The Weekly Sam; The New Education Reform: Will It Work?  from John Dewey to Marc Tucker in One Hundred Years By Samuel L. Blumenfeld

You cannot really understand the nature and scope of the present education reform
program coming out of Washington unless you understand that it is the culmination of
plans initiated by the progressives about a hundred years ago. In other words, what
we have today emanating from the U.S. Department of Education and the education
establishment in general is the same master plan mapped out by John Dewey and his
colleagues at the turn of the century to change America’s social order. True, there
have been twists and turns, arguments and debates among the educational elite, but
all in all the basic plan of the progressives remains intact.

Who were the progressives? They were a new breed of educator, members of the
Protestant academic elite who no longer believed in the religion of their fathers. They
rejected Biblical religion as myth and legend and put their faith in science, evolution,
and psychology. Science explained the nature of the material world, evolution
explained the origin of living matter — our original soma emerged from the primoradial
ooze and through a remarkable series of accidents ended up with us — and
psychology provided the means to study human nature scientifically and to control
human behavior. What more could an educator possibly want?

Now the progressives were also socialists. Why? Because they had to deal with the
problem of evil and they refused to accept the Biblical view. The Bible tells us that man
is a fallen creature, having disobeyed God by eating of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil, and that as a result, man is the cause of his own misery. In other words,
the origin of evil is man’s heart, not the environment or the ozone layer or the stock
market. John Calvin characterized fallen man as being innately depraved. Catholics, of
course, call it original sin.

What Calvin meant is that when man departs from God he is capable of any depravity
he can think of. But the Bible provides a happy solution for all of this. Which means
that man can still have a happy, productive and long life provided that he live in
accordance with God’s law. Indeed, his sins can be forgiven, he can be saved and
have eternal life after death if he accepts Jesus Christ as his Savior. In other words,
the Bible presents us with the problem of man’s sinful nature, but also provides the

However, the progressives rejected all of that as myth and legend. But they still had to
deal with the problem of evil. What caused it? Since they believed that there was no
God, there could be no such thing as sin — which is an offense against God. So where
did evil come from? They decided that it came from ignorance, poverty, and social
injustice. And what caused social injustice? Why it was this terrible capitalist system
of ours, this dog-eat-dog world of economic competition, private property, and
individualism which created selfish people. The solution: socialism, which would
replace individualism with collectivism, get rid of private property or at the very least
bring private property under the control of government, and finally get rid of religion
with its ridiculous notion of sin that so terribly undermined man’s self-esteem.

The question then became how do you change America from a capitalist system to a
socialist one? The answer was simple: change the curriculum in the education
system so that it would produce little socialists instead of little individualists. The
progressives realized that adult Americans were not about to give up their
individualism or private property or free enterprises or religion. And so they realized
that they would have to educate children in such a manner that they as adults would
usher in the new socialist utopia through democrattic means.

And so, beginning in about 1898 the progressives began their messianic crusade to
reform American education in order to bring about socialism. The reason why I call the
progressive movement a messianic crusade is because of the spiritual aspects of the
crusade. You see, the reason why the crusaders had to bring about socialism is
because that was the only way they could prove that they were right and the Bible was
wrong. They were convinced that once we had socialism, it would be seen that man
was not a fallen creature but was instead imbued with overwhelming benevolence and
good will.

These progressives all came from good Christian homes, and they all knew the Bible.
If the Bible was right and they were wrong, they knew where they’d be going. And so
they were driven by a strong messianic motive to prove their rightness. Incidentally,
the progressives for the most part did not get their vision of socialism from Karl Marx,
but from an American by the name of Edward Bellamy who wrote a book entitled
Looking Backward, published in 1888. In that book Bellamy projected the fantasy of a
socialist America in the year 2000. If you want to know what that vision was like, read
the book.

One can say that this crusade began in earnest in 1898 because that was the year in
which John Dewey wrote his influential essay, “The Primary-Education Fetich,” in
which he singled out high literacy as the great obstacle to socialism because it tended
to produce individuals who could stand on their own two feet and think for themselves.
(Unstated, but clearly known by the progressives was the fact that high literacy was
also a prerequisite for Biblical literacy.) What we needed in the primary grades,
Dewey argued, was less emphasis on literacy and more emphasiS on socialization. In
effect, what he was saying was that the masses had to be dumbed down in order to
make it easy for the ruling elite to impose socialism. And he outlined a strategy
whereby all of this could be done with the public hardly noticing. He wrote:
Change must come gradually. To force it unduly would ccmpromise its final success by favoring a violent

That’s an interesting statement. If the reforms he proposed were so great, why would
they provoke a violent reaction? Obviously, Dewey and his colleagues knew that their
reforms would go against the grain of American tradition. Dewey goes on:
What is needed in the first place is, that there should be a full and frank statement of conviction with regard
to the matter from physiologists and psychologists and from those school administrators who are
conscious of the evils of the present regime.
So there you already see in 1898 what the role of the psychologists would be. They
were to use scientific arguments to discredit the traditional curriculum. On the crucial
matter of primary reading instruction, the first psychologist to answer Dewey’s call was
Edmund Huey, whose book, The Psychology and Pedagogy of Reading, published in
1908, became the bible of the look-say, whole-word advocates. They used Huey’s
book to provide a pseudo-scientific justification for getting rid of alphabetic phonics
and instituting whole-word instruction in its place. Dewey continues:

There are already in existence a considerable number of educational “experiment stations,” which
represent the outposts of educational progress. If these schools can be adequately supported for a
number of years they will perform a great vicarious service. After such schools have worked out carefully
and definitely the subject-matter of a new curriculum,–finding the right place for language studies and
placing them in their right perspective,–the problem of the more general educational reform will be
immensely simplified and facilitated.
And so, what Dewey was saying to his progressive colleagues was that they needed
to try all of their new ideas in private experimental schools to see what kind of results
they would get before implementing them wholesale throughout the public school
Incidentally, one of the experimental schools that was used for this purpose was the
Lincoln School at Teachers College of Columbia University, New York. John D.
Rockefeller Jr. gave the school $3 million in 1917 and put four of his five sons in that
school. Alvin Moscow, in his book The Rockefeller Inheritance, writes:
Unlike private schools of its time, Lincoln was co-educational and non-segregated. The Rockefeller boys
mixed with children from all walkS of life …. Boys studied sewing and cooking with the girls, and the girls
took shop courses with the boys. Reading, writing and arithmetic were introduced only when a child was
ready and eager to leam. He was expected to pick up these fundamentals out of natural curiosity and
desire to learn …. Nelson never did learn to spell or master his numbers … Laurence … encountered
trouble with his three R’s. However, he did make Princeton, where, in his freshman year, facing written
examinations for the first time, he almost flunked out. Winthrop had the most trouble. He floundered in
the freedom and lack of discipline at Lincoln and in the tenth grade was transferred to the Loomis School,
a more formal prep boarding school … in Connecticut. … Unprepared for the higher scholastic standards
at Loomis, at the first marking period, where D was the lowest passing mark, Winthrop earned two E’s and
three F’s. But he liked Loomis and was saved there by his high marks for effort.

David, the youngest son was the only one that did well at the Lincoln School.  He had no trouble with the three R’s and eventually went to Harvard, He then went on to become
a leader of the internationalist movement leading to world government. Nelson, who
was severely dyslexic, hired Henry Kissinger to do his reading and thinking for him.
And Winthrop went on to become Governor of Arkansas. In any case, by the 1920’s, it
was already known by the progressives that their kind of education had great
academic drawbacks, and they had the Rockefeller boys to prove it. But that didn’t
faze them because that’s what they actually wanted.

Now the reason why I have gone back to the origins of the progressive education
movement is because it is important to know the false premise on which the movement
was founded, the premise that evil is caused by ignorance, poverty, and social
injustice. Twentieth Century history has proven beyond any doubt the falsehood of
that premise. Let me give you proof. One of the most evil men of the century was Dr.
Mengele, the Nazi doctor at the Auschwitz death camp who performed horrible
medical experiments on live human beings. Was he ignorant? No, he had the best
education Germany could provide. Was he the victim of poverty? No, he was born in
a wealthy family with a silver spoon in his mouth. Was he the victim of social injustice?
To the contrary, he was a member of Germany’s privileged elite. So where did his evil
impulses come from? From his innate sinful nature. He put his faith not in God but in
Satanic Adolf Hitler, who gave him the freedom to be as evil as his heart desired.
So we know that the premise of our education reform movement is false. But there is
also a second false premise on which the education reform movement is built, and that
is the belief that public educators have the moral right, indeed the moral duty, to
change the values and beliefs of the children in their charge without the knowledge or
consent of their parents. That was very clearly spelled out in Prof. Benjamin Bloom’s
famous Taxonomy of Educational Objectives published in 1958 in which he wrote:
By educational objeclives, we mean explicil formulations of the ways in which students are expected to be
changed by the educative process. That is, the ways in which they will change in their thinking, their
feelings, and their actions ..

The evidence points out convincingly to Ihe fact that age is a factor operating against attempts to effect a
complete or thorough-going reorganization of attitudes and values.
The evidence collected thus far suggests that a single hour of classroom activity under certain conditions
may bring about a major reorganization in cognitive as well as affective behaviors. We are of the opinion
that this will prove to be a most fruitful area of research in connection with the affective domain.
Thus, when American educators speak of subjecting children to a thorough-going
reorganization of their attitudes and values what they really mean is getting children to
shed their Biblical values in favor of humanist values, to shed their belief in absolute
moral values in favor of moral relativism and situational ethics.

America was founded by people who believed that God was sovereign over our nation
and that His law prevailed over the laws of man. Indeed, the U.S Constitution is a
perfect example of man’s law being completely compatible with God’s law. However,
once you reject God, then God’s sovereignty and law is replaced by State sovereignty
and law. T he State, then, becomes God, and the public educators can claim that they
now represent the public good and have the moral duty to train children to serve the
secular state whose compelling interests override all other interests.

By the way, it is not at all difficult to trace the history of this reform movement from its
very beginning to the present, for the reformers have kept very good records of their
progress in the annual yearbooks of The National Society for the Study of Education.
The first yearbook was published in 1901. If you study the names of the society’s
officers, you will find among them the best known advocates of humanism and
socialism, including Harold Rugg, William H. Kilpatrick, Ernest Horn, George S.
Counts, John Goodlad, Ralph Tyler, Benjamin Bloom, and many others.

What is impressive about the reform movement is its meticulous attention to detail, its
continuity, and the way the baton has been passed from one generation to the next so
that there is no change in ideology or ultimate goal. What you find out in studying
these yearbooks are the names and associations of the individuals who have been
working behind the scenes to effect these reforms over many decades. One of the
most prominent among them is a professor by the name of Ralph W. Tyler who spent
70 of his 92 years engaged in the ongoing process of education reform. He died in
1994. An article paying tribute to Tyler in Phi Delta Kappan of June 1994 states:
An activist — with a profound belief that demonstration and example are more powerful than ideas that are
merely scripted — he harnessed his theorems to social engineering and participated in an astonishing
number of watershed events: his monumental Eight-Year Study, his founding role in the National
Academy of Education. his creation and 14-year directorship of the Center for Advanced Study in the
Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. his part in the formulation of the Association for the Evaluation
of Educational Achievement, his attainments as university examiner and dean of social sciences at the
University of Chicago, and his service as consultant to five U.S. preSidents. In Tyler’s calculus, social
fragmentation was a challenge education could meet only through collective accomplishments.

That last sentence sums up a very important concept held by the progressives, that
reform must be organized in a collective manner so that it is carried out uniformly
throughout the entire nation, in all the schools. If reform were left to the localities, it
would be fragmented, and fragmentation, although healthy for freedom and local
control, would be bad for those who want to reshape the nation according to their own
social vision. The article continues:
Intermixed with these achievements, moreover, were his famous rationale on curriculum development.
translated into five languages; his advisory work with the Spencer Foundation; his labors on the Armed
Forces Testing Program; his tenure as president of Systems Development Foundation; his 15 years as
chairman of the National Commission on Resources for youth.

You can see what one dedicated reformer can do to advance the progressive agenda.
The article continues:
increasingly energized by an abiding concern for comity, rectitude, and the public weal, and he sought to
serve education — whether in a formal lecture or in an informal conversation — in disparate ways ..
A minister’s son, Tyler saw bettering the common good as a calling. Over the years, I think, he was
A typical week might include a Monday morning meeting in New York with the Ford Foundation, a banquet
speech that evening in Chicago, and then the “redeye” to San Francisco. Tuesday might be spent at the
center in Palo Alto. followed by dinner on the evening flight to Denver. Wednesday might begin with
national assessment meetings, continue with a lunchtime talk to Colorado school superintendents. and
end with another dinner flight back to Chicago — in order to spend Wednesday evening with the Spencer
Foundation Board. By catching the 10:00 p.m. flight to Washington, he could sleep at the Cosmos Club.
breakfast with the NEA president. and attend the Tri-Lateral commission meetings on Thursday …. He kept this
up week after week.

When you understand the kind of obsessive drive these men have to carry out their
humanist agenda, you then realize why they couldn’t care less about the clamor of
parents who want to get back to basics. Who do these parents think they are? The
article continues:

One of the less frequently recognized human virtues is that of unfettering talents in others. Here, too,
Tyler made a monumental contribution …. He aided and abetted the careers of Robert Havighurst,
Herbert Thelen, David and Frank Riesman, Benjamin Bloom, Lee Cronback, Philip Jackson, David
Krathwohl , Allison Davis, Jacob Getzewls, Nathan Gage, Edgar Friedenburg, Hilda Taba, Thomas James,
Louis Raths, Ernest Boyer, John Goodlad, and a host of others.
These are just some of the faceless educators responsible for giving us the education
system we have today.

I’m sure that each one of them helped by Tyler would be able to tell a similar story of
dedication to education reform. All of them, I suppose, think that they are doing good.
Yet, we look at the state of public education today with all of its problems and failings
and I doubt that any of these reformers feel responsible for any of this. They don’t
even take responsibility for the reading problems caused by the look-say method. In
fact, they use the failings of public education as the pretext for generating more
reforms. They also talk a lot about democracy and freedom, and yet their reforms are
inevitably leading us to a more socially controlled, politically correct SOCiety. In other
words, they are masters of what Orwell called “doublespeak,”

These men lead a kind of schizoid existence. They live in the ivory tower of the
graduate school, financed by government and private grants, totally insulated from
parental pressure, writing books, reports and dissertations for one another, attending
professional meetings all over the country and the world, not at all concerned that what
they are doing makes no sense to the average citizen and certainly no sense to the
. parents who put their children in public schools.
And because there is this deafness on the part of this educational establishment,
parents are now opting out of the system and putting their children in private schools
or homeschooling them. Ninety-six years of committees and yearbooks from the
National Society for the Study of Education are totally irrelevant to parents who are
truly concerned about the education of their children

Nevertheless, these reformers are now so powerful that, with the assistance of the
White House, they can get the Congress to pass laws mandating lhese reforms. For
example, in 1994, with the help of Pres. Clinton, the US. Congress passed Goals
2000, the School-to-Work Opportunities Act, and the Improving America’s Schools Act.
Goals 2000 is raw social engineering, intended to restructure all of American society
and not just the schools. The School-to-Work Opportunities Act establishes a formal
partnership between the U.S. Departments of Educatron and Labor. The grant money
for this education-labor linkup is tied to compliance with requirements outlined in
Goals 2000. It also mandates transforming public education into a glorified voc-ed
system, more in line with a planned economy than a free economy. The Improving
America’s Schools Act is a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary
Education Act of 1965 through which the Johnson administration opened the
floodgates of the U.S. Treasury to the educators. Since then, the educators have been
able to extract more and more money from the taxpayers by asserting that money will
solve our education problems, while the simple truth is that the more money the
educators get, the worse education becomes.

If you think that the Republican victories in November 1994 have changed anything,
I’m terrible sorry to disappoint you. In September 1995, the U.S. House of
Representatives passed the Consolidated and Reformed Education, Employment, and
Rehabilitation Systems Act, more simply known as the Careers Act (H. R. 1617), by a
vote of 345 to 79. In October, the Senate passed its version of the bill, the Workforce
Development Act of 1995 (S. 143) by a vote of 95 to 2. Both bills would federalize
public education and bring it under the kind of centralized control that has been the
dream of the reformers.

Fortunately, a small group of conservative activists who had read both bills got to their
Congressmen in time and were able to temporarily stop their progress in committee.
During the last few months the bills have undergone revision, but we are not sure what
the Republican Congress will finally give us. One thing we do know is that instead of
working to get the Federal government out of the education business, the Congress
will no doubt get it more deeply in.
What will be enacted is a Human Resources Development System, authored by one of
the latest crop of messianic reformers, Marc Tucker, chairman of the National Center
for Education and the Economy, an offshoot of the Carnegie Foundation. Tucker is the
Ralph Tyler of today, close friend of Bill and Hillary, coordinating the imposition of a
Soviet style education system on America with the help of Congress, a dozen
Republican governors, and some of America’s largest corporations. Mr. Tucker
describes his vision of American education as “a seamless web of opportunities to
develop one’s skills that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system
for everyone–young and old, poor and rich. worker and full-time student.” When he
says it’s a system for everyone, he means it, for his vision of America is socialist

It’s easy to trace the growing power of the education reformers from John Dewey to
Marc Tucker. Dewey had no access to the White House nor did he need one. What he
did need was access to the big foundations and their money to finance the early
experiments. But Tucker understands that for the reform program to be imposed
universally on American education requires more money than all of the foundations
can muster. Therefore, he needs the mandates of the federal government because
that’s where the billions are.
In a famous letter Tucker wrote to Hillary Clinton in November 1992, he described in
detail his concept of what the newly elected president could do to promote education
reform. He wrote:

The object is to create a single comprehensive system for professional and technical education that meets
the requirements of everyone from high school students to skilled dislocated workers, from the hard core
unemployed to employed adults who want to improve their prospects. Creating such a system means
sweeping aside countless programs, building new ones, combining funding authorities, changing deeply
embedded institutional structures, and so on. The question is how to get from where we are to where we
want to be. Trying to ram it down everyone’s throat would engender overwhelming opposition.

Now where did we hear that before? Wasn’t it Professor Dewey who said in 1898 that
“change must come gradually” because “to force it would compromise its final success
by favoring a violent reaction?” Mr. Tucker continues:

Our idea is to draft legislation that would offer an opportunity for those states–and selected large cities-­
that are excited about this set of ideas to come forward and join with each other and with the federal
government in an alliance to do the necessary design work and actually deliver the needed services on a
fast track. The legislation would require the executive branch fo establish a competititive grant program for
those states and cities and to engage a group of organizations to offer technical assistance to the
expanding set of states and cities engaged in designing and implementing the new system.
Radical changes in attitudes, values and beliefs are requried to move any combination of these agendas ..
. . At the narrowest level, the agenda cannot be moved unless there is agreement among the governors,
the President and the Congress.

And so, what is required to implement the new education reform is a radical change in
attitudes, values and beliefs, just what Prof. Benjamin Bloom and Ralph Tyler
recommended beck in the ’50s. With Tucker’s program, we shall also get a massive intrusion of government into our
private lives through the federal computer data-gathering system developed by the
National Center for Education Statistics. The system will gather detailed personal data
on every student and teacher in America. To standardize data collecting, the U.S.
Department of Education has published handbooks for local use. The first handbook
was published in 1964, a second in 1974, and the latest version in 1994 bearing the
title Student Data Handbook for Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary
Education (NCES 94-303). It runs to about 300 pages. A similar handbook has been
prepared for staff.

What kind of information will they be gathering? Under identification, apart from name
and address they will want to know your driver’s license number, health record
number, Medicaid number, school-assigned number, Selective Service number, Social
Security number, College Board/ACT number, local education agency number, state
education agency number, U.S. Dept. of Education number, etc.
Under religious background the government will want to know if you are: Amish,
Assembly of God, Baptist, Buddhist, Calvinist, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Episcopal,
Friends, Greek Orthodox, Hindu, Islamic, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish, Latter Day
Saints, Lutheran, Mennonite, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Other Christian
denomination, Seventh Day Adventist, Tao, None, Other.

What business is it of the federal government to collect data about your religious
affiliation? What about the separation of church and state? What about the right to
privacy? What use are they going to make of this information?
In the category of assessments, students will apparently be required to take a whole
battery of tests that will reveal just about everything there is to know about you. These
tests include an Achievement test, Advanced Placement Test, Aptitude Test, Attitudinal
Test, which the handbook describes as “An assessment to measure the mental and
emotional set of patterns of likes and dislikes or opinions held by a student or a group
of students. This is often used in relation to considerations such as controversial
issues or personal adjustments.”

What business is it of the federal government to collect data on your attitudes? Who
will have access to this information, and for what reason? There is also a Personality
Test, a Psychological Test, a Portfolio Assessment, and a dozen other tests. All of
these tests will have been devised by the nation’s leading behavioral psychologists
whose theoretical goal is the control of human behavior. In fact, what we have in this
data-gathering system is an instrument for total social control in the making.
The handbook also calls for extensive medical information on each individual. For
example, concerning the individual’s oral health, the government will want to know:
Number of Teeth, Number of Permanent Teeth Lost, Number of Teeth Decayed,
Number of Teeth Restored, Occlusion Condition, with subcategories Normal
Occlusion, Mild malocclusion, Moderate malocclusion, Severe malocclusion; Gingival
Condition, with subcategories Normal, Mild deviation, Moderate deviation, Severe
deviation; Oral Soft Tissue Condition with subcategories Normal, Mild deviation,
Moderate deviation, Severe deviation; Dental Prosthetics, and Orthodontic

Anyone reading your dossier will get a very graphic picture of what’s in your mouth!
Why should the government, or anyone else beside your dentist, know if you have
false teeth, or a bad bite, or once wore braces?
Incidentally, in the new education system, every student will have an Individual Health
Plan. In other words, Hillary Clinton will get her socialized medicine plan in through
the back door of compulsory public education. Also, there will be a small army of
health nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors to help any student who
has a problem. By the way, the counselor is described as, “A staff member responsible
for gUiding individuals, families, groups and communities by assisting them in
problem-solving, decision-making, discovering meaning, and articulating goals related
to personal, educational, and career development.”
Do we really need a paid government employee to “discover meaning” for us? Have
Americans become that helpless?

By the way, the only information the public school wanted to know about me back in
1931 when I entered kindergarten was my name, address, date of birth and my
parents names and address. That was it, and it was all written down by hand on a
card. In those days the idea of limited government still had meaning.
But we and the reformers have come a long way since them. The federal government
and the state departments of education are imposing School-to-Work all over the
United States. The reform movement marches on and the idea of limited government
has gone the way of the gold standard. The government will now plan your life for you,
from cradle to grave, and most Americans, ignorant of history, will probably accept the
new social order.

Meanwhile, only the homeschoolers seem to know what to do. As for the future of
America, it’s a big question mark. Will we finally get the socialism that Dewey and his
associates longed for? If the data-gathering system doesn’t convince you that our
government is up to no good, nothing else will. But it certainly should convince
concerned parents that they’d better get their kids out of this Human Resources
Development System before it reduces them to helpless dependents who can’t make
a decision without the friendly assistance of a government official. What do you call
such a government? Socialist, fascist, communist, totalitarian? Your lesson for today
is to think up a fitting label. Thank you.