The Highjacking of America’s Children
Some years ago. a school bus and its cargo of children was captured, hidden away, and the passengers held for ransom. The shock of this perversion of purpose, the takeover of children put to the purposes of a kidnapper, taken advantage of in their presence together for transport to and from school, was felt world wide. It was recognized that the trust of both parents and the children had been violated by someone bent on achieving a purpose of his own – extorting from those who cared for and loved those children what he wanted.
More and more persons – parents especially -are asking if something similar is not being done under the guise of what is called “outcome-based education.” If the critics of this development in schooling arc correct, certain philosophers and ideologically motivated educators have taken over classrooms and are holding students hostage to the ideas and theories of what should be learned and accepted. If this is so, then education is being turned from its purpose of formation through offering truth and wisdom in keeping with the dignity of the human person to indoctrination by means of both inclusion and omission to advance subjective purposes and ideologies.
The very possibility alone demands the matter be examined closely, which this monograph will attempt to do. The future of human society and culture obviously depends on what can be established in this regard.
Just What Is Going On?
Proponents of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) insist there is nothing sinister happening. OBE is simply an effort to improve and sharpen education of our young people, especially in view of the impending Third Millennium. In this outlook, OBE is a means of making sure today’s students can implement and apply what they have learned, putting it into practice in an increasingly complex and challenging environment. The emphasis, therefore, is practical -the living of learning – rather than simply accumulating information. It perhaps could be summarized with a motto, “Doing More Than Knowing.”
But there is a wealth of evidence that there is more to it than that. And the totality of evidence suggests that the real “outcome” being sought is to determine what students as tomorrow’s citizens will do and toward what purpose by controlling what they learn and what they fail to learn now. Thus, the recent deemphasis of history in Littleton, Colorado, public high schools after two OBE enthusiasts were elected to the school hoard, despite the fact they insisted, when running for office, that they supported a stress on basics. History is not very basic for OBE people because it unmasks foolishness and points out wisdom. It verifies unchanging truths and principles in the experience of our ancestors. Those determined to discredit such things dare not let those they are teaching look backward.
In September, 1995, Robert Holland, op-ed page editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, wrote:
Holland lists some of the things his callers reported: Asking children strange and personal questions; failure to correct students’ misspellings; ending honors course in Western Civilization; requiring children to perform community service; promoting the notion the school is the children’s family; junking grades, texts, class rankings.
Another writer, Candace de Russy, gives some questions asked of students that are indeed strange and personal, and under federal sponsorship, no less. Among the questions: “(Does) the prospect of working most of my adult life depress me?” “Are you routinely left at home without adults being there?” “Have you ever thought about killing yourself?” “Have you ever worried about your birth father’s drinking too much or using drugs?” “Have you ever been touched sexually by anyone (adult or young person) in a way that you felt was inappropriate?” “Are you expected to do chores and help out at home? “2
In a test on a story titled, “Your Dad Is a Wimp?” the highest grade given fourth-graders went to a pupil who wrote it would be “fun” to be part of a family like that of the character Jesse, whose mother worked and whose father stayed home cooking. The lowest score went to a pupil who wrote he wouldn’t like to live with a family like Jesse’s, being happy in a family that can he presumed to be the traditional one with Dad working and Mom at home.
Another way to earn a low score in such testing is to hold firm to views in place before certain recommended reading and dialogue occurred, or (in a discussion supposedly concerning the mathematics of corn production) for even mentioning herbicides or pesticides as means of increasing crop yield.” 3
The Phyllis Schlafly Report 4 tells of an attempt (in 1995) to introduce a “Multicultural Nonsexist Education Plan” into the Des Moines (IA) public school district. This called for developing gay/lesbian information modules that could be “fully integrated” by what the plan itself called infusion into every level of school: “To use the instructional materials selection cycle to infuse information regarding gay/lesbian/bisexual issues into the curriculum.” Some of the discussion to be generated by this infusion was to concern “same-gender families and parenting: evolution of the modern gay/lesbian/bisexual identity…; information on gender/sexual orientation and the natural diversity present in human beings.” The plan called for encouraging staff and student attendance at the annual “Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Youth Conference,” for providing information on national marches for “Lesbians and Gay Rights,” for “advertising the Gay and Lesbian Resource Center in school newspapers,” and for providing “support for gay/lesbian/bisexual staff members.”
The plan apparently was placed on hold after considerable resistance. The Phyllis Schlafly Report commented:
If this plan is not specifically part of Outcome-Based Education it certainly employs the OBE methodology and tactic, and would fit in without difficulty once OBE philosophy dominates the general educational purpose.
The anecdotal and inferential evidence about what OBE is about could fill a several-volume library. But the whole picture should be filled on by evidence from OBE sources, statements, and revelations.
What OBE Reveals About Itself
The descriptive name for this movement and the education it promotes was given by Dr. William Spady, sociologist and director of the International Center on Outcome-Based Education. Dr. Spady said that in his OBE, “factual recall fade(s} into the background.” 5 This fading out of fact from students’ minds is a first and required step for OBE’s purpose – in the words of Prof. Benjamin Bloom, “to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students.” Dr. Spady confirms that OBE is based on Prof. Bloom’s theories, among which is that the “affective domain” (feelings, beliefs, attitudes) is of supreme importance. Thus “good teaching” is described by the Professor as “the teacher’s ability to challenge students’ fixed beliefs.” 6
Luksik and Hoffecker give evidence of just what that means:
Governmental interest in change-oriented education was identified by B.J. Skinner himself, in his work Technology of Teaching, 1968:
What Skinner was saying is that future government will make an ally of education and its technology to reinforce its rule and the culture favorable to it. (The Communist theoretician Antonio Gramsci advanced approximately the same thesis in the 1920s regarding the ascendancy of the Marxism he was acting for. Both Skinner and Gramsci are being proven correct in large areas of Outcome-Based Education.)
The federal government’s interest and participation in OBE dates back well over a decade. U.S. Department of Education funds support the “Mastery in Learning Project” being carried on at nine regional laboratories.9 “Mastery Learning” was an earlier name before Dr. Spady renamed what is now more commonly called Outcome-Based Education. No matter what it is called, this kind of “education” is more Skinnerian. Pavlovian training, with behavior, control, and compliance the goal as revealed by “outcome” – which is to say not only acceptance of a desired viewpoint (or as now called a “politically correct” position) but also the effective use of that position in community, converting that viewpoint into active involvement.
As Texas Congressman Dick Armey explained it to his colleagues, “OBE shifts a school’s focus from how much students know (cognitive outcomes) lo how well they’re socialized (affective outcomes). . . . It weans children from their parents’ values to instill in them politically correct, secular-left values.” 10 Armey wrote fellow Congressmen that “Goals 2000 does all of this, via a new national school board called NESIC.”
“Goals 2000” is part of the title of the Clinton Administration’s “Educate America Act” passed by both bodies of the U.S. Congress in early 1994. It mandates an unprecedented intrusion into local control of education, and states as a primary goal that “all students will be involved in activities that demonstrate community service.”11 NESIC is the National Education Standards Council set up by the Clinton act. This council will certify what all students should know and be able to do – which is precisely OBE at its essence.
How OBE Was Conceived
Long before it was known as OBE. The seeds for it were sown abroad by those such as the Fabian ideologue. H.G. Wells. He wrote these prophetic statements in his 1934 autobiography:
After reading Wells’ autobiography, Franklin D. Roosevelt on Feb. 1935, wrote the British socialist-futurist:
On Nov. 20. 1936. Wells spoke to the Royal Institution of Great Britain on “World Encyclopedia,” suggesting a new social organization, “a new institution” of that name:
Earlier Wells had written that such an organization of “intelligent and quite possibly in some cases wealthy men” would at the most “utilize existing apparatus of political control” to attain its ends.
FDR had written Wells in December of 1933, thanking him for “doing much to educate people everywhere,” saying he (FDR) had read “almost everything that you have written.” 15 In 1941, in his annual message to Congress, FDR defined a world which would guarantee to everyone “Four Freedoms,” namely, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom From Want, Freedom From Fear.
It is not surprising to learn:
The Clinton Administration, which is fronting for OBE, with both legislation and tax monies, is the heir to the New Deal. Whether it is being used by the Renaissance (a group of intelligent and, in most cases, wealthy, persons confirming Wells’ prediction) organization to which Clinton himself belongs is not of immediate practical importance. OBE is the genius of Goals 2000, and far from being voluntary as some of its defenders claim, the purpose of Goals 2000 is to use funding to coerce all state educational systems to comply. That, too. Wells had foreseen as Liberal Socialism’s peaceable but coercive method. Dr. Cuddy comments on the supposed voluntary character of Goals 2000:
Clinton’s own education secretary, Richard Reilly, points to economics as the force that will enroll me states in this program.18
OBE And The
It would be thought that for many reasons, some discussed in the final segment of this monograph, that Catholics would be immune to the methods, promises, and purposes of OBE. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Not only do the economic pressures discussed above apply to private as well as public schools, the desire of many Catholic educators to be “accredited” and to match public schools in professionalism (which ironically would mean steps backwards in genuine excellence) lure many Catholic schools to bow to the pressure toward OBE conformity. Further, the uncritical and often superficial thought revealed in imprudent reforms imagined to implement “the spirit of Vatican II,” has led many of the new generation of Catholic educators to accept the claims and methods of behaviorist psychology. A classic case of Outcome-Based Education was practiced on the leadership of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) community of nuns in Los Angeles. One of the practitioners in that case, Dr. William Coulson, has drawn back in shock from the results, which had the former nuns abandoning their former goals and even their religious vocations.19
Sr. M. Ann Eckhoff. S.S.N.D.. superintendent of education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, writing in Education St. Louis in December, 1993, explained “a number of school districts along with the Archdiocese are attempting to collaborate in the formation of a demonstration site for ‘testing out’ new ways of learning.” Those new ways will include: “Emphasis on the process rather than the right answer.”20
A book review in the Pilot, official newspaper of the Boston Archdiocese, reveals and sounds a needed alarm about this seduction of Catholic education by OBE subjectivism. This highly significant review must be quoted at length:
Alternative Source Of Values
Abraham Maslow, one of the behaviorist psychologists whose theories served to smash to pieces the California Immaculate Heart of Mary sisterhood, was quoted in Pace magazine (December, 1969):
That source obviously is humanism. Maslow was 1967 Humanist of the Year. It seems inescapable that the psychologists whose theories move OBE were actively involved with what Maslow calls the crackup of religions, so that Humanism would be able to put those pieces of “cracked up” religion together in the image of their own minds. Even those not given to credit conspiracies of such magnitude must see something preternatural about such fostered outcomes.
It might have been humanism which Fr. John A. Harden S.J., had in mind when he wrote:
In 1907 Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson gave a chillingly prophetic vision of that sort of atheism (though perhaps not merely practical) that we are increasingly facing as today’s reality:
Just a few more developments and the above will not have any fiction left in it-it will be fact foreseen by this British convert-priest long before it had happened. And either OBE or something very much like it will have had an important part in making the prophecy come true.
Toward A Socialist Transformation
Antonio Gramsci, Italian revolutionist of the early 20th Century, was a prophet of methodology for change, the methodology of ideological and cultural infiltration using all means, and especially education, as the carrier. Gramsci considered “two revolutions,” 24 the one waged by Communism in Europe and comprised of uprisings, seizure of power, subversion aimed at destroying existing structures, and transferred to the United States particularly after the collapse of prosperity. This revolution was unwinnable, in Gramsci’s thesis, because it had not first won over the mind of the existing order and structure. Only by so doing, he argued, could that order and structure be replaced by the Marxist socialist apparatus.
Gramsci framed the second, and winnable, revolution in terms of “ideological hegemony” – breaking down that hegemony enjoyed by bourgeois-capitalist domination of culture and then “reification” (bringing into concrete reality) of the Marxist view to replace it. The struggle therefore was for nothing less than the total mind and soul of existing culture that the revolutionists wished to overthrow and replace:
The author of the above words might have been thinking about many aspects of OBE when he wrote the following summary of Gramsci’s plan for socialist victory:
The modus operandi of OBE could have the following words of Gramsci as a motto:
In Latin America, Gramsci’s “reification” becomes “conscientization” as an instrument of what admirers of Paulo Freire, Gramsci disciple, call “transformational education.” This kind of education results (and is intended to result) in such things as:
William Bean Kennedy’s analysis of where and how “transformational education” originates and functions is highly instructive of just what is facing today’s world at the hands of some determined ideologues:
Kennedy was commenting on models for bringing about change developed and/or discussed at various consultations and meetings of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education and the Religious Education Association. Obviously, from the reports in the work produced by Kennedy and others, these educators for the most part are admirers of Freire and hard at work through education to bring about his Marxist goals. That they have chosen the very methods and often the terminology that is general throughout Outcome-Based Education should put all concerned on notice: OBE involves converting all exposed to it to the subjective and often subversive ideas of those few who consider themselves called to pull down structures, overturn values, implant their own ideas, and thereby “reinvent power” and in doing so take control of culture, society, and the state.
Just What Is Wrong With OBE?
Doesn’t all education attempt to inculcate values, to bring about outcomes in terms of acceptance of what is taught and the ability to apply it in situations of life? Of course. But there are distinct differences in that exercise between OBE and traditional education.
Traditional education appeals to the intellect first and primarily on the basis of the reasonableness of what is taught, the success it has shown in the past, the universal acceptance of the significance of what is taught, and demonstrated applications of it for culture considered universally as salutary and fruitful. In this, the education is in keeping with the human nature of both teachers and students. Such education is liberating because it reveals to the student what it means to be human, to interiorize objective reality for the good of others, building on that reality and developing its potential for a society that recognizes genuinely human needs and aspirations.
OBE, on the other hand. pre-establishes outcomes based on the subjective concerns or personal predictions of the future by thinkers and their allies in education who for the most part are seeking radical change. And all too often those “outcomes” are untried, unproved, doubtful in their human significance. They make up what psychologist W. J. Coulson calls ‘The Foolishness of Futurism.” Dr. Coulson quotes William Spady, godfather of OBE, in an interview with Ron Brandt, Executive editor of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (an arm of the National Education Association):
Dr. Coulson comments in a footnote to that bit of Spadyism:
It is clear why future-minded OBE must wipe out courses about the past – history, literature, etc. Such studies will often contradict the values and the outcomes predicted by the futurists, and in fact reveal the failure of such “inventiveness” in the past. The future is a gamble; predictions may be bets on “wisdom” and “goodness” that in the past have been unmasked as sham. The best of the past is perennial, applying to mankind in all ages: it is impossible to know in advance what will be valuable continuations of such perennial values, and what will be faux gems or echoes of ancient failures. No wonder OBE disdains past wisdoms and ancient learnings. As Dr. Coulson puts it: “… OBE aims to defeat academics: schools that adopt it will see excellence disappear, for OBE is fundamentally anti-intellectual.”
In being anti-intellectual, OBE betrays the very functioning and faculties which distinguish humans from brutes. It is training, as is done to animals, rather than education which is offered to humans, even young ones. And as with animals who are trained. The response is automatic, not free. The intellect is bypassed, so that the will may be captured, to a great extent through the emotions and conditioned responses. The ignorance of brute animals about what is happening to them in regard to outcome training is purposely applied to OBE.
1. Clean the Slate
Poisoning The Future
The philosophic genealogy of OBE is as perverse as that of Nazism or Communism. Dr. Coulson identifies the poisoned well of U.S. education to be the mind of the late John Dewey:
Echoing Dewey, Rogers said of a student unfortunate enough to run afoul of OBE:
If this makes the students of our age appear as psychological subjects more than thinking and maturing normal human beings, it is no accident. For the evil genius of OBE is, quite clearly, what Dr. Coulson calls “trash psychology”:
Of course, it really doesn’t: it promotes subordination of students to the whims, fantasies, “do what I will” excesses of the most daringly and frankly corrupt:
Richard Chadbourne has called Dewey and lapsed priest Ernest Renan, Dewey’s senior by a generation and much admired by the American educationalist, “Two Organizers of Divinity.”37 Chadbourne wrote:
It is no wonder that one step beyond we find this quite possibly accurate prediction by feminist leader Gloria Steinem:
All who agree with her can count on OBE to pave the way.
(It is quite clear the highjackers of the school bus do not intend to return the children for ransom. Their purpose is the power to change the children into their own image, in blasphemous imitation of God’s creation. They don’t intend to return the children at all.)
1. Robert Holland, Crisis Magazine, Sept., 1995.
2. Candace De Russy, Crisis Magazine, June, 1995.
4. Phyllis Schlafly Report, Vol. 29, No. 2, Sept. 1995.
5. Peg Luksik and Pamela Hobbs Hoffecker, Outcome-Based Education: The State’s Assaults On Our Children’s Values, Huntington House, Lafayette, La., 1995, citing Spady’s “It’s Time To Take A Close Look At OBE,” in Outcomes, Summer 1992.
6. Luksik and Hoffecker, ibid., p. 29. citing Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy
7. Ibid., p. 33
8. Quoted by Charlotte T Iserbyte, Back To Basic Reform Or…OBE — Skinnerian International Curriculum?, p. 39.
9. Iserbyte, ibid., p 25 et seq.
10. Letter to colleagues, Oct. 6, 1993.
11. Dennis Laurence Cuddy. Ph.D., Chronology Of Education With Quotable Quotes, Pro Family Forum. Inc., P.O. Box 1059, Highland City, FL. 33846, 1994, pp. 110-11.
12. H.G. Wells, Experiment in Autobiography, quoted by Dr. Cuddy in Road to Socialism and The New World Order, Florida Pro Family Forum, Inc., p. 17.
13.-14. Cuddy, Road To Socialism And The New World, pp 17-18.
15. Cuddy, ibid., p. 17.
16. Martin, Rose, Fabian Freeway, quoted by Cuddy, ibid., no page given.
17. Cuddy, op.cit., p. 111.
18. New York Times, March 30, 1994.
19. Frank Morriss, “Scores ‘Trash Psychology’ For Undermining Learning,” The Wanderer, Feb. 29, 1996, p. 1 & 8.
20. Sr. M. Ann Eckhoff, SSND, Education St. Louis, Dec. 1993, quoted in “From the Mail,” The Wanderer, July 20, 1995, p. 9.
21. Msgr. Francis Kelly (faculty of Pope XXIII Seminary, Weston, MA) Pilot, reviewing Catholic Schools and the Common Good, Byk, Lee and Holland, Harvard University Press, 1993.
22. Fr John A. Harden. S.J., “0ur Right To The Truth,” Catholic Truth magazine, Jan./Feb., 1996.
23. Msgr. Hugh Benson, The Lord of the World, quoted by Cuddy.
24. Carl Boggs, Two Revolutions: Gramsci And The Dilemmas Of Western Marxism, South End Press, Boston, 1984.
25. Ibid., p. 130.
26. Ibid., p. 190.
27. Ibid., quoting The Modern Prince, p. 209.
28. Evans, Evans and Kennedy, Pedagogies for the Non-Poor, Orbis Books, 1987.
29.-30. William Bean Kennedy, Ibid., pp. 245-6.
31 . Paper of the Research Council for Ethnopsychology, PO Box 134, Competche, CA, 95427, Feb. 1994.
32. Media By-Pass Magazine, 1994.
33. W. R. Coulson, Ph.D., Research Council For Ethnopsychology, monograph.
34. Carl Rogers, “Interpersonal Relationships: USA 2000,” Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences, 4 (2) 1968, p. 274.
35.-36. Coulson, op. cit.
37. Thought magazine, Sept. 1949
38. Saturday Review of Education, Feb. 10, 1973.
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