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What's Good for Globalized Business is Good for Third Graders

Posted: 2009-11-05

Teachers and parents, you need to understand who's calling the shots in education policy: APEC. And if you've never heard of APEC, it's time you did.

In May 1997, the Ministry of Labor of the Republic of Korea published a paper for a meeting of the APEC Human Resources Development Ministerial Meeting. This paper summarizes the consensus reached by APEC on what education is about.

APEC is the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, 18 "economies" with borders on the Pacific, both in Asia and in the Americas. APEC describes itself as economies rather than countries. Global economy, get it?

One of the themes of the Korean paper is that globalization is inevitable and that education must prepare workers for the business needs of this globalization. Once schooling?s purpose is defined as preparing future workers, then it follows that business should have a central role in determining the content of schooling. The APEC paper could not be more explicit, stating that "decisions must be taken by a school system for good business reasons with maximum business intervention." APEC sees schooling as "a transition from school to work." For parents who wonder why high-stakes testing has been imposed on schools, APEC explains that the governments "create a complementary educational environment and system" for "industrial restructuring due to technology advancements, a new international order with increased competition, and a distinct world trend of globalization."

The paper attacks "the emphasis on education for itself or on education for good members of a community." Furthermore, children should not grow up to think that "work is only an instrumental part of one's life." Instead, "students should acquire a breadth of knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for adjustments into [a] work environment. Academic achievement should correlate with potential for ample job opportunities."

For APEC, "the work ethic," as defined by the Business Roundtable, is what is important, not learning for learning's sake. "Schools should provide a comprehensive skills-based achievement record." APEC touches on the need for teacher education institutions to prepare future teachers to teach this way, subsuming any love of learning into an awareness of the needs of the marketplace.

We see daily evidence of this pressure as newspaper articles scream that teacher-education colleges are falling down on the job, failing to prepare the sort of teachers the business community wants. APEC calls this "need-based education." Not children's needs, but the needs of big business. APEC complains that some people respect general high schools more than vocational schools. That's because "curricula have been traditionally developed by intellectual elites with emphasis on learning for the sake of learning without much emphasis on outcomes."

Such thinking must be stamped out. And the way to do this is by insisting that "decisions must be taken by a school system for good business reasons with maximum business intervention. A government should actively support or facilitate links with business." APEC explains that this is important so that they can build "a positive training culture to ensure that education and training meet the needs of business, labor markets, and changing economic environment." No more frivolities like art, music, gym, recess, or the teacher reading chapter books aloud. No learning for learning?s sake, no siree, Mabel.

Bill Clinton, in partnership with IBM chief Lou Gerstner, tried to institute a national test that would push a de facto national, marketplace-oriented curriculum. Bush, Jr., may succeed.

Perhaps cooler heads have decided they shouldn?t tip their hand with the dissemination of the APEC paper. Formerly available on-line, it is no longer listed in the papers available at APEC?s Web site or available for purchase from its bookstore. A query to the headquarers in Singapore brought vague summaries but not the real thing. But globalists who want to mastermind our children from cradle to grave beware: once something has been on the Internet, it doesn't disappear.

--from What Happened to Recess and Why Are Our Children Struggling in Kindergarten? (McGraw Hill 2003) See "books" on this site for a full description.

If you want to see the APEC paper, contact me. I make it available for a donation to the World of Opportunity, the school in Birmingham, Alabama that puts students first and foremost.

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