Minnesota Taxpayers Balk At 'Bolshevik Style' Education

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

(CNSNews.com) - Radical education reformers are "using your tax money to sell their ideas," warns Michael Chapman, a Minnesota father and education activist.

Chapman addressed a handful of state legislators, political candidates and several hundred other concerned Minnesotans who gathered in Minneapolis on September 29 to learn about a fundamental change in how American children are being educated-in public, private and home schools alike.

Critics charge that the new style of education stresses early vocational training over academics, expressions of feeling over objective standards of learning, federal standards over local control and, ultimately, government control over the workforce.

Former Republican gubernatorial candidate and state representative Allen Quist calls it the philosophy of "nobody is to be educated beyond their station in life."

Chapman sees many parallels with the old Soviet style work-as-education system and doesn't shy away from labeling America's "school-to-work" system "Bolshevik."

"It's so easy to get labeled McCarthyist or extremist," he acknowledged. "Even if there is a conspiracy, that's not what's important. What's driving it is a world view; intelligent people come to certain conclusions based on a world view ideology.

"It grew up here-it didn't necessarily come across the ocean," said Chapman.

First implemented in a series of 1994 education laws signed by President Clinton, critics say the substance of the reforms are being continued in President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" bill, H.R. 1, the massive reauthorization bill for federal education spending.

But now an increasing number of parents, lawmakers and educators are mobilizing against the reforms they deem both contrary to the beliefs of America's founding principles and less than rigorous education for their children.

Such critics point to provisions in the federal laws that dangle the carrot of federal tax dollars for states that bring their schools, standardized tests, and text books into compliance with a federal curriculum. The stick was the provision that withdrew all federal "Title I" money, which comprises about 6 percent of a state's education budget, from states that refused to restructure.

Some states have already bucked the system.

The Colorado School board in December 2000 rejected the school-to-work policy, declaring "schools are primarily institutions of learning" academic subjects and that "children are not a resource for the state." Likewise, the Idaho Board of Education chairman indicated last year that school-to-work would not be implemented in her state.

Spearheading the opposition in Minnesota, one of the first states to embrace school-to-work and related reforms, is the Maple River Education Coalition, a low budget, nonprofit group of volunteer activists and the hosts of the Minneapolis meeting.

"I think it's just starting to snowball and people are paying attention," said Cheryl Wersal, a conference attendee and 49-year-old mother of two from Clarissa, Minn. "It takes so long for something to really get found out. Even if you've heard about it, you may not know in depth about it.

"It's disturbing," said Wersal about the new style of education set forth by the 1994 "Goals 2000" and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. "We are becoming a much less free society."

An idea takes root

Shortly after the 1992 presidential election, Marc Tucker, president of the Washington, D.C.-based, nonprofit National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE), wrote a letter to incoming First Lady Hillary Clinton promoting his vision for "remold[ing] the entire American system" into "a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone."

It is this so-called "Dear Hillary" letter that foes of the federal agenda point to as the blueprint for a federal takeover of education.

"We think the great opportunity you have is to remold the entire American system for human resources development, almost all of the current components of which were put in place before World War II," Tucker wrote.

"A vision of the kind of national-not federal-human resources development system the nation could have [is] interwoven with a new approach to governing that should inform that vision," he continued.

Tucker identified a "keystone apprenticeship system" that contains "a powerful idea for rolling out and scaling up the whole new human resources system nationwide over the next four years."

He also outlined plans for a new "employment security program," a new program geared towards raising work-related skills for inner city dwellers and an elementary and secondary education reform agenda.

The content of federal schools

But it is not only the loss of parental, local and state control that angers critics. The content of the new curriculum is also a main source of fear and anger.

After reviewing standardized test questions and text books written before and after 1994, Quist concludes that the new system is meant to indoctrinate children into a world view that is hostile to the Second Amendment, natural law and the basic unalienable human rights listed in the Declaration of Independence and national sovereignty.

The new "national curriculum" authorized by Congress "is not a curriculum to educate; this is a curriculum to persuade," he said. "So it is not organized around academic subjects, like math, history and things like that; it's organized around propositions or positions, ideological statements."

By Quist's count, in the government authorized Civics and Government text book, there are 17 references to the environment, 42 references to diversity, 81 references to the First Amendment, no references to the Second Amendment and 5 mentions of national sovereignty.

"Our Declaration of Independence (http://www.cnsnews.com/Library/declaration.htm), which clarifies the principles of freedom, has national sovereignty in the first paragraph," he said.

More important than the number of times national sovereignty is mentioned, said Quist, is the way it's treated.

"You get this kind of list-'fundamental values of the United States'-and look what's not there: national sovereignty," he said. "You get treatments of other things that are more important: 'explain the division of the world.'

"This is what I call the pie analogy," Quist said. "You see, the nation isn't an independent entity, it is a part of the whole; and whole is the one world."

He noted that the few references to national sovereignty read, "In the nation-states that claim sovereignty," noting that rights are not typically portrayed as "claims."

The way America's children are educated is "the battle of our time," Quist concluded. "We need to start electing people to office who value freedom."