Idaho Legislature to Ignore the Represented--Enter Goals 2000

by Kathy Thomsen, Editor, The OBE Predictor

The Guidance and Counseling Program

Public input: Those opposed or seeking amendment to the Guidance Model outnumbered supporters in a 10-1 ratio.
State Board Response: Disregarding the wishes of the electorate, the board arrogantly mandated the program. Section 100.01, page 35, of the October 11, 1996 Rules and Regs Draft states:
"All schools will deliver a core of instruction and advisement programs (see section 100.04, Guidance Programs) for each student in elementary schools, middle school/junior high and high schools."
And from Section 100.04, page 38:
"In each Idaho school, a comprehensive guidance program will be provided as an integral part of the education program..."

The Parent-Approved Student Learning Plans

Public Input: Those opposed or seeking amendment to the learning plans outnumbered supporters in a 3-1 ratio.
State Board Response: Although the board relented and inserted verbiage which allows students to opt out of learning plan development if requested (in writing) by parents, Section 100.03, page 36 maintains: "No later than the end of Grade 8 all students will develop parent-approved student learning plans for their high school and post high school options... The purpose of a parent-approved student learning plan is to outline a course of study and learning activities for students to become contributing members of society.
Note: These "learning activities" are work-based activities required by Idaho’s School-to-Work grant.
Section 400, page 49, further defines work-based learning experiences as: " plans, training agreements, approved work sites, and supervision by appropriately certified personnel. Instruction will be organized to facilitate a successful transition into the workforce and further education."

Career Awareness

Public input: Patrons wishing to amend or completely eliminate Career Awareness outnumbered supporters 3-1.
State Board Response: Career awareness, as proposed by the Board, will be a district option.

The Bottom Line

The State Board--including Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Ann Fox--unanimously approved the final rules and regs draft without adequate review. Reasoned appeals for a more thorough and thoughtful analysis were dismissed with a reprehensible, "Let the legislature do it!"

Where did the guidance program come from?

The Idaho Comprehensive Guidance and Counseling Program Model (Guidance Program) was written in 1988 in collaboration with several states and funded by the federal government. The Guidance Program was sent to all school districts but did little more than gather dust. Since then, Goals 2000 and School-to-Work legislation has become the law of the land in may states and has put more pressure on states to enact a guidance program.

In 1995, the Idaho legislature passed a bill requiring a 1-400 ratio of counselors to students in schools. Like a cancer formerly dormant, the tumor had begun to form.

What does the guidance program have to do with the rules and regs?

The rules and regs mandate that every school will provide a comprehensive guidance program. If the legislature approves the rules and regs as written, the guidance program will be required for all students--from kindergarten through high school. The cancer will have metastasized and spread to every district in the state.

What is the purpose of the guidance program?

Is your idea of a guidance counselor that sweet lady who helped you through the myriad of college application forms in your junior year? Are you wondering what could possibly be wrong with a structured counseling program? Read on for a snapshot the incredibly expansive tentacles of the guidance program...

The guidance program statement of purpose reads: "...addressing the education of the whole person in order to produce positive education outcomes."

Question: Is the "education of the whole person" beyond what we should demand to be the scope and intent of public education?

Why is this program a source of concern?

That question is best answered by analyzing the key components of the Guidance Program:

1) Guidance Curriculum
2) Individualized Planning
3) Responsive Services
4) System Support

First, the guidance curriculum which addresses student outcomes in three areas:

1) Personal/Social Development
2) Educational Development and
3) Career Development.

The goal of the guidance curriculum is to "promote students’ positive mental health and assist in acquiring and using life skills."

Your child will be locked in an endless loop of remediation until he successfully masters these mandated.

Personal/Social Outcomes which will be taught from kindergarten to graduation:

1. Students will acquire and demonstrate self-understanding and human relation skills. Human relations skills will demonstrate competency by identifying and discussing feelings and behaviors, by accepting personal strengths and weaknesses...

2. Students will acquire and demonstrate effective inter-personal relationship skills. This will be accomplished by showing the ability to constructively express all feelings, recognizing and accepting others’ feelings and ideals... identifying and discussing traditional and changing family roles, recognizing and accepting individual differences and identifying and discussing changing personal/social roles. (Question: By tolerating, accepting and embracing the homosexual agenda?).

3. Students will demonstrate decision-making skills. This outcome will be accomplished by identifying the problem, gathering alternative solutions, brainstorming alternative solutions, anticipating consequences of various alternatives and using the decision-making process to deal with life stress situations...

This is a glimpse of what is meant by "educating the whole person." Is this how you want your child to be "educated?" Is this education or behavior modification? Is your child’s teacher qualified to "teach" in this manner? It may require a minimum of one counselor per classroom. How much will it cost? Who is going to pay for it? Public school is no place for a mental health and behavior modification clinic. If such services are needed, parents have ready access to private sector providers who are accountable to the parent, not the school.

President of Idaho Citizens for Quality Education Dani Hansen urges parents concerned about their district’s Health Curriculum to focus their efforts on the defeat of the guidance program:

"The guidance program is the bus and the bus is delivering condoms," said Hansen.

Is there anything academic about these outcomes?

The second outcome of the guidance curriculum is the Educational Development Domain. The goal of these outcomes is stated as, "Students will develop an educational program that fulfills their individual goals and objectives."

These outcomes, for students kindergarten through graduation, include, in part: Students will formulate an educational plan. This plan will reflect a knowledge of personal goals, awareness, of academic strengths and weaknesses and a knowledge of test results and their application.

Question: Does this sound like a student learning plan to you? Does it appear to be optional? The "Parent-Approved" Student Learning Plan is an integral part of School-to-Work. The big print giveth and the small print taketh away. The rules and regs promised an opt-out ability for those who did not wish to participate, but the guidance program mandates student learning plans for all students.

The third and final outcome of the guidance curriculum is the Career Development Domain where "Students will plan for a career that relates to their occupational goals and objectives and to their aptitudes and interests."

The career development outcomes are proof positive that the guidance program, in tandem with the rules and regs, paves the way for complete implementation of school-to-work for all students in every public school in the state of Idaho.

The outcomes include:

1. Students will practice job search skills.
These skills include identifying job search strategies, completing applications, writing resumes, writing letters of inquiry and follow-up, interviewing and securing a work permit. Question: What is the purpose of work permit? Pardon me! Your original intent is showing!

2. Students will explore and identify career opportunities.
Students, beginning in kindergarten will develop career awareness by examining why people work. Question: Where is the highly touted local control, the cornerstone of the rules and regs? How many times have you been told that School-to-Work is just an optional program for interested students? Does this sound like an elective to you? The rules and regs lists career awareness as an "option as determined by the local school district." The guidance program mandates career awareness K-12.

Are there any other areas of concern in the guidance program?

Implementation of this program is expected to take five to six years. The role of the counselor/social worker will greatly increase as this position assumes a much more active role in the classroom. The teacher will function primarily as a facilitator as "the counselor’s time will be spent organizing and implementing a program that has student-based objectives and outcomes. These affective (dealing with attitudes, feelings, beliefs and values) and career-based outcomes preclude the need for teachers who are trained in academics.

The Guidance Program is comprehensive, expansive and intrusive. It precludes the academic growth and cognitive development of Idaho’s children. No school district will be able to fund this program which mandates OBE, school-to-work, career awareness and student learning plans for all students. How much will it cost to put a behavioral health center in each school?

The Guidance Plan is a financial sinkhole. Hansen commented, "The cost of the guidance program including curriculum, assessment, individual counseling with each student and their parents, response services and system support is a financially staggering mandate."

There was real concern expressed in the public hearings by superintendents over the liability and legal ramifications of providing this kind of mental health service and providing qualified personnel to be responsible for these services. Question: Do you think Governor Batt’s proposed budget for education of $705 million (a modest 2.5 percent increase) will be adequate to fund this behemoth?

Beyond the guidance program and cost issues, what concerns remain?

Section 400 (Page 48) of the rules and regs outlines Workforce Skills: "All students will be provided the opportunity to develop their academic skills and to develop the skills necessary for entering the workforce, including self-management skills, individual and teamwork skills, thinking/information skills and vocational-technical skills based on industry standards."

Section 500 (Page 44) lists Basic Values: "Honesty, self-discipline, unselfishness, respect for authority and the central importance of work are emphasized." Question: How is the state going to determine if these values and skills are adequately being taught, by whose criteria, and who pays for this evaluation?