EDUCATION FOR A FREE NATION
105 Peavey Rd, Suite 116, Chaska, MN 55318
December 16, 2006
Tucker of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) has
updated his plan for education in the globally planned economy, called
Tough Choices or
Tough Times:The Report of the new Commission on the Skills of the
American Workforce." The first report, released in 1990, called
"America's Choice: high skills or low wages!" was the framework
for the school-to-work system described below. (See
FACT: School-to-Work Is Alive and
Well!"). Look for EdWatch's coming
commentary on the newest Tucker plan.
by Donna Garner
December 14, 2006
Recently people all across our country are beginning to wake up and
realize what "systemic redesign of schools" actually means, and
the term "Career Academies" is being tossed around widely.
This is the question you need to answer regarding these career
academies: How many eighth graders do you know who are
equipped and ready to decide their life's career pathway? I shudder
to think where our own sons would be today if they had made such a
decision in eighth grade. Remember that these decisions must
be made then so that the students can enter the specific Career Academy
in Grades 9-12. (Please see the list of Career Academies at the bottom of
I would not be so concerned about career academies if students all took
the same common core cluster of classes with the same exposure to
foundational core curriculum and then supplemented their interests with a
few elective classes in a chosen career. Those experiences would
most assuredly motivate students and would help them to begin to think
seriously about their future plans. That is a good thing, but that is not
the way that this new plan works.
In our state the plan is entering under the name of Achieve Texas;
in other states the plan is named small learning communities,
systemic reform, schools-within-schools, career clusters, extended
learning, seamless system, 21st Century Learning, etc. All are
coming out of the same original source (NCEE/America's Choice/New
Standards Project) which has now extended its tentacles into the U. S.
Department of Education, Chambers of Commerce, National Governors
Association, Business Roundtable, and other such groups.
Here are some statements which are in Achieve Texas which is
swooping into our state without the prior knowledge of our elected state
board of education members until a few weeks ago. These statements
occur on page 12:
"This idea is to build a system that provides smooth educational
pathways for students to follow from elementary school, into
middle school, and on to high school, through postsecondary education or
training and into the workplace...Under such a system, curricula for
grades K-12 would be progressive and cumulative. Knowledge and
skills acquired in early grades would be built upon and expanded in later
grades. All classes would integrate academic subjects such as
English and mathematics with career education.
This would mean redesigning instruction to
hands-on, interdisciplinary, problem-and-project-based
Can you imagine how many hours of the all-important years in elementary
school would be spent in students' "experiencing" various
careers? Think of the interruptions to the school day which would
occur if schools attempt to bring in representatives from the workplace
to expose children to the 16 career clusters!
You can bet that many of these experiences would mean field trips to
hotels, kitchens, banks, hospitals, travel agencies, hardware stores,
marketing firms, water-treatment plants, furniture-manufacturing
companies, etc. Sounds like fun, doesn't it? Never mind
learning how to multiply, divide, read, write, and spell! There
would not be time to learn those "silly" things.
Of course, elementary schools would be required to expose each child to
each of the 16 career clusters so that they (supposedly) would be ready
by Grade 8 to decide on their chosen career pathway. Let's always
keep in mind the maturity level of the average eighth grader who is
struggling just to keep up with his hormones, much less plan out his
This is the old School-to-Work plan which we education activists thought
was dead. Instead it has reared its ugly head again and is now
sweeping across our country. This is Hillary Clinton, Ira Magaziner,
Mario Cuomo, and Marc Tucker's NCEE plan of the 1980's. Turn our schools
from knowledge-based instruction which is objectively tested INTO schools
where everything is performance-project-based and subjectively
The result is to create a nation where 10% of the population has a
well-rounded, liberal arts background which will equip them to become the
thinkers, executives, and CEO's while 90% of the population will be
doomed to become "worker bees" who will not have the core
knowledge needed to question the decisions by the 10%. This fits
exactly the definition of Socialism.
How can a child in eighth grade decide to go into Health Science, spend
four years taking English classes which are geared totally to Health
Science terminology, and then decide in 11th grade to go into some other
career? He could never make the leap because instead of reading the
great classics and the historic pieces of literature upon which our
country is founded, his classes would have spent time reading about
various doctors and nurses and their experiences with illnesses in
Instead of learning basic vocabulary which would apply to any life work,
students would learn only vocabulary which deals with Health
Science. Never mind learning literary terms because they do not
fall under Health Science! Instead of learning to analyze poems,
plays, and novels, students would create scenarios to help them practice
bedside manners. Students would spend time in their Health Science
cluster in learning how to write up directions for the operation of heart
monitors instead of learning how to research and write up a formal
research paper on the Civil War. They would learn how to scrub down
surgical equipment instead of studying Shakespeare, Dickens, and
Homer. Just think of the literary allusions which are commonly used
in our society that these Health Science students would not
understand. Who is Shakespeare anyway?
These career clusters depend heavily on dual-credit courses where
students get "college" credit for the courses they take in 11th
and 12th grades. Never mind the fact that a college course for a
public-school classroom filled with 16-17 year olds, many of whom qualify
as "at-risk" students, cannot possibly be delivered at the same
academic level as one delivered to "real" college students who
are several years older.
High-school students typically bow at the altar of peer pressure,
self-image, and group acceptance. College students are more
visionary and more independent, less focused on peer approval.
There is a big difference in their study habits and in their abilities to
analyze issues. To give college credit for these dual-credit
courses gives high-school students a false sense of accomplishment and
ends up dumbing down their actual knowledge-base.
By the way, what happens to a student who has been groomed totally for
the Hospitality & Tourism industry if the economy takes a sudden
downturn and that industry craters?
What happens to the student who has spent his time learning how to
operate laser technology if suddenly some technology comes along which
completely replaces the laser?
What happens to a person who has been trained only in the area of
financial planning if suddenly some mechanism makes those jobs
Becoming a specialist at an early age keeps a person from having the
flexibility to change with the marketplace demands.
I won't even go into the kind of citizens and voters Achieve Texas
would create since 90% of the population would not have the core
knowledge to be able to judge what is credible and what is not.
Here is a list of the 16 career clusters:
Agriculture, Food & Natural Resources
Architecture & Construction
Arts/A/V Technology & Communications
Business, Management & Administration
Education & Training
Government & Public Administration
Hospitality & Tourism
Public Safety, Corrections & Security
Marketing, Sales & Service
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
Transportation, Distribution & Logistics
Where would your eighth grade son or daughter fit in this list?
What if he/she changes her/his mind in 10th grade? It is ludicrous
to assume that the academic rigor of an English class offered in
Hospitality & Tourism would be offered at the same academic level as
Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics; but what if your
daughter/son decides to move from one cluster to another cluster well
into her/his high-school years?
Let's face it; your child would be stuck in a cluster she/he might not
even like and would have to stay with that cluster for a lifetime -- a
cluster which was chosen when she/he was 13 years of age!
The Great American Dream would no longer exist; the free enterprise
system would vanish because 90% of the population would not have
flexible, broad-based skills. Capitalism would be dead
because people would be pre-ordained and locked into set occupations and
salaries at the very tender age of 13. Is this what we want for our
children and grandchildren?
Writer/Consultant for MyStudyHall.com
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