Sinister Oregon Plan
Underway To Control
Children & Families
by Paul Richmond
Imagine this: A cabal of powerful business owners is after America's children. They want to train them to be mindless employees in their massive corporations. The power brokers have recruited influential politicians to turn the public school system into nothing more than a training ground for future employees. The politicians also want to break up families that aren't willing to toe the corporate line.
It sounds like an episode of the "X-Files" or the plot of a cheap science fiction paperback, but this is not fiction. It's already happened in Oregon. The outlandish-sounding scheme culminated on December 5, 1994. That's when a document called "The Oregon Option" was signed by the entire Clinton Cabinet, all members of the Oregon Congressional delegation, outgoing Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts, incoming Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, Portland Mayor Vera Katz, Multnomah County Commission Chair Beverly Stein, Gresham Mayor Gussie McRobert, and others.
At the time of the signing, Vice President Al Gore said "The Oregon Option" would turn the state into a "laboratory." The agreement describes the research field as "childhood health, family stability and workforce development."
To the casual observer, this language may sound like just so much meaningless nonsense---the kind of feel-good rhetoric found in so many governmental documents that are merely collecting dust on the shelf these days. But, in the case of "The Oregon Option," nothing could be further from the truth. This plan actually combines a series of obscure but significant plans created by some of the region's---indeed, the nation's---most powerful politicians and business executives. They are a group which has interacted with one another for years, usually outside the glare of public scrutiny.
These are not the sort of people who spend their time working on meaningless projects. Through the arrangements now combined in "The Oregon Option," these power brokers have readjusted the very structure of 20th Century American society around their own needs. What is being created by The Oregon Option is nothing less than a government run entirely for the benefit of its largest banks, utilities and other major corporations. The aim is the creation of generations of completely docile, corporate trained citizens. It will accomplish this through a life time of government intervention and manipulation in the education and rearing of all children.
Under the programs encompassed in "The Oregon Option," the government will set up databases on every child conceived. It will use home visits to evaluate the parents to see if they fit the corporate standards. It will have the ability to monitor and break apart families. Parents will go through parenting classes which will fill them with corporate sanctioned psycho-babble and rhetoric. Failure to abide by the conditions of this program will be called "developmental neglect"---grounds for the government to remove the child from the family.
Children will be subjected to an education system which will emphasize their mediocrity. At school, in a manner frighteningly reminiscent of Nazi Germany's Hitler Youth, they will be encouraged to report all suspicious behavior of friends, neighbors, siblings, or classmates to a properly sanctioned authority of the corporate state. In the end, Oregonians will be no more than cogs in the corporate machine.
"The Oregon Option" is the result of more than a decade of careful planning by some of the wealthiest and most powerful individuals in not only Oregon, but the entire nation. Based on work begun under the administrations of former Oregon governors Mark Hatfield and Neil Goldschmidt, it has been pushed by some of the state's best known political figures, including former Portland Mayor and Oregon Governor Neil Goldschmidt. At the core of "The Oregon Option" is "The Oregon Strategic Plan," a landmark document drafted and implemented under the direction of former Governor Goldschmidt.
Written in 1988, "The Oregon Strategic Plan" is perhaps the ultimate example of "trickle-down economics." It restructures the entire needs of everyone in the state around those of its largest corporations. Under the plan, large corporations get tax breaks called "reverse investment." Workers compensation settlements are seen as a disadvantage to attracting large businesses and thus reduced. The education system is restructured to guarantee an adequate work-force for these corporations---though no provisions are made to guarantee jobs for all residents. The per capita income of Oregon residents is raised not by raising the earned income of current residents, but by importing "skilled professionals" who will gentrify Oregon and force the current residents out.
Looked upon by Willamette Week and the rest of the official alternative press as the consummate "visionary" leader, Goldschmidt is, according to "American Politics," a member of the Trilateral Commission---a group of the powerful business and political leaders that grew out of efforts by the world's wealthiest families (the Morgans, the Rockefellers, the Carnegies, etc.) to extend the power of their mega-monopolies (U.S. Steel, General Motors, Standard Oil, Chase Bank, etc.). They formed think tanks to redesign public policies to their own benefit, then convinced elected officials to adopt these self-serving plans.
That's the pattern Goldschmidt followed in preparing "The Oregon Strategic Plan." It was drafted by an ad hoc think tank comprised of representatives of the state's dominant economic interests, including Portland General Electric (PGE), Pacific Power and Light (PP&L), Northwest Natural Gas, First Interstate Bank, Weyerhaueser, and a few other members of the Portland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Oregon Business Council. Goldschmidt had received substantial campaign contributions from this same group of corporations, and was later retained as a highly-paid lobbyist by many of them. This is typical of today's revolving door between business and government. Overseeing the policy's development was Richard Reiten, then director of the Oregon Economic Development Department (OEDD).
After he left OEDD, Reiten was named president of PGE. Significantly, one of Reiten's last acts in his role as OEDD Chair was to move all Oregon state government offices dealing with international affairs into the World Trade Center, a downtown Portland building owned by PGE. The actual drafting of the plan was done by Duncan Wyse, then a policy manager with the Oregon Office of Economic Development. Wyse then became the director of the Oregon Progress Board, a body created by "The Oregon Strategic Plan" to monitor its implementation.
In 1995, Wyse left state government to become president of the Oregon Business Council (OBC), an influential private organization made up of the largest businesses in the state. The group which directed the development of "The Oregon Strategic Plan" included such heavy hitters as John Gray and Don Frisbee, two well-established Portland businessmen who have served on the boards of a half dozen major corporations, including Weyerhaueser and First Interstate Bank. They also served on Governor John Kitzhaber's Transition Team, and are currently members of the Oregon Progress Board.
Whenever a group of people meets among themselves, the decisions they come up with will only reflect the needs of those who had a voice in the process. So it's not surprising that "The Oregon Strategic Plan" meets the needs of large corporate interests, not the general population of the state. For example, the plan sees protections such as workers compensation and unemployment benefits as impediments to "competitiveness." Strategies are designed to eliminate them.
Similarly, talk of raising per capita incomes is not centered around improving the shrinking earning capacity of people already in Oregon---it is centered on bringing people into the state with higher incomes. Obviously, this will not fill the needs of those in Oregon who no longer have jobs. It will, however, provide a steady client/ consumer base for those branches of business and government who drafted the plan. These few examples portray the central premise of "The Oregon Strategic Plan"---readjusting the lives of all Oregonians to the needs of the state's largest businesses.
Readjusting the lives of Oregonians around corporations is not an easy task. It requires allowing the corporation's direct access to coming generations. This was accomplished in 1991 when the Oregon Legislature passed HB 3565---the "Oregon 21st Century Education Act," sponsored by then-Oregon House Speaker Vera Katz. Now Mayor of Portland, Katz admits that this law has origins in research which began a decade earlier. The research Katz is referring to is not that of a local Oregon government body---it is the work of a highly influential private group called the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).
To call this group "influential" is understatement. Its membership in recent years has included members of the cabinets of the last seven U.S. Presidents. It's also included the chairs of the Democratic and Republican political parties. Representatives from the business community have included high ranking executives from such massive firms as IBM and Apple, Chevron and Exxon, and Coke and Pepsi. Despite the nominal hostility of some of these parings, through the NCEE they became united as one in their redesign of the U.S. education system.
In the center of this conglomeration of corporate and political power is David Rockefeller, the wealthiest member of one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful families. Rockefeller's family network had executive officers, or owned controlling interest, in most of the non-profit foundations and private corporations represented at the NCEE. In David Rockefeller, we find the personification of the wealthy elite capable of redesigning the policies of government for their own benefit. His mere presence on this board meant that its findings would be taken seriously.
Less ominous at the time than Rockefeller's presence on these panels were those of relatively obscure regional politicians and advisors who would later rise to greater prominence. These included the wife of the governor of the second poorest state in the union, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and the Speaker of the House of the backwaters state of Oregon, Vera Katz. In 1994 Katz would become the only elected official to be appointed to President Bill Clinton's National Skills Standards Board---a body which oversaw the development of Clinton's national plan for Outcome Based Education, Goals 2000.
A number of people who are currently among Clinton's closest advisors were also involved in the process. One was Ira Magaziner, chair of the NCEE's Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, and a private consultant on international corporate strategies for business and government. Another was Marc Tucker, president of the NCEE and executive director of the Carnegie Forum on education and the Economy. Also involved was Laura Tyson, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a consultant to the World Bank and the Rand Corporation. The recommendations of the NCEE were formally endorsed by the National Governors' Association at its annual 1986 convention. Five governors began implementing these recommendations in their states. They include Lamar Alexander, the then-Governor of Tennessee (Al Gore's home state) who became Secretary of Education under President George Bush, and who is now a candidate for the U.S. Presidency; Richard Riley, the then-Governor of South Carolina, who became Secretary of Education under President Bill Clinton; and Bill Clinton, the then-Governor of Arkansas. These states, all with small populations, all with poor economies, were to serve as trials for this policy before it was to be implemented nationally.
A similar indicator of the importance of this law to the power brokers is visible here in Oregon. The Katz aide most involved in the passage of her education act was Phil Keisling. Following his work on the education act, Keisling was elected to the Oregon House, appointed to the office of Secretary of State by former Governor Barbara Roberts, and then re-elected to that office. The mainstream and official alternative news media repeatedly touts Keisling as a future Oregon Governor and/or U.S. Senator.
The fundamentals of Outcome Based Education are based on the notion of creating a generation of ideal workers. Education, according to the rhetoric of OBE proponents, exists simply to help people find jobs. Consequently, the OBE curriculum is designed to direct students into specific career tracks at a very young age. This is known as "tracking." Because of the involvement of the the largest corporations in the writing of this plan, they are the ones who, often at taxpayer expense, design the parameters of what the career tracks entail. The end result is a system which supplies select corporations with their choice of workers, but makes no guarantees that even a majority of the students will ever.find employment.
One of the strongest illustrations of this complete domination of the education system by the most powerful corporations is the "model program" at Portland's own David Douglas High School. The David Douglas program claims to set up practical internships where students will receive actual knowledge in their chosen field. The program was designed in what is referred to with a straight face as a "partnership" with the Oregon Business Council---administered by the former administrator for the Oregon Progress Board, Duncan Wyse. While the categories of internships sound utopian, the program's bias is illustrated by where they actually take place. Young aspiring artists are not paired with dancers, painters or composers, but with local utility giant PP&L.
Students interested in social services are not paired with social scientists or social agencies, but with PGE. Those wishing to work with nature are not paired with botanists, zoologists, or naturalists, but with the Bonneville Power Administration. Those interested in health sciences are not connected with doctors, nurses or even orderlies, but with insurance giants Kaiser and Providence, where they are taught the finer points of paper pushing. Those interested in business are not shown examples of smaller companies that they may themselves start up, but are instead paired with Fred Meyer, preparing them to be low paid service workers.
These grotesque examples of runaway corporate domination give a flavor of the real work emphasized in Outcome Based Education. There is also, in OBE, in place of academics, an emphasis on "group dynamics." Students are taught to work as a group, and to value the group's opinion, often above their own. This has led to Orwellian consequences. One parent told of a child who would not put down the correct answer to a simple math problem because it contradicted what their group had decided. A child who is taught with this dual emphasis---learning what the corporations tell them to learn and not questioning their peer group---is the ideal corporate drone. This child will, as he or she reaches adulthood, have neither the drive to question their working conditions, or the ambition to start a competitive business.
Since this is something few informed parents would accept, Katz's education act set up a method of enforcement. Specifically, failure to achieve satisfactory progress in these corporate dominated academics is defined as a form of abuse. This gives the government grounds to intervene in the lives of any family which isn't going along with the program. Social services thus become the tool of corporate-dominated government to ensure that this new curriculum would be followed. While little is specifically written about the role of social services in Katz's bill, it was the subject of a package of laws passed by the 1991 Oregon Legislature. Its principle supporters included state representatives John Meek and Lisa Naito, and, to a greater extent, state senators Shirley Gold, Bill McCoy, and, perhaps most prominently, future Multnomah County Commission Chair Beverly Stein.
So complete are these controls that State Senator Tom Hartung (R-Portland) even joked about them. Hartung chaired the Senate Education Committee during the 1995 Oregon Legislature. This committee reviewed and slightly revised the "Oregon 21st Century Education Act." During one hearing, Hartung responded to public protests against the heavy-handed provisions of the act by quipping, "We got rid off all the behavior modification. We just put it somewhere else."
Under Katz's education plan, if a child were not meeting the new academic standards, there could be evaluations to determine if it is "in the child's best interest" to separate them from their parents. While there might be a faintly altruistic sound to this pretense of "helping" kids from "troubled homes" in school, when these sort of rigid standards of academic success are combined with the corporate-based academics, more rights are given to corporations such as PP&L and PGE than to the actual parents in the raising of the child.
Among the many laws which Gold, McCoy and Stein introduced into the 1991 Oregon Legislature are these, which the Oregon Progress Board cites as the most important to its mission: SB 701, which creates a "human investment board" to fund demonstration projects; SB 1099, which encourages municipalities to become "demonstration" sites for these projects (The law further calls for these municipalities to have access to a "continuum" of social services---that is, an interlocking web of social service interventions from cradle to grave); and HB 2954, which creates the "Oregon Coordinating Council for Children and Families, the group which will orient Oregon's education and social services around the goals of the Oregon Progress Board---the direct tie to The Oregon Option.
After former Multnomah County Chair Gladys McCoy (Senator McCoy's wife) died in office, Stein was elected to replace her by virtue of a heavily financed campaign. Once in office, Stein set up Multnomah County as one of the demonstration sites she had created under SB 701 and SB 1099 while in the Oregon Legislature. She accomplished this through the creation of the Multnomah Commission on Children and Families. Stein's closeness with the work of this commission is symbolized by the fact that she shares a front office and receptionist with them. The powers given to this commission, illustrated in their "benchmarks"---the goals for future progress---are a frightening addition to the sanctions under Outcome Based Education.
Among other things, the benchmarks greatly expand the role of government in the family. They call for routine visits by government employees to pregnant women (called "home visits"), accompanied by universal drug screening for all expectant and new mothers. Criteria by which a mother may be evaluated as either "incapable" or "at risk" include not having enough income. Conversely, if she is working to provide that income, she may be found "at risk" for not being able to give the child enough time.
In addition, the benchmarks call for many---if not most---new parents to be enrolled in training classes where they will be force fed the latest psycho-babble on the proper way to raise their children. Failure of parents to implement the techniques they learn on their children is defined as "developmental neglect"---another criteria by which children may be separated from their parent. Children who make it through these hurdles and get to school intact will be brought into regular contact with adults who will screen them for "abuse." These adults will look for every possible type of abuse under a loose assortment of terms including "drugs," "gangs," "sex abuse," and "neglect." In fact, these terms are so loosely defined that the term "other" repeatedly appears as an official category for the detection of abuse.
What makes each of these seemingly well intentioned proposals even more dangerous is that each of these "caring adults" who interact with the families will be competing for limited funds. This will in effect transform the social service workers, law enforcement personnel, psychologists, and others into the equivalent of salespeople operating on commission. Each of these "professionals" will be in the dubious position of having to find a certain quantity of "abuse" to justify their next funding cycle. This means that that they will be encouraged to find "abuse," even where none exists.
Several recent high-profile legal cases involving allegations of "ritual abuse" show how dangerous this could become. In these cases, parents were arrested and prosecuted after their children told wild tales of molestation, frequently involving large numbers of adults in such unlikely settings as churches and day care centers. Most of the convictions obtained at these trials have been reversed after it was determined that counsellors and others persuaded the children---inadvertently or not---to lie about their experiences. The Multnomah Commission on Children and Families has called for the creation of what it calls "therapeutic nurseries." Though the law gives little definition to this term, reports in the Oregonian paint a rosy picture of centers underwritten by corporations such as PGE and PacifiCorp, where "neglected" and "parentless" children will be given "caring" environments through corporate "generosity." If the idea of kids getting raised by corporations sounds far fetched, consider that Stein's proposal refers to such corporations as "partners" in the rearing of children.
Looking for an opportunity to be an entrepreneur? Here's a safe bet: If these trends continue, corporate run childhood foster homes---referred to as "therapeutic nurseries" in Stein's proposal---may soon rival, or even replace, prisons as Oregon's largest growth industry.
Combining the benchmarks of Stein's commission with the direction of Katz's education act and the goals of the Oregon Strategic Plan leads to an even more ominous conclusion. As children are further removed from their families, the emphasis on school related activities will come to fill more of their inherent social needs. Corporate directed peer activities will inevitably form the basis of the child's emotional life---which is the thrust of the Oregon Option.
But don't take my word for it. Get a copy of "The Oregon Option" and read it yourself. "The Oregon Option" and other documents of interest, including "The Oregon Strategic Plan" and "Oregon Benchmarks," are available by writing the Oregon Progress Board at 775 Summer Street, Salem OR 97310. You can also get a copy of the Oregon Business Council's study of Outcome Based Education by writing to the Council at 1100 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 1608, Portland OR 97204. Publications from the National Center on Education and the Economy may be obtained by writing that organization at 39 State Street, Suite 500, Rochester NY 14614.
Recommended reports include "America's Choice: High Skills or Low Wages" and "A Human Resources Plan for the United States." And you CAN get a copy of the entire "benchmarks" of the Multnomah County Commission on Children and Families by writing the Commission at 1120 SW 5th Avenue, Portland OR 97204.
The Rockefellers are one of the wealthiest, most powerful families in the country. John Rockefeller Sr. founded Standard Oil, one of the largest companies in the world. The Rockefeller family has long had an interest in education, beginning with the creation of the General Education Board in 1903 (which eventually became the Rockefeller Foundation).
The Rockefellers initially focused their education efforts on the more economically depressed areas of the country, beginning with the South where so many African-Americans lived in poverty. While the essence of this seems commendable, there were ulterior motives. John Rockefeller Sr. and others could place their business holdings in this non-profit organization, evading millions of dollars in taxes while retaining control of their corporations. At the same time, the Rockefeller Foundation has served as a stepping stone to the U.S. Secretary of State's office. Three of the Foundation's presidents---John Foster Dulles, Dean Rusk, and Henry Kissinger---later served as Secretary of State.
David Rockefeller, one of two surviving grandchildren of John Rockefeller Sr., was influential in starting the National Center for Education and the Economy. At that time, he was also chair of two of the world's most influential think tanks---the Council on Foreign Relations (founded in 1918) and the Trilateral Commission (founded in 1973). Comprised of the most wealthy and powerful members of society, both of these groups meet secretly, pursue elaborate policy studies, come to a consensus, and then try to implement that consensus into actual public policies.
The United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the U.S. government's policy in Viet Nam all had their genesis in one or both of these organizations. And, more often than not, the members of the Council on Foreign Relations have served in critical positions in every Presidential administration.

Paul Richmond is a longtime local writer, television producer, and activist. Since arriving in Portland more than five years ago, Richmond has worked to clarify the law allowing citizens to videotape police, caused two visiting U.S. Attorney Generals to lose their cool during press conferences, and consistently reminded the Mayor of the existence of the City Charter. He has produced more than 10,000 hours of local cable access programming, including the series "Abuse of Power," which airs live most Mondays at 8 pm on Channel 11, and "Fire in a Crowded Theater," which airs most Tuesdays at 4 pm on Channel 11. Richmond has written for the Portland Free Press, the Oregon Observer, and PDXS newspapers, and he is currently an editor and reporter for the Portlandian, copies of which may be obtained by calling (503) 321-5034 or writing P.O. Box 454, Portland OR 97207. Please include at least 55 cents for postage.

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