SCANS - A Case Study in Deception

"Learning A Living"

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In 1990 the legislation for the 'Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills' (SCANS) project was initiated.  This project was to define the standard set of job specifications and qualifications that an applicant would need to fill the job so that a ‘certificate’ of skills attainment for that job would mean the same thing across the country.  The 'Learning A Living - Blueprint for High Performance" is the implementation guide for the SCANS system. 

The importance of “Learning A Living - Blueprint for High Performance” cannot be overstated.  It claims to be a 'blueprint for high performance' but actually, what is being presented is something quite different.  It describes the transformation of our public school system to the Soviet style system of Polytechnical education plus a Soviet style monitoring and control computer system to go with it.    

On page xiii of the Executive Summary, it states: 

"We want citizens who can discharge the responsibilities that go with living in a democratic society and with being parents.  As we said in our first report: "A solid education is its own reward and has value beyond specific skills." We are not talking about turning our high schools into trade schools.  Nor do we suggest that schools ignore the beauty of literature and scientific theories or the lessons of history and geography.  

SCANS focused on one important aspect of schooling: what we call the "learning a living" system.  In 1991 SCANS issued its initial report, "What Work Requires of Schools".  As outlined in that report, a high performance (SCANS) workplace requires workers who have a solid foundation in the basic literacy and computational skills, in the thinking skills necessary to put knowledge to work, and in the personal qualities that make workers dedicated and trustworthy.

In other words, "we're not redesigning the schools to be trade schools even though we are integrating the workforce development and lifelong job history into the school system.  What we are actually doing is something far more heinous - we are building a cradle-to-grave information system. 


The advertised benefit is that it provides the information necessary for an electronic resume to be built from school records along with 'certificates' of skills attainment.  Under the radar however, there is a whole other world of information that is being compiled on students which will follow them for their entire lifetime.  

For the last decade and a half, government social programs have become school-based and involve the intrusion into the home and family life of the student.  In addition, changes in law allow for information sharing between social service agencies, medical providers, justice systems and employers - all centered around the school and therefore are recorded in the school records.  The coding schemes for non-academic purposes are described elsewhere but a close look at the ‘Basic Data Elements for school records tells the tale of the intent of the system as a ‘seamless web of cradle-to-grave information on human resources (formerly called people).  This has been a devious way to build a base subject information system for ‘Total Information Awareness’ (very large adobe pdf file) on future generations of Americans with 'Total Unawareness' by the public today.  


The Commission's recommendations:

"These recommendations define a comprehensive nationwide agenda.  We propose it not lightly but knowing that major portions of it are already being developed, implemented and tested, and refined in hundreds of schools and businesses all around the country...When all is said and done, the high-performance (SCANS) future requires a radically different organization of work and a radically different kind of workforce".  Pg. 25


Al Gore - Skills for a New Century:  A Blueprint for Lifelong Learning