worried, because teachers had told themrnthat the newly elected slate of threern”Back to Basics” candidates, who nowrnheld the majority on the five-memberrnschool board, would remove calculatorsrnand computers from math classrooms,rnterminate physical education programs,rnand tear down designer playgroundrnequipment. Self-pity and demonizationrndominated the immediate reactions ofrnLittleton’s “outcome-based” educatorsrnto the repudiation of their theories atrnthe polls. Perhaps at the heart of thisrnangst and panic was the knowledge thatrnthe election was less about OBE thanrnabout something far more significant;rncontrol.rnHeralded in the national media forrnits forward-looking “reforms,” LittletonrnSchool District had been featured in severalrnEducation Week articles as the flagshiprnof OBE, a pedagogical approachrnthat purports to emphasize the acquisitionrnand demonstration of skills overrnknowledge. Eady on, there was littlernwarning for Littleton’s enlightened educatorsrnthat a challenge to their authorityrnlurked in the wings. “We need professionalsrnleading us on these things. Irndon’t feel parents are qualified to carryrnthe ball.” This statement by Pat Markwell,rnLittleton PTA president, was typicalrnof initial community reaction. “Thesernthings” refers to the total restructuring ofrnpublic education in Littleton, an uppermiddle-rnclass suburb south of Denverrnpossessed of 57,000 registered voters,rnthree high schools, four middle schools,rn15 grade schools, 17,000 students, 975rnteachers, and a pocket revolution.rnBill Cisney, proprietor of a large fabricrnoutlet in Denver; Carol Brzeczek, arnbookkeeper and housewife; and JohnrnFanchi, a professional engineer with arnPh.D. in physics, composed the “Back tornBasics” slate. Each received aboutrn15,000 votes. Their nearest competitorrnfrom the incumbent “Reform Coalition”rnreceived under 9,000. The “Basics” werernoutspent four to one and publicly opposedrnnot only by the teachers’ unionrnbut, in an unprecedented open letter,rnby every principal in the district.rnTheir success can be attributed to anyrnnumber of causes: the intellectualrnbankruptcy of OBE; the daunting commitmentrnin time and energy of severalrnLittleton parents, particulariy Cisney andrnBrzeczek; newly instituted mail-in voting,rnwhich diluted the power of thernteachers’ union at the polls; school boardrncontests that, in Colorado, have beenrnmoved to a November cycle; and, intornthe stretch, the monumentally inept interventionrnof People for the AmericanrnWay. Perhaps the most ironic of thernmany slurs huded at the “Basics” slaternwas that they were uninformed reactionariesrnwho did not know what OBErnwas all about. In fact, Cisney andrnBrzeczek had gained an intimate knowledgernof OBE through endless volunteerrnhours spent trying to make it work, andrntheir base of support consisted of parentsrnthey met along the way.rnThe mutiny began innocently enoughrnin 1989, when Bill Cisney heeded therncall of Littleton educators for communityrninvolvement in a new educationalrnprogram that had been started a couplernof years earlier. Cisney, a liberal artsrngraduate of Amherst College and parentrnof two children, was initially intrigued byrnOBE (aka “Restructuring”). He attendedrnboard meetings, gave assigned presentations,rnand later served on the HeritagernHigh School writing committee.rnIn the early spring of 1992, after fivernyears of meetings, “community forums,”rnand much public relations, the LittletonrnBoard of Education announced thatrn13 long-awaited “outcomes” (extremelyrnvague, often awkwardly phrased dictumsrnsuch as: “ability to cleariy communicaterninformation and express ideas and opinionsrnin writing” and “understanding ofrnthe American culture and the democraticrnsystem”) would now constitute therndistrict’s raison d’etre. These “outcomes”rnwere to serve as blueprints forrnhigh school graduation requirementsrnand curriculum. The school board hadrnleft it to the individual high schools tornadopt their own implementation schedules.rnHeritage High, which Cisney’s sonrnnow attended, earmarked the next croprnof incoming freshmen (class of ’96) to bernthe first to graduate under the new pedagogicalrnorder.rnThe focus then shifted from “outcomes”rnto “assessments,” the supposedlyrnmore particular standards (65 of whichrnwere eventually drafted) that teachersrnand administrators would use to evaluaternwhether a flesh-and-blood student hadrnattained an “outcome.” These were tornbe developed by school-level committees.rnCisney and Brzeczek served on thernwriting and reading committees, respectively.rnProblems immediately surfaced.rnThe specter of bias because of the highlyrnsubjective nature of the assessmentsrnwas countered with a proposal for arnfaculty panel-review of student accomplishments.rnHowever, this then raisedrnthe problem of an evaluation system thatrnwould involve almost as many staff hoursrnas teaching itself. But implementationrnof OBE, tar baby that it was, was thernleast of it.rnWhat, in fact, was Heritage High tornteach? To Cisney, Brzeczek, and otherrnparents who were monitoring developments,rnit became increasingly clearrnthat OBE would not so much enhancerncurriculum as obliterate it. JamesrnFerguson, principal of Heritage High,rnwas often quoted in the papers as sayingrnthat knowing about such clutteringrn”facts” as where Florida was locatedrnwas secondary to possessing the skillsrn”necessary to access” this “information.”rnResponsibility for resolving the implementationrnproblems at Heritage Highrnfell to a “Central Committee,” composedrnof principal James Ferguson, arnschool counselor, and six teachers. ThernCentral Committee was to meet overrnthe summer, and, by the way, parentsrnwere not allowed to participate in thesernmeetings—neither as participants nor asrnobservers.rnThat Wednesday, Cisney andrnBrzeczek handed out leaflets to parentsrncoming to register their children at Heritage.rnTo those who expressed interest,rnCisney provided a 15-page single-spacedrnreport he had prepared that dissected, inrnexplicit detail, just what “administrative”rnproblems had been left up in the air andrnwere now to be resolved in closed session.rnA week later the dissidents prevailedrnupon Heritage’s school accountabilityrnorganization to demand of Ferguson thatrnhe include two parent members onrnthe Central Committee and open itrnup to observers. Ferguson reluctantlyrnacquiesced.rnTwo parents, Sam Drury and DavernHolland, both advocates of OBE and, inrnDrury’s case, publicly at odds with Cisney’srnskepticism about the program,rnwere selected to sit on the Central Committee,rnwhich reconvened in August. Afterrnbeing accused of lying by principalrnFerguson, Cisney and his group of observersrnstarted taping and transcribingrn”alternate minutes” of the Central Committeernmeetings, which they sent to arngrowing list of parents.rnThe meetings dragged on through thernfall. The pattern of parents seekingrnsome structure by which learning andrn”outcomes” could be concretely measuredrnand of educators opposing suchrnstructure culminated in the submission.rn38/CHRONICLESrnrnrn