“[Achieving our goals] will require a change in the prevailing culture — the
attitudes, values, norms and accepted ways of doing things. . . .
The question is how to bring about this kind of cultural
transformation on the scale we have in mind.”

— Marc Tucker, School-to-Work architect

by Rod D. Martin
January 30, 1999

The Berlin Wall is down, and Communism pronounced dead; even ClintonCare has been defeated (sort of). But School-to-Work lives on.

School-to-Work, or Workforce Education, is a part of Goals 2000, already federal law and seeking implementation by numerous state legislatures, including Arkansas’, even as we speak. Designed by ClintonCare guru Ira Magaziner and Friend-of-Hillary Marc Tucker, among others — it is rapidly replacing traditional education just as single-payer would have replaced your doctor. In the words of former Labor Department economist Mark Wilson, “it says we need to change the way we teach our kids — make it more work-oriented. It’s industrial planning on the human resource side of the equation.”

What? “Industrial planning”? Children — precious children — as “human resources”? Oh yes. Consider Tucker’s letter to Hillary Clinton, dated November 1992, in which he outlined the program, self-consciously modeled on Germany and the old Soviet bloc. Tucker called for “changing the entire American system [into] a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave. . . a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels,” complete with “job matching” that steers children toward a predetermined career track, chosen for them by the boards.

Old communists never die: they just go to the White House.

School-to-Work starts with an attractive-sounding premise — making employers joint partners with educators — but there are a lot of real devils in the details. Vast federal funding is slated to build statewide School-to-Work systems, and with that money comes draconian federal control. Programs are designed to fully integrate education with business. Schools are to provide “facilitators” to help students choose “career majors”, sometimes as early as elementary school, placing students in an “occupational cluster” or “industry sector”. State plans must be approved by the federal Departments of Education and Labor (yes, you heard right), which will dominate education henceforth.

One could say that this is a massive power grab, an incredible centralization of education, except that this is not education at all. This is the creation of worker drones. One wonders what this level of state planning would have done to “help” Steve Jobs create the personal computer (as a kid in his friend’s garage). In fact, looking at the impact of central planning in the rest of the world, one wonders if this system would ever produce another advance again.

The powers-that-be love School-to-Work: it provides something for everyone. For state legislators, there’s federal money. For governors, there’s awesome new power (they get to appoint the new state bureaucracies). For teachers, there’s more money and less accountability. For business, there’s an assembly-line production of workers. Everyone gains. Everyone but the kids.

Investor’s Business Daily has compared School-to-Work “to Mussolini’s corporate fascism.” That’s exactly the point. Tucker, Magaziner and Hillary began the Clinton presidency with the highest hopes of socializing large sectors of American life. They may have failed (partly) with health care, but health care was just one part of the plan. And while single-payer would have directly communized a chunk of the American economy, central labor planning does something far worse: it communizes the minds of the next generation. It gives modern buggy whip and whale oil manufacturers the power to stifle tomorrow’s Henry Fords and Thomas Edisons; and it strips all but a select few of the right to a real education, and thus to a future as free and equal men.

Is this urgent? In the words of the 83d Congress’s Special Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations back in 1954, “a society [can] be completely made over in something like 15 years, the time it takes to inculcate a new culture into a rising crop of youngsters.” Or as James Dobson has said, “the pre-dominant value system of an entire culture can be overturned in one generation, or certainly in two, by those with unlimited access to children.”

We don’t need to wait to see the fruits of School-to-Work: we can look at Russia, at Poland, at a hundred other awful places. We can also look at the America that has been, the land of free-thinking, initiative, and an inventiveness unparalleled in all of history, and see our alternative. We can stop School-to-Work. But we have to act now.