Subverting Education

By John Taylor Gatto

Speech to the Vermont Homeschooling Conference


(Note: John Gatto is the former New York State Teacher of the Year who renounced the public school system in his landmark book DUMBING US DOWN. He is constantly in demand as a public speaker.

As a bit of background, the industrial titans of the 1890's began to think that not only could the production line be engineered, but people's lives could be engineered as well, in order to work like homogeneous robots with the machines. People like Rockefeller and Carnegie gave huge sums to prominent academics to see if this could be realized through the educational system. They found that to a considerable extent this could be done, and it is still being done. This is the story that John Gatto has to tell.-DB)

What I intend to talk to you about this afternoon is what I understand you are aware of -- the positive goals and values that you seek as homeschoolers. But I want to talk about the specifics of what you're fleeing, because what you're fleeing is alive and well in the green state of Vermont. Perhaps Vermont is one of a half-a-dozen states that the U.S. Dept. of Education uses as testing grounds. I believe they picked Vermont because they understand that you people are so reasonable that you're always willing to negotiate, anyway I have some information to bring to you on a different outlook on what the intention of schools is, the title of this talk is:


Between 1967 and 1974 teacher training in the US was covertly revamped through the coordinated efforts of a small number of private foundations, certain universities, global corporations and several other interests working through the U.S. Dept. of Education and through key state education departments, one of which is the state of Vermont.

Three critical documents in this transformation are Benjamin Bloom's multivolume TAXONOMY OF EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES. That was the first. The second was a many-state project begun in 1967 called DESIGNING EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE, and it was set forth in an enormous manual of nearly 1000 pages and finally the BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT which came in a manual of over 1000 pages. These were inserted into every state education department. in the country and moneys were inserted there to pay faculty salaries a certain range of bribes for the school districts that would pioneer the use of these things.

Let me start with the DESIGNING EDUCATION FOR THE FUTURE papers. They were the collusion with the Federal Education Dept. and the presumably independent state agencies. They redefined education after the 19th century Germanic fashion as a means (quoting now from the document) "as a means to achieve important economic and social goals for the national character" -- and I would hasten to add that none of those goals included the maximum development of your son or daughter. State agencies would henceforth "act as Federal enforcers insuring compliance of local schools with Federal directives". The document proclaimed that ( I'm quoting again), "each state education department must be an agent of change", proclaimed further "change must be institutionalized". I doubt if an account of this appeared in any newspaper in the state of Vermont or for that matter any newspaper in the country (U.S.). Education departments. were, I am quoting a third time, "to lose their identity as well as their authority in order to form a partnership with the Federal Government".

The BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT outlines specific teaching reforms to be forced on the country, unwillingly of course, after 1967. It also sets out, in clear language, the outlook and intent of its invisible creators. Nothing less than quoting again "the impersonal manipulation through schooling of a future America in which few will be able to maintain control over their own opinions", an America in which ( quoting again) "each individual receives at birth, a multipurpose identification number which enables employers and other controllers to keep track of their [underlings]", underlings is my interpretation, everything else came out of the document, "and to expose them to the directors subliminal influence of the state education department and the federal department acted through those whenever necessary".

Readers learned in 1967, of course you and I were not among those readers, that chemical experimentation on minors would be normal procedure in the post 1967 world. That is a pointed foreshadowing of the massive Ritalin interventions which would accompany the student body of the future. Teachers were expected to function as government change agents and their trainers, ( this the first time reading this document that I realized that the expression "teacher trainer", like animal trainer, is an odd locution). The teacher trainers were notified that behavioral science would henceforth replace academic curriculum in schools. The project identified the future as one ( again I'm quoting) "in which a small league would control all important matters, one in which participatory democracy would largely disappear". Children would be made to see that their classmates, and indeed the average man or woman were so inadequate, were so irresponsible that they had to be controlled and regulated. The tremendous rise in school violence and general chaos in the late 1960's, a period when teachers and schools across the land were stripped of their ability to discipline children, might be seen as a convenient public justification for sharp constrictions of traditional liberty. Each outburst resonated through the press like a billboard for emergency measures.

According to the BEHAVIORAL TEACHER EDUCATIONAL PROJECT, post modern schooling would focus, I quote directly from the document, "on pleasure cultivation and interpersonal relationships and other attitudes and skills compatible with a non-work world". It makes sense of course doesn't it? That irresponsible semi-illiterate people could not be trusted with much responsibility so in the new change agentry schooling, which is called for by this national teacher training document, the teacher is a therapist, translating the prescriptions of the social psychologists into practical action research in the classroom.

The third critical gospel signaling a great transformation was at hand, to those in the know, was Bloom's TAXONOMY OF EDUCATIONAL OBJECTIVES, which has since its publication, spawned a number of descendant forms, like mastery learning, outcomes based educations and school to work business-government-economic projects. Dr. Bloom's compilation was a tool, I'm quoting from Dr. Bloom, "a tool to classify the ways individuals are to act, think or feel is the result of participating in some unit of instruction". I would be dubious if any parent in the U.S. would send their children to schools under these auspices if they were thinking people. In this fashion, children would learn proper attitudes and have their improper attitudes (brought from home) remediated. In all stages of the school manipulations testing would be essential to locate the child's mind on a official continuum.

The complete speech is at




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