Behind closed doors

This week, while the mainstream media and the blogosphere are buzzin' with trash talk and debate about vouchers [turn on your permalinks, Craig Westover], Marc Tucker and Pat Harvey will be pitching their vision of "transforming" public schools and schoolchildren to Minnesota legislators behind closed doors.

Marc Tucker (Source: National Center on Education and the Economy) Pat Harvey (Source: Minneapolis Foundation) Tucker, President of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE); and Harvey, a Marc Tucker disciple and superintendent of the Saint Paul Public Schools, have invited legislators to a series of three private, no media, no staff, 6:00 pm briefings and receptions this month at the Minnesota History Center.

Education reform activists will recognize Tucker as the author of the "Dear Hillary" letter that started us on the road to a federal curriculum (Goals 2000) and Soviet-style polytechnical education (School-to-Work) back during the first Clinton administration. This is where Minnesota's discredited Profile of Learning graduation standards came from. Tucker's presentation on Wednesday, February 9 is entitled "Education and the Economy."

Next Wednesday's forum, "Organizing Schools to Raise Student Achievement" will be presented by Kati Haycock, director at The Education Trust, an organization that believes that "All children will learn at high levels when they are taught to high levels." I can't argue with that.

On February 23, Lauren Resnick will speak on "Improving Classroom Instruction." Resnick is another long-time Tucker collaborator, a partner in his New Standards Project.

Legislators should understand that this Capitol Forum Series was organized by Harvey's Saint Paul Public Schools staff, although the invitation was signed by leadership from the Minnesota House and Senate (except for Minority Leader Dick Day, who was advised that signing this invitation would lend cred to Mr. Tucker, probably not a good thing as far as Republicans are concerned). Harvey has aggressively promoted America's Choice in St. Paul schools, and next week she keynotes Tucker's national conference on America's Choice in Orlando, Florida. In an update to its members, EdWatch said:

The forums are about "transformational" education. As the letter to legislators stated, the forums are about "transformational issues and trends affecting public education today that may have significant impact on into the future." Transformational education is all about changing society, not about educating the student.

Legislators who attend the Capitol Forum Series should ask themselves, what is the correct purpose of education in our state and country? To transmit knowledge and skills, or transform society?