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 "School-To-Work."

Metcalf's daily streaming radio show can be heard on TalkNetDaily weekdays from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET.

By Geoff Metcalf

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 children academically.

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 in curriculum?

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 was.

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 you 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?"

...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 years.

Charlotte Iserbyt's landmark book, "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America," is available at WND's online store.

Complete interview at: 

Daycare Bombshell Hits The "Village"

May 2, 2001 by: Phyllis Schlafly

The advocates of "it take a village to raise a child" are having a rough month. They are scurrying around trying to come up with arguments to refute the new study showing that children who spend most of their time in daycare are three times as likely to exhibit behavior problems in kindergarten as those who are cared for primarily by their mothers.

Children who spend more than 30 hours a week in daycare were found to be more demanding, more noncompliant, and more aggressive. They scored higher on things like gets in lots of fights, cruelty, bullying, meanness, talking too much, and making demands that must be met immediately.

The study found a direct correlation between time spent in daycare and a child's aggression, defiance and disobedience. The findings held true regardless of the type or quality of daycare, the sex of the child, the family's socioeconomic status, or the quality of the mother care.

Why is anybody surprised that social science research is confirming reality? True science always verifies reality; it's only junk science that manufactures illusions based on ideologies.

The new study followed more than 1,100 children in ten cities in every kind of daycare setting, from care with relatives and nannies to preschool and large daycare centers. The study was financed by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development, a branch of the National Institutes of Health that produced a daycare-friendly report in 1996.

The "village" advocates are swarming all over the media with their feeble rebuttals. They argue, without evidence, that better quality daycare might produce different results, that the real problem is that employed parents are tired and stressed, and that the study hasn't undergone rigorous peer review.

Of course, there are other variables, including viewing television, the divorce of parents, and the amount of father care. But this new study is the most comprehensive to date and its findings are by significant margins.

The new study corroborates the 1986 findings of one of its principal investigators, Dr. Jay Belsky, who shocked the child development world with an article entitled "Infant Day Care: A Cause for Concern?" Belsky reported on the evidence then piling up that infants who spent long hours in daycare were at risk of behavioral problems later.

At that time, the daycare industry and the "village" advocates in the child development field were preparing to launch a national advertising campaign for federally funded, federally regulated daycare as a new middle-class entitlement. They felt threatened by this article by Belsky, then just a young associate professor at Pennsylvania State University.

So, the daycare industry lowered the professional boom on the upstart professor who dared to challenge the then prevailing feminist notion that commercial daycare was what infants really needed so that their mothers could be fulfilling themselves in the labor force. The word went out: don't buy Belsky's textbook, shun him at professional meetings, label him a misogynist.

The reason the daycare issue arouses such bitter antagonism is not only that it challenges the liberals who want to expand government social services by having the "village" take over raising children. The daycare issue also strikes at the heart of feminist ideology that it is oppression of women for society to expect mothers to care for their own children.

Feminist ideology teaches that equality for women depends on the government relieving women of the burden of childcare so they can be advancing in the labor force. Any evidence that shows commercial daycare inferior to mother care, therefore, must be destroyed and the messengers vilified.

Remarkably, Belsky didn't kowtow to the Politically Correct Gestapo as so many academics have done. He is now a professor at the University of London and this time he was joined in his research by some of the country's most respected child development experts.

In 1988, the daycare industry, with lobbying help and media access from the Children's Defense Fund, went ahead with its lavish national advertising campaign, proclaiming the lack of sufficient daycare a national "crisis," and offering the ABC Child Care Bill sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) as the solution. Their three-year congressional and media battle failed; the American people are not willing to provide tax-paid baby-sitters for other people's children.

Hillary Clinton made another attempt to peddle the notion of a daycare "crisis" as her "frontier issue" in 1997. She hosted an exclusive shindig at the White House featuring all the usual suspects of those who want the "village" to raise children, such as her friend Marian Wright Edelman of the Children's Defense Fund, but the American people turned a deaf ear to her cries of "crisis."

The conservative solution to child care needs has always been tax credits, i.e., let the parents spend their own money for the child care of their choice, and don't force mothers taking care of their own children to subsidize babysitters for employed moms. Fortunately, we've made some progress in legislating child credits into the income tax code. Phyllis Schlafly column 5-02-01.