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BOEING & THE DUMBED DOWN EDUCATION SYSTEM IN WA. STATE

 

 

By Lynn Stuter

December 20, 2005

NewsWithViews.com

On February 2, 1993, the Seattle Times published an article “Big business helped solidify push for revamping education.” The following is a quote from that article:

“When Gov. Mike Lowry wavered in his support for the reform plan, [Frank] Shrontz, legislative leaders and other reform advocates visited him. Boeing executives told the new governor they wouldn’t support a tax increase if it didn’t include funding for education restructuring — a message that brought the governor solidly back into the fold.”

Frank Shrontz was then the CEO of the largest manufacturer of commercial airplanes in the United States — Boeing — based out of Seattle in western Washington.

In the years following, Shrontz and other Boeing executives sat on every education and workforce training committee, council, board, commission and restructuring team brought together by Washington State elected officials. They donated space at their Tukwila facility to house the Washington Commission on Student Learning. They donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to various projects, including those in which the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and its founder and head, Marc Tucker, were involved, such as the Washington Alliance for Restructuring Education (WARE). Boeing employees would leave their jobs with Boeing to accept governor appointed high-paying jobs in the Washington State bureaucracy in Olympia. Monetary concessions were made to Boeing at the expense of Washington taxpayers to include the establishment of the Employment and Training Trust Fund providing $70 million in taxpayer money for the benefit of laid off Boeing workers.

From the Boeing website comes the following revelation regarding Boeing and education:

“In addition to school support, Boeing is committed to a performance-based educational system and is involved in initiatives at local, state and national levels. The company contributes to educational reform through corporate and personal leadership and financial support.“

Frank Shrontz also held powerful connections outside the state, including sitting on the board of the New American Schools Development Corporation or NASDC. In that capacity, Shrontz helped choose the design teams that would implement a “thorough-going redesign of America’s schools.” One of those design teams was the National Alliance for Restructuring Education (NARE), a project of Marc Tucker’s National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE).

On February 2, 1992, Booth Gardner in his capacity as the Governor of Washington State and Member of the National Education Goals Panel; Judith Billings in her capacity as the Washington State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Member of the New Standards Project Board of Directors (another organization of NCEE); and Brian Benzel in his capacity as Chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Schools for 21st Century, Superintendent of the Edmonds School District and Member of the National Council on Education Standards and Testing, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with NARE and Marc Tucker to oversee the “design of ‘break the mold’ public schools” in Washington State. This was before the Washington Legislature passed ESHB 1209 officially bringing education reform to Washington State in 1993.

Remember that it was a commission of NCEE — the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (CSAW) — that wrote the infamous America’s Choice: high skills or low wages! report in which it is stated,

“But in a broad survey of employment needs across America, we found little evidence of a far-reaching desire for a more educated workforce.”

In 1987, when then Governor Booth Gardner was encouraging the Washington Legislature to pass legislation bringing the Schools for the 21st Century pilot project for education reform to Washington State, Gardner also brought his friend, Marc Tucker, to the state to testify before the Legislature in the matter. At a hearing held by the Senate Education Committee in February 1998, citizen researchers in Washington State exposed the failure of the Schools for the 21st Century pilot project; a pilot project which was the springboard for education reform in Washington State and across the nation.

Shrontz sat on the Governor’s Council on Education Reform and Funding (GCERF) in Washington State, created on May 16, 1991, by then Governor Booth Gardner by executive order. Marc Tucker acted in the capacity of “expert consultant’ to GCERF.

In 1994, when then President Clinton signed the Goals 2000: Educate America Act into law at the Zamorano Fine Arts Academy in San Diego, California, Clinton’s speech on that occasion recognized the presence of Frank Shrontz at the ceremony.

On September 19, 1996, Ron Woodard, President of the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, made the following remarks at a Seattle Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting:

“…25 percent of Seattle’s high school students dropped out of school in 1995 — that’s a frightening prospect for Boeing or any other company here to consider.

… To continue to be the world’s No. 1 manufacturer of commercial airplanes, Boeing must have the best educated and mostly highly skilled people in the world working for us.”

To this day Boeing continues to give it’s time, energy, and money to implementing education reform in Washington State.

In March 1996, the nation’s governor’s and top corporate leaders came together at the National Education Summit at IBM’s conference center in New York. From this summit came a new organization, Achieve, led by six governors and six corporate leaders. Frank Shrontz was one of the six corporate leaders appointed to head this new organization. On March 28, 1996, The Washington Post published “Corporations Vow to Favor States That Boost Academic Standards” which states, in part,

“Most of the nation’s governors and more than 40 corporate chiefs approved the idea at their national education summit here to put pressure on states to demand more from students. They said, ‘We commit to considering the quality of a state’s academic standards and student achievement levels as a high-priority factor in determining business location decisions.’”

Achieve’s website would, in 1997, confirm this commitment on the part of businesses, stating in its Annual Report,

“Generally, business location decisions take years of careful research and planning, and few such decisions have been made in the year since the Summit. Still, a handful of companies have demonstrated their commitment to base such decisions, in part, on whether states and communities have high academic standards and/or student achievement levels.”

To this end, Achieve vowed to establish and make available to businesses state and school district standards and “academic” achievement levels. In return business vowed to not locate in states considered to have unacceptable standards (exit outcomes) and achievement levels (measured by the state assessment tool).

In 2001, after many, many years and a multitude of tax incentives and concessions to the company, Boeing moved its corporate offices out of Washington State, relocating them to Chicago, Illinois. It was not the first or last economic blow dealt Washington State by Boeing. Since 1998, Boeing has laid off 20,000 workers in Washington State.

In that same year (March 9, 2001) John Warner, a Boeing executive, wrote a glowing opinion published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in which he claimed that “Nationally, Washington is often cited as a model of how to do school reform right.”

A scant twenty-one months later, however, on December 21, 2002, bold headlines appeared in the South County Journal: “Boeing may build new, efficient jet out of area – State must become more competitive, Mulally says” further stating, in the article,

“Boeing Commercial Airlines CEO Alan Mulally told reporters Friday that the company could build the plane at its Everett plant, but warned that it ‘absolutely could build it out of state’ if Washington can’t find ways to deal with transportation issues, education and tax structure.” (underlining added for emphasis)

Education researchers across the state were understandably incensed by this sudden charge on the part of Boeing that Washington’s education system somehow didn’t measure up. After all, it wasn’t parents sitting on all those committees, councils, boards, commissions, and restructuring teams; parents weren’t invited.

But Boeing was. And through its participation on all the various committees, councils, boards, commissions and restructuring teams, Boeing has had more influence on the direction education has taken in Washington State than any other entity in the state.

To now point to education as a consideration of whether Boeing would build the 7E7 Dreamliner in Washington State was an open admission that the very education system Boeing pushed for and helped build in Washington State isn’t measuring up.

Adding insult to injury, citizen complaints of undue influence by Boeing, made in 1997, were ignored by the Washington State Legislature.

In an eleventh hour deal, most of the details of which have been kept from Washington citizens by the governor’s office in violation of the Washington State Public Disclosure Act, then Governor Gary Locke made a multitude of concessions to Boeing to keep the manufacturing of the 7E7 Dreamliner in Washington State. What citizens do know is that Boeing will benefit from …

1, almost $3.2 billion in tax concessions to Boeing over the next 20 years;
2, $24 million to build and operate a training center for 7E7 workers;
3, an overhaul of the states employment-insurance system that resulted in a decreased in benefits to laid off workers but saves money for businesses state-wide;
4, Washington taxpayers shouldering the expense of improving the rail system between Everett and the Puget Sound and to making some improvements in the Port of Everett.

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For the sake of all the children of Washington State who are not getting an education by any measurable objective standard in the government schools, and in lieu of stopping the undue influence being afforded Boeing in the area of education, maybe it would have been better to have helped Boeing pack its bags.

© 2005 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved

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Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas.

Web site: www.learn-usa.com

E-Mail: lmstuter@learn-usa.com 


 

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“But in a broad survey of employment needs across America, we found little evidence of a far-reaching desire for a more educated workforce.”