Wednesday, November 11, 2009
CAN BE FIXED MUCH MORE CHEAPLY AND EFFICIENTLY
THAN TURNING OUR SCHOOLS INTO JOB TRAINING ACADEMIES
No need to go haywire over the "F" grades that Nebraska got this week from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for poor school management, lack of innovation, poor use of technology, absence of charter schools, no-brainer learning standards, tsunami of teacher paperwork requirements, lack of college and career readiness, and very low percentage of students who pass advanced placement tests.
Hunh? How can those NOT be problems?
Well, they are. But they can be fixed in simple, cost-effective ways such as creating a bona fide competitive marketplace for education. Those problems would vanish if parents could control their own children's school placements and direct where their state education subsidy dollars will flow. Providing more educational freedom is a much, much better and cheaper solution to these problems than the scary and fascist system the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has in mind. THEIR system would destroy educational quality and freedom of choice for students, not enhance them.
What the politicians and the powers-that-be, including the U.S. Chamber, have in mind is School-to-Work. It's a new philosophy about schooling, that morphs schools away from traditional academics to job-training factories. How? By putting a heavy emphasis on career planning from an early age, dumbing-down academics for most students, and placing teenagers away from classrooms and into on-the-job apprenticeships, spending part of each day in the workplace, where their "higher learning" will be in voc-tech areas, not academics.
Big Government, Big Labor and Big Business are making this happen . . . greased by the federal education department, and your tax dollars. (Remember, "fascism" is when government and private industry mesh as "partners" while individual citizens, including parents of young children, have no say, but have to pay via increased taxes for what will destroy their freedoms and their children's futures. That's what School-to-Work will do.)
Now that it has come out strongly against the American educational system, saying it's "broken" and giving states poor grades based on carefully-crafted measuring rods that don't assess academic achievement in any way, the Chamber's "exciting" alternative is to adopt the School-to-Work philosophy of education.
It's the idea that schooling should be focused on preparing you for work in the global economy, and not necessarily for preparing you to become a well-educated, well-rounded U.S. citizen and voter.
The Chamber would like to follow the lead of the former Soviet Union, Japan and Germany in transforming schools into job-training academies, meshed with centralized government job forecasting and planning processes. How do we pay for all this?
Often, it's with sharply increased payroll taxes. Doesn't that sound ducky, in this recession with this level of unemployment? Where a few more dollars a month in payroll taxes may easily convince an employer NOT to hire a new full-time employee? Especially when that employer can get a "free" or "subsidized" teenaged apprentice employee through the School-to-Work program? But what about the adult laborer who needs that job? Tough. That adult laborer will just have to be re-trained for some other job. But don't worry -- it won't cost that laborer. It'll be "free." (Translation: taxpayer-provided.)
The likelihood of skyrocketing education costs that make today's spending levels look cheap is matched only by the breathtaking potential for politicization, corruption and unfairness.
If the central planners think we'll need more nurses 10 years from now, voila! All kinds of kids will miraculously "score high" on the "ooh, you should be a nurse!" questions on the annual aptitude tests. They'll mainly be trained to be nurses, and if the central planners are wrong, and we REALLY need tons more truck drivers 10 years from now, then darn! A lot of those nurses will just have to be re-trained!
But it won't cost them anything -- just the taxpayers, you know. The re-training will be "free." Riiiiiight.
Now, if your dream is to become a singer, but the "system" forecasts a need for culinary arts workers, then darn! You'll just have to become a singing waiter!!! Because if you're assessed as being suitable for culinary arts, and you turn that assignment down, then darn! There are no other slots for you other than what the central-planning committee came up with. You'll just have to leave school without ANY kind of training or credentials. Good luck with that, huh?
See why Big Labor loves this, too? The constant re-training, while laughably inefficient and costly for taxpayers, promises union members job security beyond all other systems. And the centralized government workers who will control this system will have all the power and say-so, and ability to extend favors and withhold placements -- NOT the parents, and NOT the lowly teachers.
You can trace the development of this plan from its genesis in the America 2000/Goals 2000 federal education legislation that got going in the 1980s, through the May 4 (interesting date, eh?), 1994, signing of the School-to-Work Opportunities Act by then-President Clinton. Since then, all kinds of funding has flowed into Nebraska to get these systems in place for the "right" time to crash traditional schooling and get School-to-Work in place, which appears to be now.
That's why there has been all this fuss about:
-- markedly increased federal involvement with local public schools and unfunded mandates which have seized effective control of local schools,just paving the way for nationalized schools which are actually job-training academies such as in Germany, Japan and the former Soviet Union;
-- "standards," which are basically the same at each grade level in all 50 states, paving the way for nationalized curriculum and the destruction of local control over curriculum by elected school boards;
-- "assessments," which are more like job evaluations than academic evaluations, have replaced academic tests, and measure attitudes, beliefs, opinions and job-related skills rather than knowledge and academic skills;
-- "benchmarks," which reveal whether a student has met the bare minimum standards for passing, which is all the School-to-Work system needs to know, with no incentives for kids who in past years might have stretched their efforts to get a "B" or an "A" -- now, with Outcome-Based Education, a "C" is all you need, and a "C" is enough;
-- specialized "academies," "magnet schools" and "focus schools," which are paving the way for specialized job training even at the grade-school level, and getting rid of the broad-based liberal-arts curriculum that has stood the test of time;
-- the decrying of the lack of charter schools in Nebraska, since charter schools are intended to be the mechanism for introducing School-to-Work, especially in low-income areas;
-- the big push for "year-round schooling" -- not because it makes any academic sense at all, but to provide employers with "year-round" apprentices for their year-round work schedules;
-- "lifelong learning" to get everybody ready for a world in which constant re-training is necessary, accepted and expected;
-- International Baccalaureate programs which are thinly-veiled Marxist prep schools to turn out a global-preferenced elite for multinational corporations, not citizen-leaders for the United States of America;
-- and all the references to "world-class" everything in schools. This last trend is because School-to-Work doesn't have anything to do with equipping students to start and own their own small businesses someday; it's all about providing labor for the global corporations which might need to send workers all over the world, so they have to be ready to fit in anywhere in the world on a moment's notice. So people need to be "globally-standardized," according to the School-to-Work gurus.
The people who have designed and are now instituting School-to-Work are not concerned about what PARENTS are concerned about, academic quality. Did the Chamber decry the huge numbers of students who can't read or do math at grade level any more? Noooo. Not a word. They don't care about that. They're getting ready to institute government-controlled job training in lieu of traditional K-12 education in this country.
To do it, the meshed forces of Big Education and Big Labor deliberately nuked the schools over the last 20 or 30 years with America 2000 / Goals 2000 and Outcome-Based Education, and are now criticizing them heavily, getting the voters all upset. That is so that voters and taxpayers will be prepared to accept the offered "alternative," which is fascist schools run by the government-labor cartel and NOT by your neighbors on the elected school board or little old Mrs. Humphrey, that nice teacher, or Mr. Mahoney, that nice principal. The role of educators in education is being down-sized, bigtime. It won't be teachers teaching; it'll be the system, "downloading." And putting in place School-to-Work spells the death knell of any semblance of local control by parents and teachers.
What's the telltale sign that School-to-Work is coming? Those learning "standards" you hear so much about. Those standards are boilerplated -- the same -- all over the country. They are dumbed-down unbelievably, to dupe the public into believing that since THEIR kids scored in the 90th percentile, they must be very, very smart, and their school must be tops. They'll accept nationally-standardized curriculum and assessment, figuring that since THEIR kids are tops locally or even statewide, they'll be tops nationally as well. But the score is meaningless. It's a ruse.
If you looked at kids' actual academic abilities in reading, writing and 'rithmetic, if you're over the age of about 30, you would be absolutely shocked at how much erosion in academic quality there has been since the 1960s.
This is a planned crash, apparently, and it's sad to see.
The Chamber is in cahoots with the educrats to get this done, because it is a strong belief among the leftists in government as well as education that we need a meek, malleable, sub-literate workforce with "skills" rather than classic academic knowledge, who would move anywhere in the world for a job. And since they don't have a broad base of skills and knowledge, they will be more "loyal" than the worker of today, who has more options because of that vanishing broad-based liberal-arts education that School-to-Work is demolishing.
The School-to-Work educrats would roughly follow the old 80-20 rule: 80% of the students would be "assessed" and pigeonholed into low-level jobs with intensive career readiness programming that starts in kindergarten, and only a lick and a promise in traditional school subjects rather than a thorough grounding in all academic subjects . . . just "brought up to specs" for an entry-level job, in other words . . . while the lucky other 20% would be "sorted out" at a young age, groomed in academic skills and given college-prep classes to get them ready for college to eventually emerge and take the reins of society as the ruling elite.
Of course there would be all kinds of corruption and fandango to determine whose kid gets labeled a "Smurf" with entry-level job prospects and opportunities limited (translation: conservative Christians and those who would dare to buck the fascist system), or, on the other hand, those whose kid gets an Ivy League education with all the perks (translation: leftists and ambitious parents who'll do and say anything to suck up to people in power to get their kids an edge).
Now who, pray tell, would be the "Smurfs" in Nebraska? Why, eureka! We already rank at about the bottom of the 50 states in the achievement gap between rich and middle-class students -- almost all of them white -- and those in poverty, almost all of them from families of color.
School-to-Work wouldn't do anything to raise the academic outcomes and, hence, life outcomes of those who are already at the bottom of the barrel. Instead, they'd be handed no-brainer apprenticeships and steered into dead-end jobs; no physics or calculus or art or in-depth history classes for kids like that.
Why would they need them, if the point of school is to get ready for a job?
But that's not racist -- deliberately dead-ending the mostly-poor, mostly-minority kids. School-to-Work is just "practical" -- it'll get them a decent job -- and isn't that what schooling is all about?
If you don't think so -- if you think the point of schooling is to turn out citizens, not worker bees -- you'd better get moving quickly and educate yourself, your fellow parents and taxpayers, your school board members, your state senators and anyone else who will listen, to expose and battle the School-to-Work juggernaut, coming to a school district near you.
Here's a great place to start:
This blog has a lot of food for thought.Takes time to digest. No question that vouchers for all would solve a host of educational problems. The political will for vouchers isn't out there at this point in time,however.Post a Comment
Kids and parents should not be forced into either an academic or vocational track against their will.That is not the American way.
Still, the criticisms in this report card by three separate think tanks, one liberal,have validity.Poor academic standards,inadequate dual-enrollment programs, onerous paperwork, no charter school law, hidebound, lumbering administration have validity.
Note that Nebraska received a "B" in finances. The problem would appear from this report to be not inadequate financing but inappropiate and wasteful use of the resources available.
School-to Work forced pigeonholing no. Tougher academic standards, less paperwork, innovative, efficient, decentralized administration, shutting down dysfunctional schools,more dual-enrollment programs,(NOT International Baccalaureate.),charter schools, in the absence of vouchers, yes.