Educating for the "New World Order"
A Summary

The primary issues raised in Educating for the "New World Order" are:

  1. A large number of standardized tests, administered annually to millions of school children throughout the United States and Canada, have been found to contain a substantial number of "affective" questions which have nothing to do with evaluating those students' academic accomplishment or potential.
  2. The "correct" answers to these questions, according to the test developers, have a common theme running through them . . . that of subordination of self to group. This is clearly contrary to the principles we are trying to convey to our children -- such as in anti-drug programs -- that they shouldn't feel they must do something just because their friends do.
  3. In some areas, such as Pennsylvania, schools which administered such tests have later received "supplementary" instructional materials to be used in short-term programs. Although Pennsylvania Department of Education officials maintained that the tests did not contain affective questions, the "supplementary" materials made no pretense of the fact that their purpose was to "remediate student attitudes." Pennsylvania mother-become-activist Anita Hoge discovered references which tied the version of these supplementary materials to the way students in a school or district responded to the affective questions on those tests. Moreover, because these supplementary materials were delivered to schools through Intermediate Education Districts, they were not necessarily put through any review at the local level as to their appropriateness.
  4. Recently, tests began requiring students to supply their social security number, in direct contravention of the federal Pupil Privacy Act (which President Clinton is rumored to be considering eliminating). Why should the SSN be necessary? The tests, are primarily intended to assess the academic progress of schools, or groups of students, not individuals. The result of those tests, however, are often stored in non-secure computerized databases. Even if no abuse of those data is intended, the potential exists for Johnny's mommy or daddy to run for public office and be faced with questions about personal or family beliefs based on how a 10-year-old answered vague questions on a test 15 years before!
  5. When challenged, state education officials deny that affective questions appear on the tests, but when claims are proven, tests have been withdrawn. Similar tests reappear months or years later under a new name.

Finally, it should also be noted that, for the most part, local educators are just as ignorant of the issue as parents. Standardized tests are prepared at the behest of state or even federal education agencies. The actual contracted authors of those standardized tests are often restricted to a small group of individuals or organizations which specialize in that task. Tests are sent to schools, which are instructed not to read the tests, and often not to even open the box until test day. Completed tests are to be immediately sealed and returned for grading. These steps are quite resonable, as they minimize the potential for cheating or "teaching for the test." But they also assure teachers and administrators -- unaware of the contents of the tests -- are often in the unenviable position of defending such tests merely on the assurance of others that the tests are completely benign. To the extent that such testing further degrades the trust parents place in their local schools, these programs make the jobs of local educators more difficult than they need be.

Nobody seriously doubts that values are implicitly transmitted during normal everday instruction in school. But there is a huge moral gulf between that and explicitly teaching values or attitudes. There is heated debate over how to teach reading and mathematics; do authors and promoters of these tests realistically expect there to be genuine consensus about whose beliefs are to be taught in preference to others? We think not.

The continued abuse of the standardized testing process docmented in Educating for the "New World Order," threatens the reliance and faith placed in those tests to help assess the effectiveness of our school systems. And as long as politicians and educational bureaucrats continue to try to redefine education as a series of fuzzy, amorphous "outcomes" that defy any reasonable effort to quantify, our schools are in danger of losing an already tenuous focus on their purpose.

The fundamental questions surrounding the issue must be:

--- In whose vision of the future is a new world order to be structured? In that of the government and the myriad special interests that wield influence there? We hope not.

Here's what people are saying about Educating for the ``New World Order'':

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