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Testing for elected officials?

By Henry Lamb
web posted April 10, 2006

Pennsylvania lawmaker James Rhoades has introduced a bill in the state legislature that would require elected school board members to take a 40-hour training course and pass a test, in order to serve as an unpaid local school board member. "We ask school directors to deal with some pretty complicated stuff," says the staff director of the Education Committee.

What a great way to take control of the education system completely out of the hands of parents. If the state requires the test, writes and grades the test, the people who take the test will have to digest and regurgitate the curriculum provided by the state. Simply put, school board members will have to demonstrate that they meet the legislature's performance standards - rather than the voters' performance standards.

Should a school board member fail to pass the test within nine months of election, he would be forced to resign; should he refuse to take the test, the school district would lose one-ninth of the state's education funding.

Some Pennsylvania voters see this measure as a reaction to the Upper St. Clair School Board that recently voted to oust the International Baccalaureate program from the school curriculum. Local supporters of the program were outraged, and promised to find a way to get rid of the school board members.

The IB program was adopted in 1998 as an "academically rigorous curriculum that offers students a chance to earn college credits," and teaches students to "look at subjects through an international perspective." When parents began to examine the program, they learned that it actually promotes global values such as the Earth Charter, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as superior to the obsolete concepts of national sovereignty and individual freedom.

When the Upper St.Clair School Board majority changed as a result of a recent election, the new majority voted to end the IB program. Professional educators, and supporters of the program vowed to "get even." Local control of school curriculum is a threat to the professional bureaucrats, who think they know best what children should learn. A law that requires school board members to pass a test devised by the professional bureaucrats would minimize this threat.

The legislators who support this testing scheme for school board members might as well convert Pennsylvania's school system to a totally state-run institution, and appoint all local supervisors. If this is a valid approach to education, why not, then, have the Secretary of the federal Department of Education appoint a Superintendent of Schools for each state? Then, the feds could insure that the federal curriculum was taught without interference from local school boards or state legislatures.

All reference to guns, God and prayer could easily be outlawed. Sex education could be as explicit as the "professionals" want it to be. History could easily be rewritten, and America's children could be transformed into cookie-cutter copies of multi-cultural slugs, prepared to populate the politically-correct global village.

This has long been the goal of the National Education Association, and of UNESCO. The U.S. Department of Education promotes the Center for Civic Education curriculum, and the International Baccalaureate program, both of which advance this same notion of "one-worldness." Only the lowly parents and voters prevent the professionals from taking complete control.

James Rhoades' proposed legislation in Pennsylvania is an effort to get parents and voters out of the way. Once parents are removed from the equation, the state is free to mold young minds into compliant, global citizens.

Education is the responsibility of parents - not the state. Parents, and other voters, have chosen to instruct the state to assist and facilitate the education of young people. But the only way for parents to retain the responsibility for controlling what the children are taught, is to maintain control of the school's curriculum at the local level.

Parents have already lost too much control of their children's education by allowing the federal government to attach strings to funding of local schools. The bill now in the Pennsylvania legislature would remove the last vestige of parental control from this state's schools. It is a horrible idea, and would be an even worse precedent, if enacted.

If parents don't know what their children are learning at school, they renege on their responsibility to their children. If parents continue to allow state-imposed curricula such as the brand of civics provided by the Center for Civic Education, and the International Baccalaureate program, they renege on their responsibility to the future of freedom in this great nation.

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.


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