Monday, August 16, 2010

The Politics of Schooling (EXCLUSIVE)

This is the time of year where parents are preparing to send their children back to school. But have you ever wondered why the schools, particularly American (U.S.) schools are in the shape they're in and who controls them? The outcomes are motivated by strategic and calculated DESIGN and deep SPECIAL INTERESTS.

Let's read a few quotes from the architects of what is know termed "public education:"

"Each year the child is coming to belong more to the State and less and less to the parent."
— Ellwood P. Cubberley, Conceptions of Education (1909)

"It was natural (that) businessmen should devote themselves to something besides business; that they should seek to influence the enactment and administration of laws, national and international, and that they should try to control education."
— Max Otto, Science and the Moral Life (1949)

"Most people don’t know who controls American education because little attention has been given the question by either educators or the public. Also because the question is not easily or neatly answered."
— James D. Koerner, Who Controls American Education (1968)

"We want one class of persons to have a liberal education and we want another class of persons, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privileges of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks."
- Woodrow Wilson, from an address to The New York City High School Teachers Association, Jan. 9th, 1909


FIRST CATEGORY: Government Agencies

1) State legislatures, particularly those politicians known in-house to specialize in educational matters
2) Ambitious politicians with high public visibility
3) Big-city school boards controlling lucrative contracts
4) The courts
5) Big-city departments of education
6) State departments of education
7) Federal Department of Education
8) Other government agencies (National Science Foundation, National Training Laboratories, Defense Department, HUD, Labor Department, Health and Human Services, and many more)

SECOND CATEGORY: Active Special Interests

1) Key private foundations. About a dozen of these curious entities have been the most important shapers of national education policy in this century, particularly those of Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller.

2) Giant corporations, acting through a private association called the Business Roundtable (BR), latest manifestation of a series of such associations dating back to the turn of the century. Some evidence of the centrality of business in the school mix was the composition of the New American Schools Development Corporation. Its makeup of eighteen members (which the uninitiated might assume would be drawn from a representative cross-section of parties interested in the shape of American schooling) was heavily weighted as follows: CEO, RJR Nabisco; CEO, Boeing; President, Exxon; CEO, AT&T; CEO, Ashland Oil; CEO, Martin Marietta; CEO, AMEX; CEO, Eastman Kodak; CEO, WARNACO; CEO, Honeywell; CEO, Ralston; CEO, Arvin; Chairman, BF Goodrich; two ex-governors, two publishers, a TV producer.

3) The United Nations through UNESCO, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, etc.

4) Other private associations, National Association of Manufacturers, Council on Economic Development, the Advertising Council, Council on Foreign Relations, Foreign Policy Association, etc.

5) Professional unions, National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Supervisory Associations, etc.

6) Private educational interest groups, Council on Basic Education, Progressive Education Association, etc.

7) Single-interest groups: abortion activists, pro and con; other advocates for
specific interests.

THIRD CATEGORY: The "Knowledge" Industry

1) Colleges and universities
2) Teacher training colleges
3) Researchers
4) Testing organizations
5) Materials producers (other than print)
6) Text publishers
7) "Knowledge" brokers, subsystem designers

Control of the educational enterprise is distributed among at least these twenty-two players, each of which can be subdivided into in-house warring factions which further remove the decision-making process from simple accessibility. The financial interests of these associational voices are served whether children learn to read or not.

There is little accountability. No matter how many assertions are made to the contrary, few penalties exist past a certain level on the organizational chart—unless a culprit runs afoul of the media—an explanation for the bitter truth whistle-blowers regularly discover when they tell all. Which explains why precious few experienced hands care to ruin themselves to act the hero. This is not to say sensitive, intelligent, moral, and concerned individuals aren’t distributed through each of the twenty-two categories, but the conflict of interest is so glaring between serving a system loyally and serving the public that it is finally overwhelming. Indeed, it isn’t hard to see that in strictly economic terms this edifice of competing and conflicting interests is better served by badly performing schools than by successful ones. On economic grounds alone a disincentive exists to improve schools. When schools are bad, demands for increased funding and personnel, and professional control removed from public oversight, can be pressed by simply pointing to the perilous state of the enterprise. But when things go well, getting an extra buck is like pulling teeth.

Some of this political impasse grew naturally from a maze of competing interests, some grew from more cynical calculations with exactly the end in mind we see, but whatever the formative motives, the net result is virtually impervious to democratically generated change. No large change can occur in-system without a complicated coalition of separate interests backing it, not one of which can actually be a primary advocate for children and parents.


Andrew Carnegie. An enthusiastic Darwinist and early proponent of planned economy and society, reunion with Great Britain. Beatrice Webb, the Fabian, called him "a slimy reptile." Photo: Carnegie Endowments.

J.P. Morgan. The foremost Anglican laymen in the world. He worked resolutely for the restoration of a class system in America, and Anglo-American sovereignty (White Supremacy) worldwide.

John D. Rockefeller, Sr. "Survival of the fittest is nature's way of producing beauty," said Rockeller. As a principal stockholder in U.S. Steel, he approved of school experiments in Gary, Indiana, to dumb down curriculum and seek more effective means of mind control. Photo: Rockeller Foundation.

Henry Ford. "I regard Henry Ford as my inspiration," Hitler told a Detroit newspaper in 1931. In July 1938, automaker Ford received the Grand Crossof the Golden Eage, highest award the government could give a foreigner. Lenin ackowledged his debt to Ford's genius. Photo: Ford Foundation.

Source material gathered from the book, The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation into the Prison of Modern Schooling, by John Taylor Gatto, a former New York State and New York City educator. The book can be purchased or read online for free: This is certainly required reading for the inquiring mind.

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