The Epoch Times is serializing a translation from the Chinese of a new book, How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World, by the editorial team of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.

Previous Chapter: The Specter of Communism in Western Universities

                               a. Dumbing Down Students

                                b. The Destructive Nature of Progressive Education

                                c. Education: A Means of Spoiling Students

d. Psychological Manipulation

e. The Infiltration of Education

Control Over American Secondary and Elementary School Education

For a long while after the founding of the United States, the federal government was not involved in education. Education was up to the church and each state government to decide. The federal government established the Department of Education (ED) in 1979. The Department of Education’s jurisdiction has been enlarged ever since. Currently, the power ED has over educational strategies and allocation of education budgets by far surpasses the power it used to have. Parents, school districts, and state governments, which used to have a greater say about education, are increasingly compelled to take orders from federal government officials. Parents and school districts have gradually lost their power to decide what gets to be taught and how to teach it at schools.

Power is neutral — those who wield it can do either good or bad. Centralization of power in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a matter of how the person or institution uses its power and what its goals are. The centralization of power in American education is a major issue because Marxism has infiltrated all levels of government agencies, especially the central bureaucracy. Under such circumstances, once a wrong decision is made, the impact is extensive, and a few clear-headed individuals cannot simply reverse it themselves.

As explained by B. K. Eakman, one of the results from the centralization of power in American education is that the officials in charge of education cannot, over a short time span, see how their educational strategies develop historically and how great an impact they can create over a longer period. Many people deal with a limited scope of affairs. Although some events may raise doubts, most people do not have the time, energy, resources, or courage to investigate for themselves. Even if their suspicions are aroused in some cases, without other pieces of the puzzle, they can do little more than obey what they’re told by their supervisors. Everyone thus becomes a part of a gigantic machine. It is difficult for them to see the consequences of their decisions on students and society, and as a result, their moral accountability is attenuated. [48] Communism can take advantage of the weaknesses in this system and break down society’s defenses one by one.

Moreover, teacher’s colleges, publishing houses, educational accreditation organizations, and teacher-accreditation institutions have decisive impacts on education, and therefore all become targets of infiltration.

The Role of Teachers’ Unions

Chapter Nine of this book discusses how communism manipulates and utilizes unions. Teachers’ unions have become one of the key reasons for the failure of American education. These unions do not care about raising the quality of education. They have become professional organizations that award failure, protect incompetence, and sacrifice conscientious teachers who aspire to make a contribution in their career and who truly dedicate themselves to teaching students.

Tracey Bailey is a science teacher in a senior high school and the 1993 National Teacher of the Year Award winner. [49] At that time, the chief of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) said he was pleased that a union member had won this prestigious honor. However, the truth is that Bailey was no longer an AFT member. Bailey believed that big teachers’ unions are exactly the reason for the failure of American public education and were part of the problem rather than the solution. He holds that unions are simply a special interest group protecting the status quo and a pillar of a system that awards mediocrity and incompetence. [50]

Major American teachers’ unions have adequate funds and immense influence and are ranked as one of the most important political lobby groups in the country. Teachers’ unions have become the primary obstacle that hinders benign reform within the education system. Looking at the California Teachers Association (CTA) under the AFT as an example, CTA has huge funds from its members, which it can use for legislation and political donation. In 1991, California sought to insert Proposition 174 in its state constitution, allowing families to use school vouchers provided by the state government so that families would be able to choose their own schools for their children. However, the CTA blocked Proposition 174 and even forced a school to revoke its commercial contract with a hamburger franchise that had donated $25,000 toward the proposition. [51]

The Exclusion of Family Influence in Children’s Education

Another key goal of communism is the removal of the child from his parents as soon as he is born and having the community or nation raise the child. This is not an easy feat, but things have been quietly moving in this direction.

In communist countries, students are encouraged to sever their relationship with parents of the bourgeoisie class. In addition, the time students spend in school is extended by means of an exam-centric education, so as to reduce the impact of parents on their children. In Western countries, different approaches are used to exclude the influence of the family in the education of children. This includes maximizing students’ school time, reducing the age requirement for children to attend school, preventing students from taking textbooks and study materials home and discouraging students from sharing controversial topics they learned in class with their parents.

Courses such as Value Clarification attempt to separate students from their parents. A parent of a student taking the Quest class commented: “It seemed as if the parents were always put in a bad light. The story would be about a father and his son, say; and the father was always overbearing, always too strict, always unfair.” Oftentimes the subtext of these courses is that your parents don’t understand you, but we do. [52]

Sometimes due to legal requirements, students must first obtain parental consent before they can participate in certain activities. On such occasions, teachers or the school administrative staff often use misleading and ambiguous words to make it very difficult for parents to know the detail of what they’re agreeing to. If parents complain, school authorities or the school district have methods to deal with the complaint: procrastinating, shirking responsibility, or going through the motions. For example, they might say that parents do not have the professional knowledge of education, that other school districts are doing the same thing, that only your family is complaining, and so on.

Most parents don’t have the time or resources to engage in a prolonged argument with the school or school district. Moreover, when the student grows up in a few years, he will leave the school. Parents will generally choose to keep things quiet. Yet in the meantime, the child is almost held hostage by the school, and parents don’t dare to offend the school authorities. They have no choice but to refrain from protesting. When parents do protest against school practices, school authorities may label them as extremists, troublemakers, religious bigots, fanatics, fascists, and the like. By doing so, school authorities deter other parents from voicing an objection. [53]

Misleading and Obscure Education Jargon

We previously quoted Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt’s book The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. Iserbyt pointed out the problem at the beginning of her book:

The reason Americans do not understand this war is that it has been fought in secret — in the schools of our nation, targeting our children who are captive in classrooms. The wagers of this war are using very sophisticated and effective tools:
• Hegelian Dialectic (common ground, consensus, and compromise)
• Gradualism (two steps forward, one step backward)
• Semantic deception (redefining terms to get agreement without understanding).

Phillis Schlafly also wrote about this phenomenon. In the foreword to her book Child Abuse in the Classroom, she said that psychotherapy classes use a set of special terms to prevent parents from understanding the true purpose and method of such courses. These terms include behavior modification, higher-order critical thinking, moral reasoning, and so on. [54]

For decades, American educators have created a dazzling array of terms such as constructivism, cooperative learning, experiential learning, deep understanding, problem-solving, inquiry-based and outcome-based education, personalized learning, conceptual understanding, procedural skills, lifelong learning, student-teacher interactive instruction, and so on. There are too many to list. On the one hand, some concepts appear reasonable, but an investigation into the context of the terms and what they lead to reveals that their purpose is to discredit traditional education and promote dumbing down in education. They are examples of Aesopian or Orwellian language, whereby the key to interpretation is to turn the meanings inside out. [55]

Large-Scale Changes to Subjects and Textbooks

None Dare Call It Treason, published in the 1960s, analyzes the textbook reform program of the 1930s. This reform combined content from different disciplines, such as history, geography, sociology, economics, and political science, into a set of textbooks. This set of books abandoned the content, value system, and way of codifying traditional textbooks. “So pronounced was the anti-religious bias; so open was the propaganda for socialistic control of men’s lives,” [56] that the textbooks downgraded American heroes and the U. S. Constitution.

This set of textbooks was very large and did not fall within the scope of any traditional discipline; therefore, experts in various disciplines did not pay much attention to it. Many years later, when the public realized the problem and began to oppose it, five million students had already been brought up on such materials. Nowadays, in the primary and secondary schools in the United States, history, geography, civics, and so on fall into the category of “social studies,” and the idea behind them is the same.

If the changes to textbooks had been transparent, they would have been questioned and resisted by experts and parents. The newly edited textbooks, which mix several subjects together, don’t belong to any clear subject taxonomy, so experts have difficulty judging the content beyond their own profession, making it relatively easy for textbooks to pass a review and be accepted by a school district and society.

After ten or twenty years, some people may see the conspiracy behind this set of textbooks. However, when they are ready to speak up, students have grown up, and teachers have become accustomed to the new textbooks and teaching methods. Then it is impossible to change the textbooks back to their traditional form. Even if a small number of people realize the serious flaws of the textbooks, their voices aren’t heard by the public, and they are less likely to affect the decision-making processes. If opposing voices are louder, it is an opportunity to launch the next round of reforms, further diluting traditional content and inserting leftist ideas. After several rounds of reforms, the new generation of students is then separated from tradition, making it almost impossible to go back.

The updates made to American textbooks were done very quickly. Some say it’s because knowledge has grown at an accelerating rate. However, in fact, the basic knowledge to be gained in primary and secondary school does not change much. So why have there been so many different textbooks published and continuously reprinted? The surface reason is that publishers compete with each other. Superficially, in order to pursue profits, they don’t want students to repeatedly use the same set of textbooks for many years, but at a deeper level, just like the reorganization of textbook content, the process has been used to distort the teaching materials for the next generation.

Education Reform: A Dialectic Struggle

Since the 1950s and 1960s, American education has seen a series of reforms. But these reforms did not bring expected improvements in the quality of education. In 1981, American students’ SAT scores reached a record low, triggering the publication of the report A Nation at Risk and the “back to basics” movement in education. In order to change the embarrassing circumstances of education in the United States, several governments since the 1990s have successively launched large-scale educational reforms — but they have had little effect. Not only did they not help, but they also brought problems more difficult to solve. [57]

We believe that most people involved in education reform sincerely want to do good things for students and society, but because of the influence of various wrong thoughts, their intentions often backfire. The result of many of these reforms ends up promoting communist ideas. Just like reforms in other fields, the infiltration through educational reform doesn’t need to win everything in one battle. The success of a reform is not its goal. In fact, every reform is doomed to fail at the beginning of its design in order to provide an excuse for the next reform. Every reform is a deeper deviation, each making people more alienated from tradition. This is the dialectic of struggle — one step back and then two forward. In this manner, people won’t regret the collapse of tradition, but will instead wonder: Tradition, what does that mean?


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