Diana M. Fessler
Federal bureaucrats slam door on elected education official
(DAYTON) - State Board of Education member Diana M. Fessler is steamed about being barred from National School-to-Work meetings.
"I find it incredible," Mrs. Fessler wrote in protest to Education Secretary Richard Riley and Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, "that those who claim that School-to-Work is good for kids, and good for the economy . . . find it necessary to conduct the public's business behind closed doors."
The June 14-18 conference attracted personnel from 43 states and Puerto Rico including officials from the U.S. Departments of Education and Labor.
State and federal bureaucrats met at the Renaissance Hotel in Cleveland. Fessler reports that the focus of the meeting included the identification of the obstacles hindering the full implementation of STW and determining how to overcome them, regardless of the opposition to it.
Mrs. Fessler, who represents one million Ohioans, says she was formally introduced and welcomed from the podium and that she attended Sunday through Tuesday morning sessions without incident.
On Tuesday afternoon, Interim Director of the National School-to-Work Office Irene Lynn excluded Fessler from a strategy session and all Communications Task Force meetings.
In her letter to Riley and Herman, Fessler states, "These were not routine staff meetings. Participants had flown in from across the nation to meet in a swanky hotel to work out strategies to move the School-to-Work system forward."
When asked why she was barred from the meetings, Fessler replied, "Perhaps they thought the risk of bad press from barring an elected official would, in the long-run, be less problematic than the public learning what they're up to."
Charles A. Byrne, a Cleveland Heights resident who represents Ohio State Board of Education District 11 which includes Cleveland, said, "Congress should slam the brakes on bureaucratic bullies."
Advocates of the STW system say that if the United States is to prosper in the world economy, then students must be taught how to think globally, problem-solve, and work collaboratively.
Fessler, a critic of the STW system, says, "STW is not another here-today-gone-tomorrow program, and it's not the benign vocational or Tech-Prep program that STW advocates say it is. It is a system that values job-training more than education, and a system that replaces representative government with government by committee."
"The bottom line," said Fessler, "is that implementation of STW leads to a planned economy. The federal law requires mandatory job training for all. Unless STW is stopped, in the future people won't be able to get further education or a decent job without the skill certificate described in the federal STW law."
"The purpose of government," said Fessler, "is to protect the interests of the people, not to develop an agenda, refine implementation strategies, and create marketing plans for a new system of education and governance behind closed doors."
Fessler emphasized, "People who are doing what is right and good don't have to sneak around and hide behind closed doors."
For full text of the letter to Secretaries Riley and Herman, visit: http://www.fessler.com
Diana M. Fessler
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