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Week of: March 18, 2001

It's Time to Separate School and State

by F.R. Duplantier

Outcome-Based Education, Goals 2000, and School- to-Work were proposed as remedies for "a nation at risk." What's really putting American children at risk, however, are these so-called reforms.

Bogus educational reform was enacted into law in 1994 with the passage of Goals 2000 and the School- to-Work Opportunities Act. Seth Farber of the Network Against Coercive Psychiatry says "the program envisioned by Goals 2000 is a usurpation of authority that threatens to destroy the integrity of families and communities, and thus to undermine the organic supports for the development of character and individuality." He warns that Goals 2000 is turning parents into "state-approved guardians of their own children," working under the "constant supervision and guidance of psychologists, social workers, and other 'experts.'"

Grassroots political activist Phyllis Schlafly points out that the objective of School-to-Work is to "provide children with specific job training, rather than a well-rounded education, so that they will be better able to serve the needs of the coming global economy. School-to-Work substitutes vocational training for traditional academic pursuits," she explains. "It shifts the focus of our educational institutions from the child's intellectual needs to the mundane requirements of employment personnel. Workforce development boards will be established to determine what jobs will be needed in the future. Schools will then design curricula to meet these bureaucratically determined labor needs, using counselors and computers to 'match' kids with careers."

Educational reformers are feverishly restructuring our nation's school system to ensure the production of "a workforce that meets employer needs in an era of global competition." The steps needed to achieve that cynical objective are outlined in a report prepared for the U.S. Department of Education by the Institute for Educational Leadership. This Overview of Skill Standards Systems in Education and Industry notes that "a wide array of efforts are under way in every state to involve industry representatives in constructing workplace skill requirements," and that the Education Department's Office of Vocational and Adult Education has "taken on the crucial responsibility of assisting the states and industries in that effort."

Recognizing that the federal government's intrusion into education has "failed miserably," Schlafly calls for the abolition of the Education Department. "Establishing a federal Department of Education may have worked wonders for the National Education Association," she concedes, "but it has done nothing positive for America's public schools. In fact, it has had an entirely deleterious effect, further weakening local control and adding costly government regulations at the expense of academic curricula."

Marshall Fritz of the Separation of School and State Alliance goes even further, advocating the complete dismantlement of the public school system in America. Fritz reveals "the key difference between tax-funded and parent-funded schools. Parent-funded schools have a high percentage of parents who are fully exercising their parental rights in education, and tax-funded schools have few such parents." He explains that "parents who directly provide for their children's education sacrifice. That act both reflects and influences their attitude about their children's education." Fritz says government should be prohibited from "compelling school funding, attendance, and curriculum. Only with the separation of school and state," he insists, "can we reestablish parental responsibility, protect parents' rights, and enable schools, teachers, and students to flourish in an environment of educational freedom."


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