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SEMINAR ON GOALS 2000 -- (BY ROBERT HOLLAND) (Extension of Remarks - February 26, 1997)

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in the House of Representatives




The hearing room of the House Judiciary Committee looked like a busy `show and tell' classroom for scholars bearing large stacks of homework Feb. 1-2. Chairman Henry Hyde had convened an unusual grass-roots conference on the spreading, entangling `Seamless web' of collectivized education, health and social services, and work-force preparation.

Citizen-activists joined members of Congress and legislators from five states in talking about what their research had yielded, and they brought much of it with them as Exhibits R through Z: thousands of pages of fine print illuminating the complex scheme to make schools the central instrument for transforming American society into one that takes its lead entirely from government technocrats certifying `skills' and dispensing `care.'

Such documentation is essential because merely to criticize the seamless web is to risk being branded a conspiracy theorist. The extensive paper trail belies the existence of any conspiracy. It shows, instead, that a slumbering mainstream media--or mediacrats who cheerlead for collectivization--are the problem. The proof exists for anyone willing to risk the eyestrain to read the fine print.

Nor do the leading citizen-activists spurn facts in favor of imagined plots. Consider one of the featured presenters at the Hyde conference: Virginia Miller, a former women's basketball star at Penn State, and Rhodes Scholar candidate who spent 10 years as a systems consultant to U.S. Steel, Mellon Bank, Blue Cross, and Westinghouse.

Now the acting director of the Pittsburgh-based Public Education Network, Ms. Miller provided voluminous supporting documents to show how the Human Resources Development Plan devised by Hillary Clinton's sidekick, Marc Tucker , is coming to fruition through the multifarious works of the National Center on Education and the Economy.

For instance, one sentence penned by Mr. Tucker in a Labor Department-commissioned paper on organizing the work of the National Skill Standards Board (to which Mr. Clinton--surprise, surprise--has appointed Mr. Tucker ) fairly jumps off the page. In discussing a three-tiered system for developing `comprehensive qualifications--or standards' for jobs and clusters of jobs, Mr. Tucker reached Title 1:

`This would be,' he wrote, `a set of standards for what everyone in the society ought to know and be able to do to be successful at work, as a citizen, and as a family member.'

Now, ponder the breathtaking absolutism behind such a vision: Not only should Big Government issue, in effect, work permits, and not only should it monitor each person's civic participation; it should go so far as to pass judgment on how every American functions as a mother, father, brother, sister or other member of a family--however the technocrats chose to define `family.'

That sounds far-fetched--until one looks at Senate Bill 321 recently introduced in Oregon--one of the model states for the womb-to-tomb seamless web. That legislation would require every taxpayer with a dependent between the ages of 1 and 2 to attend state-directed `parent education courses' in order to claim a personal exemption on state taxes. The state also would set up a new system to certify parent-education providers. It is true that the agency Mr. Tucker envisioned as the promulgator of Tier I standards--the National Education Standards and Improvement Council--fell prey to Congress' partial dismantling of Goals 2000 last spring. However, there are many more new bureaucracies--the Skill Standards panel, for one--that can continue spinning the web.

Other presentations showed how schools are becoming instruments of nationalized health care through creative Medicaid re-interpretation; how databases are being set up to check each American's advances through the seamless web; how the School-to-Work system will function to steer students in directions that satisfy economic planners' objectives, not necessarily their own.

It is important to document how all this is meshing, as the conferees attempted to do. For example, Ohio's STW plan flatly declares as a goal the training of student for jobs in accordance with `the state's work force development and economic development strategies.'

But as chilling as such words are, most people probably will not become gravely concerned until they see the seamless web infringing on their own family's liberties. That may be happening in Nevada, where Gov. Bob Miller, current chairman of the National Governors Association, brags about a `Smart Card' that students will have to present when applying for a job in order to show they have the work-force competencies Big Brother says they should have.

Out in Las Vegas, Rene Tucker tells me that her daughter, Darcy, recently was pulled out of a geography class--without parental consent--to be administered a computerized assessment of career possibilities. Darcy wants to become a veterinarian. But the computer said she ought to become a bartender or a waitress, and it spat out a list of courses she ought to take in high school toward that end.

Mrs. Tucker was furious first that the career counselors had robbed her daughter's valuable class time. She added: `We're Christians, and the school stepped on my ties as a parent. It is my job to direct my child's career path, and it would not be in her best interest to be a bartender.'

Ah, but it might be in Nevada's best interest, you see, given the huge hospitality needs driven by the gambling and entertainment industry.

Another Nevada mom, Kristine Jensen, and her daughter Ashley had a similar experience. Ashley has a 4.0-plus GPA and currently aspires to work at NASA. Indeed, a NASA official told her, `Set your goals high and set your heart and mind to it and you will be there.'

However, said Mrs. Jensen, the STW career inventory said Ashley ought to set her goals quite a bit lower as she enters the ninth grade. `Garbage woman' was a career pathway the computer said this honors student should follow.

The School to Work Opportunities Act of 1994 states that career counseling is to begin `at the earliest possible age, but not later than the seventh grade.' That's a federal requirement, mind you, for schools spending STW money. As such fine print becomes a killer of dreams, the uprising against this seamless web figures to grow.

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