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Education Reporter
Education Conference Explores Standards and School-to-Work

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An important conference focusing on education policy was held recently in the midwest. The conference covered a variety of issues, from Goals 2000 and School-to-Work to the efforts of private, religious and homeschoolers to provide alternatives to public education.

Conference organizers told the audience of educators, state legislators and concerned parents that, while Americans have traditionally been dedicated to classical education and a Judeo-Christian world-view, this is no longer the case and that our system of education reflects the shift.

David Barton, founder of Wallbuilders Associates, an organization that distributes social, legal, statistical and historical research, demonstrated that our Founding Fathers believed that "religion and morality are indispensable supports of a free nation." Far from advocating the "separation of church and state," as is commonly assumed, they favored the broad-based religious education that was the hallmark of the finest institutions of the era, including Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. Barton lamented the present worldview that forbids the mention of God in schools, and that presumes man cannot learn from the past because "man evolves, and is not the same as he was 200 years ago."

Author and lawyer Phyllis Schlafly addressed the topic of history standards and textbooks. She explained that, though the volume of U.S. History Standards was denounced by the U.S. Senate (see Education Reporter, April 1995), thousands of copies were circulated and are the basis for textbooks and instruction plans. "The history standards mandate political correctness," Mrs. Schlafly said. "Everthing is political, with emphasis on race and gender oppression, multi-culturalism, radical feminism, diversity, tolerance, and sustainable development."

Janet Nicholas, a member of the California State Board of Education, spoke on current math standards, explaining that they require exploring feelings rather than doing computations. "Calculators are used from first grade on," she said. "There are no right or wrong answers, no formulas, rules, or skills practice. Over half of 4th grade students cannot do basic math. It is a profound human tragedy." She said that a concerted effort by university mathematicians and professionals has managed to "turn the ship around in California," spurring the development of new standards.

State legislators Sam Rohrer (R-PA) Ron Sunseri (R-OR) and education expert Virginia Miller addressed the impact of Goals 2000 and School-to-Work (STW). Rep. Rohrer explained that the

system is "tied together by the funding of school-based community health clinics through Medicaid." He said that Goals 2000 and STW "clearly depict an ideology of dramatically-expanded government, with psychologists established as true authorities, usurping family, God and religion."

Rep. Sunseri discussed the effects of STW on his state, describing a Portland elementary school that was forced to shut down because none of its students could read at any level. "School-to-Work is not about education," he explained. "The entire system is a 'crusade.' It's about developing a workforce to compete with Third World countries, so education must be effectively linked to work. By the year 2000, 70% of our jobs will not require a college education." He pointed out that job allocation is already happening in Oregon, and labeled it "an organized attack on capitalism."

Virginia Miller provided details about Marc Tucker's National Council on Education and the Economy (NCEE), which promotes implementing the German education system in the U.S. German children's careers are determined in the 4th grade. She explained how Tucker's vision is being adopted, with the Certificate of Initial Mastery (CIM) serving as the central link between education and business. "Tucker has asserted," Mrs. Miller said, "that 'failure [to implement the system] is not an option.' I propose to you that when it comes to Tucker and his system, failure is the only option."

Additional discussion topics included the violation of pupils' and parents' rights, the population control agenda, sustainable development, diversity, and how these issues are impacting both public and private education.

Kris Jensen, chairman of Nevada Concerned Citizens, offered a "legislative solution" to the problem of education reform. She described how her group, with research, documentation and persistence, threw a wrench into the STW juggernaut in her state when they persuaded legislators to add amendments nullifying many of the law's provisions. "We must pursue and win this battle heart by heart," Mrs. Jensen said.

Author and classical education expert Dr. George Grant eloquently advocated the rebirth of Classical Education. He explained the classical education movement, and Dr. Anthony Gordon, executive director of Restoration Academy in Birmingham, AL, described it as "a beacon of hope and promise in the inner city."

Presentations were also made on Christian schools, charter schools, and private school vouchers. Roxanne Petteway, founder and president of the Education Research Council, spoke on the process of accreditation, alerting the audience that it is "the backdoor approach for restructuring all schools, including private and parochial schools."

The speakers were grouped according to their topics, and each group held a Q&A session following the presentations. Other highlights of the conference included a brief visit by U.S. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO), and an appearance by David Horowitz, author and president of the Center for the Study of Popular Culture, who spoke about his past as the son of Communist parents and a former founder of the "New Left."

The conference closed on a hopeful note by John Stormer, author, pastor, and Christian school administrator, and a call to continued action.

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