It Takes a Whole Village to Destroy a Child

“IN EDUCATION WE TRULY ‘AIN’T SEEN NOTHING YET.’ WE ARE RAPIDLY MOVING INTO A NEW ERA THAT DEMANDS INTERNATIONAL UNDERSTANDING, GLOBAL AWARENESS AND A KNOWLEDGE AND WORKING USE OF THE INFORMATION EXPLOSION AND ITS TOOLS. IN EDUCATION, WE ARE SOMETIMES FAR TOO INCLINED TO CLING TO THE PAST, THE OLD, COMFORTABLE AND OUT-MODED WAY.”

FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION TERRELL BELL

The little red school house is long gone. Even the neighborhood school, so prevalent only a couple of decades ago, is a relic of the past.

In danger of extinction are the happy children who once were excited about the social life offered by their school experience – the basketball games and the Valentines dances. Fading from view are the students who busily worked at the blackboard solving geometry problems under the teacher’s watchful eye. Gone is the challenge to achieve academically. Soon to follow in the dustbin of memories will be the diplomas that stood as symbols of academic success.

Schools for our children today are becoming alien places. The old buildings still look the same. But under the roof, in the classroom and in the administration office (once called the principal’s office) a social revolution is raging at full speed. Former Education Secretary Bell must be proud. We’ve certainly broken away from the old ways.

Through federal intervention programs like Goals 2000, “School to Work” and “Life-Long Learning”, schools have become social engineering laboratories. Children are sacrificial test animals.

Psychology is the driving force for today’s education programs. Every child is analyzed, evaluated and scrutinized. Values and beliefs are questioned, attacked and remediated. Social interaction between young adolescent boys and girls is being revolutionized and somehow made to seem dirty. Parents are the outcasts of modern “teaching” methods.

The new curriculum no longer allows students to learn academically, slowly making career choices in their own time. Education is tied directly to jobs. Schools have become factories, busily grinding out worker bees to fulfill a very planned economy. There is no room for the dreamers or the undecided. Career decisions are made for them.

The school buildings are now being re-designated as one-stop social centers where drugs will be dispensed and mental health diagnosed in school-based health care clinics; family planning centers will disperse birth control and abortion counseling; under-school-aged children will attend mandatory day care centers; all under one school house roof. Schools will assume the responsibility of feeding students because they will be in the school building from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to take part in all of the social services provided there. It’s all to be run by the education establishment, regardless of parental wishes.

In the classroom children are subjected to constant evaluation tests, checking, not their academic knowledge, but their values, attitudes and beliefs. Information from such tests is placed in massive data banks, creating personal files that stay with the students for life, affecting their ability to get a job, obtain government services or even vote.

“Life-long learning” programs dictate that the students will have to return again and again to school for the rest of their lives to assure that they maintain the “proper” attitudes and values as drilled into them during their initial school experience. Failure to do so will affect their ability to function in society.

Outside the classroom, families and their homes are under constant surveillance from a barrage of social workers and childprotection agencies. Child abuse is the catch-word of the day. Parents are evaluated as to their suitability to oversee their own children. Negative evaluations can result in forcing parents to enter special behavior modification programs to “correct” their attitudes and values. Parents who fail to comply can be found guilty of child abuse and see their children removed from the home.

Why does America face and education crisis? Why are children unable to read or write? Because the atmosphere in today’s classrooms and homes is one of fear, anger and frustration. Loving parents have been turned into criminals. Teachers have become pop-psychologists who assault the children’s minds and social workers invade their homes. Law enforcement authorities and courts have become willing tools in a federal assault on children and families.

SCHOOL TO WORK

THE END OF CHOICE

Once upon a time children entered school to learn to read and write. Later in their education process they were taught the history of our nation and of the world. They learned science and math. The education was well-rounded to give each student a perspective on history and a knowledge of how the world functioned.

That’s how the children were able to make informed decisions about their lives. Students were challenged to obtain excellence and they were expected to succeed. To fail was the ultimate disgrace. Children learned.

As they learned they also began to form opinions and make decisions about their futures. They chose their friends based on their common interests, and developed hobbies and political attitudes. Eventually all of these life decisions directed them toward a career. Some chose college, some chose the armed forces, some left town to seek their interests, others chose to stay with friends and family, to get married, settle down and take a job at a local business or factory.

These were their decisions, based on their experiences, knowledge, hopes and desires. These were the outcomes of their education. From this educational experience came the finest doctors, scientists, lawyers, teachers and entrepreneurs the world has ever known. It also created the educated workforce which produced the goods of the world’s most advanced society.

But, most importantly, each student made his own decisions about where he would go and what he would do with his life – and he made those decisions on his own timetable. Some made them while still in school, some weren’t quite sure what they wanted to be but took college preparatory courses just to be ready. Others simply took jobs after graduating. Such is the way of a free society.

But it’s not so today.

Under the dictates of the School to Work Act, passed in 1994 with Goals 2000 and H.R.6, students are being forced to make career decisions as early as kindergarten.

The “reform” that has been so highly promoted by the education establishment is really a complete restructuring of education’s purpose and goals. The purpose isn’t to teach children or allow them to make career choices. Instead, the new process dictates those career choices based on perceived needs of the nation.

We hear the reasons every day. Politicians continue to talk of the need for schools to produce future employees that can “compete in a global economy”. What do you think that means? It means schools are being retooled to be factories that produce made-to-order workers, not educated citizens.

It starts with assessment tests given to children at the very early stages of their education process. Many of these tests, administered directly from the Department of Education, are kept secret from parents, and in some cases, from teachers. The questions are not about academic achievement. Results are used to place students into career categories.

Once in a specific category, the student’s curriculum is personalized to prepare him for that career or job.

For example, if a student’s score indicates that he or she has a strong aptitude for computers, then the curriculum is designed to build on those skills. If a student is to work with computers then he will have little need for history, philosophy, geography or English. Those subjects are de-emphasized or eliminated from his curriculum.

In short, our entire education system is being reformed in the image of welfare job training programs. Politicians have used them for years as a promise to better the plight of those stuck in the ghetto.

Incredibly, though there may be some individual success stories, there is not a single such federal job training program that has registered any overall success in bettering the lives of the participants. Yet, this is the blueprint being used to restructure the nation’s entire education system.

And what of the students who don’t want to enter the career chosen for them? Or what if a student wants to change a decision later in the education process? What of his hopes and dreams and desires? The decision will have been made for him. The demands of the “global economy” are unceasing.

If history was still taught to students, they would learn that the United States of America created the global economy and led the world in innovation, quality and production. That happened before we began to destroy our education system with federal dictates and state-run economies.

ONE STOP SOCIAL CENTERS

With federal money now dictating education programs, schools are fast becoming local outlets for every other department of the government.

Federally-paid lunch programs have become a source of significant income for schools. Since guidelines dictate that only certain “at risk” students may receive the lunches, school administrations are busy re-assessing as many students as possible to fit the category. One school in Georgia actually managed to asses 75% of its students to be “at risk”. It’s a growth product.

Several other federal programs, most specifically “Title 1” provide taxpayer dollars to schools to perform special services. Most of those services require staffs which set up shop right in the school building.

To participate in and receive funding, schools must now show how they identified the child as “at risk” and provide the student’s name. The information goes onto the student’s permanent file in the massive federal data bank. That’s why the definition for “at risk” is expanding rapidly.

According to the federal “Parents as Teachers” (PAT) program run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, it defines “at risk” to include:

Ÿ inability of parent to cope with inappropriate child behavior

Ÿ inability of parent to relate to or connect with child

Ÿ overindulgence, undue spoiling on part of parent

One must ask, who decides if a parent has failed to “connect” with a child? Who decides if a parent is spoiling a child? And how is it the business of the federal government?

The most frightening new trend in the government’s drive for control of the children is the advent of massive powers for social workers and child protection agencies.

Just as children are monitored and evaluated in the classroom, so are parents in the home. Social workers perform in-home visits to look around and evaluate the environment in which the child lives.

Their job is to determine if a child qualifies as “at risk”. There are, of course, horrible things being done to children. Child abuse has become a daily headline.

But the definition of abuse has grown broad, as the power of child protection agencies has expanded. Today, “passive child abuse” is a threat to the most loving families.

How do parents defend themselves from a negative evaluation of a social worker when that report is based almost entirely on the agent’s personal opinion? So broad are the definitions of child abuse (see page three) that almost any conclusion can be drawn.

Such power to destroy families leaves the door open for major abuse of the system. But in today’s education atmosphere, where “at risk” children provide a valuable funding source and where pop-psychology is practiced in most class rooms, is it any surprise that over one million people are falsely accused of child abuse every year?

Trends indicate, however, that it won’t be long before the “at risk” requirement is dropped. In-school social services will soon be forced on all students.

Under these programs, schools are fast becoming one-stop centers for a vast array of social and medical services where students are counseled, diagnosed and even administered drugs without parental knowledge. What was once a simple trip to the school nurse now will include mental health diagnosis and treatments, and full-scale medical clinics

After a hearty day of sex education in the classroom, the clinics will provide birth control (including condoms, pills and diaphragms), and pregnancy testing.

Abortion counseling, including laboratory pregnancy tests are also part of the in-school services to be administered through federal programs. This service may even include free rides to an abortion clinic.

On-site family planning services can include induced abortions and even sterilization. In California it was disclosed that eight students were implanted with the birth control device Norplant.

How can this be done without parental consent or even parental knowledge? Check you state codes. Several states, have passed “minor consent laws.” California’s law states that “a minor is not required to have the consent of the parent or parents to obtain hospital, medical and surgical care related to the prevention or treatment of pregnancy. Even if the parent or parents refused to consent to the care, the minor could consent to the care and it could be provided.”

Even without such laws, schools are able to get around many regulations by using outside agencies like Planned Parenthood that are not restricted by school policies.

While not all schools are yet participating in such programs, it is a trend for the future. As federal control grows in local school systems, such programs will emerge. The ground work has been laid through OBE curriculums and the advent of K-12 sex education programs.

THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS DROPS THE BALL

Rhetoric and reality are in great conflict on Capitol Hill. The Republican Congress was elected to diminish the power of the federal government and stop its invasion of our daily lives.

But in October, 1995, the House rushed to pass H.R. 1617, the CAREERS bill. Immediately after, the Senate followed suit by passing its version of the same act, S.143.

The rhetoric from the Republicans argues that the CAREERS Bills actually repeal the School-To-Work Act and eliminate or consolidate other wasteful programs, thereby cutting the buracracy and saving money.

The reality is quite the opposite. These two bills actually strengthen School-To-Work by adding new elements, including government control of the entire labor market. This is done through employee training and placement programs. It’s also accomplished by dictating the “job related” curriculum in the classroom. In fact, these bills, now in conference committee, will serve to IMPLEMENT the worst provisions of the School To Work Act.

The bills also create the National Labor Market Information System (LMIS) which provides the tie between the massive data banks of the Department of Education and the Department of Labor.

These two bills will literally put into place the federal apparatus leading to the implementation of a plastic identification card that will contain all of the students personal, family school and psychological evaluation history. That card will be given to students instead of a diploma upon graduation from high school.

Known as the Certificate of Initial Mastery, the student will have to present it to potential employers during interviews. The employer will then be able to instantly access the students complete record from the card. But the card will be required in order to obtain a driver’s license and many other government-controlled services.

The bills will grant massive powers to state governors, permitting them to bypass their state legislatures and allowing them to control federal education grants through appointed boards. This provision will make public protests of education programs very difficult.

These two bills severely restrict the freedom of students to choose their own career paths. The bills violate the spirit, if not the letter of the “Contract With America”, which promised to reduce federal power.

Republicans urgently need to start reading legislation rather than waiting for instructions from their leadership. They’ve been badly led astray.

GIVE BACK OUR CHILDREN

Hillary Clinton’s new book, “IT TAKES A VILLAGE” refers to the African saying, “it take a village to raise a child”. It means all of society is responsible for molding and shaping children into being the kinds of adults needed by society.

The true meaning isn’t quaint or cute. It’s terrifying. Total federal control of your children from womb to tomb is exactly what Hillary Clinton and her fellow travelers have in mind. We’re not a tribe, we’re Americans with a history of excellence.

But Outcome-based education, School-To-Work, one-stop social centers and child protection agencies are the tools for reducing America to the status of a third rate global village.

Goals 2000 (and its behavior modification programs) is only the tip of the iceberg in the assault on children. The Congress’ current effort to abolish that program will only eliminate the most overt target of the process.

Bills like the CAREERS Act must be killed. Other bills like H.R.1883, that tend to hide bad education programs in other federal departments must be reconsidered.

The only real prevention of the destruction of our schools and of our children’s future is the total elimination of federal intervention. The current system only serves to destroy their hopes and dreams.

Our children deserve better. They deserve the right to make their own choices. They deserve to smile again.

Tom DeWeese
[email protected]

Tom DeWeese is one of the nation’s leading advocates of individual liberty, free enterprise, private property rights, personal privacy, back-to-basics education and American sovereignty and independence.