John Taylor Gatto: On Education — Other Books and Excerpts

04 Education
John Taylor Gatto
John Taylor Gatto

Source Book: The Underground History of American Education: A School Teacher's Intimate Investigation Into the Problem of Modern Schooling

Books mentioned by Gatto:

+ Daniel J. Kevles' In The Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity

+ Barbara Howe, Shiela Slaughter, Edard Silva, and James Anderson,  Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism: The Foundations at Home and Abroad

+ Rene Wormser's Foundations: Their Power and Influence (“hair-raising”)

+ Francis Fitzgerald, America Revised: History Schoolbooks in the Twentieth Century

+ Mitford Mathews, Teaching to Read: Historically Considered

+ B. K. Eakman's Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality through Education

+ Ellen Condliffe Lagemann's Private Power for the Public Good : A History of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

+ Michael Brunner, Retarding America: The Imprisonment of Potential

+ Jerry Farber, The Student as Nigger: Essays and Stories


EXCERPTS FROM An Underground History of American Education, by John Taylor Gatto:

Here you have the brilliant formula used to create a coal-fired mass mind:

1. Removal of the active literacies of writing and speaking which enable individuals to link up with and to persuade others.

2. Destruction of the narrative of American history connecting the arguments of the Founding Fathers to historical events, defining what makes Americans different from others besides wealth.

3. Substitution of a historical “social studies” catalogue of facts in place of historical narrative.

4. Radical dilution of the academic content of formal curriculum which familiarized students with serious literature, philosophy, theology, etc. This has the effect of curtailing any serious inquiries into economics, politics, or religion.

5. Replacement of academics with a balanced-diet concept of “humanities,” physical education, counseling, etc., as substance of the school day.

6. Obfuscation or outright denial of the simple, code-cracking drills which allow fluency in reading to anyone.

7. The confinement of tractable and intractable students together in small rooms. In effect this is a leveling exercise with predictable (and pernicious) results. A deliberate contradiction of common-sense principles, rhetorically justified on the grounds of psychological and social necessity.

8. Enlargement of the school day and year to blot up outside opportunities to acquire useful knowledge leading to independent livelihoods; the insertion of misleading surrogates for this knowledge in the form of “shop” classes which actually teach little of skilled crafts.

9. Shifting of oversight from those who have the greatest personal stake in student development—parents, community leaders, and the students themselves—to a ladder of strangers progressively more remote from local reality. All school transactions to be ultimately monitored by an absolute abstraction, the “standardized” test, correlating with nothing real and very easily rigged to produce whatever results are called for.

10. Relentless low-level hostility toward religious interpretations of meaning.

Also: Oddly enough, an actual scheme of dissident entrapment was the brainchild of J.P.
Morgan, his unique contribution to the Cecil Rhodes-inspired “Round Table” group.
Morgan contended that revolution could be subverted permanently by infiltrating the
underground and subsidizing it. In this way the thinking of the opposition could be
known as it developed and fatally compromised. Corporate, government, and foundation cash grants to subversives might be one way to derail the train of insurrection that Hegelian theory predicted would arise against every ruling class.


+ The New York Times of March 27, 1922: The real menace to our republic is this invisible government which like a giant octopus sprawls its slimy length over city, state and nation… It has seized in its tentacles our executive officers, our legislative bodies, our schools, our courts, our newspapers, and every agency created for the public protection…. To depart from mere generalizations, let me say that at the head of this octopus are the Rockefeller Standard Oil interests.

+ In the Congressional Record of January 26, 1917, for instance, Senator Chamberlain of Oregon entered these words:

They are moving with military precision all along the line to get control of the
education of the children of the land.

Senator Poindexter of Washington followed, saying:

The cult of Rockefeller, the cult of Carnegie… as much to be guarded against in
the educational system of this country as a particular religious sect.

And in the same issue, Senator Kenyon of Iowa related:

There are certain colleges that have sought endowments, and the agent of the
Rockefeller Foundation or the General Education Board had gone out and examined the
curriculum of these colleges and compelled certain changes….

It seems to me one of the most dangerous things that can go on in a republic is to
have an institution of this power apparently trying to shape and mold the thought of the young people of this country.

Senator Works of California added:

These people…are attempting to get control of the whole educational work of the

+ Sir Francis Galton, first cousin of Charles Darwin….Galton's inspiration and plenty of American money—much of it Andrew Carnegie's and Mrs. Averill Harriman's—opened the first racial science laboratory in the world in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, in 1904. And kept it open for thirty-five years, until Hitler's invasion of Poland made discretion seem the wiser part of zealotry for the moment at the Carnegie Corporation. In 1939, it was quietly shut down. The last president at the Cold Spring Harbor facility was M.I.T. president Vannevar Bush, often called “The Father of the Atomic Bomb.”

+ The U.S. Justice Department secretly empowered private associations as volunteer spy-hunters. One, the American Protective League (APL), earned semi-official status in the national surveillance game, in time growing to enormous size. Founded by a Chicago advertising man, the APL had twelve hundred units functioning across America, all staffed by business and professional people. It was a genuine secret society replete with oath and rituals. Membership gave every operative the authority to be a national policeman. The first location placed under surveillance in every neighborhood was the local public school. Assignments were given by the old (Federal) Bureau of Investigation and by the War Department's Intelligence Division to report on “seditious and disloyal” conversation.

+ The APL checked up on people who failed to buy Liberty Bonds. It spotted violators of food and gasoline regulations, rounded up draft evaders in New York, disrupted Socialist meetings in Cleveland, broke strikes, threatened union men with immediate induction into the army. The attorney general of the United States reported to Congress, “It is safe to say never in history has this country been so thoroughly policed.”

+ By 1909, supported by prominent allies, Frances Kellor organized a New York branch of the North American Civic League, a Boston-based, business-rostered outfit intended to protect the national status quo from various foreign menaces. Under her direction, the New York branch developed its own program. It isn't clear how much of the Boston agenda they carried on—it had mainly involved sending agents into immigrant communities to act as industrial spies and to lead anti-strike movements—but in any case, by 1914 Kellor's group was writing its own menu.

It opened by demanding centralized federal action: Americanization was failing “without a national goal.” Her new “Committee for Immigrants in America” thereafter proclaimed itself the central clearinghouse to unify all public and private agencies in a national spearhead to “make all these people one nation.” When government failed to come up with money for a bureau, Miss Kellor's own backers—who included Mrs. Averill Harriman and Felix Warburg, the Rothschild banker—did just that, and this private entity was duly incorporated into the government of the United States! “The Division of Immigrant Education,” while officially federal, was in fact the subsidized creation of Frances Kellor's private lobby.

+ The inner ring of these private schools, which sets the standard for the rest includes these eighteen: Groton, St. Paul's, Deerfield, Gunnery, Choate, Middlesex, Lawrenceville, Hotchkiss, St. George's, Kent, Hill, Episcopal High (not Episcopal Prep!), Andover, Exeter, Culver Military, Milton Academy, St. Marks, Woodberry Forest, and perhaps one or two more. About 52 percent of the elite boarding schools are connected with the Episcopal Church and 5 percent with the Quaker faith.

+ Here is a baker's dozen of other outfits to allow you to see more clearly the outlines of the new society rising like an English phoenix out of the ashes of our democratic republic:

The Order of Americans of Armorial Ancestry
The Society of Mayflower Descendants
The Society of Americans of Royal Descent
The Daughters of the Utah Pioneers
The Women Descendants of the Ancient and Honorable Artillery
The Order of the First Families of Virginia
The Order of the Crown of Charlemagne
The Order of the Three Crusades, 1096-1192
The Descendants of Colonial Governors
The Society of the Cincinnati
The Society of Founders of Norwich, Connecticut
The Swedish American Colonial Society
The Descendants of Colonial Clergy

The popular leviathans of this confederation of special blood were the National Society of the Sons of the American Revolution, which enrolled eleven of the next twelve presidents as members (Nixon was eligible but declined), and its sister society, the D.A.R.

+ The corporate foundation is mainly a twentieth-century phenomenon, growing from
twenty-one specimens of the breed in 1900 to approximately fifty thousand by 1990.
From the beginning, foundations aimed squarely at educational policy formation.

+ In 1913, the Sixty-Second Congress created a commission to investigate the role of these new foundations of Carnegie, Rockefeller, and of other corporate families. After a year of testimony it concluded:

The domination of men in whose hands the final control of a large part of American
industry rests is not limited to their employees, but is being rapidly extended to
control the education and social services of the nation.

And as a final note:

+ Once again, you need to remember we aren't conspiracy hunting but tracking an idea, like microchipping an eel to see what holes it swims into in case we want to catch it later on.

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