School To Work and the CIM Certificate of Initial Mastery by NCEE

School To Work And  The New Diploma, Certificate of  Initial Mastery




           Following  this introduction  is one of  the presentations given at a Conference sponsored by Congressman  Henry Hide who hosted  a conference on Goals 2000 and School-to-Work in Washington, DC, in 1997 which was sponsored  by eleven national organizations.  Congressman Henry Hyde, who has  been in the U. S. House of Representative for 22 years and who would certainly not be considered outside the mainstream culture, wrote a two page letter with several pages of documentation to his colleagues expressing his concern this way. 

    "All future federal funding for education support President Clinton's Goals 2000 plan, a plan which enables federal agencies to control the nation's workforce.  School-to-Work chooses careers for every American worker.  Children's careers are chosen for them by Business Councils and federal agencies at the earliest possible age.  In some cases that is third grade.  Goals 2000 utilizes America's educational system as the infrastructure for the nationalization of the labor force in the United States."

    "The results will be to create a controlled workforce for the global economy and our children will be the 'human resources' for this plan.  Siblings who have already graduated will be forced to return for vocational training and behavioral modification.  Adults who want to change jobs or who involuntarily lose their jobs will also be required to enter retraining through adult education and vocational classes in order to qualify for Certificates of Mastery (CIM's) for future employment.  All Americans will have to receive a CIM [a government diploma] in order to qualify for a job through the one-stop career centers."  Quotes by Congressman Henry Hyde



Conference on Goals 2000

Feb.12, 1997

Washington, DC


School To Work And  The New Diploma, Certificate of  Initial Mastery


by Virginia Miller


            It is a great honor to be here and be a part of this today, and the reason I am here is to discuss with you a plan that was developed by the National Center on Education and the Economy, the NCEE as an organization headed by a man whose  name you have heard bantered about today, Mr. Mark Tucker.  There is a plan for a human resource development center in the United States, and it was one which was recently headlined at the First Annual Standards Based conference in  San Antonio, Texas. 


            I know this has been a long day, but I would like you to just hang in there and come along with me on a little journey to San Antonio, Texas and see what was unveiled there.  This conference was sponsored by Mr. Tucker's group, the NCEE, as well as the new standards, and of course, as I said, I attended, and it was there that I received confirmation of the intent and ramifications of this plan.  This is a plan that will elevate tasks over knowledge, and it will elevate government bureaucrats over the economic freedom of individuals in this nation.  It will change the way America educates its children, and it will change the way America does business. 


            This plan is devised by Mr. Tucker and the NCEE and is destructive to American liberty.  Why do I say this?  Because it shifts the purpose of education from one of educating thinkers to one of educating and training workers.  Labor projections will become the basis of vocational technical education that is integrated into the curriculum of our schools thereby erecting a mechanism by which government can centrally plan the labor force.  It will emphasis the acquisition of skills over the acquisition of knowledge while melding secondary and post-secondary education into a seamless web.  In short, it is proposal  that would profoundly change the purpose of education in our nation as well as its institutional structure, and it is a proposal that is rooted in deception.  How is it rooted in deception?  Well, in order to change the purpose of education and the structure of education as we know it,  the NCEE has set forth a well devised strategy.  It is a simple strategy and it is winnable, albeit  deceptive.  It is the use of marketing tools and the use of leveraging.


            Let's take a look at good marketing.  Good marketing focuses on presenting an image that is acceptable and even desirable to the consuming public.  Packaging the restructuring in palatable and comfortable terms is of great importance.  Take a look at the use of the new term we are all hearing about - standards.  That is a stroke of genius for at the behest of Governor Romer of Colorado the push was made to move off of the terms 'outcomes and goals'  because it had evoked so much controversy over the past three years through Goals 2000 and to move on to the term 'standards'.  It worked, for standards are now all the rage across our country.  It was simple marketing for who can oppose standards?  Standards connote excellence and don't all parents want an excellent education for their children?  Even recent public opinion polls conducted by the public agenda showed that the majority of Americans want standards in our schools. 


            Being well aware of potential political and public opinion backlash to the standards, participants at the conference were encouraged to couch the restructuring in familiar and favorable terms so as not to alarm parents, all the while,  never disclosing to the parents or to the public that the meaning and intent of those familiar words and programs had now fundamentally changed.  So what are these profound changes in the purpose and structure  envisioned by the NCEE?   While consistently reiterated throughout all the workshops and  planning sessions I was able to attend was this statement.  "The diploma is worthless."  As you have heard here today their intent, and they have no desire to restore meaning to the diploma, rather their intent is to replace the diploma.  In a workshop on the Certificate of Initial Mastery which was headed by Mr. Tucker a process of education was described that would center around the Certificate of Initial Mastery otherwise known as the CIM. 


            The awarding of a CIM is predicated on the achievement of workplace skills and competencies, and it is this certificate that is intended to replace the diploma and Representative Sunseri speaks directly to that fact.  Under this system it is possible to achieve the CIM as early as the age of fourteen.  Most students will be achieving it about the age sixteen, but all will be expected to earn their CIM before the legal age at which they could no longer attend high school. 


            Once the CIM is achieved there were three possible scenarios or options described by Mr. Tucker of what could then occur in a child's education.  The first is college.  Very interestingly, he described a scenario of high school in college or college in high school.  What Mr. Tucker is saying here is that since because you could achieve the CIM as early as fourteen ,and most by the age of sixteen, a student could choose to continue on in the high school setting in college courses or college in high school.  This would be accomplished through the use of advanced placement programs, the International Baccalaureate Program or some Americanized version of the International Baccalaureate Program.  But however it is accomplished this college in high school would permit students to complete a substantial portion of a four year college program while still in high school.


            The other scenario of this college option is the idea of going on to college while still of high school age.  Some students might choose to finish their high school years on a college campus.  When we look at these scenarios of college in high school or high school in college, we are talking about the melding of secondary and post-secondary education.  We are also talking about placing children, ever younger children, into a college environment where they will face the social and peer pressure that is beyond their maturity level, pressures which they are not yet prepared to face.


            A second option described by Mr. Tucker for a student upon entering CIM would be  to begin a program of professional and technical education.  Now this requires combining classroom instruction and structured on the job training.  This would also be designed to prepare the student to receive an occupational skills certificate.  Most of these programs would begin in high school and end in college, once again, melding secondary with post-secondary education, but also it is shifting the emphasis of education from academic knowledge to skill acquisition.  The final option would be to move on into the work place, directly into the work place or on into a national service program.  But no matter which option a student would choose under Mr. Tucker's plan all are to include, all will include some form of structured on the job training leading to an occupational skills certificate. 


            This concept of melding secondary with post-secondary and the integration of academic and vocational education is reaffirmed in this statement set forth in an NCEE publication that is entitled "The Certificate of Initial Mastery Primer".  The NCEE speaks to the need to "Abolish vocational education as we know it and at the same time give it new life as an essential element in a new form of upper secondary education that is not an alternative to higher education but rather incorporates higher education."


            You are going to see these types of statements and this philosophy throughout the schoolwork literature in your states as well in your state plans as a term that we are all beginning to see K through fourteen plus.  In my home state of Pennsylvania it is known as K through life continual.  Just how are they going to leverage acceptance of the K through life continual by teachers, parents, and the community?  This reform will not move forward, it will not move forward and it will not succeed unless all the stake holders, everyone, parents, community, business, teachers buy into it, and they are well aware of this.  That is why for example, it is teachers who are on the development teams for the new standards developing our new national voluntary assessments, the performance standards, the reference exams, and portfolios.  It was teachers who taught other teachers at the conference on how to use these performance standards, reference exams, and portfolios.  It is also why businesses are being co-opted into developing skill standards that are also part of the state standards initiative.  It is all part of their strategy because everything depends upon getting the stake holders to use the standards and assessments, to recognize and even demand the CIM and the skill certificates.  The strategy is to get the stake holders to be part of the process to assure that they have a vested interest in the system and its success.  If they can do that, as if anybody can do that in a marketing strategy, then the stake holders will develop ownership, and in this case they will own the standards, and if they own them they will use them.


            Some of the key points of the leveraging strategy set forth in this handout that was distributed at the conference known as "The Task and Implementation Guide" consists of the following: First initially the CIM is to be optional, but after it is in place for about two to three years all students would be required to achieve a CIM.  Another important part of this strategy is what is known as articulation agreements, both business and post-secondary.  Now business articulation agreements are simply this.  Schools and businesses enter into agreements in which business guarantees hiring preferences or hiring commitments for those students who have earned the CIM over and above those students who now hold diplomas.


            Post-secondary articulation agreements would be that colleges and universities would first recognize the CIM and accept and even prefer students who have earned the CIM.  These agreements are important because they were a major tool in the leveraging of the restructuring.  It is important to note that the rewards and sanctions are a necessary part of this strategy.  This free structuring is setting into place a system of rewards and sanctions for participants and nonparticipants alike.  An example of this is also contained in this "Task and Implementation Guide" where all honors of graduation are to be tied to students earning the CIM before they leave high school.  Well, what does this mean?  It means that for a student who wishes to have any type of recognition such as scholarship awards or class recognition or such they have to become part of what is known as the Honors at Graduation Program.  According to this program those students who receive their CIM before the spring semester of their senior year will automatically be placed in the Honors at Graduation Program.  This program includes the following: class rankings, valedictorian, school based scholarships, business and industry scholarships, private college and university scholarships, service organization scholarships, and other local incentives.  They did not miss a thing.


            What they are saying here is this.  If a student does not earn their CIM, they will not get a class ranking.  They will not be eligible for the award of valedictorian.  They will not be eligible for scholarship money.  Now that is a proposed sanction.  Here are some concrete samples in which awards and sanctions are being used to leverage the restructuring.  In Pennsylvania's 1996/1997 Schoolwork Performance Plan and Report it states, "We have successfully negotiated in our articulation agreement with Penn State University which insures that any student who participates in a tech/prep program will have guaranteed admission to a Penn State campus."


            Pennsylvania intends to expand this to include apprenticeship programs and other school award programs which we know then will include all students.  They are also planning on moving on to expand it for the universities.  In Mercer County, Pennsylvania school business partnership issues job cards based on attendance and citizenship, not on academics.  Commitments from employers to hire only those with this job card are becoming evident as in one recent ad which states, "Proof of membership in Mercer County School Business Partnership or equivalent required." 


            In Clark County, Nevada the Smart Grad Program gives seniors a head start in obtaining employment in the Las Vegas community through collaboration with the school district and members of the business community.  Student profiles include teacher ratings based on the SCANS competencies.  Many employers will guarantee an interview for Smart Grad Program graduates and chamber of commerce members have agreed to hire Smart Grad students over other applicants if all qualifications are equal - leveraging.   Again these examples of leveraging are all tied to rewards and sanctions.


            Regarding skill standards Mr. Tucker spoke of a national system of skill standard certificates within sixteen areas of economic activity which cover the whole of the American economy.  Not more than three skill certificates would be developed in each area.  He painted a picture of a school work system that is framed on one end by the CIM and on the other by the skill standards. 


            In 1994 to assist the newly created National Skill Standards Board that was established under the authorization and authority of Goals 2000 Act, the US Department of Labor asked sixteen experts to prepare papers addressing occupational clusters.  These papers can be found in this publication on occupational clusters published by the NCEE.  In here Mr. Tucker's paper is the major paper set forth, and you will find summaries of the remaining fifteen.  These recommendations were submitted to the National Skill Standards Board.  In this paper Mr. Tucker described a system, a three tier system, of skill standards.  The first tier, tier one, is a set of standards of what everyone should know and be able to do.  It is your common standards.  It is your CIM.  Tier two are skill standards for groups or clusters of occupations requiring broadly similar skills.  These skill standards are more specific and begin to move us up into the occupational skill certificates.  They are to be the province of the National Skill Standards Board.


            Now tier three under his scheme are standards for specific, individual jobs, and they are to be the province for business and individual farms.  However, I want to note here that Mr. Tucker states in his paper that, "The government should have no more to do with setting standards for tier three than it does now, at least at the beginning."  We have been forewarned as to the intent for government control.   The National Skill Standards Board proposal to establish a voluntary national skills standards system which was issued on September 19, 1996 follows Mr. Tucker's recommendations set forth in his paper.  The economy is to be divided into sixteen economic sectors with three types of skill standards frameworks ranging from broad to specific.  The first, core knowledge and skills are those common to all, and they correspond directly to Mr. Tucker's tier one.  The second, concentration knowledge and skills, cover a broad area within a specific sector and corresponds to Mr. Tucker's tier two.  The third framework known as specialty and skills target particular jobs and corresponds directly to Mr. Tucker's tier three, a direct alignment with different names. 


            I want you to ask yourself who is driving the reform?  Despite the rhetoric of Goals 2000 that educational reform is bottom up, it is actually being driven from the top down through the concerted efforts of but a few, very influential organizations which include the NCEE.  The strategy for the targeting of particular jobs is to be done through labor market information system which is a government job projection data base. 


            Here we also want to stop and ask the question how well was this job career matching going to work?  One would certainly hope that under this plan we would avoid the pitfalls that had been found in the German system and is described in a paper entitled "Determinants and Consequences that Fit Between Vocational Education and Employment in Germany".  Now this was a paper that was commissioned by the US Department of Education, and it was published in their schoolwork "What Does the Research Say About It?" in June of 1994.   This paper states, "In Germany there are many jobs opened only to workers with the appropriate apprenticeship training.  Only about half of all German men and about sixty percent of German women currently have jobs that fit their prior vocational training." 


            Surely the system that is being envisioned, and it was talked about in San Antonio, would produce a better alignment between training and job openings.  Well, let's take a look.  The 1996/97 "Occupational Outlook Handbook" lists those occupations having the  largest numerical increase in employment from 1994 to the year 2005.  Cashiers tops the list as the largest group occupation.  We are looking at a high skill job here.  However, McDonald's restaurant of the future where food is prepared robotically and electronic key pads replace cashiers portends the elimination of eighty-five percent of fast food jobs - cashiers.  Now this is not an idea that is still on the drawing board, for one such restaurant just recently opened in New York.  Also Wallace Hannan of the School of Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill states that as credit cards evolve into what is known as smart cards with ever greater capabilities to holding information and ever expanding applications, "Wide spread use of smart cards may also result in elimination of many entry level jobs such as cash register operators and ticket takers."  So much for government job projections.


            Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predict that there will be many more new job openings in cashiers and janitors than for the top five fastest growing occupations.  Despite the attention and care that has gone into the compilation of employment projections they remain just that, projections or at best,  guesstiments.    Education for work skills based on government labor projections will only result in a surplus of workers within the very industries that the projections target and will inherently limit the future career choices of all American students. 


            We know that history judges, and history not only judges, but it also instructs.  If there is one thing which history has taught us in this last century it is this.  Central planning is an abysmal failure.  Let us not even begin to start down that road.  In spite of these lessons states are plowing forward to amend child labor laws which are considered major barriers to this restructuring.  They are also implementing employer tax reforms from wage tax credits to employer training credits to worker's comp. relief.  They are all changing, and I would encourage you to look into it in your states, and remember, rewriting child labor laws will have a dramatic affect on the structure of our society for they are a reflection of how we view and how we value our children.


            How will all of these changes affect the classroom and the learning of our children?  Just how are we moving on so as to achieve high standards toward meeting this new excellence?  In Ohio there is a mentor training program where students learn the basic fundamentals of basket making.  The purpose is to provide high school seniors the opportunity to experience the manufacturing work environment while learning the basic fundamentals of the basket making craft.  Also in Ohio elementary students are dusting furniture in a furniture store.  In Oregon fifth graders, fifth graders, are participating in a job program for pay.  In Pennsylvania there is a kindergarten curriculum where the children spend time on an assembly line building peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, all the time being instructed they are workers not students, and as team members it is their job to do their job on the team, and if they do not they will not get their peanut butter and jelly sandwich. 


            This is the state of the education, a new education that is the result of a strategy that utilizes deceptive marketing and leverages stake holders through rewards and sanctions.  We know it is happening.  We have heard about it today.  We see it happening in our states and many have attested to that today.  I would like to take and make a point here directly to the members that are present.  When we leave here and when we go home and when we look into the eyes of our children can we honestly say this is the future we want to give them?  For the future of our nation, for the sake of our children, your children, my children, STOP IT!  Repeal Goals 2000!  Repeal the Schoolwork Opportunities Act!  Abolish the Department of Education and return education to the local level and return the children to their parents.   God bless you in your work and thank you.


Related Links:

 Flyer Giving Summary of  STW (Careers)  and the CIM (Gov't Work Certificate)

Detailed Article on Major Aspects of  School To Work          

Congressman Henry Hyde's Quotes on STW


Educational Issues









Hit Counter