Orwellian Education

by William F. Jasper


The Totalitarian Design Behind "School To Work"

For over half a year, one of the most radical social engineering schemes this side of the New Deal, a prized showpiece of the Clinton Administration's "transformation" agenda, has been staving off defeat - with indispensable aid from the GOP leadership in Congress. The same Republican firebrands who ranted and declaimed furiously against Hillary's socialist health care program have been curiously silent or stubbornly supportive of an even more audacious "reform" project spawned by the same collectivist Clintonista cabal.

Last October, the House passed overwhelmingly, by a vote of 345 to 79, the Careers Act (H.R. 1617), while the text of the Senate companion bill, the Workforce Development Act (S. 143), sailed through the upper chamber by an even more lopsided vote of 95 to 2. With such remarkable bipartisan support, a conference report reconciling differences in the two bills was expected to follow quickly, with final passage of the landmark legislation coming before the Thanksgiving Day recess.

Grassroots Rebellion

However, before the exultant legislators could pop the champagne corks and raise a celebratory toast to their bipartisan "victory," a disturbing phenomenon arose to upset the jollity. In spite of enjoying near universal support among the patricians on the Potomac, the proposed legislation was igniting a firestorm of opposition among the plebeians in the hinterlands. As one leading House Republican who had voted for the measure later noted, "A grassroots rebellion is taking place around the nation" in response to the proposed new law.

Why all the fuss? After all, the new legislation would consolidate over 128 federal educational, training, and assistance programs into three "block grants" to the states. Who could be against that? The Clinton White House was for it. Ditto for Congress, the National Governors Association, the education establishment, and the media.

"Streamline," "simplify," "economize," "consolidate," "accountability," "efficiency," "decentralization" - these were the saccharin-sweet buzzwords used to sell the fraudulent confection. But they were mere bait, conservative-sounding verbiage intended to lure the unwary to the flypaper. The seductive icing concealed a socialist, poison cake. Semantic deception, pure and simple. Potentially deadly deception.

A persistent and growing citizens' chorus was on to the scheme and belted out an ever-louder refrain: "Look at the ingredients!" Just as important, they also warned: "Look at the confectioners!" "How in the world could anyone believe that legislation cooked up by Bill and Hillary Clinton, Teddy Kennedy, Ira Magaziner, Robert Reich, Mario Cuomo, David Rockefeller, and the Carnegie Corporation, and based on the Soviet polytechnical system, would do anything but increase federal interference and add to our educational woes?" asks Carolyn Steinke, president of Parents Involved in Education (PIE) and one of the key leaders in the national effort to defeat the legislation. "These are the premier advocates for the complete transformation of our republic into a socialistic, government-controlled, government-managed, national system for 'human resources development.' As education expert Samuel Blumenfeld has noted, the Careers/Workforce bills should be called 'The American Forced Labor Bill,' because that's what it truly is all about."

At first it seemed that the Careers/Workforce locomotive was unstoppable; its engines were too strong, its momentum too immense. But as the alarm spread, a grassroots army of concerned parents rose up to block the tracks. Since November of last year, the ill-conceived package has been stymied in a House-Senate conference, and once-committed advocates in both houses have been back-pedaling and defecting.

One of the most prominent and active defectors has been Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. In an April 2nd "Dear Colleague" letter, Hyde warned, "President Clinton's plan for a national workforce of skilled laborers is being achieved through the Goals 2000 Educate America Act, (H.R. 1804), School to Work Opportunities Act (SWO), (H.R. 2884), and Improving America's Schools Act (IASA), (H.R. 6), all of which were passed and signed into law by President Clinton in 1994."

Dumbing Down the Schools

"I'll tell you why it is so important to repeal these laws," said Hyde. And the lawmaker did not mince words:

The plan for Goals 2000 was developed by Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Ira Magaziner, and Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy (funded by the Carnegie Foundation), prior to Clinton's election. It is a concept for dumbing-down our schools and changing the character of the nation through behavior modification (a vital part of this plan). It moves away from an academically intensive curriculum to one that is integrated with vocational training, producing skilled manpower for the labor market. The economy will be controlled by the federal government by controlling our workforce and our schools.

Joining Hyde is Representative James Talent (R-MO), who asserted: "The Careers bill has been controversial since it emerged from Committee. At one time, I thought my concerns had been addressed, but obviously not.... I am withdrawing my support for H.R. 1617, and it is clear to me that the sponsors need to rethink the whole concept."

Representative Mel Hancock (R-MO) has been even more forceful in repudiating his earlier support for the measure. "After taking a closer look at H.R. 1617 and Goals 2000, and reviewing the letter sent to me by our Missouri Republican representatives, it is obvious," said Hancock, "that the National Education Association, in cooperation with the socialistic segments of our government, are attempting to implement the Marxist theories of reeducating a society as part of a potential overthrow of our constitutional government - as advocated by Karl Marx and Joseph Stalin. Even though I originally voted for the bills, I am withdrawing my support and will do everything possible to make sure H.R. 1617 is defeated and [will] attempt to rescind Goals 2000."

On May 9th Representative Hyde fired off another plea to his colleagues, warning of the deceptive dangers hidden in the seemingly innocuous verbiage of H.R. 1617 and S. 143. This letter was signed by six of his colleagues. "School-to-Work sounds good," Hyde noted, "but when carried to its logical extreme, it chooses careers for every American worker. Children's careers will be chosen for them by Workforce Development Boards and federal agencies 'at the earliest possible age.' In some cases, such as is currently happening in Pennsylvania, this is in the third grade. We do want all Americans to have an opportunity to work, but forcing them to work where and how the federal agencies deem necessary is not the way to go."

Moreover, Hyde noted that this dictation of career paths by Big Brother would apply not only to tiny tots, but to adults as well:

Under a national school-to-work system, siblings who have already graduated will be forced to return for vocational training and behavioral modification. Adults who want to change jobs or who involuntarily lose their jobs will also be required to enter retraining through adult education and vocational classes in order to qualify for work certificates, also called Certificates of Initial Mastery (CIM), for future employment. Ultimately, all Americans will have to go through a one-stop career center in order to qualify for a job.

Forced Relocation

But the workforce fascists have even grander usurpations in mind - like assuming the power to decide where the state's "resources" shall live. "States are now busy complying with Goals 2000 and school-to-work federal mandates," noted Hyde. "Statewide Workforce Development Boards have formed to study which labor skills are needed in each state to determine 'human resources' training requirements. Of course, this will decide also where these human resources will reside. They will have to live where the 'state' chooses, according to what skills the 'state' has chosen for them to learn."

And, in true Orwellian fashion, the statists are planning still more invasive intrusions into our lives, aimed ultimately at stripping away all privacy. Under the new system, Hyde warned, "national electronic information will be gathered on all students and adults who receive educational and vocational benefits. The information will be disseminated to one-stop career centers and follow them through their working careers ('life-long learning')."

Is the congressman a raving paranoiac? No, unfortunately the dangers he cites are real and imminent. Along with his "Dear Colleague" letter, Hyde enclosed several pages of excerpts from H.R. 1617 and S. 143 which plainly substantiate his charges. And those barely begin to scratch the surface.

How then did this monstrous scheme advance so far, so fast, and so completely undetected by the guardians at the gates? One chagrined senior staffer for a prominent House Republican told The New American, "We just didn't read [the bill] carefully enough. We were so enamored of the benefits of block grants that we weren't alert to the dangers, as we should have been." He admitted also that he and many of the other gatekeepers had been woefully ignorant of the coded meaning of much of the educationese in which the legislation was written and were unfamiliar with the authors, organizations, and studies which had figured prominently in the drafting of the bills. Fortunately, the peasants back in the district had done their homework.

Elitist Epistle

"One of the most blatant markers that set off alarms with all of us who have been involved in the education battle was the obvious influence of Marc Tucker," Carolyn Steinke told The New American. "Much of the language of the Careers and Workforce bills comes directly out of his letter to Hillary Clinton and his published studies. That was plain from the start."

The importance of the Marc Tucker epistle to Hillary Rodham Clinton was explained in these pages last year (see "'Cradle to Grave' OBE," in our July 24, 1995 issue). As president of the Carnegie Corporation's National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), a longtime friend of the Clintons, and a leading mandarin of the education "restructuring" movement, Marc Tucker is no stranger to the corridors of power. And he has demonstrated a ruthless delight in exercising that power - to the bitter grief of many communities that have fallen victim to his "reform" nostrums.

To those familiar with his apparent megalomaniacal bent, appalling track record, and influential connections, Tucker's 18-page missive to First Lady-elect Hillary could be read only as a dread omen portending grave ill for America. The letter was dated November 11, 1992 - just after Bill Clinton's victory - and there was no mistaking Tucker's delirious ecstacy over the outcome of the election. The letter began:

Dear Hillary:

I still cannot believe you won. But utter delight that you did pervades all the circles in which I move. I met last Wednesday in David Rockefeller's office with him, John Sculley, Dave Barram and David Haselkorn. It was a great celebration. Both John and David R. were more expansive than I have ever seen them - literally radiating happiness. My own view and theirs is this country has seized its last chance....

The subject we were discussing was what you and Bill should do now about education, training and labor market policy. Following that meeting, I chaired another in Washington on the same topic. Those present at the second meeting included Tim Barnicle, Dave Barram, Mike Cohen, David Hornbeck, Hilary Pennington, Andy Planner, Lauren Resnick.... Ira Magaziner was also invited to this meeting.

So what is it that Messrs. Tucker, Rockefeller, Sculley, Hornbeck, and their enraptured confreres envision for Bill and Hillary for "education, training and labor market policy"? Nothing short of a radical, transformational outcome-based education scheme "to remold the entire American system." Nothing short of a national system of socialist control over all jobs and education "that literally extends from cradle to grave" and that is mandatory "for everyone." Wrote Tucker, "We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resource development, almost all of the current components of which were put into place before World War II."

Tucker knew, of course, that he was addressing a fully sympathetic fellow revolutionary. Hillary had served on the board of directors of Tucker's NCEE and on the board of governors of his National Standards Project. Bill and Hillary had brought him to Arkansas during their gubernatorial reign of terror to "reform" the state's school system. "First, a vision of the kind of national - not federal - human resources development system the nation could have," Tucker told his comrade. "This is interwoven with a new approach to governing that should inform that vision. What is essential is that we create a seamless web of opportunities to develop one's skills that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone - young and old, poor and rich, worker and full-time student."

A "Seamless Web"

The Carnegie visionary next outlined the kind of "seamless web" he and his fellow spiders were weaving "to implement this vision":

A national "apprenticeship system" to serve as "the keystone of a strategy for putting a whole new post-secondary training system in place." This scheme, Tucker wrote, "contains what we think is a powerful idea for rolling out and scaling up the whole new human resources system nationwide over the next four years, using the (renamed) apprenticeship idea as the entering wedge." A national "employment service and a new system of labor market boards" to control all education, jobs, and job training. A "special program to greatly raise the work-related skills of the people trapped in the core of our great cities." Legislation"to advance the elementary and secondary reform agenda."

Typical of all would-be despots, Tucker can hardly wait to get his hands on the children - and the younger the better. His scheme calls for a "seamless system of unending skill development that begins in the home with the very young and continues through school, post-secondary education and the workplace." In this dystopic nightmare, we will be treated to a "national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards." In other words, what is taught, how it is taught, how it is tested, what will be taught to those who teach it, and who, ultimately, will be allowed to teach - all of these vital educational matters will be nationalized.

Among the other many delights envisioned for us by the Tucker/Rockefeller/Carnegie coterie is a mandatory national "employment service." Under the new regime, this employment service would rapidly match job seekers with job providers, since "all available front-line jobs - whether public or private - must be listed in it by law." And the coercive utopians have dreamed up even more marvelous programs to help us, such as: "A system of labor market boards … established at the local, state and federal levels to coordinate the systems for job training, post-secondary professional and technical education, adult basic education, job matching and counseling."

The Tucker plan is a conception of breathtaking audacity. And who better to share it with than Saint Hillary, who obviously has adopted French Revolutionist Danton's advice - "Audacity, more audacity, always audacity!" - as her personal credo. But being quite full of himself and positively giddy at the thought of the opportunities before him, Tucker had to share his glorious vision with others as well. Thus, in January 1993 his NCEE released A Human Resources Development Plan for the United States, a 25-page report mimicking the "Dear Hillary" dispatch, including whole sections copied word-for-word from the letter.

The NCEE Plan bears the same sweeping vision as Tucker's epistolary appeal to the Rodham-Clinton White House. "Nothing less than a wholly restructured school system can possibly bring all of our students up to a standard only a few have been expected to meet up to now," it states with Tuckeresque zeal. "The national system of skills standards," the Plan declares, "establishes the basis for the development of a coherent, unified training system."

And in the argot peculiar to elitist educrats, it makes clear that the outcome-based education principles that have so alarmed and outraged parents nationwide will be a prime feature of the new dominion. "We would replace rules defining inputs with rules defining outcomes and the rewards for achieving them," it boldly informs.

"No Turning Back"

Nor is there any doubt that these "true believers" are going for the whole enchilada. Under the subtitle, "An Agenda for the Federal Government," the Tucker/NCEE Plan openly admits that it is setting forth "strategies for bringing the new system … into being, not as a pilot program, not as a few demonstrations to be swept aside in another administration, but everywhere, as the new way of doing business." (Emphasis added.)

In a memo dated February 13, 1992 to the leadership of the National Alliance for Restructuring Education (NARE), Marc Tucker provided an even deeper and more chilling insight into just how thorough is the overturning of society that he envisions. Under the ominous subtitle, "How We Plan to Do It," the Carnegie cadre leader wrote:

Our objective is to make schools of the kind we have described the norm, not the exception, first in the cities and states that are Alliance members, and later elsewhere. Getting there will require more than new policies and different practices. It will require a change in the prevailing culture - the attitudes, values, norms and accepted ways of doing things.... We will know that we have succeeded when there are enough transformed schools in any one area … that their approach to education sets the norms, frames the attitudes and defines the accepted way of doing things in that part of the world. Then there will be no turning back.

Set the norms. Frame the attitudes. Define the accepted way of doing things. And with such finality that "there will be no turning back." What is particularly frightening is the extent to which this totalitarian vision is shared by so many of the esteemed cognoscenti of the education mandarinate. "What we are into is a total restructuring of society," one of Tucker's confreres, Dr. Shirley McCune, stated unabashedly in an address to a 1989 governors summit on education. "What is happening in America today," said Dr. McCune, senior director of the Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory, "… is not simply a chance situation, and the usual winds of change. What it amounts to is a total transformation of our society."

Statements such as Tucker's and McCune's have become so commonplace among the "progressive" and "enlightened" education establishment as to have lost their shock value. But these supremely ambitious technocrats, intoxicated with power and sublimely confident of the virtue of their despotic schemes, are indeed setting the norms, framing the attitudes, and defining the way of doing things.

"Tucker, McCune, Hornbeck, Sizer, Spady, Champlin, Goodlad, Resnick - that whole gaggle of social engineers who are largely responsible for the appalling crises in education today, the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America - now have their fingers into virtually everything that falls under the euphemisms of 'reform' and 'restructuring,'" author and OBE critic Charlotte Iserbyt told The New American. "The Careers/Workforce battle is a case in point. Those of us who were familiar with Tucker's Hillary letter and his Human Resources Development Plan saw immediately his handprint; much of the legislative language was taken almost verbatim from Tucker."

Bipartisan Betrayal

"These radical international socialists are writing, designing, and implementing the federal and state 'reform' programs that are being adopted all over the nation," warned Mrs. Iserbyt, who was an official in the U.S. Department of Education during the Reagan Administration. "And what is most infuriating about it all," she said, "is that it is Republican congressmen, governors, and state legislators who are enacting many of these dreadful programs. It is a bipartisan betrayal. We should remember that it was George Bush, Lamar Alexander, Chester Finn, Diane Ravitch, Bill Bennett, the Hudson Institute, and the Committee for Economic Development that got the America 2000 'reforms' rolling. And it was George Shultz in the Reagan Administration who signed the Carnegie-drafted U.S.-Soviet education agreements with Gorbachev. That was in 1985, the same year Carnegie brought Mark Tucker on board."

Tucker's NCEE proudly boasts of its role in helping to write the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, the School to Work Transition Opportunities Act, and other important legislation. "Our reports are providing the intellectual framework for many of these policy changes," the NCEE crows in its Workforce Skills Program pamphlet. "National Center staff regularly consult with leaders from the Clinton administration, Congress, governors, and industry, labor and education groups. And we organize coalitions of major national organizations to build consensus on emerging education, employment and training issues."

Yes, these folks are experts at "building consensus" and "organizing coalitions" to ram their programs down the throats of a reluctant public. In the same Workforce pamphlet, the NCEE declares:

Our assistance to the states takes multiple forms. We help state leaders draft legislation, then develop strategic plans for implementing new education, training and employment systems. We help leaders in government, business and education make the case for change. We help states monitor their progress and when necessary, make recommendations to help them ensure that their activities match the intent of their policies.

Selling the Con

Are we not fortunate to merit such selfless "helpers"? To these illumined avatars, we, the great unwashed public - parents, taxpayers, teachers, state legislators, local officials - are a pathetically inept and backward booboisie in desperate need of their ministrations. Too often, though, we are ingrates, spurning their superior and magnanimous counsel. So when it comes time to sell the peasantry on the latest collectivist crusade, the beneficent experts summon passels of PhDs, tons of impressive-looking studies, reams of fraudulent statistics, and a multitude of phony success stories to overwhelm and bewilder the opposition.

This strategy has worked so well that Tucker and company have virtually been given carte blache in many school systems. An example is the power wielded by the New Standards Project (NSP), yet another Tucker/NCEE front. To the NSP has been given the all-important task of establishing the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) and the Certificate of Advanced Mastery (CAM) for the many states and school districts who have joined NSP or NARE.

According to the NCEE pamphlet entitled The Certificate of Initial Mastery: A Primer, the NSP will administer the CIM program as a way of "assuring students and parents that Certificates they issue will be honored in other states." "The standards for the Certificate of Initial Mastery," says the publication, "will be set by the Governing Board of New Standards [NSP].... The majority of the members of this broadly representative body have been assembled from the states and districts that will use the standards and assessments that New Standards develops."

"Broadly representative body" indeed! Bitter experience has shown that the self-anointed experts of NSP, NARE, NCEE, the New American Schools Development Corporation, the National Education Goals Panel, the Center on Student Learning, the Learning Research and Development Center, the National Alliance of Business, and others of their ilk have been exceedingly adept at eventually hijacking and taking over all of the so-called "reform" efforts - if they haven't controlled them outright from the beginning.

Education researchers like Charlotte Iserbyt, Bettye Lewis, Anita Hoge, Dennis Cuddy, Samuel Blumenfeld, Jed Brown, Donna Hearne, Anne Herzer, Cynthia Weatherly, and Shirley Correll have been pointing out for some time that many of the education "reform" efforts have been drawn directly from the Soviet Union. The Goals 2000/School-to-Work/Careers/Workforce scheme has clearly been fashioned from the Soviet polytechnical school.

The essence of the fascist-communist scheme outlined by Tucker, and incorporated into the current Careers/Workforce proposals, was well described by Dr. Eugene Maxwell Boyce in his 1983 study The Coming Revolution in Education. In that work, Boyce, a professor of education administration at the University of Georgia, wrote: "In the Communist ideology the function of universal education is clear, and easily understood. Universal education fits neatly into the authoritarian state. Education is tied directly to jobs - control of the job being the critical control point in an authoritarian state. The level of education, and consequently the level of employment, is determined first, by level of achievement in school. They do not educate people for jobs that do not exist. No such direct, controlled relationship between education and jobs exists in democratic countries."

The Communist Blueprint

The basis for the polytechnical system being shoved down our throats by the education establishment is to be found in The Communist Manifesto itself. Therein Karl Marx cites as the final plank in his ten-step program: "Free education for all children in public schools.... Combination of education with industrial production, etc., etc."

"The principle of combining schooling with productive labour," says Soviet educational theorist Vladimir Turchenko, "is one of the first principles in the Marxist-Leninist theory of communist education.... Lenin could not conceive of an ideal future society without a combination of education and productive labor." According to Turchenko, a central question in education "is how to turn the upbringing of the younger generation into the affair of all members of society...." If that sounds like a page from Lady Hillary's It Takes A Village, perhaps there is more than mere coincidence at work here.

In his 1976 Soviet education text entitled The Scientific and Technological Revolution and the Revolution in Education, Turchenko writes: "The Marxist-Leninist principle of combining education with productive labour and polytechnisation of the school provides for a high level of general education and theoretical training. At the same time, realizing this principle to the full extent demands a profound revolution in the entire system of public education." (Emphasis added.)

So closely does Tucker's plan mirror Turchenko's that one might be forgiven the waggish temptation to dub the Carnegie guru "Tuckerchenko." But refusing to see the patently obvious communist inspiration and design in the Careers/Workforce proposition - especially after it has been pointed out - and refusing to oppose it is unpardonable.

The communist inspiration and design inherent in the Careers/Workforce proposition is also drawn from the Italian communist theoretician Antonio Gramsci, who has been publicly acknowledged as a primary influence on Hillary Clinton's political guru, Michael Lerner, and Bill Clinton's friend and adviser, Derek Shearer. In Gramsci's essay "The Organization of Education and Culture," his solution for the "widespread educational crisis" sounds remarkably like those being offered by Comrades Tucker, Clinton, Rockefeller, Hornbeck, Sculley, et al. Gramsci calls for "a single humanistic, formative primary school of general culture which will correctly balance the development of ability for manual (technical, industrial) work with the development of ability for intellectual work. From this type of single school, following repeated tests for professional aptitude, the pupil will pass either into one of the specialized schools or into productive work."

This "unitary school," said Gramsci, would include "a whole network of nursery schools and other institutions," just like the "one-stop centers" proposed in the Kennedy "Workforce" bill.

The educrats in Washington surely know all this. In 1990 they provided a $4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for Professor Robert H. Beck of the University of Minnesota to produce a study entitled Polytechnical Education: A Step. "The Soviet Union, and countries closely allied with the USSR," Beck writes in that report, "have developed a curriculum known as polytechnical education. It is one of the leading efforts to establish a school in which there is what in English writing on education is termed 'parity of esteem' of vocational and academic preparation." Furthermore, writes the professor, "Soviet polytechnical education is rooted in the Marxist-Leninist ideology, which remains a powerful influence despite a move toward an economy responsive to the market."

That considered, the following remarks take on a positively frightening air. "The Soviets have managed," observes Beck, "to fuse an academic with a vocational perspective and have added a Soviet variant of career counseling. A friendly ideology has helped, and we will have to succeed, if succeed we do, without that aid."

The "friendly ideology" to which Beck refers is Marxism-Leninism, the communist ideology responsible for the mass annihilation of millions of souls and the cruel oppression of billions more. Since this monstrous ideology is inherently "friendly" to the polytechnical system, what possible motive could those who advocate that "we" - the United States - adopt the same system have except to "transform" the United States into the same kind of Marxist-Leninist monstrosity? And what possible excuse could Americans have for ever allowing that crime to happen?


from The New American Magazine Vol. 12, No. 15 - July 22, 1996 
Copyright 1994-2000 American Opinion Publishing Incorporated

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12 feb 2000