the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancementrnof Teaching.rnNow, some who have signed on tornOBE may be beguiled by its appealing label.rnThey may buy the argument (convincingrnif one looks no deeper) thatrnschools should be judged by their “learnerrnoutcomes” instead of by such “inputs”rnas the numbers of books in the library orrnof teachers with master’s degrees. Outcomesrnin solid academics, yes; those arernmuch to be desired. But educationistsrnpushing OBE do not have in mind suchrnoutcomes as pupils mastering phonicsrnbefore leaving primary grades or highrnschool seniors understanding the Lockeanrnunderpinnings of the American Revolutionrnbefore graduating. Indeed, suchrnlearning is derogated as being based onrn”lower-order thinking skills,” which requirernmemorization and drill. OBErnstarts instead with “higher-order” thinkingrnrooted in what is called the affectiverndomain—emotions and feelings, therntouchy-feely realm of the behavioral psychologistsrnwhose influence pervadesrnschools of pedagogy and spreads to infectrnschool systems across the land.rnOstensibly, state departments of educationrn(some 30 of them so far) have setrnup independent studies to determinernwhat outcomes are important for studentsrnin each state. In practice, however,rnthe desired outcomes turn out tornsound remarkably the same from state tornstate—a reflection of educators’ networkingrnwith such OBE gurus asrnTheodore Sizer of Brown University andrnWilliam Spady of the High Success Network.rnThe Education Commission ofrnthe States is one of the organizational gobetweensrnin the interlocking network.rnThus, in Pennsvlvania state educratsrnwant to replace graduation creditsrnearned in such disciplines as English,rnhistory, science, and mathematics withrn51 learned outcomes, such as:rnAll students relate in writing,rnspeech, or other media the historyrnand nature of various forms ofrnprejudice to current problems facingrncommunities and nations, includingrnthe United States.rnAll students develop skills torncommunicate and negotiate withrnothers to solve interpersonal problemsrnand conflicts.rnAll students develop interpersonalrncommunication, decisionmaking,rncoping, and evaluationrnskills and apply them to personal,rnfamily, and community living.rnAll students make environmentallyrnsound decisions in their personalrnand civic lives. (Who decidesrnwhat’s sound?)rnAll students relate basic humanrndevelopment theories to caregivingrnand child-care strategies.rnIn Virginia, the state is similarly planningrnto ditch Carnegie units and gradingrnstructures in favor of 38 warm and fuzzyrnstudent outcomes specified within sevenrn”life roles”: fulfilled individual, supportivernperson, lifelong learner, expressiverncontributor, quality worker, informedrncitizen, environmental steward.rnAn example of an outcome desiredrnfrom a “supportive person” is: “Analyzernconflict to discover methods of cooperativernresolution.” “Informed citizens” arernto “identify community problems andrnbe able to negotiate solutions contributingrnto the public good” and “supportrnand defend civil and human rights.”rnThese are, understand, the new academicrngoals. A truly independent-thinkingrnstudent can count on spending a lotrnof time in remedial work. One suggestedrnactivity had 8-year-olds sallying forthrnto work with the homeless. Beginningrnthis fall, a suburban (mostly white) Richmondrnschool system was to have fifthgradersrnstudying the 20th century by focusingrnon just three persons; CesarrnChavez, Eleanor Roosevelt, and ColinrnPowell. (So goes the Maya AngelournGrand Diversity Parade: a Hispanic, arnwoman, and a black. White males likernDwight Eisenhower and Ilarrv Trumanrnare retired to the sidelines.)rnEnvironmentalism is an OBE staple.rnBefore pupils understand basic science,rnthey are supposed to be able—workingrnin noncompetitive groups—to producernthe answers to complex ecological problems.rnThey begin from the premise ofrnglobal warming and the rapacious destructionrnof natural resources by corporaterninterests. Surely even the densestrnpupil will be able to deduce that collectivismrnis the approach being sought here.rnAcross the nation, from Connecticutrnto Washington State, the situation isrnmuch the same. Educrats are talkingrnup “restructuring,” a “new paradigm,” arnCommon Core of Learning, and “transformationrnoutcome-based education,”rnbut the bottom line is that schools arernde-emphasizing basic learning and individualitvrn(the essence of Bill-of-RightsrnAmericanism) in favor of group indoctrinationrnin “correct” attitudes—attitudesrntoward alternative lifestyles (suchrnas homosexual parenting), cultural diversity,rnand other components of thernleftist Utopia. Gifted children are a particularrnirritant, because OBE treats allrnchildren as though they were equally endowedrnintellectually. The whole group isrnsupposed to advance as one; faster learnersrnmust stay back to help teach slowerrnones. No one fails in an O B E school.rnAnother name for OBE is group-basedrnMastery Learning. According to a 1987rnstudy at Johns Hopkins Universityrn(which found, predictably enough, adverserneffects on basic skills): “All studentsrnwho achieve the mastery criteria atrnany point are generally given an ‘A’ onrnthe unit, regardless of how many times itrntook for them to reach the criterionrnscore.” Take the same test as many timesrnas you want, until you finally manage tornpass it, and then receive an “A.” That’srngrade inflation with a vengeance. OnernColorado school, imbued with enthusiasmrnfor OBE, broke down report cardsrninto 95 categories, with students markedrnfor such qualities as self-esteem, creativernexpression, problem-solving, and assortedrnlearning attitudes and behavior. Thernreport card was half again as long as thernIRS’s 1040 tax form, and even more indecipherable.rn”Whose children are these?” is a questionrnmany parents are now asking in lightrnof this movement. Except for Manhattanrnsophisticates, they recently asked itrnloudly in New York City, bringing aboutrna 4-3 school board vote to oust ChancellorrnJoseph Eernandez, champion of arn”Children of the Rainbow” curriculumrnthat sought to sensitize first-graders tornhomosexuality.rnNowhere, however, hae parents mobilizedrnmore impressively than in Pennsylvania.rnStarted six years ago, thern20,000-member Pennsylvania ParentsrnCommission succeeded early this springrnin stalling, if not derailing, the OBE expressrnby winning overwhelmingly in thernlower house of the state legislature. Thernstate senate was not as friendly to thernparents’ cause, and Harrisburg educratsrnremained determined to implement thernprogram. But the parents had the optionrnof litigation in reserve.rnPeg Luksik, the commission’s founder,rnhad this advice for parents alarmed byrnOBE in other states: take aim at staternmandates and not at local educators.rn”Parents will only push so hard at the localrnlevel, because their kids arc captive,”rn48/CHRONICLESrnrnrn