NAEP Secure From Parents Only

November 2, 2001

The following article was submitted for publication as an opinion
column in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  The editor indicated it was
unlikely there would be space in the paper to publish it.

The New Education System redefines the role of the media.  The role of
the media is now to advocate for the new system, not to report on it
in an accurate and objective manner.  Margaret Stimman Branson,
Associate Director of the Center for Civic Education (CCE) explains
the strategy this way:

"...the media are important influences and have significant contributions
to make to civic education, and their support should be enlisted."
(   (The CCE defines Civics and
Government for the entire country, as authorized by federal law.  CCE
National Standards are incorporated into the NAEP test. See
Civic Virtue And National Standards)

It is no coincidence that opposition viewpoints to the new education
and workforce system seldom find their way into the mainline media.
They have been "enlisted," as Ms. Branson describes it.

The October 25th St. Paul Pioneer Press article and the October 24th  Education Week article
regarding excerpts from the National Assessment of Educational Progress
(NAEP) being posted on the Maple River Education Coalition (MREdCo)
website entirely missed the most important point of public interest.

    The National Assessment Governing Board calls posting the NAEP
a "security breach."  What is this nonsense about "security"?   The
truth is that the supposed "security" of the NAEP extends only to
parents.  Everyone else seems to have access!  Any branch of government
and many corporations have total access to the NAEP questions and to
the detailed data gathering that it conducts on students, schools,
teachers, private homes and communities.  The RAND Corporation, the
Department of Agriculture, MPR Associates, Stanford University and the
National Goals Panel are just a few known examples of groups with access
to the NAEP questions and data bases.

    So why are parents denied access to the NAEP questions?  Could
it be because two-thirds of the NAEP asks questions about personal
information and family habits?  Of the remaining third, many of the
questions measure students' personal opinions and assess viewpoints
that many would disagree with or find objectionable.

    Furthermore, with the new federal legislation about to be passed
by Congress, the NAEP will be instantly transformed from the "Nations's
Report Card" to the national dictator of curriculum in all schools in
the country. Tests always drive the curriculum and a national test
forces a national curriculum.  States will be given rewards and sanctions
based on conformity with the NAEP.  What business does the federal
government have dictating the attitudes and values our schools must

    Does anyone really think that a test with this much power ought
NOT be reviewed and critiqued by the public -- Other nationally norm-
referenced tests, such as the Iowa Basics, are available for viewing.
Why not the NAEP?

    The NAEP has been marketed to the public for over three decades
as an academic achievement assessment.  If the NAEP were available to
parents, the public would demand that it be rewritten to focus on
basic academic knowledge and to eliminate offensive propaganda that
intrudes into the private lives and worldviews of families.

Julie M. Quist
Maple River Education Coalition