On Jan. 22, 1997, President Bill Clinton made a speech to a suburban Chicago audience so friendly that it interrupted him with applause 29 times. One line in his speech, however, was greeted with stony silence: "We can no longer hide behind our love of local control of the schools."
Clinton is gone from the White House, but the federalization laws of his administration - Goals 2000, School-to-Work, and Workforce Investment - are still in place. President George W. Bush, who says the federal government has "a role to play in education," has merely substituted labels more comforting to Republicans: standards, tests, and accountability.
Now we find that the process is no longer just federalization; it's globalization. Who would have guessed that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization would be positioning itself to design curricula for U.S. schools?
Former President Ronald Reagan withdrew the United States from UNESCO on Dec. 31, 1984, because it was corrupt, anti-Western and a vehicle for far-left propaganda. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush rejoined UNESCO in 2003.
UNESCO's efforts in the 1960s and 1970s to influence U.S. school curricula were unsuccessful. But now UNESCO has found a sugar daddy.
On Nov. 17, 2004, at UNESCO's headquarters in Paris, UNESCO signed a 26-page "Cooperation Agreement" with Microsoft Corp. to develop a "master curriculum (syllabus)" for teacher training in information technologies based on standards, guidelines, benchmarks and assessment techniques. The Agreement states that the syllabus will "form the basis for deriving training content to be delivered to teachers," and "UNESCO will explore how to facilitate content development."
Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates initialed every page in his own handwriting. You can read the agreement at www.eagleforum.org/links, but Microsoft has fixed it so you can't print it out.
Following the signing of the agreement, UNESCO Director General Koichiro Matsuura explained it in a speech. One of its goals, he said, is "fostering Web-based communities of practice including content development and worldwide curricula reflecting UNESCO values."
No doubt that is agreeable to Gates, because the agreement states "Microsoft supports the objectives of UNESCO as stipulated in UNESCO's constitution."
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has helped to finance the National Governors Association plan in Idaho to train students to work in the global economy. Idaho is one of six states selected by the National Governors Association for pilot projects.
The National Governors Report of December 2004, when Virginia's Democratic Gov. Mark Warner was chairman, makes clear that the purpose is to use the public schools to build a planned economy. The report speaks approvingly of "using schools to feed workers into selected corporations," "identifying their state's key industries and needs for skilled workers in order to define a common agenda between their work force and economic development programs," "the integration of education, economic development, and work force development policies," "seamless connections between the components of the (education) system and with the skill demands of the work place," and "connecting work force development to economic needs."
It's hard to see any difference between the 2004 National Governors Association plan and the earlier plans floated when Clinton was president. The plan uses a lot of mumbo jumbo to change the United States from free enterprise to a planned economy, and to turn public school students into a compliant work force for multinational corporations.
The new buzzwords are "career pathways," "education pipeline," "redesigning high schools," "smaller learning communities," and "cluster-based economic development strategies." Recycled buzzwords from prior years include "school-to-work," "work force development system reform," "business-education partnerships," and "meaningful outcome measures."
Six public hearings on the proposals were held in Idaho in October, and 500 people showed up at the Boise hearing. The reaction was overwhelmingly negative from both parents and teachers.
The Idaho Board of Education announced this month that after receiving "hundreds of comments," it has made "modifications to Idaho's plan to redesign high schools and middle schools," but those changes are minimal. The original plan would have required all sixth-grade students to select their learning plan for a specific career pathway and choose "career focused electives" to enter the work force.
Under the revised plan, students will have to do this only by the eighth grade.
But how many eighth-graders do you know who can (or should) map out their career pathway and narrow their education options to meet that single goal?
What about the colossal conceit of politicians and businessmen who think they can predict the jobs that eighth-graders can or will want to fill in their future years? Planned economies are always a failure. Students should be educated to reach their potential- whatever it is.