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Education Reporter

Idaho Students, Parents and
Educators Say 'NO!' to Reform
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As national efforts proceed to build public support for redesigning American high schools, Idaho citizens are speaking out against the plans.

From October 5th through the 19th, six state hearings were held throughout Idaho with thousands of students, parents, and teachers in attendance. The public testimony has been overwhelmingly against reforming the state's high schools.

More cradle-to-grave controls 
Idaho Eagle Forum president Jane Lesko, who has researched and followed federal education reforms for eleven years, is at the forefront of efforts to inform Idaho citizens about the restructuring of U.S. education. She testified at the October 12th hearing in Boise where an estimated 500 people attended.

Lesko explains that the National Governors Association's Getting It Done: Ten Steps to a State Action Agenda released last January, "starts with early childhood, K-12, thru higher education and ends with all children having a career pathway and an industry certificate." Lesko asserts, "We are being revisited by Goals 2000 and School-to-Work. How many parents were told that the State of Idaho had signed a contract with the U.S. Department of Labor in 1995 guaranteeing them that all ninth graders in Idaho would have a career pathway?"

Area high school and college students publicly stated they "do not want career pathways or to lose their art and music classes in order to be loaded down with math and science."

Not a state plan, but a national and international plan 
Retired educator and former high school principal F. Willard Robinson, Ed.D, also testified at the Boise hearing. Robinson's notable career includes piloting the first advanced placement program in 1968 at Beverly Hills High School, California, and chairing numerous high school evaluation programs for the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. He was the only public school administrator west of the Mississippi River nominated as a member of America's oldest professional education association: the Headmasters Association.

With his distinguished background, Robinson's analysis of the Idaho plans are particularly troubling: "Citizens should be concerned when a major education reform program, which has national and international implications, is again presented to the State of Idaho ostensibly as an Idaho program. Such an educational reform program was presented by Governor Kempthorne, the State Board of Education and representatives of the Bill Gates Foundation at a general meeting held at Boise State University on August 23, 2005. The new plan is titled Redesigning Idaho's High Schools to Reflect the Worldwide Economy."

Robinson further adds, "The wisdom of thrusting this extensive education reform program on the State of Idaho without the professional input from school teachers and administrators responsible, and the parents of our young people needs to be questioned. The approach is troublesome, especially when it is not an Idaho program as presented, but rather, again, a national program financed by a one-billion dollar grant from the Bill Gates Foundation through UNESCO, the U.S. Department of Education and sponsored by the National Governor's Association."

State officials presented plans with the claim of strengthening mathematics and Science, but Robinson explains that far more is involved: "Not so well advertised are some international education programs they tried to get the State Legislature to endorse earlier this year. These include the Global Education program (of which Green Cross is a part), the European-based International Baccalaureate program, the Center for Civic Education program, and the Idaho Human Rights program sponsored by UNESCO. Also, an integral part of the new reform plan is the old discredited School-to-Work program, later to come in as Worklink. Now it is reemerging in the Idaho School Redesign Summit. Aspects of these programs were in Goals 2000 and the No Child Left Behind Act. Now these programs are camouflaged under the guise of the national mathematics and science programs."

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