School-to-work (STW) is the most recent "reform" that is
"restructuring" the nation's public schools. It's not just a fad
like self-esteem; it's a systemic change in the schools' mission, the
curriculum, and its lasting effect on students.
The School-to-Work Opportunities Act, signed by President Clinton
in 1994, codifies the concept that schools should track and train
students into specific jobs instead of educate them so they can make
their own life choices. STW is being implemented nationwide by STW
state laws, federal and state regulations, and the federal mandates
that encrust the granting of federal STW funds.
Dictionary definitions explain the difference. To educate means
to develop the faculties and powers of a person by teaching. To train
means to cause a person or animal to be efficient in the performance of
tasks by responding to discipline, instruction, and repeated practice.
That's exactly what STW is: "performance-based" training of
students to move into predetermined jobs. This is in contrast to the
traditional purpose of education: the older generation imparting basic
knowledge and academic skills to the younger generation in order to
enable each child to achieve his God-given potential.
STW changes the traditional function of education from academic
(reading, writing, math, science, history, etc.) to mandated vocational
training to serve the workforce. Reducing the class time spent on an
academic curriculum makes time available for field trips, encounter
groups to discuss feelings, and long sessions with counselors.
STW laws and regulations require vocational training to start "at
the earliest possible age, but beginning no later than middle school
grades." The federal STW statute even says that "career awareness"
should "begin as early as the elementary grades."
How many elementary or even middle school children do you know who
are capable of choosing their lifetime career? Obviously, these
decisions will be made by the school, not by the individual or his
The STW plan is for workforce development boards, in a
"partnership" between school and business administrators (usually
appointed by the Governor, bypassing all elected bodies), to determine
what jobs are needed in the coming years. The schools then construct
the curriculum to meet these governmentally determined workforce needs,
and use counselors and computers to subject students to "job
matching" and tracking.
The goal is not to graduate highly-literate individuals but to
turn out team workers to produce for the global economy. In the STW
scheme, individual grades are inflated or detached from academic
achievement, individual honors are eliminated or deemphasized, and
instead we have such "team" techniques as group grading, cooperative
learning, peer tutoring, horizontal enrichment, block scheduling, job
shadowing, mentoring, and job site visits.
Computers are an essential component in STW. A computer profile
is to be inputed for every student containing an awesome array of
personal and private family information. The data will be available to
the school, the government, and prospective employers.
The social engineers driving school-to-work include Robert Reich,
Ira Magaziner, and Marc Tucker. They dream of using the schools to
implement industrial policy, a.k.a. national economic planning,
following the German and East European model.
Robert Reich's and Ira Magaziner's 1982 book entitled "Minding
America's Business" bemoans America's "irrational and uncoordinated
industrial policy" and that we lack a single agency to monitor our
domestic economy and adjust it to changes in the world markets. They
think we need an economic czar.
In his 1983 book "The Next American Frontier," Robert Reich
wrote enthusiastically about Germany and Japan, where government-managed industrial policy uses loans and subsidies to shift resources
into favored industries, and "induces" disfavored firms to exit from
the industry. He praised the high percentage of their national
economies that is poured into numerous, generous, tax-financed social
benefits and "elaborate programs of job training," which he claimed
resulted in low unemployment.
Marc Tucker, in his 1992 book "Thinking for a Living," expressed
admiration for the Soviet bloc countries. He wrote that they "have
done a better job than we of building human-resource development
The alleged success and efficiency of the German and Eastern bloc
countries, so highly praised by Reich, Magaziner and Tucker, is now on
the rocks. Germany's unemployment rate is 12 percent and the
extravagances of the welfare state are heading that nation into
School-to-work is the "human-resource development" segment of
the Reich-Magaziner-Tucker strategy to inflict America with a national
industrial policy dictated by government economic czars. These
elitists have convinced themselves that they possess "extraordinary
insights," but the world's experience teaches us that central planning
is a failure everywhere in the world.
School-to-work is a direct threat to the individual student, his
privacy, his goals, and his acquisition of an education that can help
him reach them. It's also a direct threat to freedom as we know it in