The Progressive Agenda to Dumb Down America’s Children—Alex Newman [Eagle Council Special]

September 25, 2019 Updated: October 16, 2019

During the 48th Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Council, Epoch Times’ senior editor Jan Jekielek sat down with Alex Newman, co-author of “Crimes of the Educators: How Utopians Are Using Government Schools to Destroy America’s Children.” Newman broke down what he sees as the progressive agenda taking over the American school system to promote a collectivist, socialist, atheist worldview.

Jan Jekielek: Alex Newman, great to have you on American Thought Leaders.

Alex Newman: Great to be here with you. Thank you Jan.

Mr. Jekielek: You’re the author of “Crimes of the Educators,” and you had a very provocative talk last night. And I wanted you to tell me more. What is going on in the US educational system that we should be worried about?

Mr. Newman: Well, I think we should be worried about the entire educational system, not just what’s going on there. If you look at the people who created it, they all told us what their agenda was. It was to turn the children into little socialists, little communists, little humanists, and away from traditional American values, biblical morality, and those cornerstones of what America was founded on. And so I think the entire edifice is a threat to our freedom, to our nation, to our children, to our families.

And when you look at what’s happening there now, I think it’s becoming even more clear to people. They’re bringing in the LGBT indoctrination. They’re bringing in the drag queen story hours. The stuff that’s going on in the public schools today, I think would shock even the most liberal, progressive parent. Half of the kids graduate and can’t even read–that’s according to the government’s own data. 50 percent of American adults now are illiterate. This is mind-blowing, right?

Mr. Jekielek: What percent of American adults are illiterate?

Mr. Newman: 50 percent. In 1993, the federal government did a literacy study, and they categorized Americans into five categories. One being completely and totally illiterate, couldn’t read a stop sign to save [their] life; two being basically functionally illiterate, and five being a good reader. Half of Americans were in the bottom two categories.

They did another survey 10 years later–same results: about half of Americans can’t read. And in some places, it’s even worse. In Washington DC, the government’s own data shows that more than two-thirds of the adult population is functionally illiterate. This is mind-blowing.

Mr. Jekielek: It is mind-blowing.

Mr. Newman: They spend 12 years in a government school. We spend $150,000, $200,000, and these kids are graduating, and they can’t even read their high school diploma. Now anybody who tells you that’s an accident doesn’t know what they’re talking about. This is absolutely deliberate. It can be proven. We reprinted one of the essays in this book by John Dewey, the founding father of America’s government school system explaining that basically they want to dumb down the children. We don’t need to teach the little kids how to read, write and do math. We really just need to socialize them. But we need to do it without people noticing because otherwise there’s gonna be a violent reaction. So we reprinted that essay just because it’s so hard to believe until you’ve seen the evidence.

Mr. Jekielek: It’s extremely hard to believe. It sounds like you’re kind of handicapping the society and the nation severely. Why would you do that?

Mr. Newman: That’s a very good question.

Mr. Jekielek: First of all, this statistic, to me it’s a jaw-dropping thing. It’s been around since 1993. I don’t even know what to say. And secondly that it’s deliberate, just strains credulity.

Mr. Newman: The story of how it all happened is [in the book]; I can give you the condensed version.

There was a Reverend Gallaudet who was running a school for deaf children with the absolute best of intentions. He set out trying a new strategy for teaching reading because the way normal people learn how to read our alphabet is through phonics. Each letter represents one or more sounds. To teach a child to read, you need to teach them what sounds each letter makes, how you blend those together, and then how you decode the word. Deaf children can’t hear sounds. So this Reverend who was taking care of deaf children figured out [that he could] just teach them to memorize whole words as if the words themselves were assembled, kind of like the Chinese writing system. It’s completely different from our writing system, which is based on phonetic characters. For deaf children, this was a really big improvement.

A very smart person can memorize hundreds, maybe even over a thousand words. That opens up reading to them in a way that wasn’t possible before. Horace Mann, who was the pioneer of setting up government schools in America, started off as the education commissioner in Massachusetts. He got this idea from the Prussian dictatorship, that government ought to educate all the children, equalize all men, and get the Bible out, etc. And he thought, why don’t we try out this reading method in the new government schools that we’ve created in Boston? Well, they did, and within a few years, all the headmasters of all the schools in Boston said, we’re not going to do this anymore. It doesn’t work. The kids were developing what today we would call dyslexia. They couldn’t read properly because that’s not how you teach reading.

Even a really smart kid cannot memorize 8,000 words, [which] would be necessary to be able to properly understand the written language that we have. So that [idea] was completely discredited. I mean, you can read the essay today. My colleague who I wrote “Crimes of the Educators” with, Dr. Sam Blumenfeld, put together a book in 1973 called “The New Illiterates.” And he actually reprinted the essay that the Boston schoolmasters wrote about this teaching method. They had said, this change proposed by Mr. Mann is not called for. It’s not sustained by sound reasoning. It doesn’t work. We’re not going to do it anymore. It was completely discredited. Throw it on the ash heap of history; it doesn’t work. Let’s not do it again.

Now, John Dewey, who I mentioned before, was inspired by the Soviet Union. He went to the Soviet Union. He loved what Lenin was doing, instilling a collectivist mentality into the children. He wanted to replicate that in the United States. He resurrected this quackery that Horace Mann had tried out, knowing full well that it wasn’t going to work. They set up an experimental school with Rockefeller money, and the kids graduated unable to read and write. Incredibly, they said, that’s perfect. Let’s do it all across the nation.

They put together readers like “Dick and Jane,” which handicapped millions of Americans. It became a big scandal back in 1955, because Rudolf Flesch wrote the book, “Why Johnny Can’t Read.” He blew the lid off all this. He said, this is ridiculous. This way of teaching reading flies in the face of all logic, all common sense. And yet it’s being taught in every public school in America. Something’s wrong. So this caused a national uproar. They were exposed. They had to retreat slightly. They said, we’ll introduce phonics again; at least a little bit. Then in 1973, Dr. Blumenfeld put out “The New Illiterates” statistics and another scandal ensued. And yet, to this day, under common core, they have children in kindergarten memorizing sight words.

[The idea that] it’s an accident or that somehow, after thousands of years of teaching people to read, we forgot how to do it, is preposterous. It’s ludicrous.

Mr. Jekielek: The title of your book is provocative. It’s suggesting there’s kind of a utopian vision behind what’s happening to our schools. We’re just talking about literacy here. Are you saying that this is somehow well-intentioned? Someone’s trying to create a better society by making sure people can’t read properly? I don’t get it.

Mr. Newman: I don’t think that it’s well-intentioned.

Robert Owen was one of the earliest socialists. In fact, he was a socialist before Karl Marx came along. He had come over from Scotland and set up a colony in Indiana called the New Harmony colony, and it was an absolute failure. They said, we’re going to try communism here before the term communism existed. They called it a social system where you wouldn’t have private property. Everything would be kind of communal and collective. It was a miserable failure.

So Robert Owen went back to the drawing board. He said, the problem is not with the idea of communism. The problem is that people are raised in a selfish environment. They’re given an education that turns them into little individualists when really they need to be collectivist. So his organization actually branched out and instead of focusing on founding a communist colony, they said we need to set up a national system of government schools where we can prepare these children for a future of collectivism.

So, Horace Mann got his inspiration, and actually the King of Prussia got his inspiration, from Robert Owen. He actually wrote him a thank you letter. You could say Robert Owen was well-intentioned. He rejected Christianity, he rejected God, he rejected private property. He rejected all the things that I would consider good, but I think, from his writings, he clearly believed what he was doing was good. He thought human nature was actually good, whereas the traditional American ethos has always been kind of Calvinistic: humans are innately depraved, and our heart is desperately wicked. Well Robert Owen didn’t believe that.

He thought that was a product of our environment, and that if you could get the children [while they’re still] young, you could train them to create what the Soviets later called “the New Soviet man”: someone who wouldn’t think of themselves but only the collective.

In that sense, maybe you could say they were well-intentioned. I think the current crop of people who insist on teaching our children with this quackery masquerading as reading instruction, I think they know full well the damage that they’re doing. And I think it’s very deliberate. As a Christian, I think the agenda is almost self-evident. The very first education law we ever had in the United States was actually passed in the 1640s by the very, very religious people of what was then the Massachusetts Bay colony. It was called the “Old Deluder Satan Act.”

Mr. Jekielek: Tell me what this is.

Mr. Newman: It was the first education-related act that was ever passed in what became the United States. It was passed back in the Massachusetts Bay colony, [which was] settled by very, very religious people who had come across from Europe. The premise of the legislation–it’s actually written in the law that was passed by their legislature–was that one of the chief projects of “old deluder Satan” was to keep men from knowledge of the scriptures. They had in mind [policies of] burning people at the stake for trying to translate the Bible into the languages of the common people. They said, one of the chief projects of Satan was to keep men from knowledge of the scriptures. So what we need in this colony is to make sure everybody can read so that they can read the scriptures, so that Satan can not deceive them.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating.

Mr. Newman: So what happens if most of your population is illiterate? They’re not going to be reading their bibles. They’re not going to be reading their Constitution or their Declaration of Independence. They’re not going to be reading genuine history books or even primary source documents. They’ll be turning to fake news like CNN, or they’ll be relying on government teachers in government schools to teach them. This creates an enormous problem from the perspective of handing on our traditions, passing on our religious values, maintaining our political institutions and our freedoms. And I think almost self-evidently, that’s the goal, to quote a more recent figure, Barack Obama: “to fundamentally transform the United States.” They would never have been able to advance the socialist agenda, the size and the scope of government in the way that we’ve seen without having dumbed down the American population.

Mr. Jekielek: This is really fascinating. Now that you frame it this way, it does make sense that it would make people much more susceptible to indoctrination, because it’s harder for them to find the alternate perspective that they may have to consider.

Mr. Newman: Absolutely. Now you have YouTube, which is one positive development. People who are illiterate can still go watch videos and learn something, but there’s a lot of garbage on YouTube as well. I think there’s no substitute for going back and reading the Constitution or reading the Bible or reading the Declaration of Independence. It’s a totally different thing to read it for yourself than it is to hear it from some Marxist political science professor.

Mr. Jekielek: The democratization of the written word through the Gutenberg Bible and everything that followed is a transformative event, a civilization-changing event, right?

Mr. Newman: It was, and if you look at America, it came out of a society that was overwhelmingly Christian and that was overwhelmingly literate. Far more Americans were literate at the time of our War for Independence than are today, based on the government’s data. There’s a lot of literacy data, and I’ve tracked it from all different sources. There were people who did studies at the time, and there’re people who’ve gone back and tried to do studies.

Just read the Federalist Papers, and you get a sense of just how advanced the education these people were receiving was–long before we had $1 trillion per year government education system. One of the defining characteristics was, of course, high literacy. Children learned how to read long before they ever set foot in a school. They learned from their parents on a farm using very, very simple tools that anybody could use, like The Blue Back Speller and The New England Primer–very, very simple tools that they could get at the general store for almost no money.

They were overwhelmingly Christian. They had this belief that they were created by God, that God had given them certain rights and responsibilities, including private property and things like that. That’s what America emerged from. And very clearly—there’s no debate about it whatsoever—the people who set up our government school system vehemently disagreed with that. They wanted to move us toward a more Soviet-style system.

And in fairness to John Dewey, he was operating in the very late 1800’s, early 1900’s. He had not seen yet the horrors that would be unleashed by these kinds of ideas–in the Soviet Union and communist China and Cambodia and Vietnam and Cuba. Take your pick. In fairness to him, maybe he didn’t know that hundreds of millions of people would end up slaughtered or killed as a result of shortages through these kinds of ideas. So you might say he was well-intentioned. I think his premises were all wrong. But you might say he was well-intentioned. I wouldn’t.

Mr. Jekielek: Alex, then this is just one of the crimes of the educators that you document in your book. For me, it’s almost like full stop—this is an emergency! And this is just one thing. How many issues [do you document] in your book?

Mr. Newman: A whole range of crimes. Everything from the drugging of children to the abuse of children to exposing them to obscene and pornographic materials, to encouraging them to fornicate and get abortions. It’s just endless. Among the most serious, I would say is child abuse. We consider deliberately handicapping a child for life with illiteracy to be abusive in an extreme way. You handicap that child literally for the rest of their life. You make the written word inaccessible to them, you make their career prospects much dimmer. That’s unconscionable.

And even beyond that, [they’re] trying to—subtly through deception and fraud—overthrow our political institutions, overthrow our freedom, not openly, not by saying we should all give up our freedom and live in a collectivist society, but surreptitiously, by indoctrinating young people.

You know, back in the 1980s, Ronald Reagan put together a commission, the National Commission on Excellence in Education. And they came out with a report: A Nation at Risk. And they said—not me—that if a foreign power had done this to us through the educational system, we would have viewed it as an act of war. What Dr. Blumenfeld and I argued is that we should view it as an act of war. It was a calculated and strategic effort to overthrow our system of government. I consider collectivism to be slavery. So these people were trying to enslave us.

Mr. Jekielek: Fascinating body of work. Alex, such a pleasure to have you.

Mr. Newman: Thank you so much, Jan.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity. 

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