An education activist who influenced the policies of the Clinton administration has sponsored three members-only meetings for Minnesota legislators in hopes of pushing his brand of education reform on the state.
Marc Tucker, head of the newly for-profit National Center for Education and the Economy, or NCEE, who helped usher in Goals 2000 and the federal School-to-Work legislation in the ’90s, was to speak at one of the three closed-door meetings but pulled out at the last minute, possibly due to the controversy surrounding the events.
The legislators-only on meetings were billed as addressing “transformational issues and trends affecting public education today.”
Tucker’s organization, which began in 1989 as a nonprofit, uses education grants, some of which are funded by taxpayers, to promote his brand of “transformational education.”
Shortly after the election of Bill Clinton to the presidency in 1992, Tucker wrote to Hillary Clinton, saying: “We [will] have a national system of education in which curriculum, pedagogy, examinations and teacher education and licensure systems are all linked to the national standards. …”
He wrote of “concrete actions that the Clinton administration could take between now and the inauguration, in the first 100 days and beyond. … We took a very large leap forward in terms of how to advance the agenda on which you and we have all been working … for putting all the major components of the system in place within four years, by the time Bill has to run again.”
And, by 1996, federal education legislation like Goals 2000 and the School-to-Work program were in place.
Minnesota was on the cutting edge of education reform in the wake of the Clinton regulations, but eventually changed course. The state’s Profile of Learning program was put into place during the Clinton years and then dumped in 2003.
Julie Quist is vice president of EdWatch. a Minnesota-based organization fighting against federal control of education.
“[Profile of Learning] was a radical restructuring of education in Minnesota,” Quist told WND. “It was all project learning, group learning. It was the most radical stuff. … Students didn’t even get evaluated as individuals.”
EdWatch, Quist said, was instrumental in getting the state to repeal the program two years ago.
Quist says Tucker is now trying to get the state to return to the school-to-work type paradigm for education. “He’s one of the drivers in this kind of system,” she said.
Tucker’s organization is practicing what Quist compares to “money laundering.”
“They charge thousands of dollars for training. Who pays for that kind of thing?” she asked. “It’s tax money going from taxpayers into the coffers of the NCEE. It’s just awful.”
The Minneapolis Foundation paid for Tucker’s group to present the legislators-only pitches, Quist said, and some of the foundation’s revenue comes from taxpayer sources.
Wrote Quist in an e-mail to supporters of EdWatch:
“According to an article in Education Week, November 17, 2004, Tucker’s star is fading under the Bush administration. Federal grants that were ‘once lavished on it’ are harder to come by. As a result, last year, Tucker’s NCEE reinvented itself as a for-profit company, with Tucker himself as the majority shareholder.”
Tucker’s new niche, Quist explains, is in providing “school improvement” services for districts nationwide.
So, what is the harm in wanting to improve schools? It is how the NCEE wants to change education that troubles Quist.
“Transformational education is all about changing society, not about educating the student,” she said, referring to a website of the McGraw-Hill textbook company that promotes “multicultural education” and “curriculum transformation.”
Warns Quist: ” If Tucker and the NCEE make their appearance in your state, make sure your legislators know who they are, and insist that knowledge-based education be given at least equal time.”