Will outcome-based education result in mind control of our children or bring about long-awaited school reform?

For 20 years, William Spady has been the nation’s chief promoter of an educational philosophy called “outcome-based education.” He says he felt “like the Maytag repairman” for most of that time “waiting for states and school districts to call.”

Those days are gone. Claiming that it will bring about the true reform required to prevent American students from falling further behind their counterparts in the rest of the Western world, educators have been streaming toward OBE for the past five years. Many school districts have embraced it, and many state education departments are committed to implementing it in the next several years.

Yet opposition to OBE is exploding as well. Within the past year, numerous conservative activists have begun working for its demise. A groundswell has developed, with hundreds of curious parents packing informational meetings around the country—and confronting school officials with their worries. Concerned Women for America (CWA) is putting together a “war manual” to fight OBE nationwide, and spokesperson Jan Parshall calls it “the single biggest issue” in education.

As the principal vehicle for the educational establishment’s school-reform strategy, Spady’s brainchild has joined other lightning-rod issues such as school choice, sexuality education, and multiculturalism in the debate over the future of our nation’s schools.

Achieving set goals

Essentially, OBE involves the setting of educational goals—“outcomes”—that students must reach before finishing school. Those goals determine teaching methods and ways of measuring student achievement. The idea is to set high expectations for all students ...

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