Marc Tucker’s Bologna

4.19.10 – Donna Garner – Marc Tucker had an unhappy childhood in an unstable family. He was in and out of foster homes, and his mother had several stays in mental hospitals.

Marc Tucker’s Bologna
by Donna Garner 

I cannot sit back and be quiet when charlatans such as Marc Tucker are spreading their “bologna” around this nation.  Here is a man who has never taught a day in his life in K-12.  He has no education degree, does not know how students learn nor the curriculum they should be taught, and certainly should not be given the authority to reform the entire American school system.  (Marc Tucker’s plan for school reform is posted below —, 4.11.10.  Undoubtedly other newspapers will soon be publishing this same article.)


According to various sources (e.g., Lynn M. Stuter in 1999 —, Marc Tucker had an unhappy childhood in an unstable family.  He was in and out of foster homes, and his mother had several stays in mental hospitals.  


Marc went to both Brown and Yale on academic scholarships.  His bachelor’s degree was in philosophy and American literature.  He was involved with the drama department at Yale until he dropped out of his graduate program there.  His masters at George Washington University was in telecommunications policy.


Tucker worked as a lighting technician at a PBS TV station in Boston and then began to work at the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) in Portland, Oregon. 


It is from NWREL that some of the worst education fads have either been launched or pushed onto the public schools: outcomes based education, Certificate of Mastery, death education curriculum (may have led to the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado), culturally based education, the New Jersey Writing Project/whole language instruction (e.g., scoring of student essays without grading for grammar/usage mistakes, invented spelling, chunking, metacognition, the balanced approach). 


From NWREL, Tucker went to the U. S. Department of Education in Washington, D. C. Even though he has no degree in education, he later became a “professor of education” at the University of Rochester (1988-90) where he taught college students for two years.  So far as I can determine, that is Tucker’s only real teaching experience.


In 1988, Tucker became the president of the National Center for Education and the Economy (NCEE) where he joined up with Hillary Clinton, Mario Cuomo, and Ira Magaziner to get states to move away from local control of their schools and migrate to national standards. 


In 1991, Marc Tucker and Lauren Resnick created New Standards that pushed standards-based reform.  In 1998, he and Judy Codding created America’s Choice that made sure the  national standards were further implemented into the schools; and in 2005, Tucker created the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.


Tucker’s whole plan has been to require public school teachers to quit focusing on knowledge-based, academic content that emphasizes mostly objective testing with right-or-wrong answers.  Instead Tucker and his cohorts have managed to restructure completely the public schools, leading to the dumbing down of America’s school students.   


This effort has been given a new level of control under Obama and Arne Duncan who have added federal “teeth” by creating Common Core Standards and the millions of federal dollars available through Race to the Top funding. 


Now 48 states (except for Alaska and Texas) have committed to Tucker’s school “reform” model whereby the federal takeover of the public schools will be completed with national standards, national curriculum, national assessments, and a national database that ties students’ scores back to individual teachers to determine their salaries/tenure/evaluations. Teachers will be forced to teach daily whatever is on the national assessments in order to keep their jobs.


Tucker has teamed up with Obama, Arne Duncan, Hillary Clinton, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Linda Darling-Hammond, David Driscoll, Gene Wilhoit, Phil Daro, and others to move public school classrooms in 48 states into social engineering through subjective assessments that emphasize feelings, opinions, beliefs, multiculturalism, political correctness, diversity, global warming, homosexuality, and “social justice.”   


As you read through Marc Tucker’s article posted below, please realize that this is nothing new.  Tucker called it “School to Work” in the 1980’s.  The idea is to educate a small percentage of the population and then make “worker bees” out of the rest of the masses, making sure that they are not able to read, write, or speak English well so that they cannot logically analyze and evaluate issues.  If the masses are kept ignorant, they can be easily controlled politically and socially by the few people at the top.


Tucker’s School-to-Work plan has simply morphed into what he is now calling “early college entrance.”  He is luring parents to buy into this idea by dressing it up in sweet-sounding words such as “college-level work,” “admission to selective colleges,” and “instructional programs that are among the best in the world.”  


Tucker is giving both students and their parents false expectations.  College sounds very glamorous, and the idea of parents sending their 16-year olds to college appears to be quite sophisticated and intellectual, particularly to parents who have never experienced college for themselves.


Tucker is deliberately trying to deceive. The reality is that if the standards are measurable, knowledge-based, academic, rigorous and doable, almost all students need to take four years of high school to master them.  It is completely nonsensical to think that there would be many high-school students who could complete four years in two.  This would not happen if the high-school courses are content-rich and rigorous.  


For instance, look over these Texas standards in the four core subjects. You will see that only an absolute genius could possibly master all of these elements in two years instead of four:


English / Language Arts / Reading — new, adopted in May 2008 —


Math — revised but not rewritten —


Science — adopted in April 2009 —


Social Studies — (final standards to be voted on at the May 2010 State Board of Education meeting) — 


By compressing four years into two (freshman and sophomore years), Tucker’s idea is to fast-track and minimize the high-school curriculum so that students do not receive in-depth instruction in World History, U. S. History, economics, government, higher math, the great classics of the world, and advanced science.  Such two-year high school students would be bereft of the knowledge-base needed to cope with the adult problems of the world and certainly would not make well-informed voters nor citizens.


These students also would not have the flexibility and the knowledge-base to change vocations readily nor to get into college and be successful students.  Students (encouraged by their naïve parents) who unknowingly succumb to Tucker’s devious plan would end up having a very shallow educational background and would be doomed to the career pathway they chose when young and immature.


For all 33 years of my teaching career and until the present moment, I have fought for rigorous, explicit, doable goals for students to reach at each grade level.  I believe in the maxim that says, “How do you eat a huge pizza?  — one piece at a time.”  If a teacher has clear-cut goals that are reasonable and can bring his students along steadily and consistently from Day One of the school year, I believe most students can reach those goals through hard work and personal responsibility.   If students reach their goals at each grade level, they will be equipped to pursue college at the end of their four years in high school. 


Then if they want to go directly into the workforce, that is fine.  However, if they want to choose college, they will also be equipped to become successful college students and to graduate, thus opening many doors of opportunity for them in life.  They will also have the equipping skills to be good citizens who can make wise choices over social, economic, and political issues.




Donna Garner


College not mandatory under exam program

Marc Tucker

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ze’ev Wurman and Sandra Stotsky, in their opinion piece (“Grade 10 Diploma Not a Wise Idea,” Insight, April 4) misrepresented our proposals.

They suggest that the State Consortium on Board Examination Systems is proposing to send all of the high school students in our states to community colleges at the age of 16. Not so.

We offer the option of going to community college after the sophomore year in high school to students who pass exams showing they can do college-level work. But students who pass these exams could stay in high school to take a career and technical program or a program designed to prepare them for admission to selective colleges. High schools would be obligated to give students who don’t pass their exams additional instruction in the areas in which they are weak, so they could succeed the next time they take the exam.

Right now, the majority of high school students who go to college end up in our community colleges or similar institutions. But most of those students fail to complete their studies there because they come to college woefully underprepared.

We will give students instructional programs in their first two years of high school that researchers say are among the best in the world. The passing score on these exams will be set to what students actually need to know and be able to do to succeed in our community colleges. When they pass the exams, they will be able to leave their high schools and go to community colleges or their equivalent.

Why not set a clear standard for being ready for college and career, and tell our students that they can move on when they have reached that standard? We are not proposing to kick any student out of high school at the end of 10th grade. We are proposing to establish a college-ready performance standard and to give students diplomas when they can demonstrate that they can meet that standard.

Wurman and Stotsky tell their readers, the “top third are better off staying in high school, where they can interact regularly with their bright peers in advanced or other courses.” Our proposal says students who pass their lower-division examinations have the option of going to open-admissions colleges or staying in high school, either to take a career and technical program or to take an academic program like the Advanced Placement Program or the International Baccaulaureate Diploma Program.

The lower-division programs we will offer do a very good job of preparing high school students for advanced courses, the diploma program and similar programs. And they will also prepare them to succeed in the local community college. Everybody wins.

Marc Tucker is the president and CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy in Washington. and is one of the leaders of the standards movement in American education. To learn more about the center, visit



  1. Steven Ewert

    I appreciate the information about the basis for a national policy on standards based education. What I do not appreciate is an attack on a man for his upbringing. You have enough information to debate this misguided approach without attacking his upbringing. Your article starts out very unprofessionally and needs to be edited. The rest needs to be discussed more fully.

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April 19th, 2010

Donna Garner EducationNews Policy Commentator

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