May 10, 2000

One of the hottest educational fads is workforce development, also known as school-to-work programs. Frustrated taxpayers often welcome such proposals because they promise to "train your child for a job." But what school-to-work would do is create a massive bureaucracy with a linked national database and channel children into designated career paths. In the end, freedom and creativity would be lost.

I have five problems with school-to-work programs. First, they are elitist. Government planners and educrats assume they know what is best for a child and are given the power to "pick" an occupational path for each child. This would push us toward a classed society where government elites decide your child's fate.

Second, it is social engineering. Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World to warn of the dangers of genetic engineering. Children are herded into social classes of occupations and not allowed to pursue their dreams. There are no Horatio Alger stories in this program!

Third, it is reductionist. It reduces children for what they can do, rather than appreciates them for who they are. They are evaluated for what they can produce in society and placed accordingly. Schools need to educate the whole child, not just prepare them for a job.

Fourth, it is impractical. Sociologists estimate that in the service sector of our global economy, people will change careers at least three times in their lifetime. Will we be training children for jobs that won't exist by the middle of the 21st century?

Finally, it is socialism. Implementing the details of workforce development legislation will march this country further down the road to socialism. At a minimum, it would require a complex bureaucracy and a massive database. The cost in terms of taxes and loss of freedom would be significant. School-to-work programs are a bad idea.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.