Intelligent, informed discussion about public education is hard to find. To address this, several educators and researchers organized two conferences – one in Maine (August, 2012) and one in Georgia (August, 2013) – to explain their various insights and concerns. These talks were then organized into an eight-disk DVD set, 'Exposing the Global Road to Ruin Through Education', which is available for sale on Amazon.com
Charlotte Iserbyt, President of 3D Research Co. and author of the Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, was one of the project’s principle organizers. Iserbyt was a senior policy advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), U.S. Department of Education, during the first Reagan Administration, where she had access to documents that increasingly caused her concern.
“One of the interesting insights revealed by these documents,” educator Samuel L. Blumenfeld writes in the forward to Iserbyt’s opus magnum, referring not only to what crossed Iserbyt’s desk at OERI but what she subsequently amassed over the next 25 years, “is how the social engineers use a deliberately created education ‘crisis’ to move their agenda forward by offering radical reforms that are sold to the public as fixing the crisis – which they never do. The new reforms simply set the stage for the next crisis, which provides the pretext for the next move forward.”
There is far too much material in these eight disks to review with any justice. In the first conference, Iserbyt opens with an historical and ideological overview of education since 1940. She is followed by Cindy Weatherly, who gives a riveting talk about the complicity of “conservative” forces that are promoting progressive education reform. Other speakers discuss the problems of charter schools, the significance of educating for a global workforce, issues of illiteracy, and the politics of “sustainability.”
The 2013 conference is every bit as interesting, focusing more narrowly on specific efforts to transform education, synthesized into a slogan, “limited learning for lifelong labor.” Jeannie Georges’ talk about “outcome based education,” a process developed by Marxist psychologists, speaks to the very essence of Common Core and a managed workforce.
Weatherly addressed the move from competency-based education to outcome-based including psychological and attitudinal profiles of each student. She expresses concern that profit-making entities increasingly expect tax-supported public schools to send them trained workers who are given limited education that locks them into employment choices.
There is much more discussion about pseudo-conservative representation, social engineering, and the objectives, having little to do with traditional educational objectives. These are thoughtful, deeply-researched presentations by people who have spent many years gathering evidence for their positions. They draw extensively from source documents – government handbooks, tests that have been administered in various school districts, and the writing of reformers whose theories are very much driving current programs.
There is also a section in which activists from various states describe how they are informing their legislators and fellow citizens and Iserbyt concludes the conference with strategies on how to reclaim our educational system. She begins by holding up a page titled “Flow Chart of Educational Process and Needs” that has been taken from a 1968 position paper for Chicago inner-city schools. It shows that the school is to be organized in such a way that teachers, students, and communities having certain characteristics will be changed to have new, more “desirable” characteristics.
Who are the individuals deciding what these desirable characteristics are to be? They aren’t the student’s parents or even religious leaders or the community itself but are entities outside the community. To her, this is a wonderfully graphic example of the movement toward collectivism that concerns the activists presenting the Global Road to Ruin through Education project. Authentic research (such as provided by this graphic and the wealth of other material included in the disk sense) is the cornerstone of any action plan to take back our educational systems.
She warns against joining groups and movements (easily manipulated from the outside) but to instead share information, individual by individual, especially with one’s elected officials, one’s educators, and local businesspeople. Iserbyt also proposes a number of specific actions such as restoring the Family, Education, and Privacy Act so that personal data about students cannot be inappropriately accessed and returning education to local control; among other things.
The final disk in the set presents 250 pages of supplementary print materials – articles and charts that can be printed for distribution as needed, covering many of the same topics as the conferences. Taken all together, this video set provides an invaluable toolkit for anyone concerned about the direction education has headed. Quoting one blogger, “If you think you are too small to be effective, you have never been in bed with a mosquito.”
Spero columnist Stephanie Block is the author of the four-volume series entitled Change Agents: Alinskyian organizing among religious bodies, available at Amazon.