SUNDAY Q&A World Net Daily
Are children deliberately 'dumbed
down' in school?
Geoff Metcalf interviews former U.S.
education adviser Charlotte Iserbyt
Editors Note: Most parents want their children to receive a
quality education. Yet, low test scores, drugs and violence
on campus are increasingly prevalent in public schools and
the disconnect between parents, educators and
administrators is widening. Why is this situation occurring
when so much time, money and attention is being directed
toward improving education in the United States?
Today, WorldNetDaily staff writer and talk-show host Geoff
Metcalf interviews someone who has some shocking answers,
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt. During the '80s, Iserbyt was a
senior policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Education
and has also written "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of
America," a chronological history of the past 100 years of
education reform. In this interview with Metcalf, she
discusses the impact of the federal government, the United
Nations and influential corporations on the American
educational system and a little-known program called
Metcalf's daily streaming radio show can be heard on
TalkNetDaily weekdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Eastern
By Geoff Metcalf
© 2001 WorldNetDaily.com
Question: The first thing I have to ask you --
I’m still not sure if this is a blessing or a curse
-- but ever since I returned to talk radio ten years
ago, I promised myself I wouldn’t interview
any author until I read their book. I was intimidated
when yours arrived in the mail.
Answer: I don’t blame you.
Q: It is a big puppy. 714 pages worth.
A: It is a big baby.
Q: What led you to this project? You were with the
Department of Education in the '80s -- why the book?
A: I actually started collecting research in the early
'70s. I was on a local school board after living outside
the country for 18 years for the United States
Department of State. When I came back, I was very
upset with the changes I had seen in our school
district -- which had happened to be a pilot-school
district for change. The kids were rolling around on
the floor -- they didn’t have to learn grammar
or anything -- and I was shocked. I started asking
questions and, as the only parent who ever
complained, I would go to school board meetings and
ask very legitimate questions like, why don’t
they teach grammar?
Q: How dare you ask such a silly question?
A: And, finally, a retired teacher came to me and she
said, "You are right on! I want you to go for some
training to become a 'change agent.' We’re
going to find out what is going on." So, she paid for
me to go to this training. The training came out of the
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was funded
by what was to become my office in the U.S.
Department of Education. It was funded earlier in the
'70s -- and it was still funded under Ronald Reagan,
by the way. This particular project was called
"Innovations in Education/Change Agents Guide."
Q: So what did you learn in the training?
A: I was taught how to identify the resisters in my
community. Those people who -- good people -- good
Americans who have seen and know clearly these
programs in the schools were not there to help our
Q: Hold on. This sounds as if instead of any
modification in curriculum, the objective was to go
after the people who were complaining about changes
A: Complaining about "values clarification" and
complaining about "sex ed" and complaining about all
of these subjects that have education hanging off the
end of them. You know, we didn’t used to
have "math education" and "reading education" --
that’s not really education. When you have
"education" hanging off of it, you know that they
have another agenda (except for "Drivers Ed").
Anyway, these were the people in our communities in
the '70s who were saying, "I don’t like that sex
education. I don’t think it is up to schools to
teach my children there’s no right or wrong."
And saying, "I don’t like that drug education
and what’s that critical-thinking education?"
I was trained because they didn’t know who I
Q: Who were you?
A: I was a resister. I was actually being trained to
identify myself. And I didn’t like it. The other
part of it was, I was trained to go to the
highly-respected people in our community ...
Q: Wait a minute. So, once you identified these
so-called resisters, these people who were critical of
people who defend the indefensible, then what do
A: That’s a very good question. No other
talk-show host has ever asked me that. It’s a
good question. What do you do? You identify them
and then the superintendent will try to get them onto
a task force and make them have "ownership" and ...
Q: Ahhh -- a re-education program?
A: Yeah -- you got it! That’s a very good
question -- really, truly -- I’ve never had a
talk-show guy ask me that question.
Q: It seems like an obvious question.
A: It is a very obvious one, and that’s why it
took me a while to come up with an answer. But
that’s exactly what the reason was. And, then,
the other thing I was going to do was to identify the
important people in the community -- good people,
good Americans who have really been used with the
Rotary, Chamber of Commerce, Garden Club -- go to
them and convince them that these programs are vital
to the survival of this country, of the world: The
world is changing we have to have these programs.
I was really shocked. I was absolutely appalled. You
have to remember: I had been out of the country 18
years and I had left a country that was red, white and
blue, mom and apple pie, and all that.
Q: You were a dinosaur.
A: Well, yeah! I was a dinosaur. I had lived in socialist
countries and I had traveled in communist countries
and I had seen a lot. And, I thought to myself: "What
the [blank] is going on in my own country?"
Q: Charlotte, what about teachers? There are some
good teachers who are genuinely dedicated ...
A: Many. Many, many more than most people think --
and they have to keep quiet.
Q: Yeah but what is their reaction when they are
presented with these controversial, non-academic
methodologies that don’t have anything to do
with teaching anyone anything?
A: They are very unhappy, and they try to continue
to do something that does have something to do with
teaching and learning. I just recently heard the state
of Oregon has passed legislation to get rid of tenure. I
was always opposed to tenure. Now I’m in
favor of tenure because what they are going to do
Q: ... now, see, I’m opposed to tenure. Why
do you support it now?
A: Because of the way they are going to use it. Now,
they can get rid of the good teachers without any
problem. It used to be getting rid of the bad ones
right? Now, they are going to get rid of the academic
teachers. The teachers who do not agree with George
Bush’s education agenda -- you know the
outcome-based, direct education, teach-to-the-test.
These poor teachers -- these poor children -- and they
do not agree in the changing of the definition of
Q: Charlotte, I’d like you to explain to our
readers at what point did it become more important
to manufacture this concept of self esteem -- and the
fact that if you can "feel good" about the process, it
doesn’t matter what the results are. When did
A: Well, you know, it all started in 1934 when the
Carnegie Foundation set the agenda for the next
hundred years and that was to change our country
from a free, individualistic economy to a planned
economy -- and to do it through the schools. And the way
they would do it, would be to change the social
studies so nobody would know what our form of
government is -- and how precious it is -- and to not
teach the Constitution. This is the Carnegie
Corporation plan -- to implement a planned economy
through the schools. And it is going in right now.
Q: OK, that’s the background and foundation.
But at what point, recently, did they effect the
significant change in direction, content and product?
A: At what point did all the touchy-feeling stuff
happen? Carnegie happened in 1934, the United
Nations in 1945 ...
Q: The only touchy-feeling stuff I encountered in
school was if you didn’t do what you were
supposed to do -- when you were supposed to do it,
the way you were instructed to do it -- Brother
Benilde would smack you up side the head with a
A: Well, that’s right, but they don’t
want people to be educated, and this is a very
important point. I know there are people out there
who think: "Goodness, I thought the whole purpose
of the corporations forming partnerships with the
public sector (which actually is corporate fascism) was
so that the schools would give our children better
academic skills?" That’s not true. According to
David Hornbeck -- Mr. Carnegie and the big honcho
for "School To Work," he said in his book, "Human
Capital," which he wrote with Lester Solomon, that
the corporations do not want educated people.
A: Because educated people are very difficult -- they
ask too many questions, they quit their jobs, etc.
Q: Actually, the way it has developed now, (and I
think the primary reason they want to maintain the
Department of Education) the corporations will
identify what vacancies and needs they have and
"train" workers. Charlotte, I want you to explain
"School To Work" because I get so angry and seething
when I think about it -- and try to talk about it -- that
I sometimes butcher it.
A: So do I. I think the best way -- and I really
recommend Congress do this, because it would be
cheaper than going to Europe -- I would like all of
them to go down and spend six months in Cuba. Is
that a good answer?
Q: If they don’t come back, it would be great.
A: Well, go down to Cuba and you will see the same
system implemented there that they are implementing
in Oregon, in California and in Maine and
everywhere. Where the children are identified at a
very early age, psychologically profiled -- fourth
grade in some cases. In fact, the whole idea of work is
started in kindergarten.
Q: Hold on a moment, Charlotte, because we have to
stress something here.
Q: This is not fiction. This is not something out of a
Stanley Kubrick movie. This is something that is going
on right now!
A: That’s right. It is in. It is not vocational
either -- which is something I have always supported.
I’d like to share with your readers the story I
sent you about the 12-year-old youngster in
Minnesota. He understood what I was talking about
and he said to his mom, "I want to choose my own
future!" And he went to a big rally they held in
Minneapolis at 12-years old. Isn’t it interesting
that this 12-year-old understands what "School To
Q: And, beyond that, what about the people who
don’t "find" themselves until they are 40?
A: You’re not kidding. I'm a bit older than
that and sometimes I wonder if I’ve found
myself ... I’m still looking for myself.
Q: I often joke when people ask, "What are you going
to do when you grow up?" Duh? It presupposes I will
grow up and that I will know. I’m still
working at it.
A: We all have a lot of talents we don’t know
about until later on when something happens. You are
absolutely correct. The thing is that is the German
dual-track system of education and work-force
training. It is the Soviet system -- people don’t
like to use that word. It is the Cuban system.
Q: What people need to recognize is they are trying
to identify kids at an early age for what their
aptitudes are. Not based on what the kids talents and
abilities are, but what the corporation need is.
A: That’s right. Actually everything is focused
on the good of the state now. It is the state that is
important -- not the individual’s upward
mobility, the individual’s future life.
That’s the way education used to be. You
asked me earlier when the change took place.
Q: Are you going to answer it now?
A: Yes. It really took place in 1965 under Lyndon
Johnson. And that followed the agreements that
Eisenhower signed with the Soviet Union in 1958. I
feel they very strongly influenced our agenda in
Q: I just dodged the bullet. I graduated in 1966.
A: You were lucky. In 1965, they couldn’t get
American educators to implement this agenda that the
Carnegie Corporation wanted. Also, an incredible
psychologist -- Brock Chisholm -- at the United
Nations recommended getting rid of the conscience to
the World Health Organization. And he
recommended doing that through the schools by
training the teachers to be little psychiatrists.
None of this was accepted by any American educator
until 1965. I don’t think even at that time they
really accepted it but it did pass. The Elementary and
Secondary Education Act was a major, major shift. It
moved our marvelous system of education -- which,
up until 1960, was the best in the world -- from
academics, what you know in your head, to a
performance-based system which we’re
screaming about: outcome-based education, mastery
learning and Skinner (who said "I can make a pigeon a
high achiever by reinforcing it on a proper schedule").
I think your readers can understand the difference
between knowledge based in your head and
performance based. Performance is how you perform
on the job -- that is not the role of the public school
system or any education system that I can see.
Q: And it changed in 1965?
A: That changed in '65. From that time on, all these
incredibly horrible values-destroying programs were
developed: values clarification, survival games,
critical thinking. Geoff, I have a manual published in
1967 that is three inches thick of values-destroying
programs. And people say, "Why Columbine?"
Q: Let me ask you this -- because I’ve spent a
fair amount of time talking and writing about it -- the
connection between the epidemic prescribing of
psychotropic drugs to kids as a means of controlling
A: Absolutely. There’s a very interesting
appendix in my book about a Hawaii Master Plan in
1968. A pilot project for the whole country that was
carried out in Hawaii and federally funded and it
included just about everything that is taking place
right now. But there was a recommendation in there
to use these psychiatric drugs on our children. This
has been planned for a long time. They don’t
want independent little active monsters running
around in the classroom.
Q: There is an interesting sidebar to this. There is a
woman in the San Francisco Bay area who has home
schooled all her kids. Her daughter just went in the
Army. The recruiters were surprised and elated that
she scored remarkably high in just about every test.
They gave her something like an $18,000 bonus for
enlisting. They couldn’t understand why she
was so far superior to all the other recruits. Obviously
the key reason is she was shielded and protected
from public education.
A: There is no question if a parent is able to do that
(and not all are -- I’m not sure I could have)
they certainly should be home schooling. Or, if you
can’t home school, try to find a private school.
Q: But that shouldn’t be necessary if the public
schools had not been so corrupted.
A: It shouldn’t be necessary, but we need to
note that there are good public schools. Although
there won’t be for long because of the
redefinition of academics -- and that good teaching is
no longer what it used to be -- so we won’t
have really much of a public school system.
There’ll be nothing left in a few years because
of the legislation that is going through Washington,
D.C., right now and the way they have been crashing
the public school system ever since I left my office in
the Department of Education. However, right now,
you have to look carefully at private schools. In many
cases, they may well be worse than the public schools
at the moment.
Q: So what do you suggest to concerned parents?
A: Well my recommendation is different from
anybody else’s because I guess I’m
naïve and have stars in my eyes and wear
rose-colored glasses ...
Q: ... and you are sheltered in Maine.
A: Oh yeah ... sheltered in Maine ... well, I’ll
tell you when I moved here I thought I had moved
out of the country. People don’t quite
understand "School To Work" here either and we are
very important in "School To Work." But the only
solution to this problem -- and it is a big problem
because it doesn’t just deal with education -- if
we allow this so-called "education" system to
continue, this country hasn’t got a chance to
hold on to its freedom.
They are taking our form of government -- Congress
did this in the '90s with this legislation where they
effectively changed our free system of government to
a planned economy. A planned economy is not a free
system at all. And if Americans think it is, they ought
to go down to Cuba and take a look. In my opinion
nothing short of abolishing the U.S. Department of
Education will take care of this problem. And that
means not back to the state level but back to the local
Q: Weren’t the Republicans going to do that?
A: Yes, Ronald Reagan promised to do that when I
was there. And I think many of us were really
disappointed that this didn’t happen. There is
no way for us to cure the problems in American
education and for this country to stay free as long as
that building is allowed to exist there in partnership
with the Department of Labor. It gets all of its
Q: Charlotte, I got a correspondence a couple of years
back and the letterhead had both departments at the
top of it.
A: That’s right. They are in partnership. But,
another thing is, they do not put the United Nations
on top -- that is where the whole thing actually comes
from. What we’re putting in now -- I
don’t think people realize and this -- includes
the school-choice proposals I’m talking about.
What is going in now is international. You have the
same school-choice proposals, charter schools, et
cetera going into Russia. You have the
Outcome-Based Education / Direct Instruction in
Hong Kong. And for people to feel this is even a
national program -- it is not. It is international.
I think that Benjamin Bloom is probably the
behavioral psychologist who came up with the
outcome-based ed and mastery learning -- he was a
big U.N. guy. He died a couple of years ago. The
purpose of education, as far as the United Nations is
concerned, is to change the thoughts, actions and
feelings of students. Bloom went on to define "good
Q: What ever became of the concept of seeking out
knowledge and information?
A: No, no -- people have to understand and it took
me long time too -- when we see all these failures, we
put all the money into the system and then the test
scores go down, and we keep saying, "Why? Why?
Get with it folks!" I finally realized about 10 years ago
when I finally started putting all the stuff together,
when we think it’s a disaster, to them,
it’s a success.
Q: They are accomplishing their objective.
A: Absolutely. Because they don’t care
whether our children can read, write, count, et cetera
-- they really don’t. When they put these
programs in like Outcome-Based Ed -- and we have
proof of that one -- because we have the evaluation of
the major outcome-based education program that
went in under Reagan ...
Q: What did it say?
A: The evaluation said that, no, it really didn’t
work, that success -- academically -- was not there.
But it was successful because it turned the system on
its head from inputs that we used to have to outputs.
Output is performance, and it’s necessary for
Q: If the government took all the money that is
whizzed down that rat hole of the U.S. Department of
Education -- and didn’t give it to the states --
but somehow distributed it through block grants or
something to the local schools, and put the local
schools in competition ... I remember my wife used to
brag because she went to high school in Lexington,
Massachusetts, and once upon a time they had the
best school system in the country ...
A: Yep ...
Q: Not any more ... but if you allowed the local
schools to compete, the quality of education would go
up just through the benefits of competition.
A: I think it’s true, but you are always going
to have the strings attached as long as you have the
federal money coming in. That’s why I would
like to see us just abolish the U.S. Department of
Education -- in which case, all the state departments
of education are going to collapse because they get up
to 80% of their operating budget from my old office.
Q: Cool! That would be a good thing.
A: Wouldn’t it be wonderful? And, then, we
go back and restore the finest system the world has
ever known. Now that to me would be even more
devastating to the United Nations people -- the
internationalists -- than getting out of the U.N.
Because if the biggest country, the most important
economic power in the world, the United States, all of
a sudden decided to jump off board of the "School To
Work" agenda, which is an international one, they are
going to be in such trouble they will not know what
Q: Therein is the problem -- selling it. What about
George Bush continuing with this?
A: He wanted it all along. Bill Clinton was certainly
involved in "School To Work" but it was George Bush
the elder who initially put his big message into the
Congressional Record. The elder Bush was big on
apprenticeships and "School To Work." And, I hate to
say it, but Ronald Reagan was the one who actually
contributed the most to "School To Work" by
implementing the concept of Public-Private
Partnership. That’s in the Communist
Manifesto -- Industry and Government.
Q: Don’t be shy or reticent. I have been telling
people as long as I have had a forum, it is not a
question of who is right or wrong but what is right or
A: You’re right, but that is very sad. When
Reagan went along with the partnership concept --
which, like I said, is in the Communist Manifesto,
merge industry with the government -- then he
signed the agreements with Gorbachev on education,
Then, the Carnegie Corporation got involved -- and
what they are giving us is the Soviet system.
Look, in my book, in 1932, you saw William Foster,
chairman of the Communist Party USA write a book
"Toward a Soviet America" and what he called for
was a United States Department of Education, the
Pavlovian method that is going in under direct
instruction. He called for the scientific method. He
called for the teaching of evolution. Get rid of
patriotism. All of this has gone in.
Now you can’t tell me that George Bush
doesn’t know this. He was the one who
recommended keeping the U.S. Department of
Education last July. When the Republicans wanted to
keep in the platform to get rid of it -- to abolish the
Department of Ed -- he took that out. He purposefully
took that out. He knows, although he talks local. He
says we’re going to have local controls. How
can you have local control when you have the United
States Department of Education dictating every single
thing to our schools right now? There is no way we
have any local control left.
Q: We have heard from some people about a Japanese
concept of Kai Zin. It but basically it deals with
tearing down in order to build up something new.
A: That is absolutely correct. In order for them to
implement the new system they have to destroy the
old one. David Hornbeck is the majordomo on that.
He’s been in I don’t know how many
states. He’s destroyed Kentucky, he’s
destroyed Philadelphia. I don’t know where
he is now but you have to watch him. It is so sad that
parents do not see what we see because it has been so
gradual and now, when you have George Bush and
Ted Kennedy agreeing on George Bush’s
education agenda, that doesn’t really leave
any room for anybody to be concerned.
Q: When the allegedly rabid left and right start
agreeing without compromise that in and of itself is
cause for concern.
A: That’s right. But where do we go? George
Bush is the controlled right and Ted Kennedy is the
controlled left. Control -- that is the point. And they
have met at the radical center. These are the people
who are supporting the communitarianism idea which
if you look in the dictionary it says, "communistic
form of government." Who on earth would ever
dream that the Republican Party could end up with
someone in the White House who is supporting a
concept -- communitarianism -- that is defined in any
dictionary you want, as a communistic form of
Q: But the dumbed-down American populous either
doesn’t believe you or they marginalize you as
just a conspiracy theorist. Despite these people being
in your face with it.
A: You’re right -- the most important
documents with the proof, of course, are the very old
ones. Yeah, they are in your face but they are not in
the faces of the average good American who has
really been manipulated. It has been a very diabolical
plan. They use the three-pronged fork. They use
semantic deception, which are words that sound so
good like "basic skills." Then they use gradualism like
the frog in the cold water -- you heat it up over 50
years and the frog is dead. And then you have the
dialectic where you deliberately create a problem --
and you get people to scream and go out of business
-- and then you impose the solution and people are so
upset at the problem that they accept anything.
That’s the three-pronged fork, without which
we never would have been taken. Plus, the dumbing
down -- because if the American people do not
understand the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and
that we do have a special form of government here,
we are not going to know when those things are
taken away from us.
Q: And those in our Congress were either intentional
or manipulated co-conspirators.
A: That is exactly what has happened with the
Congress when they voted for this change in our
economic system to make it like Cuba -- they
obviously didn’t know that we had a
wonderful free-enterprise system that had brought
people to the shores of America for the past 150
Charlotte Iserbyt's landmark book, "The Deliberate Dumbing
Down of America," is available at WND's online store.
Geoff Metcalf is a talk-show host for TalkNetDaily.