Check Out Our Latest Book: Common Ground on Common Core

Order Now!

Resounding Books Newsletter

List of Articles
Privacy Policy
Paid for by Resounding Books PAC
© Copyright 2015
|A| 619 South Main Street, Box 418 / DeForest, WI 53532
|P| 608 467 0877

June 3, 2015 - Career-Tracking in the Classroom, Pt 1: Some of the Most Important Public Testimony Almost No One Has Ever Heard

Brief Introduction

On May 23rd, we published an article on this blog, explaining Common Core's mystifying truncation of mathematics at Algebra II. We noted that this false approach to rigor actually fits neatly within the workforce development model of education long touted by Marc Tucker, founder of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

On May 29th, we carried that discussion further, laying out how workforce development relates to the larger umbrella of managed economy, commonly called "economic development" today. There, we provided a brief view of how economic and workforce development schemes ultimately limit learning and career opportunities for children. To that end, we included video of a popular governor clearly explaining key, related pieces of his own economic development agenda.

Today, we provide further insight into the workforce development model—both its implementation and the transformation of education it is designed to achieve. In order to do so, we here share with you important but little-known public testimony, delivered at a 2013 Wisconsin hearing on the Common Core State Standards. The testimony is disturbing enough that we feel readers should first consider it on their own, without extensive commentary from us. However, in part two of this article, to appear in the near future, we will provide some insights that we hope will prove helpful.

October 3rd, 2013 - Madison, WI

Certified public accountant and mother Jody Lueck must have hoped that her personal testimony would matter as she traveled to the Capitol Building in Madison from Wisconsin's Fox Valley in order to attend the first of four scheduled public hearings on the Common Core State Standards in October 2013. It wasn't until the hearing was trailing into the evening and approaching its eighth hour that Lueck was finally called to the microphone. The all-day hearing had been stacked with a seemingly endless parade of school administrators, most of them repeating eerily similar talking points about the high value of Common Core and the difficulties that would result should the State change course.


What Lueck had to share with legislators and the public would, in fact, turn out to be singularly relevant and easily some of the most troubling information of the day. But by the time she had the opportunity to deliver it, only the smallest handful of citizens remained in the hearing room as direct witnesses. Moreover, legislators were, at that point, clearly trying to wrap up the remainder of public testimony as quickly as possible.

Centering on her personal experience at a regional meeting to which she had been invited, Ms. Lueck’s testimony was a clear and devastating first-hand account of the quiet and frequently deceptive mechanics behind damaging shifts in education and education reform policy. While Lueck’s testimony was captured on a professional videorecording of the hearing [beginning about 7 hours and 47 minutes into the recording], it is unlikely that more than a tiny fraction of Wisconsinites have ever seen or heard what she had to say. The likelihood that citizens from outside the state have heard her words remains even smaller. At Resounding Books, we feel it's important that more people do see it. 

It’s contextually important that the reader understand up front who the organizers and principle presenters were at the meeting referenced by Lueck in her testimony:

  1. The Fox Valley Chamber of Commerce, a regional organization
  2. The Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership/Big Step Program, a dual-organizational partnership of business and organized labor, heavy on the labor side (Note: The respective boards of the two organizations share a total of five individuals)
  3. CESA 6, perhaps the most powerful of Wisconsin’s cooperative educational service agencies, all of which function as regional arms of the Wisconsin State Department of Public Instruction (Note: CESA 6 is headed by the wife of Senator Luther Olsen, who chairs Wisconsin's State Senate Committee on Education)

That’s business, organized labor, and government…all present and accounted for. 

Without further ado then, Jody Lueck’s complete testimony before the Select Legislative Committees on Common Core Standards...

Jody Lueck's Testimony

Jody Lueck: I’ll go quick, here. My name is Jody Lueck. Credentials—first and foremost, I am a parent of five children, one graduated from Madison, one is a senior this year at Madison, one I have in public school in Appleton, and then we had a gap, and we’ve got a fourth-grader and a kindergartner. But because of what’s happening with public school, they are in the Catholic school system.

I’m here today—I’m a CPA by trade. I worked in the non-profit and for-profit business, and I’ve taught at the college level, all accounting classes. 

I’m here because, actually, my administrative assistant kept telling me about this Common Core, Common Core. And I was like, O.K. And I ended up being invited to a meeting of the Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership and Big Step Youth Division. They came to our chamber of commerce in Appleton, Wisconsin, and they wanted to talk about what, how, they were reforming education. Common Core was the middle piece of these five puzzle pieces. [Inserted below is an image contained in the CESA 6 slide presentation made at the meeting Lueck attended, backing up the previous statement. The entire presentation, along with two others made that day, will be made available to readers in an upcoming blog post.]

Common Core as anchor puzzle piece in a workforce development scheme

 This is what took place that day, and I’ll go very quickly.

There were about 25 people in attendance, from philanthropy, community foundations, and business. Common Core, as I said, was presented as the middle [piece], and it said, “We are about to transform the U.S. education system to match up with the European system of work-ready.”

When they talk about career- and college-ready, they are not talking about what we’re thinking of when we think of college-ready. It is more geared toward the technical college. Now, I have no problem with that, because I taught accounting at the technical college level, and I think that’s great.

But when you tell me we’re taking our young people, and we’re taking them a step back, I hear the standard of algebra in ninth grade. My son who’s at Madison is in actuarial. He’ll be an actuary. He took algebra in seventh grade. If you would have made him wait till ninth, good God! He graduated from high school with passing AP calc and having ten credits going into college. So, to slow everybody down is wrong.

So, when they’re saying—in fact, it says right here, “We offer only one way to win: European systems clear link between labor market and education.” They’re switching our education system from thinking to careers where kids fit into a peg. And they said, “Support the reform. Only 27 percent of jobs in Wisconsin—“ again, this is not global economy thinking—“required a college education.” We were doing our kids a disservice, they said. We needed to change to meet the job market demands in Wisconsin and discourage our children from seeking a college degree. It was mentioned that this would be a shift in mindset. [Inserted below is another image taken from the CESA 6 presentation made during the meeting Lueck attended and further backing up her testimony. The image portrays students as the crucial link in a workforce development chain, where the education system shapes human capital to supply the labor needs of business. Again, the full presentation will be made available in an upcoming post.]

At that point, a gentleman who was in the audience from one of the hospital foundations said, “We need to create a crisis. Let’s start talking about student loan debt.”

Now, is there student loan debt? Yes, there is. But that’s because the colleges’ tuition have raised so quickly.

It was asked, “How are parents included in this?” And may I—let me tell you, the people in attendance were someone from CESA 6 [regional coordination arm of Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction] in our area, and they said, “We did not include them because we didn’t know if this would work.”

And a second time, someone said, “How are you including parents?”

They said, “We are not telling the parents. Their kids will bring them along.”

They’re not sharing the pros and cons to the parents. No explanation to taxpayers.

And here’s the explanation they gave of this new system, what our new education system would look like: “So, your child starts Kindergarten. We’re going to start talking about careers.”

In fact, if you look at the benchmarks for the school, guidance curriculum, this is specifically where they start introducing these topics.

And they said—I lost my track here—by eighth grade we’ve heard “career academy”; we’ve heard “clusters.” At North [Appleton North High School] we have a business career academy. They said there will be sixteen tracks—so, healthcare, business, you know, transporta—all the tracks you can think of that you could possibly go down through your career. Your child, not with a parent involvement at all, will be tested, and they will say, they get to pick three tracks. Based upon the needs of business in Wisconsin.

I’m a CPA by trade. I love business. This is not the business model.

They [students] will then be placed in wherever the need is. And, you know, there’s gonna be quotas “because we only need so many business people or so many medical people in Wisconsin. And, oh, by the way, this is going to be so expensive we’re going to redistrict. And all the way through Oshkosh almost up to the Green Bay area, all the high schools will now work in tandem. And we can’t have sixteen career academies in every high school. It’s not economically feasible.”

So, the example they gave is, Kimberly has such a great business program. They will get the business career academy. So, my child, who goes to North, will go to North three days a week, and the two other days, they will take their business classes at Kimberly. This is going to start, they said, next year [2014].

My son’s graduating, so I don’t have to worry about it, but I’m here because I cannot, as an educator, believe they would do this.

And the English classes, we’ve heard a little bit about this literacy. And they’re talking about technical colleges and the ability to grasp these ideas. And we even heard about welding, you know, it’s a different level. It was talked about in Wisconsin you need four credits of English. But those four credits right now are in English literature. That will change. If I’m in the business tracks, some of those credits will now come from reading business periodicals. And again, I’m a businessperson. I love business books, and I love to read. But that is not literature, and we’ve heard the shift. It goes from fiction to non-fiction to technical manuals. 

Senate Committee Chairman, Paul Farrow: I apologize Jody and ask you to wrap it up. Thank you.

Jody Lueck: OK.

Oh! This is the big kicker that people haven’t heard about. Included in this will be apprenticeships. Again, this sounds really good, doesn’t it? My kids worked during high school. I love it.

The Chamber of Commerce has a website in Fox Valley where the kids will go on and apply for the positions that match their career track they’re in. It is not the companies any longer that will interview the children to see who gets the job. The teachers will decide if your child even gets to go on that interview, and they will replace the HR [human resources] departments at the companies. 

Now, as someone who worked in HR [human resources], how on earth—first of all, let teachers teach. But how do they know what the culture of companies are and who should fit into what job for that company? I mean, this is, people—this is not far off. And I will send this via email so that you can see this. They didn’t know people were sitting in that audience who wouldn’t necessarily agree with what they were saying. And if you’re wondering why I was even there, because I had another lady ask who runs a foundation, “Why are we here?” I said, “Because they don’t have the money to do this, and they want private funds to pick this up, and business.”

And if business—again, love business—but if they start putting money into things, which maybe they should contribute some, but because they want to—you will then see them hijack what education is supposed to be about for our children. We want thinking children who can really critically think and look at things.

And if I can say one more thing…

I’m just wondering how all of us got to be here. I went to a Wisconsin public school. How did I become a CPA if our education system has been so awful up to this point, before Common Core? How did my kids succeed? And then I would ask the teachers—not even the teachers, the administrators—if you thought our education system was so bad, why on earth have you waited so long for a group of foundations out east to say what we should be doing here in Wisconsin? Thank you.

[testimony concluded]

In Closing

Via the public-private partnership model, a metamorphosis is unfolding in education in which the central tasks of the classroom have largely become technical training and career-tracking in the service of workforce development/labor fulfillment systems. While this process has been occurring for some time, it is accelerating under recent reforms, including Common Core-related measures.

Sadly, we must report that Wisconsin state legislators of both parties have failed to connect the dots that Lueck so stunningly laid out for them. Moreover, they have continued to barrel down this same detrimental road. As we've aluded in a previous post, Wisconsin is far from alone in this regard. 

More in-depth commentary on both the testimony Lueck offered and the slide decks presented during the meeting she references coming soon...


404 Not Found

" data-layout="standard" data-action="like" data-show-faces="true" data-share="true">

Print Content