Think Concepts First

Resisting the Transformational Tactics in Our Schools

By Mary Thompson





H. L. Mencken -- an atheist, author and journalist who admired Hitler's radical "anti-Christ" idol Friedrich Nietzsche[1] -- wrote in the American Mercury, April 1924, that

"...the aim of public education is not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence...nothing could be further from the truth.  The simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the U.S....and that is its aim everywhere else." 

Was he right?  Looking around in 2011, it would seem to validate his claim.  Note the 21st Century buzz words related to government schools: "workforce TRAINING or Development, Common Core Standards," etc.


But why did it take nearly three generations for observers who survived the dumbing down to recognize the agenda until it became so undeniable?


It is this writer's contention that so much of "government" was "local" or "state" until FDR's New Deal in the 1930s which fostered the mindset of looking to Federal Government for solutions


In schools, so called "surplus" foods given to schools for lunch programs began with farm subsidies in the 1930s.  Schools tried to find ways to use bricks of cheese and butter.  Even country schools without cafeterias received cheese and butter which was distributed to the students to take home to their farmer parents, many of whom with dairy cattle themselves. They were insulted to be recipients from the government of the dairy products they themselves produced. 


Documentation?  I was a child of a dairy farmer who attended such a school. But it was an early manifestation of the fact of one size fits all with Federal programs.


Following the 1930's came WWII with total preoccupation with the war effort.  It was a time when direct agendas to restructure schools was set aside for the duration of the war. The post WWII stage was already set to shift the paradigm of public acceptance for bigger role of Federal Government in lives of Americans, but also the internationalizing of the American mindset.  On the timeline of mid 1940's the United Nations was formed. UNESCO's contribution cannot be underestimated in the nationalizing/internationalizing of education.


Simultaneously on the time line, a little known influence of individuals from science and military of WWII was coalescing into what became the think tank, RAND Corporation. 

"One of the RAND prescriptions would pull the world from the brink of war, possibly nuclear annihilation, while another would rewrite the basic concepts of social welfare, politics and government in America and the West. ...eventually RAND's language of systems analysis and program budgeting would become the lingue franca of the entire government".[2]

A TV commentator  called the post WWII generation "The Greatest Generation". That generation resumed life following WWII with gusto, and it was that generation (this writer's generation) which for the most part, concentrated on establishing families, advancing careers, creating the good life.  It naively assumed existing traditional institutions such as schools, local governance, churches, etc., etc., would continue to be the same foundations it had always enjoyed


That second generation after H.L Mencken's observation dropped the ball.  It ignored, denied and accommodated the weakening of the foundations while change agents worked to restructure society.  Schools were primary transformational vehicles hijacked by Federal Government.  


The Johnson Administration was a turning point in history as a third generation after the 1924 remark reached adulthood in the 60's.  

"A bevy of government agencies, previously unable to get RAND expertise, were eager to hire the think tank to find new solutions to national problems.  The commission of education wanted RAND to conduct studies on educational television and the uses of technology in teaching".[3] 

Out of RAND came the term "unfreezing the system" in reference to schools.  Others have called the planned, programs, the "dumbing down" process.  


What the "greatest generation" and subsequent generations didn't suspect or understand, was that RANDs systems analysis used first in the Department of Defense, was systematically put in place in the entire government. PPBS, Planning, Programming, Budgeting System is a subject in itself.  


PPBS, or Management by Objectives (different names for same methodology) was successfully superimposed over our traditional system of representative governance without a shot being fired or by your leave of any legislative authorization.  The shift of influence resulting from systems managed governance has been gradual and largely unnoticed as it is profound. 


Regional entities and appointed officials instigating and carrying out policy and agendas of think-tanks, foundations, NGO's and organized special interests.  Elected representatives becoming more and more merely ratifying agents providing the facade of constitutional elected representation. That is why it has become so difficult to prevail against planned, programmed, budgeted agendas which haven't originated from the electorate or those they elect.  Think banning plastic bags as an example not related to schools.


What happens -- especially with regard to re: education issues -- is that we are constantly bombarded with innovations, new programs, ad nauseum, all supposedly originating or resulting from grass roots needs or discontent. The list is endless.   


What "opposition"  activists tend to do is to address the specifics of each proposal or legislation while the change agent perpetrators are only too happy to accommodate "altering", "tightening up", "regulating excess" etc.  By entering into dialog about the minutia of specific aspects, opponents already enlist themselves in legitimatizing the CONCEPT, rather than opposing the concept itself. 


Current example is the Parent Trigger Law which is designed to undermine the CONCEPT of authority of elected representation.  The law was so hastily passed and used in a school district in Southern California with such egregious application, that even

the State Superintendent of Schools had to admit the law was so open ended it was in need of "tightening up".  But the debate has been shifted again from whether there should be a Parent Trigger Law at all, or whether a tweaked Law is acceptable.  Conceptually and constitutionally it is not.  CONCEPTUALLY, Parent Trigger Laws disenfranchise every voter and taxpayer who doesn't have a child in school.


We need to start to think in terms of CONCEPTS before dealing with the devils in the details.


Following is a suggested check list when considering any education proposal.


1.  It is constitutional?

2.  Is it really locally generated or popping up in other districts, states?

3.  Is it affordable?

4.  Does it hold ELECTED representatives responsible for administering it?

5.  Does it avoid public/private partnering? (We don't elect private partners, foundations, corporations,et al)

6.  Have I done the homework about the origins of the program or issue including the bio of its leadership?

7.  Is advocacy funding coming from foundations (tax exempt-non elected)?

8.  Are seed monies for education projects provided by foundations to germinate the idea?  (Gates Foundation modus operandi)

9.  Does it entail layers of data collecting, assessing, etc?

10.  Is it designed to be one fits all?  (NCLB, Common Core Curriculum Standards)

11. Does the language in its description reference international standards, creating of global citizens of the world, sans allegiance to U.S.


Address concepts in terms of YES or NO.  If NO, avoid dialog re: specifics.  If YES, all of the above applies.  


Think CONCEPT, CONCEPT, CONCEPT.   Avoid entanglement with the minutia of a net designed to capture convictions.


1. William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 1959:  "Nietzsche put the idea this way: 'Man shall be trained for war and woman for the procreation of the warrior. All else is folly.'...'Ye shall love peace as a means to new war, and the short peace more than the long. You I advise not to work, but to fight. You I advise not to peace but to victory.... Ye say it is the good cause which halloweth even war? I say unto you: it is the good war which halloweth every cause. War and courage have done more great things than charity.'

      "Finally there was Nietzsche's prophecy of the coming elite who would rule the world and from whom the superman would spring. In The Will to Power he exclaims: 'A daring and ruler race is building itself up.... The aim should be to prepare a transvaluation of values for a particularly strong kind of man, most highly gifted in intellect and will. This man and the elite around him will become the 'lords of the earth'." Such rantings from one of Germany's most original minds must have struck a responsive chord in Hitler's littered mind."

 2. Soldiers Of Reason, The RAND Corp and the Rise of the American Empire, by Alex Abella, 2008 - First Mariner Books, edition 2009). (emphasis added by this writer)


3. Ibid.