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'School To Work...A Formula For Failure'
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt
|A Report By Karen L. Holgate, Parents National Network
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt
Former Sr. Policy Advisor
U.S. Dept. of Education
School To Work - A Formula For Failure
Prepared for the
Orange County School Board Hearing
Karen L. Holgate
Parents National Network
February 11, 1997
Who could oppose something called School-to-Work (STW)? It sounds great! It's a brilliant title - a brilliant marketing tool. The problem is not the title - the problem is the program!
The question is: "What is the program?" and "Does it work?" The answer is: "Who knows." There has been no long term pilot program conducted to study whether it will accomplish its title. When you hear the enormity of its scope, you will understand that its implementation will bring disaster - not just to our children but to this country as a whole.
STW calls for total restructuring and a new "governance" of unparalleled proportions and it is thundering ahead with full force. Why hasn't a long term pilot program been established to determine whether such reforms and programs are even feasible?
Why haven't we learned from past mistakes? A good example of a government implemented program - because it "sounded good" is the Job Training Partnership Act. The JTPA is often cited in legislation for STW and yet, last year, the Government Accounting Office issued a report on the effects of JTPA.
Called "Long-Term Earnings and Employment Outcomes", the report says:
"Enacted in 1982, title II of the Job Training Partnership Act has been the cornerstone of federal employment training programs...Although our statistical analysis showed some positive effect of JTPA in the years immediately following training, we found no significant effect of JTPA on earnings or employment rates after 5 years...By the fifth year, each of the four treatment groups had earnings and employment rates that were nominally higher than those of the control group. Because none of the fifth-year differences were statistically significant, however, we could not attribute the higher earnings to JTPA training rather than to chance alone...treatment group earnings exceeded those of the control group in some of the intervening years, but any statistically significant effects disappeared by the fifth year."
The government spent $1.6 billion of tax payer money on a program that produced no noticeable benefit to either the participants or the taxpayer.
This is the success story STW cites to justify full implementation of STW policies throughout the United States! As we will see, STW is too costly for America. Its formula far exceeds dollar loss - though that is staggering. STW includes:
loss of personal control over daily life;
loss of local control over education;
loss of quality, academic rich curricula; and
loss of life as a economic-driven and Republic society.
It is a formula for failure.
Until 1994, no one had heard the term STW. Yet in 1997, we are well into a program that, per the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), encompasses full scale restructuring that includes a whole "new governance system." This proposed system is so comprehensive that it includes massive government change, education reform, business involvement in curricula development and decisions, social service agencies, community groups, and "Oh, by the way, an occasional comment by a parent."
However, the systemic reform effort starts from the premise that parents are no longer capable of raising children "properly" -- and schools are no longer able to educate children for the "workplace."
Government now believes that their intervention is both appropriate and necessary in order to train children for the workforce by teaching them the correct "worker attitude." A superintendent in Southern California actually said that employers no longer care about academics, they are far more interested in positive worker attitudes.
Might we ask: "When has government ever done it better? Or saved money by doing it?"
The criteria used to determine the properly trained child are national standards that are both vague and subjective in nature. These are interchangeably called standards, outcomes, skills or competencies. [The real challenge in this new movement is trying to follow the ever-changing terminology.]
Goal 3 of Goals 2000 says:
All students will leave grades 4, 8 and 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter, (math, etc.) and "...will insure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning and productive employment."
STW cannot be discussed without also mentioning Goals 2000 and the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA). All three were passed in 1994 and are interconnected and interdependent on one another as the attached Riverside County's STW Grant Proposal shows.
The Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) says that students must master new competencies. SCANS referred to these competencies as "essential foundation skills". They include:
) Basic Skills: (This term has also changed since the SCANS report was issued. Basic skills no longer refers to just math, science, reading, spelling. It has been expanded "... to include a number of cognitive and interpersonal abilities, including the capability to think and solve problems...work effectively alone and in teams, and take personal responsibility for one's own self-development."
) Thinking Skills: "...Thinking creatively, solving problems seeing things in the mind's eye, knowing how to learn."
) Personal Qualities: Positive worker attitudes would fit under this category.
According to SCANS, competencies relate to what people actually "do" - especially at work - and include: exercising leadership, working with diversity, and working well as a team member. (Notice—no emphasis on academics or on individual excellence.)
Some of the standards/outcomes/competencies being incorporated around the country include:
Think... critically, creatively and reflectively
Self-Directed Learning [ Albert Shanker, President of AFT, says about self-directed learning, "...great experiment with a system that dismissed incentives." He says that incentives are necessary and children should be required to "wrestle through" difficult learning episodes whether they want to or not.
Collaborate...participate as a member of a team
Interpret human experience
Apply various thinking/problem solving strategies to issues...for all school-related activities and to real life situations.
Demonstrate attitudes and attributes which will promote mental, physical, and emotional health
Demonstrate good citizenship and function as positive members of the local, national and world communities
Self-Directed Learners...create a positive vision for themselves...monitor and evaluate their progress
Community Contributors...who contribute their time, energies and talents to improving the welfare of others and the quality of life in their diverse communities.
Learn and apply knowledge of the past to understand the present and plan for the future
Think...and react to the creative work of others
Understand the culturally diverse and interdependent world
Demonstrate the knowledge and skills and responsibilities needed to participate in the democratic process
Practice self-directed learning in preparation for lifelong learning
Display responsibility, self esteem, sociability, self-management, integrity and honesty
Work cooperatively to complete a project [Note: What about excel in a project?]
Establish credibility with their colleagues with competence and integrity, and help their peers achieve their goals by communicating their feelings and ideas to justify or successfully negotiate a position which advances goal attainment.
Appreciate their own culture and the cultures of others...reject the stereotyping of themselves and others, seek out and utilize the views of persons from diverse …backgrounds
San Diego County:
Be responsible citizens, contributing and modeling democratic values [The fact that the US is a Republic isn't even mentioned. Shouldn't standards at least require that students understand the difference?]
Become a lifelong learner
Possess a sense of self, personal power and self esteem
Be knowledgeable consumers
Embrace/appreciate differences of all kinds
Practice environmental preservation; be a global citizen
Demonstrate an appreciation for the aesthetics
Acquire a "critical mass of knowledge"
Notice the emphasis on team not individual accomplishments - help your peers accomplish. React to the creativity of others. Celebrate (or embrace) diversity. Where is the emphasis on math, science, reading, spelling, correct grammar, personal achievement and challenge? What about an understanding of, and respect for, the Constitution and Bill of Rights? What about understanding the culture and traditions which have made the United States a beacon of freedom for 200 years? In the new School-to-Work philosophy that's not as important as the required competencies.
Can you imagine a 6 year old conducting his own "self-directed learning? Or even a 16 year old?
The emphasis on promoting "self-esteem" is a thinly disguised attempt to convince our children that they know more than they do. STW/G2000 will create a generation of "arrogant illiterates."
How can anyone objectively measure these outcomes/competencies/standards? How do you measure how someone will become a lifelong learner? Answer: They can't.
A better question is: How do these standards raise the level of academic achievement? -or-the career levels of the masses. Answer: They don't.
In the SCANS report, Thomas Sticht, as quoted from a letter written by Assemblyman Steve Baldwin to the Business Round Table, said:
Many companies have moved operations to places with cheap, relatively poorly-educated labor. What may be crucial, they say, is the dependability of a labor force and how well it can be managed and trained, not its general educational level, although a small cadre of highly educated creative people is essential to innovation and growth. Ending discrimination and changing values are probably more important than reading in moving low-income families into the middle class.
This is nothing more than Ebonics of the work place—designed to elevate the elite and plunder the education of those they consider peons. Who and what will determine who the "small cadre" will be? How do you move low-income families into middle class by not educating them?
As one California vocational education teacher sarcastically put it, "Mold 'em and control 'em".
David Hornbeck, another STW architect says:
"...educated employees have higher turnover rates, lower job satisfaction, and poorer promotion records than less educated employees."
STW and Goals 2000 are not designed to raise the education level of our children - they are designed to train "entry-level," go-along-with-the-program, nice, little, complacent workers.
Their stated purpose is less education. They even brag about it.
As early as 1973, the movement to change the quality of education was being promoted by some. In the February, 1973 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, then NEA president, Catherine Barrett wrote:
"Dramatic changes in the way we will raise our children in the year 2000 are indicated, particularly in terms of schooling...We will need to recognize that the so-called basic skills, which currently represent nearly the total effort in elementary schools, will be taught in one-quarter of the present school day...When this happens—and it's near—the teacher can rise to his true calling. More than just a dispenser of information, the teacher will be a conveyor of values...We will be agents of change."
Shouldn't parents be the "conveyor of values" to their children? The teachers I know take pride in being educators. Who has determined that they should no longer be experts at imparting knowledge?
It took four years to pass California legislation (finally passed in 1996) that requires high school students to read and pass a test about the United States Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Federalist Papers! One can only wonder about those who opposed this bill for so long.
Delaine Eastin, California Superintendent of Public Instruction, in a paper called "Systemic Reform for California Education" said about California's new frameworks,
"The frameworks represent one kind of standards: content standards. Now it is time to take the next step and develop performance standards ...students must meet the standards in order to graduate." She continued, "...all students need the opportunity to work with business partners and see the...ways applied learning competencies can enhance learning in academic subjects. To that end applied learning—the ability to work in groups...to manage one's work...are essential to good citizenship...as well as for a productivework life."
An English teacher responded to this statement, "Right, and we're going to be relegated to helping kids write resumes. Of course, they won't be able to write, spell or speak intelligently, but they'll have a decent resume as long as traditional teachers are still available to write it for them."
Who are the people driving STW reform movement?
The National Center of Education and the Economy, and Marc Tucker, President, must be included in any discussion of STW. NCEE is probably one of the most important factors in this "systemic" change movement. (Until the 1992 elections, Mrs. Clinton served on the board of NCEE and was paid $102,000 for doing so. NCEE, including their payments to Mrs. Clinton, are currently under investigation by the district attorney in New York.)
Take a look at some of NCEE's family of programs. These four programs play a major role in determining the standards, assessments and certificates driving STW reform.
Diana Fessler, Ohio State Board of Education member tried to get a list of the key 60-65 members of these four NCEE programs. After continued requests, Mrs. Fessler was finally given 49 names. Who are the others and why won't they release their names?
In 1992, Marc Tucker wrote an 18 page congratulatory letter to Hillary Clinton in which he laid out the comprehensive restructuring plan. He envisioned a national governing council established in the following manner.
"We propose, first, that the President appoint a National Council on Human Resources Development. It would consist of the relevant key White House officials, cabinet members and members of Congress. It would also include a small number of governors, educators, business executives, labor leaders and advocates for minorities and the poor. It would be established in such a way as to assure continuity of membership across administrations so that the consensus it forces will outlast anyone administration. It would be charged with recommending broad policy on a national system of human resources development to the President and the Congress, assessing the effectiveness and promise of current programs and proposing new ones. It would be staffed by senior officials on the Domestic Policy Council staff of the President."
The plan outlined in his letter is significant because it became the basis for the "Human Resource Development Plan" and many of its components have been incorporated in Goals 2000, STW and IASA.
What does "The Plan" include?
"...a great opportunity to re-mold the entire American system for human resources development "New approach to governing...skills that literally extend from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone..." "Students of 16...get a certificate..." [They mean a Certificate of Mastery --often referred to as a CIM]
Parents and students were outraged at the standards/competencies/outcomes that were required for the Oregon Certificate of Mastery that was awarded to the first CIM class in 1994. In fact, the pilot reform program that produced this certificate was a complete failure.
The original program begin with 299 students in 1992. At the end of 1994 only 175 students remained. Of those 175 only 74 received their CIMs.
One hundred and one students failed- not because they failed rigorous academic coursework - but because they failed in their group work for group grades, didn't complete enough seat time, and spent too little or too long on a written or oral report.
By 1995, the second CIM class graduated, 102 students failed. Only 96 received their CIMs.
In May 1996, an NBC affiliate reported on Cottage Grove. They found only one student who liked the program and said that the school admitted that "89 kids dropped out of the high school last year, compared to 28 the year before." Since Cottage Grove is a community of only 7500 people with a total student population of 700 students; 89 drop outs is a tremendous failure rate!!!
In his book on OBE/STW, Oregon House of Representative member, Ron Sunseri, said
"Student dissatisfaction with the CIM program was so high that 116 students signed a petition requesting they be allowed to drop the CAM program."
Parents in Cottage Grove have filed a lawsuit claiming among other things, civil rights violations.
The National Alliance for Restructuring Education is a partnership of states, school districts, and organizations whose focus is to insure that all students achieve CIMs. Currently, Alliance partners teach nearly 5 million students in over 9,000 schools. They have said, "...initially, the CIM...will be optional for students...[but] after two or three years, all [Alliance] students will be required to achieve the CIM."
In light of the fact that Oregon's CIM was based on the competencies mentioned previously, and taking into consideration that both parents and students found that program sadly lacking, you would think that maybe the Alliance partners and NCEE would want to rethink their bad idea. But no - they are forging ahead. Apparently failure is no reason to stop a bad program!
So committed are they that in 1990, in NCEE's publication "America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages!" they said about workers who did not have CIMs,
"[they]...will be condemned to dead-end jobs that leave them in poverty even if they are working."
Marc Tucker says in his letter saying that once students receive their certificate, they will be allowed to go on to the "next stage of their education." This next stage is defined as being "...entitled to two years of high school and one year of college". [emphasis added] "Entitled?" Do they mean that if your child doesn't perform to the subjective standards they have determined are important they will not be allowed to continue in high school? Where will they go? Directly to the workforce in "dead-end" jobs?
The NCEE plan states that most students will go to "some form of college." This is not college as we think of it today. NCEE plans that 80% or more of American high school students will be expected to get this "new form of college" certificate based on three years of school. Remember--CIMs are received in 10th grade which means the "new form of college" will include 2 years of high school! (Will high school now be considered "higher education?")
In President Clinton's 1997 of the Union he said, "...every 18 year old must be able to go to college." But what kind of college will that be? Is he talking about this "new form of college" which includes two years of high school and one year of something else?
What is that something else and how does this play out?
Maine's "Career Advantage" has already implemented part of this idea. It is a two year program that starts in either 11th or 12th grade and includes one year at one of seven technical colleges. Based on their pilot program of 15 students (eight went on to jobs after completion), they have expanded it into a statewide program that will include 3500 students in job training classes this year.
As it was explained to me:
"In any given 2 week period of time, students will spend 40 hours at work and 40 hours at school."
STW programs are changing the word "apprenticeship" to Career Development and other "feel good" titles. Why? According to Tucker in his letter to Mrs. Clinton:
"Unions are adamantly opposed to broad based apprenticeship programs by that name. Focus groups...show that parents everywhere want their kids to go to college, not to be shunted aside into a non-college apprenticeship vocational program...By requiring these programs...all the objectives of the apprenticeship idea are achieved, while at the same time assuring much broader support of the idea..."
Please don't get me wrong. I'm not against vocational or technical college training. Like most parents, I'm just against it replacing academic education first. I especially resent being told that my child will receive a college education when he isn't. How dare they lie to the American public? If we need vocational/technical colleges-fine, let's do it, but let's be honest and call them what they are.
We might also ask, "Since when has it become the responsibility of public paid education to train students for "entry-level" jobs in private industry? No wonder big business supports STW! They get "entry-level" trained workers at no cost to them. What ever happened to a liberal education in public schools, and on-the-job technical training by the companies which need it and benefit directly by it?
So-beware of empty promises that claim every child deserves and will receive a college education. [It's just a clever new meaning to a universally recognized term.]
"... especially relevant..., is... our reconceptualization of the apprenticeship proposal as a college-level [program]...[and] that everyone who gets the ...credential [CIM] be entitled to a free year of college."
The 1994 STW legislation mandates that STW training begin in 7th grade and recommends that it start at the earliest grade possible. The authors apparently believed that you can't start too young! CAREERS actually used the term K-12!
Apparently a school in Ohio agrees that children in K-6 need to prepare for the workforce. They passed out the following job application form.
International Broom Riders
Division of Witchery
Spooky Sides, Somewhere
. Professional name: . Age: Business Address:
. What is your past experience:
. Are you afraid of heights? Depths? Tight Places?
. What characterizations do you prefer to perform?
. To cast a spell, you must develop your own incantation. What will yours be?
. What are your favorite foods?
. Do you wish to work alone? In a group? (Is this to promote the team concept?)
. Who is your favorite witch?
. Are you willing to work with vampires? With Monsters? (Is this to prepare them for the concept of celebrating diversity??
. How would you describe the way you wish to look?
Hair: Eyes: Legs: Nose: Posture: Skin: Arms: Back: Mouth: Teeth: (Why focus on personal appearance? If anything this is an area that should be de-emphasized...)
Your application will be examined, and if you qualify, you will be promptly notified.
Systemic reform (STW/G2000/IASA) is a system for everyone! (Per NCEE's plan.)
"It's a system for everyone...achieving the standard is a prerequisite for enrollment in all professional and technical degree programs." "Certificates and degrees [will be required] for entry-level jobs..."
Government is dictating the required standards for business and education. This doesn't give local control to school boards or districts. Even state control is subservient to government dictates.
The CAREERS ACT and the Senate version, S143, actually wrote state legislators out of the process by amending the Wagner-Peyser Act of 1933 and eliminating the term "the state legislators shall" and inserted "the governor of the state shall" when talking about formulating the state plan.
However, even the governors wouldn't have control because - if you follow the money - they have to submit their plans for approval by the Secretaries of Labor and Education! That way, in order to fully implement the Plan, the federal government merely has to exert pressure on one person per state. This already occurs with Goals 2000.
Goals 2000, STW and last year's failed CAREERS, all referred to all students. I asked three different attorneys if that meant "all" and they assured me that "all means all that's all all means."
What about private schools? Homeschoolers? Eventually, unless their children have attained the outcomes, standards and competencies, that qualify them for a Certificate of Mastery they will be unable to progress to college or get anything other than a "dead-end" job.
This is government intrusion into the lives of all Americans on a scale too terrifying to contemplate. Is this "the new governance" and "systemic" change?
What about business involvement?
Business may be unwitting partners in promoting a plan that will ultimately have disastrous results for them. First of all, remember the system is for everyone - cradle to grave. That means everyone will have to attain the national skill standards - whether student, adult, unemployed or employed.
Mr. Tucker's letter to Mrs. Clinton says,
"Employed people can access the system through the requirement that their employers spend an amount equal to 1 % of their salary and wage on training leading to national skill certification."...Everything we have heard indicates virtually universal opposition in the employer community to the proposal for a 1 % levy on employers for training to support the costs associated with employed workers gaining these skills...We propose that Bill take a leaf out of the German book. One of the most important reasons that large German employers offer apprenticeship slots to German youngsters is that they fear, with good reason, that if they don't volunteer to do so, the law will require it. Bill could gather a group of leading executives and business organization leaders, and tell them straight out that he will hold back on submitting legislation to require a training levy, provided that they commit themselves to a drive to get employers to get their average expenditures on front-line employee training up to 2% ...of salaries and wages with two years. If they have not done so within that time, then he will expect their support when he submits legislation equalling the training levy.
He could do the same thing with respect to slots for structured on the job training. [Forced student job training.]
STW depends on complete business participation. Without it - the whole reform movement is dead. Robert Reich, Secretary of Labor is already supporting "corporate responsibility" and wants to create a new category of enterprises in which "A-Corporations" would receive special tax and regulatory treatment after meeting certain standards. These include: pay "at least 3 percent towards retirement plans for workers" and "spend at least 2 percent of payroll for training or education of Americans in its employ, etc."
But--is business really ready for such broad government intervention in their lives?
Sally Myers and her husband own nine restaurants in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. They have 15 high schools within their business sphere. Mrs. Myers says, "Most businesses want goodwill and want to help schools in their communities, however, they want to do it voluntarily." The Myers' have always participated in work experience programs; they have spoken at career days for years and have been supportive of school vocational education programs.
Mrs. Myers says,
"What businesses don't realize is that all the feel-good awards, lunches, etc. that encourage participation in ever expanding programs will not feel so good once law mandates the terms and conditions. When the law mandates participation, they won't be able to pull out."
This year, Mrs. Myers said the tone of the program directors was noticeably more aggressive. Via letters and telephone calls, she was told "Don't come as a speaker for career day". And they didn't just want "job-shadowing" this year; they now want an actual "internship" whereby the student follows the manager around all day and the manager spends time explaining every step of what he/she does and meaningfully involves the student in the operation of the business. And they no longer want it just one day a week, they now want 2-3 days per week.
Mrs. Myers tried to explain that:
There are two managers in every store that manage between 20-30 people and have responsibility for numerous guests. It wouldn't be practical or economically feasible to do what the school now wants. Especially 2-3 days per week at nine different restaurants.
She suggested a day once a year or once a semester to show the students what is involved in managing, i.e., marketing skills, math, etc. and give the student a taste of what the restaurant business demands.
They weren't interested. The Myers, for years supporters of the schools, are pulling out of the program. Her question is:
"How long until will it be until we will be mandated to do what the school, i.e., government wants. The cost would be prohibitive. That - along with the data collection they are beginning to require will drive us out of business."
And deprive approximately 250 workers of jobs. Families without incomes.
How many other small to medium sized businesses will be forced to close their doors because the federal demands for: 1) uniform data collection, and 2) job-shadowing/internships, etc. (Why would anyone adopt programs that have such a formula for disaster?)
Work-based education requiring performance skills are being touted as the ultimate achievement of today's STW reform movement: What are workplace skills? And how do students achieve them?
Students work. In W. VA., an auto dealer uses his students to wash cars.
In CA, a bank uses "honor" students to file. However, one bank manager told me they are pulling out of the program, because graduating 'honor' students can't spell well enough to follow directions or file alphabetically.
In NJ, students go to Atlantic City casinos to learn how to become card sharks, excuse me, dealers.
We have placed our children at risk of being exploited once more by business. Labor Law violations have already been reported.
A Work Experience Teacher for 20 years recently highlighted her (and other teachers) concerns. In a report to California legislators, she wrote,
When I started in work experience, labor law enforcement for minors was a priority in the state. Today that is not the case at all. I respectfully request that members of the labor and education committees take their collective heads out of the sand and look at what environment they are producing.
.Harsh economic conditions and welfare reform are also getting parents excited about pushing their student into the work world to bring home some money. They are using School to Career as an excuse to opt their student out of academics in favor of part-time jobs.
.Students in first jobs are afraid of saying something is wrong because they might get fired and replaced by another student. They also do not want to displease their parents by getting fired or not doing "well" in a job so they say everything is fine. They tend t drop hard academic classes (or start failing them) rather than as the employer to reduce the number of late-night hours.
.Parents often do not want students to say anything is wrong at work because they want the money coming into the household or they do not want to 'interfere' with the student testing his or her wings in the employment world.
.Employers are loving the situation: a) Students being pushed into the work world by a STC movement or parents needing money, b) Students and parents being afraid to say anything to upset an employer or end a job, c) Few, if any, labor law enforcers around looking over their shoulders, d) Labor law enforcers with the attitudes that the burden of proof falls on the minor worker rather than the employer so that they do not have to work so hard at a case since time/money/staffing is in short supply.
So, it is my theory that the Labor Committees (cutting labor law inspection budgets) and Education Committees (with the School to Career push) are in direct collision course with the students' present academic condition and future career condition at risk.
This teacher then went on to document several instances of labor violations which have gone uncorrected.
Child labor laws were passed to protect our children from just this type of abuse. Apparently, we, in our enlightened age of undeserved arrogant superiority, are taking a tremendous step back in the protection of children.
To what end?
Last year I was in Washington, DC to meet with several Congressional members to discuss the CAREERS ACT and S143. My concerns were for students and education issues. I was told that some of my objections were already part of current labor laws. That was when I realized that today's parents need to be experts in labor law as well as education law in order to protect their children.
Assemblyman Steve Baldwin in a letter to the Business Roundtable and State Chamber of Commerce said:
"STW attempts to track children early on into specific career pathways, a failed model that is commonly used in socialist countries who centrally plan their economies...the idea is for the government to determine what career areas will be in demand economically and then use these predictions to determine career tracks...the market has always performed this role more efficiently than any burdensome bureaucracy could."
"...tracking students would replace our current liberal arts approach whereby we maximize career choices by exposing students to a variety of career education options. As European workers will tell you, the limiting of career choices as a result of tracking produces unproductive and unhappy workers."
What is Germany's Plan? Let's pause to consider the German model which is so often cited as the epitome of STW!
A 1995 article by Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe reported on a hotly debated German bill that would allow store owners to stay open until 8:00 p.m. weeknights, until 4:00 p.m. on Saturdays and allow bakeries to sell fresh rolls on Sunday. This is government control!
Germans enjoy subsidized spa "cures," free tuition and textbooks for college students, as many as 14 annual holidays for workers, child support payments for every family with children and health care benefits that are split 50% between employer and 50% employee. At any time, Germany's economy is perched on the edge of collapse. With its citizens being buried under staggering taxes.
Says Jocoby, "'The German Model' of economic management is based on consensus, not conflict."
Germany has the lowest working hours per week, longest vacations, remarkable number of public holidays reports the German Chambers of Industry and Commerce. However, they also report that the true unemployment rate is around 14%.
German employers must pay 80% of the actual employee wage in additional perks and benefits. Wilfried Prewo, chief executive of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce in Hanover, said in 1994, "If you want to copy pages out of the German social policy book, have your checkbook handy."
And this is the model our government wants to emulate in formulating STW policy!!
Actual work experience isn't enough for the STW reformers, they also want and include on the student's transcript - a well as listing it in the DATA HANDBOOK - community service. So committed to this idea are they, that many states are beginning to require mandatory volunteerism as a graduation requirement!
While there is absolutely nothing wrong with volunteering, mandatory volunteerism is an oxymoron too disgusting to even contemplate. To put this idea into perspective consider this: both federal and state legislation are mandating student community service and student work-based learning.
When will students go to school?
When will students study?
When will students spend time with family?
When will students play?
When will students mow the lawn; wash the dishes;
make the bed or clean up their rooms?
The School to Work Job Opportunities Act of 1994 requires that STW programs must begin no later than 7th grade but encourages it at an earlier age. Many grant proposals already include K-12 and CAREERS mandated K-12 career awareness.
I don't know about you but I want my grandchildren to have time to be children. To play, to dream, to fantasize, to just be children - innocent and eager to learn. I don't want them thinking about a job in kindergarten.
Yet last year in California, Assemblywoman Valerie Brown, introduced AB 3217. It's purpose? To mandate volunteerism as a graduation requirement. It failed last year. But I guarantee you it will be back this year. In New York, parents recently lost a lawsuit which challenged that state's mandatory volunteerism requirement. I strongly disagree with that judge. Mandating anyone to volunteer should be considered a violation of civil rights and to do so with children should be considered a violation of parental rights also.
Encouraged? Yes! Mandated - Never!
The Labor Market Information System is a key component of STW and last years CAREERS/Workforce legislation. (According to various reports CAREERS is not a dead issue and many look for it to resurface this year, either as its own bill or as parts of other bills. Quite simply the LMIS is a computer registry of all businesses and potential workers in one central national database.
The NCEE lays out a framework that requires:
"All available front-line jobs -whether public or private must be listed in it by law. (This provision must be carefully designed to make sure that employers will not be subject to employment suits based on the data produced by this system - if they are subject to such suits, they will not participate.)
A system of labor market boards is established at the local, state and federal levels..."
These boards will involve leading employers, labor representatives, educators, and advocacy group leaders, running the redesigned employment service, ...intake system for all clients, counseling all clients...and organizing employers to provide job experience and training slots for school youth and adult trainees."
The CAREERS ACT established these Labor Market Boards. The bureaucracy and cost to create this monstrous federally controlled employment agency boggles the mind! Not to mention the prohibitive expense this would mandate on all business both public and private! According to Mrs. Meyers, the restaurant owner, this provision alone could easily drive them out of business!
In this article by Jack Kemp (R) and Joseph Lieberman (D) they discuss that legislation was introduced in 1995 that would have required every American to be registered in a federal computer data base. Ostensibly, to screen undocumented immigrants. But as Kemp and Lieberman point out, it would affect everyone. They ask, "What if your name isn't there? Maybe you won't be hired. Or maybe you will..but you will start under a cloud..."
What happens if the government clerk who types your name in the computer makes a mistake? How do you correct a faceless/unknown worker's error?
Kemp and Lieberman point out that both Bill Kristol and the ACLU oppose the bill as well as the National Federation of Independent Business.
For Mr. Tucker to be so concerned about protecting employers from lawsuits, one wonders about the kind of data that will be required. This is obviously not just grade transcripts, job availability or wages offered. This is data that could result in lawsuits!
What data will be collected?
The National Center for Education Statistics has published the STUDENT DATA HANDBOOK which details all the information desired and how to uniformly record it for future nationwide exchange. The 10 page index includes under the heading: Health Conditions: 1) Number of Teeth and 2) Occlusion Condition. (They really want to know your child.)
Schools keep confidential "cum files" that include information on: 1) discipline, behaviors, attitudes, psychological testing, parent disagreements with schools, teacher confidential comments, etc. (Some teachers report that they are becoming very concerned about the types of personal information being kept on children and families.)
Classroom surveys are conducted everyday in classrooms across the nation. Some are federally funded; some state and some local. They include every type of question, including:
) "If your mother promised to be home at 2:00 in the afternoon to take you to the movies but didn't show up until suppertime and didn't even phone, what would be a good punishment for her? Would punishing her be likely to make her on time in the future?" This question showed up in surveys in MO and in Alhambra, CA
. ) "My favorite erogenous zones are..." (VT)
Many of these surveys appear in "Career decision" making classes such as the Angelos experienced in Antioch, California.
When the Angelos tried to withdraw their son from this class because of similar surveys under the guise of making career decisions, they were told that the class was required for graduation and that the Angelos had no authority to withdraw their son. The Angelos fought in court and won. However, it was extremely expensive, time consuming and intimidating. Most parents are unable to do what the Angelos felt they had to do.
Who has access to the data?
Employers for one. WorkLink and Vital Link are two programs currently in use that promote the STW model in hiring students. Their own brochure lists the following items as selling points to employers.
Confidential teacher ratings of students' work habits
Assessments of workplace skills
What is the definition of assessment? Webster's defines it as, "To judge the worth or importance of." This is a subjective estimate of your child's worth based on someone else's desired outcomes.
In his report for the "Center on Learning, Assessment, and School Structure", Grant Wiggins said of authentic assessment "[it is]...composed of worthy tasks—challenges that we want students to master...directly measure students on the performances we value."
So the assessments that are so touted today, are subjective evaluations judged by teachers, mentors, etc. on those performances that "we" - whoever "we" are - determine are important. (Those performances are the standards/outcomes/competencies that were discussed earlier.)
Continuing with WorkLink...
Information on student community involvement, outside training, business-related coursework, work experience, awards and honors.
Summary of high school transcript that is easy to read and interpret.
Vital Link's transcript page does list academics-but at the bottom of the page. At the top are CAREER SKILLS including:
Problem Solving (Remember Jeff Jacoby's remark about the German
Conflict Resolution model - "consensus not conflict".)
This looks remarkably like the transcript suggested by SCANS which includes: resources, interpersonal skills, responsibility, self-esteem, sociability, self-management, etc. Notice how much is left to teacher opinion on attitudes, thoughts and feelings.
In Seattle, the COMPUTER PROFESSIONALS FOR SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY, a moderate to liberal organization, as one member put it, published a two page report entitled "Privacy at Risk" in which they discuss:
Electronic portfolios for each student - with personal essays
SS# for kindergartners, which will be used to track each student's career after high school (specifically discussed in STW, G2000 and CAREERS legislation)
Sending high school students' transcripts and teacher confidential ratings of a student's work-related behavior to employers via WorkLink
They go on to mention that the national electronic student records network is coordinated by the federal government and adopted by states with federal assistance. They then list some of the data called for by National Education Goals Panel empowered by the Goals 2000 legislation. Some of the data includes:
physical, emotional and other development at ages 5 and 6
type and hours per week of community service
and information about family members:
highest level of education for primary care givers
total family income
They then discuss information listed in the NCES Data Handbook:
type of dwelling
They point out that those who can access this information include:
officers, employees and agents of local, state and federal educational agencies and private education researchers may be given access to individual student records without student or parental permission according to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974.
The Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act makes it possible, without a court order, for a whole universe of people to access to the most private information that has been gathered on students, parents and family members!
Who else has access? According to a report by Melanie Fields, Sarah Leslie and Anita Hoge, called, "When Johnny Takes The Test", "...29 research organizations, academic institutions, companies, and contractors which have access to restricted use NAEP data bases that contain individually identifiable information..." They then list the 29 groups.
Hoge, et. al., also point out the difference between "confidential" and "anonymous" data. They agree with the computer experts that data being gathered about you and your families is not anonymous or confidential from those the government deems worthy of access.
In the spring of 1994, a Falmouth, Massachusetts mother and member of the Falmouth School Committee, Maureen O'Connell, asked to see the standardized MAEP (Massachusetts Educational Assessment Program) test taken by her 4th grade son. (Remember, STW/G2000 mandate assessments in 4th, 8th, and 10th grades),
Mrs. O'Connell assumed the school would be glad to have her interested and involved in her son's education. She assumed wrong. The deputy superintendent said, "They belong to the state." Because she was an elected official she thought she had earned a certain degree of state authority. Wrong...
She grew increasingly concerned about MAEP's requirement of using "...a unique and confidential identification number." She also grew alarmed at the NCES Data Handbook. She asked why MAEP, which claimed that scores would not be individually calculated, was bar-coded (much like California's CLAS test). After being continually rebuffed in her requests to view the test - much as we all were with the CLAS test - she tried getting access under the Massachusetts Freedom of Information Act which clearly stated "all materials or data...made or received by any officer or employee of any agency" would be available. When still denied, she appealed to the Massachusetts Secretary of State. After a three month delay, he ruled that she could have access.
During her battle, a rider which created a loophole in Massachusetts' Freedom of Information Act was inserted in a major budget bill. The Act now excludes from public access, any "test, examination or assessment instrument."
This should be of real concern for you board members. She is your equal and was denied her own son's assessment test. She has still not seen her son's test.
No one - not even state legislators who were asked to approve funding for CLAS were originally allowed to see that test. They were told it would violate the integrity of the test! What integrity?
In his letter, to the Business Roundtable, Assemblyman Baldwin brought up the participation of business in developing curricula. This is another area of extreme concern for many groups. Surprisingly, one is the National Education Association.
An Associated Press article by Deb Riechmann, reported that curricula is being developed by "thousands of businesses, special interest groups and foreign governments" and are being supplied to schools across the nation.
The NEA warned teachers and school districts not to accept curricula promoted by businesses that promote that business or product. In some instances, it was reported that teachers were paid off with trips, gifts and prizes. And yet government continues to encourage business curricula development!
How does STW affect teachers?
STW encourages teachers to become facilitators—not educators. This will require a different set of certification skills for teachers.
In President Clinton's State of Union Speech, he said we need, and I quote, "...National Certification of teachers..." and need to, "...Remove those who don't measure up..."
Teachers beware! This is just another way to end tenure without using the word and bringing down a hail storm of controversy. Very clever...
We've been saying for years that teachers' jobs are at-risk.
To prove that President Clinton is serious abut this, I ask you to consider West Virginia's STW legislation, SB 300. This bill talks about new teacher requirements for renewal of certificates. If teachers don't measure up on the new assessments, will they lose their certification? According to the President's speech that is the intent.
SB 300 also mentions principals. It requires them to attend a "Principals Academy" and actually says that their "failure to comply" by either failing or refusing to complete the training "shall [make them] ineligible to be employed as...a principal."
So in West Virginia Principals who fail to meet the new standards will be out of a job and teachers will soon follow.
A few months ago I was in West Virginia speaking. Several state legislators were in the audience. These legislators were truly alarmed at what had become law in their state and now, along with an active group of parents, are working to repeal this student, teacher and principal controlling legislation.
New certification requirements have been submitted before the California legislature several times in the last few years.
One bill, (AB 1448, 1994-95) would have removed the requirement that teachers of limited-English speaking students pass a test in reading, writing and math in order to receive a teaching credential." What a travesty. Why should limited or non- English speaking students be saddled with less educated teachers than English speaking students?
Another bill, (AB 3036) would have included teaching about self-esteem as a new "acceptable activity" for credential purposes. How do you do that? Teach about self-esteem? Isn't self-esteem something you earn from accomplishment? (It was vetoed by the governor.)
Which now brings us to your role in establishing/implementing policy for your district.
If you listen to the rhetoric about Goals 2000 and STW, you will hear as much about local control as you do the effort to achieve parental involvement. Don't be fooled, you have as much control once this plan is fully implemented as parents do to have a say in how and what their children will be taught.
"[the]...object is to...encourage local creativity and responsibility by getting local people to commit to high goals..." [Note: it doesn't say that local communities can decide whether to adopt the goals but rather how to sell it to other locals.
After attending an NCEE conference, Fessler wrote:
"Their audacious goal of restructuring state departments of education is a direct assault on the rightful authority of state boards of education to structure their respective departments of education as they see fit. Likewise, their goal of restructuring school districts is one of usurping the rightful authority of locally elected school boards, as representatives of The People, to organize local schools as they see fit."
In Delaine Eastin's report, "Systemic Reform for California Education" that was mentioned earlier, she concluded with a reference that the "second parallel effort will consider changes in governance and will look not only at Sacramento but also the structure and organization of school districts and schools..."
But the most telling example of how they really view you is in the federal governments response to California's STC Implementation Grant proposal. At the October 3, 1995 task force meeting held in San Diego, the Labor Dept. responded that California's grant had been denied and at the top of the weakness list was this:
"System implementation is based on a reactive design that depends on LOCAL EFFORTS to structure statewide system."
In other words - too much local control! The reply then went on to say that their Planning Grant could continue. Apparently until they got it right! This is the local control they flaunt? It is local control under federal direction. California must have finally understood the requirements, we were recently awarded our Implementation Grant funds. Aren't we lucky!
At the November, 1996 STC task force meeting in San Diego, it was announced that "with or without federal funding, we are totally committed to STC. It will be fully implemented within five years." They went on to say that the next two years will be spent in passing the required legislation and the following three years will see its completion.
Does that sound like local control?
The only local input NCEE recommends is to "engage the public" in discussing, as Diana Fessler, says, "...how the pre-determined goals should be achieved, thereby appearing to welcome public input, while avoiding the real issues. Determining how pre-defined goals will be achieved is meaningless when compared to determining what the goals are going to be and determining who will set the goals."
She compares this with someone who hands you an airplane ticket and tells you, a "Your flight leaves tomorrow and asks how do you want to get to the airport? Someone has already decided that you will be taking the trip."
To continue her thought, I add:
"Once you board the plane and its in the air, you can't get off; the government pilot and his crew are in complete control."
The plan is for everyone. Tucker says:
"We would sweep away means-tested programs, because they stigmatize recipients...replacing them with programs for everyone...we would make individuals, their families and whole communities the unit of service."
They have already gone far in implementing many components of this plan. Under Title 1 of IASA, all the Early Intervention programs, including Head Start, Healthy Start, Parents as Teachers (PAT), etc. are included. At the IASA Convention recently in San Francisco, it was stressed that the wonderful thing about the newly reauthorized IASA is that it is for everyone! So if your child attends a school that receives Title 1 funding, you better beware. All kinds of extra goodies are included - whether you are an at-risk family or not. And - by using a special provision in Title 1, schools with only a 35% at-risk population can now apply for and become Title 1 recipients.
Why is Title 1 included in a discussion of STW? As I mentioned at the beginning, Goals 2000, STW and IASA are inextricably linked. If you don't believe me - follow the money...Last year Congress appropriated $200 million for STW programs and $491 million for Goals 2000 programs. But for Head Start, only one of the myriad programs listed in IASA's, Title 1, they generously gave $3.9 billion.
The STW and Goals 2000 dollars are seed money only. States and local districts will be expected to pick up the brunt of this extraordinarily costly boondoggle. The feds will continue supporting IASA programs because they include the social agenda items, including parent/school compacts that, in some schools "require" parental volunteerism of 40 hours per year at the school. Leonardo da Vinci Magnet School's "contract" says, "Failure to sign and return this contract does not release you from your responsibilities under school policy..." This particular "contract" says that one of the ways you can earn your hours is by baby-sitting the children of employees of the school. Just more mandatory volunteerism at the parent level.
Marc Tucker envisions that "Early Childhood education should be combined with quality day care to provide wrap around programs that enable working parents to drop off their children at the beginning of the work day and pick them up at the end. Full funding for the very poor should be combined with matching funds to extend the tuition paid by middle class parents."
This follows through on the "1-stop shopping" idea. The school becomes the new "Hub of the Community" where day care, nutrition, medical services, psychological counseling and social services all come together to serve "the community at large."
In 1995, the government funded 39 separate boards, agencies and departments and a total of 760 education programs at a cost to taxpayers of $120 billion. Programs supporting math, reading and science accounted for less than 7%. A partial breakdown follows:
Science - 3.6%
Reading - 1.8%
Math - 1.1%
Arts - 5%
Environmental Programs - 3.5%
STW with its Labor Market Boards, Standards Boards, Business Boards, etc. will only heap more costly programs upon programs. How long can we afford to support such a top heavy system without collapse?
This then ladies and gentlemen is the crux of STW. It is not a simple "let's train our children for careers movement." It is a total restructuring of society that involves a whole new governance system with increasing federal control over the daily lives of U.S. citizens.
In fact, Marc Tucker in closing his letter to Hillary Clinton actually says, "Radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are required to move any combination of these agendas."
If we do have a real School To Work crisis in America today, it isn't because all students aren't trained for entry-level positions in the workforce. It's because they aren't educated well enough to progress beyond entry-level. As one construction foreman said to me, "The kids today can't even read a ruler." That's a lack of basic education. A donut shop owner said, "They ask me, 'How many are in a dozen?" That is a lack of basic education. How can we teach our students to perform in the work place if they can't perform the basics first!?!
Do we need training for non-college bound youth? Yes—but not as a replacement for rigorous academics based on concrete measurable standards! To do so only limits our children's future choices. It relegates them to a lifetime of entry-level dead-end jobs.
I suggest the federal government get out of education and allow state and local government, working side-by-side with the people who care the most - parents - to focus on providing a rich academic centered curricula to all students. Only if we expect that our children receive the same quality academic centered education most of us remember receiving will we be able to reclaim our place as world leaders in knowledge and progress. Only then can we truly devise a workable career training plan for our non-college bound youth.
I urge you not to buy the "pig in a poke". But use this hearing to begin your own education about his total restructuring of government that is being proposed.
The nature of our country, the quality of our lives, and the ongoing well-being of our national spirit and economy rests on people like you making informed decisions.
It rests on parents becoming knowledgeable and taking a stand for themselves and their children.
It rests on legislators realizing that government isn't the answer to all our problems.
And it rests on an educated populace that is able to graduate from high school with real credentials of knowledge. These graduates, whether they go on to college, into trades or into business, will be prepared to take on the world - realize their dreams and charge full speed ahead into exciting, challenging futures. Our children deserve nothing less.