Three recent events necessitated a refresher on the importance of understanding the current educational system operating in the U.S., and specifically in Oklahoma.
Those three events were:
- Following up on an earmark request for a technology company in OK which led to researching enterprise zones, technology parks, the dept. of commerce, the quality jobs program, and tax incentives for ‘qualified’ businesses.
- Hearing a current school board member, and candidate for State House Dist. 66, declaring the purpose of education is to ‘prepare students for the workforce.’
- Re-reading the booklet entitled Tangled Web, The Mastery Learning, OBE, STW- TQM Connection by Joe Esposito, an Oklahoman who served on Governor Frank Keating’s School-to-Work Executive Council in 1995/1996, and Charlotte Iserbyt’s book, the deliberate dumbing down of america (lower case intentional.)
All these events helped to clarify that the fusing together of business, government, and education has been long in the making and is intentional.
What is Education?
The traditional definition of education is generally understood to be this:
“The drawing out of a person’s innate talents and abilities by imparting the knowledge of languages, scientific reasoning, history, literature, rhetoric, etc. – the channels through which those abilities would flourish and serve.” [Source: The New Century Dictionary of the English Language (Appleton, Century, Crofts: New York 1927), as quoted in the deliberate dumbing down of america, by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, p. 1]
This definition acknowledges that is the imparting of knowledge, through a well-grounded set of disciplines, that will allow the innate abilities (those an individual is born with) to flourish and serve – to the benefit of that individual. Implied is that the individual himself will decide how he will best engage those innate abilities, not the state or some outside force.
Labor and Education
The school-board-member-turned candidate stated the purpose of education is to prepare students for the workplace.
In 1990 the U.S. Department of Education provided a $4 million dollar grant for a study of the Polytechnical education system in the Soviet Union. From Polytechnical Education: A Step, by Robert H. Beck, page 5:
“Many definitions of polytechnical education exist, but all make the same general points. For example, in the Editor’s Introduction to “Polytechnical Labor Education in the Soviet School” (1975), one reads the following: “Refined from Marxist writings, polytechnism means, in brief, combining teaching and learning about economic production with practical work experience. The aim of polytechnical education in the USSR is to prepare youth for a life of productive labor in society and contribution to the construction of communism.””
The school-board-member-turned-candidate simply reiterated the Soviet definition of education. Blending academic and vocational education together for the benefit of the state and the production of goods has become standard educational protocol.
Two excerpts from Tangled Web demonstrate this re-orientation of education:
“Learner vs. Exit Outcomes: Remember, OBE is about what students know, what they can do, and what they are like. The Oklahoma Learner outcomes list “know” and “do” parts of the equation. Exit Outcomes tell us what students should be like.” [Source: Tangled Web, p. 9, quoting ‘Results in Class! (September 1992) Volume 22, Number 1, Oklahoma State Department of Education. Sandy Garrett, Superintendent.]
This quote from the Governor of Maine further demonstrates the re-orientation education: “We should look ahead in our changing workforce needs and design a new, comprehensive, innovative and flexible workforce development system accountable to all the key stakeholders.” (Ibid., p. 24]
1990 saw the establishment of the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) “to study the kinds of competencies and skills that workers must have to succeed in today’s workplace.” Source here.
In 1991 the results of the study were published in a report entitled What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000.
In 1993 the U.S. Department of Labor produced their SCANS Competencies, (the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills), which listed those Skills and Competencies to “succeed in today’s workplace.”
Outcomes-based education and School-to-Work (STW) became the darling of education reformers and Oklahoma was no exception.
Oklahoma and STW
1991 – SB 549, Amending Title 70, Section 4411 – 2-year colleges became vo-tech school districts. (In 2001 these became Technological Center School Districts)
1991 – College Area Vocation-Technical School District is governed by Oklahoma State Regents of Higher Education
1992 – State Board of Vocational and Technical Education was changed to Oklahoma Board of Career and Technology Education
1994 – HB 2299 – Added youth apprenticeship program to Title 70, Section 14-103
1995 – HB 1569, Amending Title 70, Section 14-103 – Changed youth apprenticeship programs to Oklahoma school to work system. This bill passed the OK legislature on 5/16/95 yet was vetoed by Governor Frank Keating (R)
1995 – Governor Frank Keating (R) set up the Executive Council for School To Work. Joe Esposito, businessman, part of the council, began to question the source of data and the significance of the SCANS documents. (SCANS – The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills, issued by the Secretary of the US Department of Labor, appointed by Clinton). By the end of 1995 Mr. Esposito had figured out what the SCANS documents and STW were really about and worked with other Oklahomans to defeat school to work. The result? Joe Esposito was removed from the Executive Council for School To Work.
1999 – Governor Frank Keating signed HB 2128, amending Title 70, Section 14-101, to read:
“The official name of the Board which is known as the “State Board of Vocational and Technical Education” shall be designated in all future references as the “State Board of Career and Technology Education”. Any references in the statutes to the State Board of Vocational and Technical Education shall be deemed references to the State Board of Career and Technology Education.”
2001 – HB 1214 – Amended all OK statutes by replacing the word “Vocational” with “Career”, the word “Technical” with “Technology”, and changing references to “area school districts for vocational and technical schools” to “technology center school districts.”
2002 – SB 1212 – Created the Technology Intern Program in Title 70, Section 4674. The “benefits” listed are, in part, that this “Enhances classroom learning for the student by integrating academic curriculum and real-world work experience”; and “Promotes the lifelong learning process of integrating work and learning, and enhances workplace skills in occupational, analytical, and teamwork performance.” And “It is further the intent of the Legislature that the Technology Intern Partner Program shall provide internships for eligible students with technology-based companies. One-half of the funding for the internships shall be provided by the University and one-half by the participating companies.”
2010 STW in Oklahoma is the law.
Title 70, Section 14-103 in Oklahoma currently reads:
“The State Board of Career and Technology Education shall have the following powers and duties:
1. Have the supervision of the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education of the State Board of Career and Technology Education, which department shall keep its principal offices at Stillwater, and appoint and fix the compensation and duties of the Director and other personnel of such Department;
2. Have the supervision of the technology center schools and colleges of Oklahoma, except Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology-Okmulgee and the Oklahoma State University Technical Institutes at Oklahoma City and Stillwater, which, however, shall be eligible to participate in federal programs administered by the State Board of Career and Technology Education as hereinafter provided;
3. Cooperate with, and enter into agreements with, and administer programs of, and receive federal funds from, the United States Department of Education and other federal agencies in matters relating to vocational and technical education, youth apprenticeship programs, and manpower training, and be the sole state agency for such purposes. Provided that, programs and funds made available through the Job Training Partnership Act, or its successor programs, shall be excluded;
4. Provide for the formulation and adoption of curricula, courses of study, and other instructional aids necessary for the adequate instruction of students in the technology center schools and colleges of this state. It is the intent of the Legislature that instructional models for vocational students should include higher standards of academic work with increased emphasis on communication, computation and applied science;
5. Develop a plan to provide adequate vocational offerings accessible to all students having the ability to benefit;
6. Purchase or otherwise acquire equipment, materials, supplies and other property, real or personal, as may be necessary for the operation of the technology center schools of this state, and provide for the maximum utilization of such property through a coordinated and cooperative use thereof, including transfer of title to real and personal property to a technology center school district for a reasonable cash consideration if said property is to be utilized in a vocational-technical program administered by the technology center district board of education. Any conveyance of real property for a reasonable consideration shall contain a reversionary clause by which the real property shall revert to the State Board of Career and Technology Education if the property ceases to be used in a vocational-technical program administered by the technology center district board of education;
7. Enter into such agreements and contracts with the State Board of Education, boards of trustees of community junior colleges, boards of education of independent and elementary school districts, boards of education of school districts for technology center schools, private educational or training institutions, public or private industry, and boards of directors of community action programs, as may be necessary or feasible for the furtherance of vocational and technical training within this state;
8. Cooperate and enter into agreements with the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education;
9. Cooperate with the State Department of Education in developing hands-on career exploration activities for students in grades 6 through 10, integrating academic competencies into vocational instruction, and ensuring counseling of all students in order to minimize the number of students graduating from high school without having completed either a vocational-technical program or college preparation;
10. Develop and periodically update a plan to allow teacher training and the purchase and installation of technological equipment necessary to modernize vocational educational programs;
11. Accept and provide for the administration of any land, money, buildings, gifts, funds, donations or other things of value which may be offered or bequeathed to the schools or colleges under the supervision or control of said Board;
12. Enter into cooperative arrangements with one or more other states for the conduct and administration of programs, services and activities;
13. Cooperate whenever possible, to avoid any duplication of training programs with any established training program registered by the Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training, United States Department of Labor;
14. Accept and expend funds from any source in order to market, advertise or promote programs and services available through the Career and Technology Education system; and
15. Participate in activities pertaining to the recruitment of companies to locate or expand operations in the state, and participate in activities that will increase the competitiveness of companies with headquarters or branch operations located in the state. These activities may require agency staff to travel, train, or provide technical assistance outside the State of Oklahoma.”
Selected Chronology – Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education
The Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education lists a selected chronology of vo-tech/STW/Career Tech in Oklahoma. (link provided by education researcher Debra Niwa, author of All Children Left Behind, and International Baccalaureate Unraveled.)
Undermining the foundations of liberty cannot be attributed to one party.
The legislation to establish Soviet-style school to work in the state of Oklahoma was promulgated by both Republicans and Democrats.