The U.S. public school system was collectivist from the start, as this ongoing series on government education has extensively documented. But as the feds got involved, it quickly went from bad to worse, with the slow and steady decline in education turning into a precipitous collapse.
Today, the schools are a disaster, even by the government’s own measures. Consider, for instance, that the latest scores from the federal government’s National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that more than two-thirds of eighth-graders aren’t proficient in any core subject. It would be hard to do worse.
The U.S. government bears a big part of the blame. And there should be no doubt that it was deliberate.
Because the U.S. Constitution delegated absolutely no power over education to the federal government—and because the 10th Amendment specifically reserves all non-delegated powers to the states or the people—it wasn’t easy for the federal camel’s nose to get under the tent. Indeed, it took almost two centuries for Washington to get seriously involved in public schools.
But communists worked diligently toward that goal for decades. In his 1932 book, “Toward Soviet America,” Communist Party USA leader William Z. Foster boldly outlined the agenda for his fellow revolutionaries. The goal: A U.S. Department of Education that would eventually replace patriotism and Christianity in school with communism and globalism.
“Among the elementary measures the American Soviet government will adopt to further the cultural revolution are the following: the schools, colleges, and universities will be coordinated and grouped under the National Department of Education and its state and local branches,” Foster declared, an idea that was almost unthinkable to Americans of the day.
He also outlined what this anticipated U.S. Department of Education would do once in charge of schools.
“The studies will be revolutionized, being cleansed of religious, patriotic and other features of the bourgeois ideology,” he said. “The students will be taught on the basis of Marxian dialectical materialism, internationalism, and the general ethics of the new Socialist society.”
Of course, it took a long time to make that a reality. But anyone who has studied even briefly what is going on in the federally controlled public schools of America today can see that Foster’s agenda has been thoroughly implemented in every respect, all over the country. Unless dealt with, the disease will likely prove fatal.
Federal Involvement Begins
Aside from a few insignificant offices to collect statistics over the years, and Congress recommending Bibles printed by Robert Aitken of Philadelphia “for use in the schools” in the late 1700s, the feds played virtually no role whatsoever in education in America.
Indeed, it wasn’t until the 1960s, long after the government school system created by collectivists had started destroying traditional education, that the federal government took its first major steps into education.
It began in 1962 and 1963, as documented in this series, with two U.S. Supreme Court rulings declaring that it was somehow a violation of the First Amendment to have prayer or Bible readings in public schools. These lawless opinions, as admitted by one of the justices in his dissent, replaced Christianity at school with the collectivist “religious humanism” of John Dewey, one of the socialist founders of America’s public school system.
Well-educated Americans would have instantly recognized the absurdity of the ruling. After all, when the First Amendment was written and ratified, most of the states had established churches. The idea that this amendment, designed to prevent a national religion, was supposed to prohibit states and communities from having prayer or Bibles in schools, would have been laughed at even in the 1940s or ’50s.
But by the ’60s, public education had already been in place for generations, dumbing down Americans and erasing their understanding of history to the point that such an outlandish anti-constitutional ruling became feasible.
Not long after that rogue court ruling, Congress—almost certainly emboldened by the high court’s flagrant constitutional intrusions into state and local education—launched the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson under the guise of “helping” states to “educate” all “disadvantaged” students, this statute opened up the floodgates of federal funding to K-12 public schools.
As the old cliché goes, with federal funding comes federal control. And in exchange for federal taxpayer money, first released under ESEA, schools were forced to accept a growing array of federal regulations. At this point, the feds have effectively nationalized the public school system; globalizing it is the next frontier.
There are more than 100 subsidy programs now in place under the department, which has a budget approaching $100 billion including “discretionary” and “mandatory” spending. Everything from discipline and academic standards to lunches, data collection, and even the gender of textbook writers is now subject to federal intrusion.
Once the camel’s nose was under the tent, it didn’t take long for the entire smelly beast to shove its way in. The relatively new U.S. Department of Education, which has centralized control over education in an unprecedented manner, has also played a crucial role in weaponizing America’s public education system against individual liberty.
Established in 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, the cabinet-level department was basically part of a quid pro quo agreement with the socialist-controlled National Education Association (NEA). The powerful union, which named the socialist and humanist Dewey as its “honorary life president,” was already acting as a sort of national ministry of education.
With the birth of the actual department, it sealed the deal.
By the time the U.S. Department of Education was established, Congress’s investigative committees charged with exposing communists and preventing infiltration of the federal government had long since been disbanded. As such, it’s difficult to determine how many actual communists worked within the department.
But as the Bible says, “by their fruits, ye shall know them.” And the fruit coming from the Department of Education has been rotten to the core from day one.
Whistleblower From Belly of the Beast
From the start, using grants and other means, this unconstitutional behemoth began working to bring all education in the United States under federal control. Worse than that, it worked to systematically dumb down the American people and transform the values of children, according to whistleblower Charlotte Iserbyt, who served as a senior policy adviser on education in the Reagan administration.
All of it was in line with what the mass-murdering Soviet regime was doing. Indeed, from its earliest days, the U.S. Department of Education was involved in helping to “sovietize” the American public school system, Iserbyt told The Epoch Times in an interview. This agenda has been extremely successful in facilitating the disaster now unfolding in America, she explained.
Upon taking up her post at the Department of Education, Iserbyt found documents revealing that public schools in America were introducing Soviet quackery and curricula in the classroom, with help from the major foundations. In response, the patriotic Iserbyt began leaking the official documents to the press in an attempt to blow the whistle and stop the madness. She eventually compiled the smoking-gun evidence in her explosive book, “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America.”
“When I was there, what I saw, I realized in retrospect, ‘The Nation at Risk’ report was very important,” Iserbyt said, referring to a government report commissioned by Reagan arguing that the U.S. education system threatened America’s future. “They needed that to convince America that we had terrible schools so they could bring in the reforms they wanted.”
Pointing to the Soviet education system and the forces that worked to bring similar schemes to America, Iserbyt is also convinced that communism was the goal. U.S. Secretary of Education Terrel Bell “wanted to put in the communist system,” Iserbyt argued. “I believe he was a communist. If you read in my book the things he said, there is no way to come up with any other conclusion.”
Among other schemes, Iserbyt said Bell was the one responsible for bringing in the methods of “education” advocated by anti-Christian behaviorist B.F. Skinner and Soviet “psychologist” Ivan Pavlov to American schools.
“These Pavlovian and Skinnerian methods destroy free will by treating people like animals to be trained and to give reflexive responses to stimuli,” said Iserbyt. “This is animal training, not education. This is what was being used in communist countries to train and brainwash their populations, not educate them.”
Because of the Department of Education, it’s being used all over America, too.
“Their agenda was to have absolute control of the American population through these changes in teaching and instruction being brought into the schools through the Department of Education,” she continued, pointing to the important role of the Carnegie Endowment in negotiating with the Soviets on education. “So they claimed all these national reforms were needed to change education from what you know in your head, to what you can do, which is Soviet-style workforce training.”
Iserbyt also witnessed how great educators with valuable experience who loved liberty, such as Edward Curran, who led the National Institute of Education at the U.S. Department of Education, were purged and driven out. Meanwhile, collectivists and quacks continued moving quickly up the ranks.
“The political appointees—most of them were rotten,” said Iserbyt.
To impose the radical “reforms” on America, Iserbyt said she witnessed the Department of Education handing out all manner of enormous grants to fund dangerous quackery, data-gathering, and “efforts to transform the values of children away from traditional Americanism” through education.
“I believe these were very abusive toward traditional values,” she said, pointing to her important short publication, “Soviets in the Classroom, America’s Latest Education Fad.”
The Extremism Continues
Today, even with a Republican president in the White House, the Department of Education remains firmly under collectivist control. During the 2016 presidential election, for example, an analysis by The Hill revealed that 99.7 percent of all political spending by Department of Education bureaucrats went to Hillary Clinton—the highest of any federal department.
Even after Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos took up her post, the left-wing extremism from the department continued to spew forth. Indeed, on Feb. 12, 2017, the department’s Twitter account posted a quote by Communist Party USA member W.E.B. Du Bois—with his name misspelled, no less, drawing national ridicule.
Among other absurdities, Du Bois claimed the USSR, led by one of the most brutal and murderous regimes in human history, was the “most hopeful country on earth.” During the darkest depths of the “Great Leap Forward,” Du Bois even held multiple meetings with mass-murdering communist Chinese dictator Mao Zedong, and the two were always pictured with smiles on their faces.
These are some of the people who control U.S. education. Under the previous administration, the department, using “stimulus” money to bribe states into compliance, even imposed Obama-backed national standards on the nation—standards that are aligned with international schemes, too. Common Core will be dealt with in a future article in this series.
With around 4,000 employees, the Education Department’s budget has been ballooning since it was created. And that’s despite President Ronald Reagan promising to abolish it, and President Donald Trump saying on the campaign trail, “If we don’t eliminate it completely, we certainly need to cut its power and reach.”
There’s currently a bill in Congress, H.R. 899, to abolish the department. When asked why the bill was needed, Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), the chief sponsor, replied in an interview, “How much time do you have?”
“The left understands that this is where you win or lose—in the schools and in the teaching of the children,” the Kentucky congressman continued.
Massie also noted that under the current administration, there’s a tremendous opportunity to make abolishing the department a bipartisan endeavor. Liberals and progressives, of course, don’t want Trump in charge of their children’s education, any more than conservatives want Obama or Biden running it.
“Unelected bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. should not be in charge of our children’s intellectual and moral development,” Massie said. “States and local communities are best positioned to shape curricula that meet the needs of their students.”
The group U.S. Parents Involved in Education (USPIE) is working to end all federal involvement in education, too.
“Although this experiment with federal control of local public schools has gone on for half a century now, it has failed,” USPIE President Sheri Few told The Epoch Times. “The U.S. Department of Education has existed because it is about control and not about children.
“We need to stop treating children like guinea pigs in some social engineering laboratory.”
The U.S. Constitution and common sense both demand that the federal government gets out of education. That would be a great step forward. However, as this series has documented, the government education system has been controlled by collectivists from the very beginning. That means getting the feds out, by itself, won’t solve the systemic problems plaguing education in the United States today.
Still, ending all “Fed Ed” may be a decent place to start. And with Trump in the White House, perhaps both sides of the aisle could work together on this, as a first step to much more far-reaching reforms.
This article was originally published by The Epoch Times, and is one report in a series of articles examining the origins of government education in the United States.