School-to-Work: The Real Agenda

 

School-to-Work: The cradle-to-grave agenda for our children

by Eileen Spatz

There is a very real threat to our future ability to home school our children, one that many of you may not yet be aware of. I implore you to read the information contained here on School-to-Work (STW), so that you will understand the implications to homeschoolers. Also offered here are reference websites and book suggestions to enable you to not only become involved in the fight against STW, but also so you can validate these claims and know that they are accurate.

The most dangerous thing that a home school parent could do right now is to dismiss STW as a program that will only affect public schoolchildren. It is natural to have that reaction initially because the program clearly will start at the public school level. However, it is only a matter of a short time when STW will affect every child in private and home schools as well. The explanation for this will follow in the text.

It is imperative that home school families become informed about STW and vigilant in their efforts to fight it. Already there are signs that home schooled kids will be forced to conform to the federal mandates. For example, a recent news item (regarding the state of Virginia) from the Home School Legal Defense Association Court Report (July/August 1998) entitled School-to-Work Shuts Out Home Schoolers which states:

Community colleges across Virginia are coordinating ‘Tech Prep Consortia.’ These forge ‘partnerships’ between local businesses and local public high schools. These partnerships are known as ‘Work Force Endorsement Agreements.’ Under these agreements, area businesses are to give priority consideration to high school graduates for any entry-level jobs. Some of these ‘Work Force Endorsement agreements’ effectively shut home schoolers out of entry-level positions.
  • How can these 'consortia' do this?
  • How could this be legal?
  • What can homeschoolers do?

Read the following material on STW and you will learn exactly how the federal government has hijacked education in order to create and control a Centrally Managed Workforce.

(Warning: The following information is guaranteed to cause high blood pressure)

WHAT IS SCHOOL-TO-WORK?

The School to Work Opportunities Act was signed into law in May 1994, along with its companion legislation called Goals 2000. The two pieces of legislation work hand in hand, incorporating both the social agenda (Goals 2000) and the education/labor agenda into our public school system via a systemic restructuring of the government schools. This paper will explain the effects on home schoolers soon, but please read this background information first!

For several decades, the academic standards and requirements in our public schools have been spiraling downward. Simultaneously, the emphasis on the affective domain of the children (feelings, self esteem, attitudes) has shifted the role of the public schools to one of social engineering. The combined effect has been disastrous, graduating students with no work ethic, barely adequate basic academic skills, and bloated egos. The results are seen every day in America, where colleges have to remediate 50% of the entering freshmen in basic math and English, and businesses that have to spend money to teach entry-level employees how to read, write and compute enough to function on the job! As the effects of our failed schools have been recognized by the public and the media, parental pressure to return the public schools to a back-to-basics approach has ensued.

Sadly, the opposite is what is actually being done in our public schools. Instead of returning to somewhat rigorous standards, the new high standards will have little to do with real academics. The new focus of education, via the STW/Goals 2000 legislation, will be vocational training and more social engineering, sold deceptively as preparation for the "high skills/high wage" jobs of the 21st century. Academics, although already woefully inadequate in our public schools, will be even further watered down in order to focus on job skills and real life education, even so far as having students leave campus during the school day to perform tasks at local businesses for class credit. Already, students in South Dakota are receiving class credit for bagging groceries and waiting tables. High standards? High skills?

School-to-Work (STW) came about after a Department of Labor report was compiled in 1991 entitled Learning a Living, the Secretary’s Commissionon Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS). The SCANS document is at the center of the STW legislation, it is the hub. All states’ STW programs have incorporated the SCANS language. This is important because it illustrates that the STW system being implemented nationally is federally dictated and designed, based on the Department of Labor’s definition of the future American worker.

WHAT ARE THE SCANS COMPETENCIES?

To read the actual SCANS report, go to the Dept of Labor SCANS site. I encourage you to visit this site, clicking around in Publications for important, and very telling, information regarding the federal role in defining our schools, the labor force and business. The following are some of the SCANS competencies:

  • Participates as a member of a team
  • Negotiates to arrive at a decision
  • Works with cultural diversity
  • Mental visualization
  • Self-esteem
  • Decision making
  • Integrity/Honesty
  • Sociability

WHAT DOES STW ENTAIL AT THE SCHOOL LEVEL?

Public schools will be transformed, incrementally and methodically, toward the STW system in the following way:

  1. The curriculum will be designed and/or selected in response to the Goals 2000 national standards. These eight goals are deceptively written to sound honorable. For instance, one of the goals is that all children will begin school ready to learn. How can the government achieve this without becoming deeply involved in the raising of your pre-school-aged children?
  2. The curriculum and teaching methods will align themselves with the SCANS competencies (which include behavioral components), which will act as a blueprint for shaping the future American worker in response to the predictions of big business to the global economy of the 21st century. Schools will focus on vocational skills and gear school instruction toward learning job skills, utilizing work-related reading selections, unit studies and projects across the curriculum. Even in federally designed software, the SCANS competencies will be delivered through computer-based learning.
  3. Students will be required to select a career pathway in middle school. But each state will designate a "career menu" for its schools to offer, severely limiting choices of occupations. Their curriculum will then be responsive to the career track that they have selected. The idea of a liberal arts education (the core base of knowledge covering the major academic disciplines) is out the window. Instead, each student will receive a watered down version of math, language arts, social studies and science -- all of which will be tailored to the Goals2000 agenda, along with the vocational training which pertains to their chosen career pathway.
  4. National standards, and eventually a national assessment test, will drive the restructured public schools. A board called the National Skills Standards Board will outline the national standards and direct implementation. Already, textbooks and standardized tests (like the Stanford Achievement Test) are aligning themselves to this national agenda, including environmentalism, multi-culturalism, globalism and social studies across all subjects. For instance, in the introduction to the new Stanford Achievement Test (SAT 9), they clearly state that they have aligned the test with Goals 2000 and the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM -- who has promoted the new new [fuzzy] math nationally).
  5. A new diploma called the certificate of initial mastery (CIM) will be awarded to 16 year olds if they have demonstrated their competence in the SCANS behaviors, skills, and attitudes. A test called Work Keys, published by ACT, which is to assess workplace readiness, is already being administered in some states. Although the SCANS literature consistently refers to these workplace competencies as "high performance skills" for the "high wage/high skills" jobs of the future, the content of the Work Keys test reveals quite a different emphasis. The test is administered by video, with an array of workplace scenarios that the students (age 16) are to answer questions about. Interestingly, each workplace scenario contained in this test is "blue collar" in nature. One test scenario is about making a submarine sandwich, one is about loading a truck, one is inspecting buckets on an assembly line, one is taking a phone message, and one is about mopping a floor. Also telling within the SCANS documents, is the fact that the Dept. of Labor considers "high wage" jobs as those paying $25,000-$40,000. High?

SO HOW DOES STW AFFECT HOMESCHOOLERS?

Within the context of both the Goals 2000 and the STW legislation are the constant uses of the phrase, "All children will..." In the same documents, though, there are claims that Goals 2000/STW programs will be "voluntary." This raises the question of how something so systemic in nature, so thorough in its pervasiveness in the curriculum, teaching methods, textbooks and assessments could possibly be voluntary.

In reality, the voluntary nature of these programs ceases the moment the state and districts accept Goals 2000 funding and STW grant money. From that point on, these programs become federally directed. The funding is not dispersed until the state conforms to the required "outcomes" of the Goals 2000 agenda in its grant application and state STW frameworks. The changes at the actual school sites have been occurring incrementally since 1992 (after the SCANS report was published). Current signs of restructuring include block scheduling (so students will have enough time to leave campus to perform their work duties at a local business) and class size reduction (which sets up the correct class size to implement the computerized learning centers).

There are three ways that STW will eventually affect homeschoolers and private schools:

  1. The certificate of initial mastery (CIM). This diploma will eventually be necessary for our children to be employable. It has been speculated that it may even be required in order to get a drivers license or be accepted into college. Through the CIM, all schools, including private and home schools, will be forced to conform to the federal agenda--using their assessment tools, which are geared toward their (liberal) texts and STW-based curriculum. The CIM recognizes the following "achievements":
    • Involved Citizen
    • Quality Producer
    • Self-Directed Learner
    • Constructive Thinker
    • Effective Communicator
    • Collaborative Contributor
    • Understands Diversity
    • Interpret the Human Experience
    • Understand Positive Health Habits
  2. Requiring a home school parent to be credentialed. This is probably the most pressing threat to home schoolers at this time. Many homeschooling parents do not possess a college degree, and would find it impossible to attend college while they are trying to home school their children (assuming the federal government would allow them time to get credentialed). For parents who are college educated, the requirement would entail a one year full-time commitment for credentialing. The teachers’ colleges have become the starting point for NEA indoctrination, which then pursues into teacher in-service training, teachers unions publications (both local unions and NEA periodicals), and district level consensus building. This is a lose/lose situation for home school parents -- for those who decide not to go back to college and for those who do. Either way, required credentialing will severely reduce the number of home schooling families, and have an adverse affect on those families who do accommodate the requirement and continue to home school.
  3. Accreditation: Most private school accreditation organizations are following the lead of WASC (Western Association of School and Colleges), which accredits public schools and many private schools. WASC is committed to workplace integration into all areas of schooling (STW),and is utilizing a new protocol for accrediting schools to this end entitled "Focus on Learning". This vehicle is defined as a total merger of academics with vocational training, using performance-based assessment.

ACSI (Association of Christian Schools International) has, over time, earned a reputation of trust within the Christian private school community. Sadly, at the November 1997 convention in Northern California, there were multitude signs that this accreditation agency has fallen victim to the federal agenda, too. There were workshops on "Integrating workplace skills into the curriculum"; "Cooperative learning vs competitive learning"; "The curriculum transformed"; and "Practical strategies for discovery Learning" among other "red flag" themes. Among ACSI’s listed priorities was that teachers are retrained, that the SCANS competencies be integrated into the curriculum, and that the private Christian schools adopt a certificate of mastery (CIM).

WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ON STW?

Book recommendations:

Government Nannies by Cathy Duffy (1995)
None Dare Call it Education by John Stormer (1998)
Angry Parents, Failing Schools by Elaine McEwan (1998)
The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them by E.D. Hirsch (1997)
Outcome Based Education by Peg Luksik (1994)
Dumbing Down Our Kids by Charles Sykes (1995)

Websites:

Government sites (where you will see the public relations at work)
National School to Work site (original legislation also available here)
SCANS (go to Publications and click away!)
National Skills Standards Board

Other sites (these websites discuss the negative implications of STW/Goals 2000)

Capitol Resource Institute (CA)
Parents Raising Education Standards in Schools (WI)
Diana Fessler (Ohio State Board of Education Member)
Texas Education Consumers Association
Oregon Education site
Education Excellence Network
Education Consumers Warehouse

For the very curious who wonder if this is only occurring here in the US (and, no, it isn’t) go to this very interesting (yet disturbing)site in Australia.

Additional information about
computerized classrooms is also available.

HOW CAN WE FIGHT STW?

Because the mainstream media has not reported on this vast public school restructuring, most Americans are in the dark. They want to believe all the rhetoric and promises about education reform and incoming higher standards. It is very difficult to convince parents that something so immense is on the horizon, ready to completely change our society. Folks just don’t have the information in their hands.

The steps that all home school parents should take are:

  1. Get informed! Go to these websites, buy a couple of the suggested books. Once you are well-versed on the subject you can begin to share the information with family, friends, and neighbors. Bringing it up at casual gatherings (Little League games, Bunko parties, family get-togethers) is very effective, especially if you can offer them the reference sites to validate your claims. Generally, public-school teachers will become defensive -- they are also in the dark. Although they are being constantly retrained toward the STW system in inservice meetings, they don’t know the big picture. Be careful not to be confrontational or cast blame at them, they are simply the pawns in this large scheme. Do offer them a book or a website address. They can only say no, thanks.
  2. Send an email, fax, letter or call your legislators. Many Republican legislators have bought into the STW system, maintaining their ties to big business. They need to understand that they are an accessory to the crime for helping to install a socialist system that will have detrimental effects on our freedoms. You need to be firm in your denouncement of STW, and ask them to begin the process of repealing the bill. Although we are all so busy, this is a crucial step in the fight to end the ongoing implementation phase of STW. Politicians, who care deeply about holding onto their jobs, will take notice if enough of us make the effort to contact them. Please make the time for this. To find out how your US representatives and senators are voting on education issues. Let’s identify the politicians who are selling out this country to socialism via the education system. If they voted in favor of the Workforce Investment Act of August ‘98, for example, that would be a bad sign.
  3. If you are home schooling under an umbrella school or academy, contact the administration and ask them what steps they are planning to take to side-step the certificate of initial mastery (CIM) and the federal STW agenda. You will likely find that they are uninformed about it. Make it your job to mail them some information or forward this to their email address. They must not be taken by surprise when the system is fully implemented.
  4. Senator John Ashcroft has been very active in fighting for the repeal of STW/Goals2000. He is one of a few Republican legislators who has been outspoken about it (Henry Hyde is another). Please send these men a note of gratitude and encouragement so that they will continue to fight. Email Senator Ashcroft.
  5. Contact the Home School Legal Defense Association and insist that they present more information about STW in their bi-monthly publication to members, the Court Report. Home School families are, generally, not aware of the impending threat to our children if the STW system is allowed to be fully implemented. It should be a major focus of HSLDA, so that home school families will heed the call when action is needed to prevent STW from marching forward. If home school parents are complacent, thinking that STW is only going to affect the public school children, we will be sorry. Contact Mike Farris and strongly suggest he make STW a more prominent subject in his literature.
  6. If any of your children attend a private school, schedule a meeting with the administrator/principal to discuss the STW issue. Question himabout whether he will consider dropping accreditation if that is the only way to fight off STW in the school. Ask him if the teachers are adopting the public school methodologies (group work, integrating job skills throughout curriculum, using books which promote globalism, secular humanism (yes, even at a Christian school you’ll find these). Find out if their math books are traditional (like Saxon) or utilize the NCTM (fuzzy) math standards. Ask if the basal reading program is truly phonics based (Open Court or ABeka, for instance) or if they are using awhole language based program (Harcourt Brace or Houghton Mifflin). These are important questions to get answers to, as they signify whether or not your expensive private school is being sucked into the federal seamless web of lifelong learning.
  7. Get politically involved. Eagle Forum is a conservative action group based in Washington DC that has been following this for many years. You can contact them get your state’s Eagle Forum contact group. This organization is reputable and effective! I strongly recommend contacting them and offering your help to get the word out. They also have informative videos and booklets available which are quite effective in a neighborhood meeting. Make copies of this webpage to pass out to others, too.
  8. Most importantly, continue to instill the importance of a strong work ethic, and to impart knowledge, skills, and religious truths to your children. No matter what else happens in this society, if your children have been taught, through your own example, to work hard to his/her potential, to be an independent thinker, to absorb knowledge, to refine skills, and to live by moral absolutes, they will flourish. They will be the leaders -- not the group thinking, barely literate, compliant products of the government schools.

PLEASE CONTACT ME WITH YOUR QUESTIONS!

For anyone who wants clarification of School-to-Work, needs ideas for holding group meetings or community meetings to enlighten others about STW, or would like a copy of an analysis of Goals 2000/STW from the Claremont Institute mailed to them, please contact Eileen Spatz.

I encourage all home schoolers to take this issue very seriously and to become actively involved in exposing and fighting it. Thank you for reading these pages and sharing them with others.

- Eileen Spatz
Eileen Spatz has been researching and writing about Goals 2000 and School-to-Work programs for almost five years. Her op-ed columns have appeared regularly in The Orange County (CA) Register, the LA Times, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, and Investor's Business Daily. Eileen is in her second year of home schooling her own three children.
 
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