THE TRUTH ABOUT NATIONAL TESTING
By Lynn Stuter
January 10, 2004
President George W Bush finally uttered the words the other day, in an end of the year speech — education is headed for "national testing."
Teachers are surprised. Schools are in an uproar. But is national testing anything new, anything that hasn't been part of the master plan since the advent of America 2000 and Goals 2000 and peripheral legislation passed since the early 90's? No, it isn't.
As has been shown previously, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) is not more than another strategic plan taking the Improving America's Schools Act (IASA) to the next step. While NCLB came from a Republican Administration and the IASA came from a Democrat Administration, the fact still remains that education reform is a system intended to produce children who demonstrate the new basics — teamwork, critical thinking, making decisions, communication, adapting to change and understanding whole systems. Whether a Republican or a Democrat Administration, the goals concerning education remain the same.
And, in his speechifying, President Bush made reference to holding schools accountable who do not teach the "basics". Of course, what he meant by that was left to interpretation. Parents, who don't know that "basics" has been redefined, believe he is referring to reading, writing and arithmetic. Parents who know that the term "basics" has been transmogrified to mean the new basics as defined above, know that he isn't referring to the traditional definition of basics, but to the competencies established by the Secretaries Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) established under the Bush Sr Administration (Republican) in 1991. The SCANS competencies define what every child "should know and be able to do" as a result of his or her educational experience to become a worker trained according to regional "human resource" needs as established by regional workforce development boards, also under the auspices of the federal government. Academics, as traditionally defined, are only incorporated as they are used and applied in teaching the new basics.
National testing, to determine whether children are demonstrating mastery of the eight national goals established in Goals 2000, and benchmarked by the SCANS competencies, has always been in the works. Every state in the United States received a Goals 2000 grant, agreeing thereby to align their state goals and essential learnings with the SCANS competencies and eight national goals of Goals 2000.
That teachers and schools are in an uproar at this point in time is indication that teachers and schools had no idea what they were getting into when they took the federal and state money, and, therefore, the federal and state regulations, to reform education at the local level.
Television commercials advise people, on a regular basis, to read contracts before they sign them; to know what the fine print says. Maybe before state legislatures, state departments of education, schools and teachers signed on to Goals 2000, they should have set out to determine what, exactly, they were going to get by signing on the dotted line to receive grant money. Federal and state grants are de facto contracts.
Crying foul now, almost ten years after Goals 2000 and the STWOA were passed in 1994, is a little too little. States and schools have spent billions transforming schools to systems education that focuses on the new basics. There is no turning back. And dissention will not be tolerated. All really does mean all in the world of systems governance. States and schools have already taken the money, signing their name on the dotted line agreeing to abide federal regulation. The feds now hold the means by which to force the states and schools to comply.
Those who tried to warn citizens, schools, teachers, and state legislatures, of what they were getting into by joining the education reform train, weren't crazy after all. And the ones who are losing are those who all this has supposedly been for — the children.
© 2004 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: www.learn-usa.com E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
"Those who tried to warn citizens, schools, teachers, and state legislatures, of what they were getting into by joining the education reform train, weren't crazy after all. And the ones who are losing are those who all this has supposedly been for — the children."