I don't mean to be inflammatory, but it's as if government schooling made people dumber, not brighter; made families weaker, not stronger; ruined formal religion with its hard-sell exclusion of God; set the class structure in stone by dividing children into classes and setting them against one another; and has been midwife to an alarming concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a fraction of the national community.
Yikes! Summarizing this chapter is just a few sentences is tough. Basically, Gatto claims that forced schooling was a conspiracy set in motion by wealthy industrialists like Rockefeller who understood that the American economy of the 20th century would need a large army of factory drones to man the lines of production. So they worked with a very willing government to put in place a system of forced schooling based on the school system in Prussia that would produce a generation of people with no ambition beyond their next paycheck.
Sound preposterous? Yeah, I sort of think so too. The simplest solution is usually right, and a massive conspiracy that was widely successful is difficult to believe. On the surface, I would think public education is more of a happy accident than a well thought out and planned initiative.
We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.
- President Woodrow Wilson, just prior to WWI
Just a few months before this report was released, an executive director of the National Education Association announced that his organization expected "to accomplish by education what dictators in Europe are seeking to do by compulsion and force."
The report mentioned is The Geneticist's Manifesto, in which Hermann Miller reported on his experiments using X-rays to override genetic law in fruit flies. Mueller believed human behavior could be scientifically controlled and exploited. Mueller believed the state must be ready to direct human sexual behavior, and that schools were the place to separate the breeders from those slated for termination. Muller was not just some random quack. He received a Nobel prize and was highly influential with Rockefeller, who at this time was spending more on schools that the entire US Government.
Scary stuff indeed.
Lest you think this is all ancient history,
In 1973, Catherine Barrett, president of the National Education Association, said, "Dramatic changes in the way we raise our children are indicated, particularly in terms of schooling...we will be agents of change."
One more thought from Gatto.
Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass production economy requires such a clientèle. A small business, small farm economy like that of the Amish requires individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and universal participation; our own requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, familyless, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between Cheers and Seinfeld is a subject worth arguing about.
He makes a very good case. However, I can't bring myself to really believe the depth of conspiracy that Gatto is exposing. I think the thought that they could do that is just too frightening to contemplate. Because if a small group of wealthy and powerful men, helped by the government, really can ruin our children like this, what else can they do? What else have they already done?