BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett
Back on September 3, 2011 Mississippi PEP was a month-old website. At the time, I was the only person writing and linking articles from state news sources to the site. I was focused a great deal on public education as the state prepared to take on the charter school issue, and other education reforms in 2012. So, when I found a Department of Education forum taking place on September 14, 2011 in Rankin County involving a controversial speaker I posted an article about that speaker.
It became one of my most linked articles, and has been shared all over the web by websites all over the country. Even today, a year and a half later, we continue to get web traffic from links to the article.
Marc Tucker was the speaker. He is considered controversial due, in part, to a letter he wrote to Hillary Clinton in 1992 that outlined a radical new approach to education that would have the federal government take over education standards across the country. What is even more interesting about this is that Tucker has never taught a day in his life in K-12. He has no education degree, and only for a brief two-year stint taught a college course.
A System of Control
In the “Dear Hillary” letter, as it’s come to be called, Tucker lays out a plan “to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program.”
Tucker’s plan would change the mission of schools from teaching children academic basics and knowledge to training them to serve the global economy in jobs selected by workforce boards. Nothing in this comprehensive plan has anything to do with teaching schoolchildren how to read, write, or calculate.
The plan would use “national standards” and “national testing” to cement national control of tests, assessments, school honors and rewards, financial aid, and the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM), which is designed to replace the high school diploma.
Designed on the German system, the Tucker plan is to train children in specific jobs to serve the workforce and the global economy instead of to educate them so they can make their own life choices.
That’s why yesterday I felt a certain familiarity when I read that Gulfport High School was announced as the first school in Mississippi to implement an Academic Institute.
The Sun Herald reported:
Gulfport is the first district in the state to offer Academic Institutes, which is a mix of intensive curriculum and project-based learning that integrates academic course work with real-life experiences to better prepare students for life after graduation, Superintendent Glen East said.
Administrators studied similar curriculums in Tennessee, California, Florida and GERMANY before starting the program in Gulfport.
Tucker’s ambitious plan began to be implemented in three laws passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1994: the Goals 2000 Act, the School-to-Work Act, and the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act. The move to nationalize standards continued with President Bush’s No Child Left Behind.
Some of the implementation mechanisms in those laws have been altered somewhat over the years, and the names have changed. But, the plan itself lives on under a new name: Common Core. Mississippi is one of the 48 states that have bought into the Common Core push.
Computer Database Employment Matching
The Tucker Plan proposed using a computer database, a.k.a. “a labor market information system,” into which school personnel would scan all information about every schoolchild and his family, identified by the child’s social security number: academic, medical, mental, psychological, behavioral, and interrogations by counselors. The computerized data would be available to the school, the government, and future employers.
Again, the similarities to the Gulfport High School program are eye-opening. From the Sun Herald article:
Freshmen and sophomores begin with Common Core Institutes, a rigorous college-preparatory experience with compressed high school coursework. It focuses on math, science, English, history and other electives required for graduation.
Students will complete advanced algebra, trigonometry and even pre-calculus by their sophomore years.
As this group prepares to enter its junior year, the learning will be focused on developing specific interests, skills and abilities for college and career readiness, he said.
Students are evaluated on their skills, interests and abilities beginning in elementary school with the goal of preparing them for college or a career.
That evaluation sounds a lot like Tuckers plan of a computer database where “school personnel would scan all information about every schoolchild and his family, identified by the child’s social security number: academic, medical, mental, psychological, behavioral, and interrogations by counselors.”
Here is the final point from the Sun Herald article about Gulfport High School’s plan:
The district will work with business and industry to provide students with mentoring opportunities and paid and unpaid internships in their chosen fields, East said.
Sounds a great deal like Tucker’s proposal that the “computerized data would be available to the school, the government, and future employers”, doesn’t it?
Keep Pushing for Choices
In 1988, Tucker became the president of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) where he joined up with Hillary Clinton, Mario Cuomo, and Ira Magaziner to get states to move away from local control of their schools and migrate to national standards.
In 1991, Marc Tucker and Lauren Resnick created New Standards that pushed standards-based reform. In 1998, he and Judy Codding created America’s Choice that made sure the national standards were further implemented into the schools; and in 2005, Tucker created the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.
Tucker’s whole plan has been to require public school teachers to quit focusing on knowledge-based, academic content that emphasizes mostly objective testing with right-or-wrong answers. Instead, Tucker and his cohorts have managed to restructure public schools into a national program of social engineering through subjective assessments that emphasize feelings, opinions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, global warming, homosexuality, and “social justice.”
This effort has been given a new level of control under President Obama and Arne Duncan who have added federal “teeth” by creating Common Core Standards and the millions of federal dollars available through Race to the Top funding.
The whole thing reminds me of a Pink Floyd video where school children dressed in gray march in lines through a dark dank factory school “system”, as they are trained to take their place in the corporate world.
If this is the future of public education, then the push for continued education reforms is sorely needed to include vouchers to give parents the ability to opt out. I pray that my youngest will be out of school before this makes it to our school district.
One of the major arguments against Governor Bryant’s proposal to increase standards for students entering college to become teachers was that many of those in college change, sometimes dramatically, from the time they enter university until the time they have completed courses and entered the workforce. It’s a very valid point.
The Mississippi Department of Education’s 2013 teacher of the year from Hancock High School, Joshua Lindsey, says he didn’t even go to college to become a teacher, but found it to be his calling.
Would Lindsey have been picked to be a teacher by the government school bureaucrats? Do we want government making those choices for our children?
None of us knows what wonderful things God has in store for us. Yet we somehow are going to buy in to a government program that evaluates children’s career capabilities and puts them on an employment track beginning in elementary school?
This absolutely flies in the face of personal freedom and the freedom to maintain Faith in Divine Providence. Instead, future generations will see the role of god replaced with the all knowing government school system.
Do as your told. March to that new job, and don’t get out of line.
God help us.
About Keith: Keith Plunkett has worked on communications issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by going to HorizonMediaMarketing.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett
- Test-Based Accountability, International Comparisons, Standards-mania: Lessons Ignored (atthechalkface.com)
- Bennett: Mississippi’s education policymakers must continue reform with vouchers. (mississippipep.wordpress.com)