The Thinking 

Iserbyt on the Miseducation of America

January 1, 2013



TEXANNE writes:

I discovered Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt for the first time yesterday. Her many remarkable experiences have led her to investigate the education system in the U.S., and she has an impressive collection of sources and documentation to support the assertions she has made in various articles and books. Some may be wary of her as a “conspiracy theorist,” but her description of the way in which the curriculum in her children’s elementary school first alerted her to a major and alarming shift in public education sounds just like what happened to me. I, too, was an ordinary mother, the product of an excellent public education in suburban Illinois in the ’50s and ’60s and was ill-prepared for what I discovered when I became involved in the local curriculum controversies in the ’80s: “Whole Language,” “New Math”, sex-AIDS-bullying ed, community service as a graduation requirement, and, ultimately, “School-to-Work.” For me, this experience had such an impact because it suddenly made me a “resister.” It gradually became clear to me that all the folks around me, my family, neighbors, co-workers, school administrators and even most parents, were either change agents and true believers themselves, or were docilely accepting of what the experts were doing “for the children.” It was a huge shock to learn that others found nothing objectionable or dismissed my concerns as extreme or irrational. It’s very hard to feel comfortable in one’s family or community after becoming aware of such huge differences in perceptions and beliefs between oneself and others.

Laura writes:

Iserbyt worked for a time as a senior policy adviser in the Department of Education under Reagan, whom she never forgave for his failure to disband the Department of Education, and has collected a massive amount of documentation to support her view that, beginning in the 1930s, control of American schools was wrested away from local communities and parents were deliberately disempowered by elite collectivists, many of them working for tax-exempt foundations, who ultimately transform the education system into its current propaganda machine, geared toward socializing students rather than educating them.

Her book The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America, which can be read in its entirety here, is more than 400 pages long and is more of a lengthy chronological list of developments in education than a fully formed history. But it contains brilliant insights and impressive research. Iserbyt also has written and spoken about the secret society, Skull and Bones, based at Yale and to which both her father and grandfather belonged. (See Wikipedia for a brief summary of her work in this area.) She believes the Bavarian Illuminati and Freemasons were part of the secret society and, with their plot to rid the world of religion and bring about a global order, influenced the views of the society’s members. I am unfamiliar with this aspect of her work. I cannot speak to it at all. I also have not evaluated all the claims she makes in her very long book on education. I can say The Deliberate Dumbing Down contains lots of disturbing and credible evidence of the socialist takeover of education, and an especially interesting history of the use of behavioral psychology to change the schools.

Iserbyt worked for the State Department before marrying and having two sons. She writes in the preface:

In 1971 when I returned to the United States after living abroad for 18 years, I was shocked to find public education had become a warm, fuzzy, soft, mushy, touchy-feely experience, with its purpose being socialization, not learning. From that time on, from the vantage point of having two young sons in the public schools, I became involved—as a member of a philosophy committee for a school, as an elected school board member, as co-founder of Guardians of Education for Maine (GEM), and finally as a senior policy advisor in the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) of the U.S. Department of Education during President Ronald Reagan’s first term of office. OERI was, and is, the office from which all the controversial national and international educational restructuring has emanated.

Those ten years (1971–1981) changed my life. As an American who had spent many years working abroad, I had experienced traveling in and living in socialist countries. When I returned to the United States I realized that America’s transition from a sovereign constitutional republic to a socialist democracy would not come about through warfare (bullets and tanks) but through the implementation and installation of the “system” in all areas of government—federal, state and local. The brainwashing for acceptance of the “system’s” control would take place in the school—through indoctrination and the use of behavior modification, which comes under so many labels: the most recent labels being Outcome-Based Education, Skinnerian Mastery Learning or Direct Instruction.4 In the 1970s this writer and many others waged the war against values clarification, which was later renamed “critical thinking,” which regardless of the label—and there are bound to be many more labels on the horizon—is nothing but pure, unadulterated destruction of absolute values of right and wrong upon which stable and free societies depend and upon which our nation was founded.

In 1973 I started the long journey into becoming a “resister,” placing the first incriminating piece of paper in my “education” files. That first piece of paper was a purple ditto sheet entitled “All About Me,” next to which was a smiley face. It was an open-ended questionnaire beginning with: “My name is _____.” My son brought it home from public school in fourth grade. The questions were highly personal; so much so that they encouraged my son to lie, since he didn’t want to “spill the beans” about his mother, father and brother. The purpose of such a questionnaire was to find out the student’s state of mind, how he felt, what he liked and disliked, and what his values were. With this knowledge it would be easier for the government school to modify his values and behavior at will—without, of course, the student’s knowledge or parents’ consent.

I especially recommend the interview linked by Texanne above for Iserbyt’s comments on the use of computers in the schools.

—- Comments —-

Sheila C. writes:

I had not read Iserbyte, but it sounds as though much of what she found corresponds with what John Taylor Gatto writes about, in his book “Undergound History of American Education” available at his website here. Whether one chooses to regard it as an organized conspiracy or an unexpected combination of various social trends, the result is the same. And yes, it is ominous and frightening. As Texanne notes, most are are true believers themselves, or merely passive receptacles for what is being fed to them and their children. Even at Christian schools, most parents rarely actually read their children’s textbooks (I do, and that is why we’ve been homeschooling this year).

I particularly agree with Texanne’s conclusion: “It’s very hard to feel comfortable in one’s family or community after becoming aware of such huge differences in perceptions and beliefs between oneself and others.” As I moved more and more from “respectable conservatism” to the alt-right and HBD beliefs, I found it impossible to merely accept that former friends and I had differences of opinion that need not affect our friendships. I decided I could not remain silent about what I knew and believed, and that to continue relationships with those actively dedicated to political and social movements designed to destroy all I believed of value in this country was dangerous to me, and suicidal for my sons’ future. I severed a number of relationships. I do not regret doing so.

Laura writes:

I seem to recall that Gatto quotes Iserbyt in his book Weapons of Mass Instruction, but I don’t have it with me to confirm that.

MarkyMark writes:

It’s my understanding that, in spite of President Reagan’s best efforts, it was Congress that thwarted his efforts to abolish the Department of Education. What’s even more galling was that it was his own party, the Republicans, that torpedoed his efforts to abolish the DoE.

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