Does the new education concept have merit?

A response to a newspaper's strong endorsement of the Skills of the American Workforce Commission

by Ray Dickerson

See also Molding Human Resources for a Global Workforce





Background information:

New Report Proposes Radical Changes, and a Few Ideas Worth Pondering: "A new report released yesterday calls for major changes in the U.S. education system if its students are going to have a chance at participating in the 21st century economy. Unless these changes are made, the report, released by the Commission on Skills in the American Workforce states that students will find it tougher, if not impossible to land high-wage jobs.... The panel was comprised of high-powered national figures including two former education secretaries, Rod Paige, a Republican, and Richard W. Riley, a Democrat; two former labor secretaries....

Proposals include ending high-school at 10th grade and having students take a series of exams geared to funneling them into trade or technical colleges or four-year baccalaureate programs. ... Key proposals in the report, called 'Tough Choices, Tough Times' are:

  • That high school end for many students at 10th grade. Sophomores would then take state-developed board examinations that would direct the student to a community/technical college route or a two-year program which would feed into a four-year college....

  • Standards-based tests would become the norm, but they would need to be tougher and linked to international standards....

  • School structure would radically change. Teachers would be employed and deployed by the state, not the districts. The state would allocate school funding, according to a pupil-weighted formula. Schools would no longer be owned by districts, but by independent contractors....

  • Each region would have an organization that would focus on educational goals and strategies for the region.

My heart sank when I read the endorsement of the phony education plan put out by the NCEE, National Center for Education Excellence, which is headed by Marc Tucker.

Marc Tucker, director of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE, which began as an agency within the Carnegie Foundation) and the master-mind behind today's partnership between schools and labor, has exposed some of the goals and incentives needed to enforce such standards. He suggests "breaking the current system, root and branch" by orchestrating a radical "change in the prevailing culture -- the attitudes, values, norms, and accepted ways of doing things." In a jubilant 1992 post-election letter to Hillary Clinton, he described his vision of the new cradle-to-grave education system:

"...the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development....  What is essential is that we create a seamless web of opportunities to develop one's skills that literally extends from cradle to grave.... in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations, and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards [now it's linked to global standards]... a system that rewards students who meet the national standard with further education and good jobs....”  See Reinventing the World: Global Standards & Soviet Education models U.S. Education

Marc Tucker is a Fabian Socialist. He started the NCEE in 1988. He wrote a famous letter to Hillary Clinton in 1992, which has been read into the Congressional Record. And, which is the framework for an education system that they are now claiming is the new work of this Skills of the American Workforce Commission. This is not new work; it is merely the dusting off of this old letter and promoting the same education rot in anticipation of Hillary running for President and the democrats having regained power in both Houses.

The 1992 letter, which I have on file, is what brought the CIM to Oregon, which is now, after hundreds of millions of dollars in wasted money, being driven from the system by Susan Castillo, the State Superintendent. It also brought us more of the same “creative” learning advocated in this Commission’s report. It has also contributed much to what has caused precipitous declines in the number of college bound students, the very subject of Superintendent Castillo’s guest opinion in yesterday’s news.

President Clinton with wife Hillary’s support, pushed this same school (PAP) portfolio and project education plan on the states soon after becoming President. It was running full pace until the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, essentially ending this progressive takeover of the schools in most states; however, Oregon, with overwhelmingly enthusiastic support from Hillary’s friend Vera Katz, former state legislator and then Mayor of Portland, along with Governor Kitzhaber could not get enough of this stuff. I say stuff, because it can hardly be called education.

Just a few points you may ponder. The report wants to end rote learning. That is, students would not be required to memorize math tables, English Grammar or to learn facts of any kind. Education would be about creativity and live long learning. If this is the case, what would they be tested on at the age of sixteen? What would they be expected to know, if they have not been required to learn anything? My guess, given the progressive nature of the NCEE, is that they have thought this through and probably already have the test prepared. It would be a subjectively graded essay to determine the “Cultural Competency” of the individual, his or her understanding and support of “Multiculturalism,” “Diversity” and other progressive goals of the Fabians. The graduates would spend their next four years in remedial studies so they could get through their first year in college learning what they weren’t taught in primary and secondary schools.

Another point, the other countries are eating our lunch on academics because they do exactly the opposite of what this report recommends. They require students to go to school longer days, longer weeks, longer school years and memorize and learn more rote facts, and still be creative. While we play around with “child centered” play learning and creative nonsense that I think has to have as a final goal the destruction of America as a World power. I wonder if we’re not running daycare and babysitting services for the dual income families, really!

Where is the scientific research that would support what this commission has recommended? It is pure propaganda and you’ve endorsed it.

Another total phony baloney argument is this global competition nonsense perpetuated by the education industry to insure, what I call a never ending supply of fresh meat for their meat grinder. About 18% of Ontario first graders will get a college degree by age 24. Across America, about 28 to 30% of Americans have college degrees. We could do better here but given the poverty and poor skills many start out with, maybe we’re doing okay. The BLS (Bureau of Labor Services) says about 22% of jobs in America require advanced degrees. Almost all of the plentiful jobs of the future in America, except Nursing, will not require a college degree. Rather than directing the kids toward these jobs, we tell them that they will live a life of desperation if they do not get a college degree or stay in school. This causes many with limited talent and abilities for learning to just drop out and give up. Many others continue to struggle up through the meat grinder, costing Billions in dollars and encumbering themselves with opportunity strangling debt, but keeping the industry well supplied. My question, then, is why are these kids not given the opportunity to elect a career technical education? I would even go so far as to ask Oregon to build career high schools in each rural county. These would be dual track schools, meaning it would also require graduation credits but leave time for kids to learn career skills. A central school in each county would consolidate the best programs and educators from the small rural schools, which really can’t afford the “career” classrooms and equipment. This is not the same ting NCEE proposes!

What Marc Tucker’s Commission wants to do is create regional labor development boards, apprenticeship programs, job shadowing programs similar to the poly-technical schools of Germany and Russia. Labor boards would tell the schools what skills to teach to students who would later be slotted for training in industry and government jobs. Kids would choose career cluster training that would qualify them for certain jobs. Life long learning comes in when a student who was trained as a bank clerk could not take a job as a warehouseman without going back to school and getting another government certificate of training. Already on the ODE website is a career cluster for Agriculture. It caused me to once write kind of a spoof letter to the Argus about the labor board having determined a need for “tractor drivers” and the schools immediately forming a class to supply them. It was a take-off on the government run communal farms in Russia. Your readers were not amused. I was reminded recently of the same thing, when the trailer manufacturer came to town needing welders and TVCC doubled their class input. With labor boards in place, heck, this could have been predicted and the welders would have been lined up waiting for the businessman when he made his move, right? More importantly, the point is that people become pawns in this big government/corporation run system that plans their lives for them, while the elite, the Marc Tuckers and their IV league cohorts plan and direct the lives of the minions free from all of this government intervention in their own lives, because they are the “Progressives.” Only total protectionists and isolationists could even conceive of such a miscarriage as this. The arrogance is, frankly, overwhelming.

Not mentioned in this letter are goals as to how the “living wage” and various guilds would have a hand in the life long learning process. Once it is established that you must have a “government certificate of training” for every “cluster” job, then wages employers must pay for that wage grouping are established by regional “wage boards.” Employers can’t hire anyone who does not have a “certificate” and therefore the fix is in, living wages are established and the guilds rule. Marxism it is not, Fabianism it is!

I would support academic testing of students at age sixteen and tracking them on toward college prep or on career prep paths, but putting the government in charge of all of this is really scary. Take the time to search the index to program managers on the ODE website. You do not have to be a really good sleuth to see what is already being planned and is underway. What it really is, is a jobs program for surplus PhD’s. The benefit to children and society are the least of any of the program goals. What this Commission report does is just put grease on the skids of continuing education failure. You and they call it reform; I’d call it the, “Corruption of America Act.”

I have a list of people, organizations and states funding the NCEE’s work and the study you cite. It is revealing as to the intent and purpose of the plan. It might not be a surprise that the great taxpayers of the state of Oregon are among the contributors.


Ray Dickerson 1091 SW 2nd Ave, Ontario, Oregon (541) 889-2608

More information from Donna Garner, December 17, 2006

First, I want you to read this report (posted below) which Texas State Board of Education member Richard Watson put into the SBOE minutes in March 4, 1997. 

Second, I want you to go to this link and read over the NCEE's report issued on December 14, 2006:

Finally, I want you to read my article "Career Pathways." 

This should help all of you to see that this "new" plan which is outlined in "Tough Choices" is really the same old plan which Marc Tucker and his group foisted on Texas when the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) were written. The format behind the TEKS deliberately forced Texas teachers away from teaching knowledge-based skills (i.e., basic traditional skills) which were graded objectively INTO performance-based learning where projects were assessed subjectively. This actually ended up dumbing down our Texas schools and has increased grade inflation exponentially.

The rewrite of the ELAR/TEKS by making them measurable, grade-level-specific, and explicit will move our Texas schools into the teaching of basic, fundamental skills, giving all students the opportunity to master foundational knowledge which will allow them wide choices among numerous post-secondary opportunities. 

The rewrite of the ELAR/TEKS is the antithesis of Marc Tucker's NCEE plan.  What employers need is employees who have a strong foundation in core knowledge which makes them able to adjust to a wide variety of changing workplace requirements, and this foundational knowledge will make these employees good citizens who contribute to their communities as well. 

Donna Garner

Other articles by Donna Garner: This Is Not Being Racist & Promoting Homosexuality in the Public Schools

Posted with authors' permission

See also Federal Curriculum, Mental Health Screening, and STW

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