I just interviewed Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt on my radio show, Flash Point Live. Ms. Iserbyt is a very smart, very astute woman, and she has a formidable amount of knowledge, having served as the Senior Policy Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education during the first administration of Ronald Reagan. While working there she discovered a long-term strategic plan by tax exempt foundations and corporations to transform America through our education system. She became a whistle-blower (before it was even a popular term).
I pause briefly here to recall to you our illustrious president’s quote, “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
Sure, she sounds like an alarmist, but it’s no wonder. Having lived through WWII, and heard people say things like, “Ending discrimination and changing values are probably more important than reading in moving low income families into the middle class,” by some of the main forces in the movement to dumb down education, as the way to create a ‘working class,’ it is enough to set my own heart palpitating. Yes, that’s eerily like what the “worker’s paradise” (Marxist) movement was also going for. Iserbyt is justified in her skepticism and condemnation of the current efforts for reform in our education system. That disease has never left the body of our education system. It is only becoming more and more entrenched.
Where’s the proof? Simply the secretive manner in which the shift is occurring: Common Core. Parents are being informed, and if they ask, they are placated with platitudes. I spoke with two women today, one was a teacher, it turned out. I asked the first if she had heard of Common Core. She answered, “No, what’s that?” (She’s standing next to her good friend, a teacher, but has never heard of Common Core, the biggest reform in the US education system, ever.) I started to tell her, and the teacher piped up with, “I can tell you’ve heard a lot of the bad rumors about Common Core, but I’m a teacher and there’s a lot of really great things about it.”
“Really?” I countered. “Is that why you’re moving to Texas, where they’ve voted it’s cousin out of the state?” I didn’t know if she was hypocritical or just ridiculous. “If it’s so great why aren’t you staying to teach it, and why hasn’t your friend here heard you expounding on its benefits?”
Surprisingly, to me, a major source of concern for Ms. Iserbyt is the charter school system. She calls them the trojan horse of reform. On paper, they seem great – parents can take the initiative and get state funding for providing what we would all hope would be an improved situation for kids in school. But, in fact, they’re simply a case of the government handing out money for free to people who are not, in any way, held accountable – there is no elected board for the charter school. Once they grow in popularity, voila! They represent the argument to do away with boards altogether… and, well, uh, why have elections at all, then? Do you see where this is going?
Common Core’s less immediate goal is to have education all online, in devices, (have you heard about the push for technology in the classroom?) which not only makes it easier for the government to data mine all of our kids’ information, but also, eventually, why have teachers at all? No boards, no teachers… Hmmm.
The ultimate goal is to train workers who do what they’re told with no resistance. C. S. Lewis said, “If education is beaten by training, civilization dies.” But don’t take his word for it. Listen to Bertrand Russell quoting Johann Gottlieb Fichte, the head of philosophy & psychology at Prussian University in Berlin, who influenced the entire movement :
Education should aim at destroying free will so that after pupils are thus schooled they will beincapable throughout the rest of their lives of thinking or acting otherwise than as their school masters would have wished … When the technique has been perfected, every government that has been in charge of education for more than one generation will be able to control its subjects securely without the need of armies or policemen.”
Chilling. That quote is from all the way back in 1810. Have we come any further in our strenuous work on education? Wikipedia defines it thusly, “Any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational.” That would ostensibly include playing video games, petting my dog, or drinking alcohol, as being educational. Wahoo! Let’s party!
So, Wikipedia is clearly flawed, but it’s also reflective of our (flawed) common understanding. Observe how we are, societally, replacing “education” with “job-preparedness,” or training. Parents are less concerned with how their kids learn as they are with them finding a good job after college. This is a bastardization of the classical definition of education, which is to encourage children in learning to think analytically. But with teachers like the one mentioned above, who can only think what she’s been taught to say, we cannot hope for our children in school to learn to think for themselves.
This fundamental transformation must stop now.