"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pushing Education Towards Federal Control

The policies being set, the curriculum being taught, the eroding sense of control –so much of it doesn’t seem to make sense. So often we read about failing schools and education reform and the dramatic need for change, yet the negative reports never seemed to go away. We were told that things were not improving, but THIS YEAR was going to be different. We would be heading down a new path for education in the United States. Much of this news was correct. Education was not improving though changes were constantly being made. We were heading down a new path, but that path was not headed where we thought it was. Charlotte Iserbyt, former Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education during the first Reagan Administration, discovered where that path started and where it actually leads. She wrote a book about what she found – a book that many more people need to read called, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, Conscience Press, 1999. From her bio

Iserbyt is the consummate whistleblower…she first blew the whistle on a major technology initiative [during the Reagan administration] which would control curriculum in America's classrooms. Iserbyt is a former school board director in Camden, Maine and was co-founder and research analyst of Guardians of Education for Maine (GEM) from 1978 to 2000.

DDOA chronicles the history of Progressive Education starting with its introduction in the early 1900’s by John Dewey who once said, High literacy produced that abominable form of independent intelligence which was basically anti-social… The plea for the predominance of learning to read in early school life because of the great importance attaching to literature seems to me a perversion.” What followed is a series of educational directives, federal boards, agencies and commissions all charged with improving education. Large not-for-profit institutions started by wealthy business tycoons like Andrew Carnegie began to make their influence felt in the field of education as they looked for a new source of trained workers. The Carnegie Foundation of New York funded the Eight Year Study in 1933 which pioneered the concept of Outcome Based Education (OBE). That report concluded, “…the state must guarantee that all citizens receive and achieve an educational outcome determined by the state.”

Enter the field of Social Science and the adoption of Skinnerian techniques (think behavior modification) to train children, as was done with lab animals, to think and behave in a desired way. This became the model for successful teaching. The focus shifted away from direct instruction of subjects to socializing the student and working on values clarification now relabeled “critical thinking.” General Brock Chisolm, Canadian Psychiatrist wrote in a paper presented to the United Nation World health Organization (WHO) in 1946,

“The reinterpretation and eventually eradication of the concept of right and wrong… these are the belated objectives of practically all effective psychotherapy.”

When schools talk about using psychotherapy on your children, keep in mind this is its goal.

School’s encroachment on issues typically taught at home is no accident. It is a deliberate attempt to socialize the child into thinking the way the state wants them to think. Professor Skinner, in his description of a utopia named Walden Two spoke of the role of the teacher:

We can arrange things more expeditiously here because we don’t need to be constantly re-educating. The ordinary teacher spends a good share of her time changing the cultural and intellectual habits which the child acquires from its family and surrounding culture. Or else the teacher duplicates home training, in a complete waste of time. Here we can almost say that the school is the family, and vice versa. [emphasis in original]

When we think of the considerable additional things that need to be taught by the school if its job is, as described above, to “be the family”, it is easy to see why the cost of education is rising exponentially without producing better performance in subject learning which is the focus of most standardized testing.

What has been missing for the general public is the big picture, the final goal of such policies and curricula. Iserbyt makes clear that what is desired by the government in the end is citizens who will react in predictable, if not predetermined, ways to concepts presented by the government. This would make the transition to a world order or world government a human revolution without a single bullet being fired. The only way this would happen is for the federal government to have complete control of education and for there to be coordinated global efforts to teach all children the same values. This was noted by John Ashbrook in 1961 when he reported to the House Committee on Education and Labor that the Health Education and Welfare Agency Report, A Federal Educational Agency for the Future, “laid bare the real nemesis of the Federal bureaucrats – the tradition of local control.”

The book is so full of citations and documentation that the author’s opinions rarely need be interjected. Even if one were to devalue the importance of the documents and statements given, the chronological layout of the book leaves little doubt that the recommendations contained therein were implemented.

At a time when the federal government is again pushing a new “education reform “package in the Race To The Top program and the state of Missouri seriously considers buying into the common core standards with it’s aptly named Educated Citizenry 2020 plan, it is time for the people at the local level to consider whether or not they agree with the direction the federal government wants to go with education, because signing on to any of these measures places the reins firmly in their hands. That debate has not happened to date. Those who read this book will finally be able to make sense of what they see in school today and will come away with a firm understanding of where we’re headed.

We encourage you to go to DDOA’s site and read for yourself. The book is currently out of print, but you can download it in pdf format from this site.

We will no doubt be referring back to this book in the future as more and more progressive education goals are pushed by the federal government and the school systems.

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