STEM and the Role of Education

| March 20, 2015 | 1 Reply

Thank you to all who have been making calls to the Senate and House Education committee regarding the STEM diploma bills.   Social media is abuzz and lawmakers phones are lighting up as parents realize that the goal of education has changed and a “STEM diploma” is not just about science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing.   The goal of the STEM diploma is SOCIAL engineering to train and track students at an early age for the workforce. This post is a bit lengthy but please read it in its entirety so you can understand why we oppose the STEM diploma so strongly.

Education is no longer K12.  Governor Snyder articulated a “new vision” for education that now spans from P-20  “PRENATAL to life long learning.”   He said,

“I want to emphasize a vision of P-20.  A PRENATAL to life long learning.  We have to get beyond the old models of saying there are silos for K12,  silos for community college, for higher ed,  for preschool.  They shouldn’t be separate.  They can be separate institutions.  not to threaten the institutions. But shouldn’t we make it a seamless system.  Where a student in that system doesn’t have to figure out all these tough choices but can just focus on success…and understanding it starts even at the prenatal stage and looking at is the expectant mother getting the right diet, the right primary care…”  (Emphasis added.)

Common Core, Kindergarten Entry Assessments, a high-stakes third-grade reading, career pathways, a STEM diploma, and more are all part of the infrastructure that builds the P20 seamless system.   Data, taken from coursework and assessments, is the gas that moves the student along the P20 pathway;  this is career tracking where the state makes the “tough” choices based upon the demands of the workforce not the dreams of the child.

The Common Core gets much of the media attention which allows the other aspects of the P20 system to go forward unnoticed and without much opposition.  Thankfully, in Michigan we have Melanie Kurdys keeping an eye on the legislature and keeping us all informed about what they are doing.

If you are not familiar with the STEM diploma debate happening in Lansing.  You can read why we OPPOSE SB 169, SB 170, HB 4284 and HB 4285 here.

The Senate Education hearing was Tuesday, you can read her update here.

The House Education hearing on STEM was Thursday.   Melanie Kurdys attended the hearing and provides a compelling exchange that gets to the root of the issue,

Today in the House Education Committee, as the committee was doing an excellent job discussing the pros and cons of the STEM Certification bills, a very important question was asked:

Is it the job of the government to prepare a workforce?

Stunningly, in my opinion, a business leader in favor of the bills said yes, it better be.

I have heard Governor Snyder use this reference as well. He has shared his vision of a seamless system P-20, pre-natal into the workforce, developing human capital ready to work. He said it again at the Economic & Education Summit a few weeks ago.

Governor Snyder said this is a “new vision” but is it?  Where did this idea come from? Why does it have so much momentum? Here are some interesting quotes that will help us uncover the modern origin of this reform scheme:

Purpose of the reform –

“to remold the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone,” coordinated by “a system of labor market boards at the local, state and federal levels” where curriculum and “job matching” will be handled by counselors “accessing the integrated computer-based program”

What is the result?

“Taken together, we think these ideas constitute a consistent vision for a new human resources development system for the United States”

What must be done?

“Radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are required to move any combination of these agendas.”

How does Common Core fit?

“Legislation to accelerate the process of national standard setting in education was contained in the conference report”

Whose words and idea are these?

Marc Tucker, friend and adviser to President Bill & Hillary Clinton

What does Tucker believe must be abandoned in this P20 national education scheme?

“The United States will have to largely abandon the beloved emblem of American education: local control.” ~ Marc Tucker

Tucker and the Clinton’s team of education advisers failed to get the his initiative known as Goals 2000 implemented; however, the goal did not die when Clinton left the White House.  The reformers took their reform goals to the states.  Tucker is now the head of  the National Center on Education and the Economy writing reports and lobbying around the country for a national standards and accountability system.  Clinton’s education adviser, Michael Cohen, went on to become President of Achieve.    Early in his tenure as President of Achieve, Cohen said,

“What is conventionally thought of as national standards-that is, the federal government leads, it picks somebody to write them, and it puts it out there for states to use-I’m increasingly unconvinced that that’s the way to get there,”

Cohen and Achieve worked with the National Governors Association to convince both Democrat and Republican Governors to adopt Common Core.  Common Core was the necessary first component to a national P20 centralized national education pathway.   A national diploma was also a goal of Achieve through the American Diploma Project.  And using the playbook that brought us Common Core they are working through the states to make it happen.  Which brings us back around to the STEM diploma.

If Michigan adopts the STEM diploma it will be the “first” state to offer it but not the last.   How do you get a national diploma or credentialing system…one state at a time.

“The Michigan STEM Partnership is also working with 10 other states interested in creating a quality STEM education culture across the Midwest region.”   Once we have a majority of states implementing the same STEM diploma the US will then have its first de facto national diploma in STEM.  From there they can build on and create credentialed diplomas for other career pathways to build the P20 seamless system for workforce development.

And make no mistake about it the STEM diploma is part of the P20 pathway.  The Michigan STEM partnership is not bashful about admitting their attachment to P20, Common Core, and Next Generation Science Standards. 

Our Mission
The Michigan STEM Partnership is the connector and statewide communicator between employers, educators, students, parents, and legislators, providing strategic support for the effectiveness and sustainability of STEM education in order to prepare Michigan learners to reach their full potential in a fiercely competitive economy.

Our Vision
The Michigan STEM Partnership positively impacts economic development by connecting the P-20 education system to relevant world-class skills, academic ambitions and rewarding career pathways. Leveraging our extraordinary Michigan assets, STEM education serves the workforce needs of STEM fields and the creative demands of a diverse, innovative and thriving Michigan economy.

Goal 4: Actively connect STEM initiatives and programs
The Partnership supports rigorous academic curricula such as the Common Core Curriculum Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards while at the same time supporting new approaches to teaching those curricula using methods such as project-based learning to promote student engagement in learning, and the development of problem-solving, communication, and teamwork skills.

Senator Proos and Representative Price introduced the STEM bill in Michigan but the idea did not originate with them.  Whoever persuaded them to push this on Michigan clearly understands this “system of education” and how all these pieces fit and either knowingly or naively are implementing Marc Tucker’s grand strategy.

Governor Snyder and business leaders in Michigan believe it is the role of government to educate our children for the workforce. But is the role of education to put children on a prenatal to career P20 seamless pathway to meet workforce demands?

It’s up to US, as parents and citizens, to tell them “It better NOT be!”

Please continue to call House and Senate education leaders and tell them you OPPOSE SB 169, SB 170, HB 4284 and HB 4285.

Rep. Amanda Price (517) 373-0838
Rep. Holly Hughes (517) 373-3436
Senator John Proos (517) 373-6960
Senator Phil Pavlov (517) 373-7708



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About the Author ()

Karen Braun is a writer and conference speaker on issues related education and family life. Her work has appeared in the American Thinker, Crosswalk, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, WatchDog Wire, and various other websites and magazines. She has also appeared on TV and radio venues. Along with blogging, Karen also enjoys homeschooling, running marathons, and spending time with her husband, their six children, and two grand children. For more information please contact Karen at spunkyhomeschool at gmail dot com