed in college, actually happen. If his fanciful objectives do not occur, the cost of his plan could mushroom to $75 billion per year (EdWatch estimate).
Tucker adds that the course syllabi (content) and the content of any private tests need to be controlled too. His new system dictates to teachers and schools what they shall teach, and test makers, including states, are told what they shall test. In addition, the states will be told what they must teach the teachers. It will be one unified, controlled, monolithic, worldwide education system.
The Tucker initiative claims to be about education, and in a sense it is; but it is more about control. The plan is all about the question of who will run our schools. Under the Tucker plan, business becomes the customer and the UN sets the production standards and directs the show. How about the rest of us? We are the worker bees, the drones who get to provide the resources so the queen can exude her royal jelly.
Allen Quist is adjunct professor at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minnesota. He served three terms in the Minnesota legislature and has authored three books on education: The Seamless Web, Fed Ed: The New Federal Curriculum and How It's Enforced, and America's Schools: The Battleground for Freedom.