Who Needs “Education” Anyway?

I’m telling you – these guys just keep letting the cat out of the bag.

Jamie Merisotis, who makes $619,334 a year as CEO of the Lumina Foundation, recently suggested in this article that we combine the U.S. Department of Education with the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) of the Department of Labor and the talent recruitment functions of the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) of the Department of Homeland Security into one, super “Department of Talent.”

“The net result,” Merisotis writes, “would be an agency actually aimed at the true outcome of the policies inherent in the current disconnected mess—talent—rather than an agency that is focused on processes and tools like “education,” “training,” “visas,” and so on.”

And yes – he actually puts “education” in quotes.

According to Merisotis, this new super-department “could develop and implement strategies for high-quality, locally managed workforce development programs…Ideally, there would be a coordinated approach that seamlessly relates K-12 standards to learning outcomes frameworks for education and training beyond high school.”

In other words, it would do what our current Department of Education is busy doing: turning our local public schools into “workforce development programs.”

Sounds an awful lot like Rex Tillerson of Exxon-Mobile and the New York Times Editorial Board, doesn’t it?

Merisotis also recently wrote a fawning article about Arne Duncan, called “Arne Duncan’s Legacy: The Difference That Strong Leadership Can Make.”

In the article, Merisotis praises Duncan for supporting “competency-based programs that measure students’ advancement based on their learning, rather than time spent in a classroom” and “urg[ing] institutions with competency-based programs to follow the steps needed to get access to financial aid.”

Merisotis’s foundation, of course, was born of a carefully orchestrated sale from one student loan behemoth to another, when the former – USA Group – grew nervous that the government would go after its tax-exempt status.

Their true aim – to get more students to take out more loans – stayed firmly intact.

And thus we have yet another reason to run when we hear the words competency-based:

Student loan predators, who are ready to pounce on your state’s digital badging systems.

Run while you can!



Author: Emily Talmage

My name is Emily Talmage and I teach fourth grade at Montello Elementary School in Lewiston, Maine. In addition to teaching in Lewiston, I have also taught special education and general education in New York City, including one year at a “high-performing” charter school in Brooklyn. I also have two master’s degrees; one in Urban Education from Mercy College, and another in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. I have also worked as a research analyst and assistant at the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia and Oldham Innovative Research in Portland.

7 thoughts on “Who Needs “Education” Anyway?”

  1. At some point in the indistinct past I read about Bill Gates’s reasoning about the need for standards to make all students college ready: There seems to be a high level of poverty in this country. That’s not a good thing. Why are people poor? Obviously, because they don’t have the ability or means to go to college. If only they were college educated, they could get a good paying job and lift themselves out of poverty. How to assure all students go to college? rigorous standards, of course! Nevermind that college graduates are saddled with overwhelming debt and are under-employed or unemployed. Well, who benefits from this? I had been thinking primarily of the testing/publishing behemoths like Pear$on. What I didn’t realize was that those who make huge profits from lending money to college students are also salivating at the prospect of hordes of students knocking on the doors of [fly-by-night] colleges. How crass! How despicable!


  2. I’m stuck on a portion from this quote “could develop and implement strategies for high-quality, locally managed workforce development programs…”. High Quality? Really? Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed that large bureaucracies even at just the state level can’t do anything of High Quality. Ineptness and incompetence rules the day…and then to consider a monster department? Ha! High Quality? My arse!


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