It appears that a major purpose of this audacious legislation is the establishment of a "P-16 education longitudinal data system." The plan is to enter all children into the government's database while they are in preschool and then track them through college.
States will be induced, or bribed, to cooperate in this expansion of federal power by grants from a $100 million pot of federal money in only the first year. The P-16 data system will have a "unique identifier" for each child that will be retained from preschool through college. The database will include, among other things, "information about the points at which students exit, transfer in, transfer out, drop out, or complete P-16 programs," "test records," "information on courses completed and grades earned," and how students "transitioned" from high school to college.
Section 3401 spells out a broad range of other powers the states can exercise after winning one of these grants. States can use the funds to make "changes that need to be made to a state's secondary school graduation requirements," "specifying the courses and performance levels necessary for acceptance" into college.
States can use the funds to make changes in course work in high schools in order for students to be accepted into the 21st century work force. Students will be taught "21st century learning skills" such as "global awareness." Section 3401 authorizes creation of a "statewide partnership" whose powers are unspecified. The "partners" will be at least a dozen politicians and education bureaucrats, plus one lone "representative of the business community," but, of course, no parents.
Section 3401's goals are wrapped in the comforting word "accountability." But the bill never says to whom the schools are to be accountable; clearly, it does not call for accountability to parents or taxpayers.
The America COMPETES Act is now in conference. Tell your House members not to agree to Section 3401 because it will waste taxpayers' money, expand an unnecessary and overbearing bureaucracy, give the Federal Government control of all school curricula, and put information about all children in a government database.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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