John Taylor Gatto
(1991 New York State Teacher of the Year) Interview By Jerry Brown

March 25, 1997


Jerry Brown: Welcome to another edition of We The People, this hour we're going to talk some more about learning, education, and schooling in its many variations. To help us reflect more deeply on this question, we have on a line from New York John Taylor Gatto, he was named the New York Teacher of the Year in 1991, he was also named New York City Teacher of the Year in 1989, 1990, as well as 1991. He resigned from teaching during his state titled year, and he's put out an op-ed piece in the Wall St. Journal, and four months later he was honored by his former students in a program at Carnegie Hall called "An Evening With John Taylor Gatto - the Exhausted School." He's written the book "Dumbing Down - the Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schools."

So, what should I call you, not professor of course, just John! John, welcome to the show. Call me Jerry.

John Taylor Gatto: Okay, Governor, I'll you Jerry.

Jerry Brown: Ok, It's a real pleasure, I've been reading some of your material, and its certainly harkens back to a couple of major influences on my teaching, or rather my school ideas, one Ivan Illich and the other Paul Goodman. I guess I got off the trail there in 1991 and 1992; I read the book "Compulsory Mis-education," and I've never quite been able to get the hang of school issues since.

John Taylor Gatto: I know both of those writers, and they've had a big influence on me as well.

JB: Well tell me John, you've been in the school business thirty odd years teaching in the public schools of New York, so can you state here in the beginning what the problem is here with here. People are just wringing their hands, and it doesn't seem like anything is going to get better with the path that we're on.

JTG: Well, there's a lot of problems Jerry. But I think they boil down to a quick slug of we don't teach the way children learn and because the business has become really a central part of the American economy, you're really not allowed to teach the way children learn although any individual component in this system would admit privately that they wish they'd allow you to do that. You have the perfect example of that out your way: an elderly Peruvian immigrant, in a school near Los Angeles, inside of four years, had the best scores on the Advanced Placement Calculus Test. I'm sure he was an excellent teacher, but that's really beside the point. He was working with a group of kids with no mathematical tradition, and very little literary tradition, and inside of a short time, Garfield High was the third ranking school in the US on the AP calculus. Mr. Escalante's fate is just fascinating - he was harassed and hounded out the school. They made it intolerable for him to stay!

In Chicago, there's a black lady named Marva Collins, working with black ghetto kids, many of them with no intact families. She found out what I found later on, which was that these children have no resistance to very high level work and ideation. In a quick take, if you set the idiom aside, they're producing work of a caliber that we associate with adults. I know this must sound fantastic to your listeners, but the truth is you and I could spend hours and not come to the end of people who've accidentally stumbled on the great dirty secret of American schooling: it just doesn't teach the way children learn, nor can it be allowed to, or maybe that's just momentum and not design. We're dealing with a 6700 billion dollar a year industry - it's the gatekeeper to all of the rest of the jobs. We couldn't turn out an excess of competent people without really doing damage to this economy. If this sounds like I'm playing a conspiratorial string on my violin, hardly, the president of Columbia's teacher's college, Dean Russell, in 1908, in the keynote speech to the NEA, said that there was a tremendous danger that too many leader's would be produced, and it would cause a collapse in the system.

JB: I'm reading where a quote that you have in an article by you, by Edward Roth, in his book written in 1906 called "Social Control," says the following "plans are on the way to replace community, family, and church with propaganda, education, and mass media. People are only little plastic lumps of human dough." Now you quote that I suppose because for you it encapsulates the underlying spirit of education in America?

JTG: Yeah, I actually used that in a book that's coming out in the summer called "the Empty Child" by Simon and Schuster. Since they wouldn't give me the million words I needed, I needed to find the most trenchant reflection of this attitude towards children that they're little plastic lumps of dough. Roth of course is not just a professor of sociology he was one of the two or three people who created the American discipline of sociology. And you also have a few years later Geddard of Princeton, the head of the psychology department, who said that standardized testing would function as a dunce cap, making people aware of their inferiority, making them reluctance to compete and even, even reproduce themselves! There's a current to this, not a strain but a powerful central current right before the first world war, reaching a tremendous visible crescendo sometime right after the second world war, after which it disintegrated itself, rather than provoking controversy, as a duty thing and not talk about it.

I stumbled upon all of this while I was trying to figure out why on earth so many people appeared to have a vested interest in trying to stop me from doing what they knew worked in a school setting. But I talked to each one of them individually, they'd admit that that "its stupid, but I have to do it because" - and then they'd refer to the next highest person on the administrative ladder. Eventually when we got the state education dept. and I was able to talk to the people there, they began referring to politicians, not all politicians but certain politicians. And when I spoke to some of their administrative assistants, a few were honest enough to refer me to corps, great foundations, think tanks which were running this particular politician, although this was hardly said, but I heard that. What we have done then displace authority over the lives of children into so many different hands, many of those quite invisible, that to approach this with a problem solving set of mind is really to frustrate yourself to death. We're dealing with a system that's working exactly the way its supposed to work. There are ways around that - you can sabotage it like I did for many years, and that works sometimes locally, or parochially, until you're caught. You can sidestep it by sending your kids to some private schools, but most private schools function the same way, except that they're more cosmetic. You can home school your children, I mean they're a variety of ways around it, but they're not all tackling the problem.

JB: I want to ask you, you said that anytime you do something that is right, you get blocked. Could you give me one example of what you did that was right, and was blocked?

JTG: Oh sure! I'll give you the actual example that triggered my resignation and the op ed editorial in the wall street journal. My school system, that I continued to succeed in, in the sense that my kids were succeeding, including the kids that weren't supposed to succeed, continued to move me into worse and worse school settings. Until finally I ended up at the school that produced 7 of the 9 "Central Park jogger" rapists, including a number of other distinctions. And here, using the essentially the same methods, but it took a lot longer and I was an older man, but using essentially the same methods, the kids began to lose their "kid" quality and began to become people and have a vested interest in developing their minds and spirits and characters as far as they could. When I saw this heartening response, my method is then to offer more and more challenges, and at some point a challenge to a kid is navigating in the adult world of reality that they see around them dimly.

I had arranged with the president of, I'll call it "Bell Telephone," in New York, to have my kids taken through to visit a telephone station, in keeping with things that I had been doing for 15-20 years. At the moment that some executive was dispatched to pick up the kids at the school and take them to the station, our principal raced to the door that very moment, confronted me, and said "these kids can't go out, they haven't filed the proper papers." I said, "sure I did Jules, I dropped those in your box 48 hours ago." He said, "the policies have changed, it has to be done two week in advance, sent to the district, and approved." And I said, "ok Jules, the next time - " and he said "No!" - In front of some vice president of the phone company, with the kids all assembled together. At that point I realized that what happened was not an independent decision by the principal, but rather a frantic attempt by the school district, which happens to be on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. In fact, they were disturbed by the continued success of children who happened to be under my direction. The truth is they could have been under anyone's direction, who had followed the same sort of system dirt farmers would have followed 150 years ago.

JB: Now what did you do for the kids, with the kids, that triggered this kind of retaliatory response?

JTG: Essentially I operated on a couple of really simple assumptions. That this bizarre and disturbing behavior that kids, not only poor kids, but really prosperous kids in New York were producing, was a direct result of their lives being stripped of significant experiences, confined in these abstract cells for all of their natural youth, and set a diet of low-level abstractions. Not even the challenging debate material or text that you would have find in a fourth or fifth grade in the middle of the 19th century. I mean, that stuff that is reserved for the "gifted" or "talented" kids. The ones in high school are doing sixth or seventh grade work by a century ago's standards.

JB: If I can read between the lines, you deviated from the standard curriculum that the administration wanted?

JTG: I put together what I call a "guerrilla" curriculum Jerry, and that was composed of stuffing them with primary experiences, as much as I could, from an ad-hoc basis, when I would read the paper in the morning or the night before. Any kind of news going on, I would have advance permission and the kids would be dispatched to investigate. One part of this was I brought a kind of seminar standard to the classroom. We didn't have to understand - I'll use Aristotle as an example - we didn't have to understand everything Aristotle was driving at to be absolutely certain that a lively discussion shows that much of what he was driving at were current topics in kids minds. Once they got over the barrier of the language gap, which is extremely easy to do, just like teaching reading is extremely easy to do, California's example to the world notwithstanding.

JB: OK. So you got them into more challenging material in a way which would change based on day to day events in the environment. The way the administration saw it, this was not in the structure that the curriculum was designed, but you get that this was the way to give reality and aliveness to the learning experience.

JTG: You're quite right, but I think that the dynamic at work is worth exploring because its not as simple as the administration opposing it. What's happening is that each subordinate level that has to give permission is on thin ice. So that the ball is passed, and when the ball leaves the local precincts, it's really passed between foundation project officers, certain university staff, policy people in Washington, so that in fact the ball never returns to your court, or when it does, its invariably ringed around with so many restrictions by other people who are making a living. I'm not alleging that its conscious, but it happens. To the point that you don't want to do it anymore.

JB: We're taking a break, we're talking with John Taylor Gatto. John, when we get back, I want you to comment on the curve, marking on the curve in standardized testing as a way to imbed the growing inequality in our society. This is Jerry Brown, don't go away.

[commercial break]

JB: Would you comment on the idea that grading on the curve, which I presume most schools do, is a way to put in a type of bell curve social stratification that is increasingly being replicated in almost every part of America.

JTG: The idea very , very early on, it comes out of Prussian Germany, in a series of debates in the 19th debates that arose out of Prussia, that essentially said a mathematical, or mathematized predictable world is the best out of all possible things to hope for. The big people to read - if you've read Hegel himself, I think you'd know all you'd need to know. In order to control everybody, certain strategic courses were undertaken in forced schooling. There had never been, prior to Prussia in the early 19th century, been successful forced schooling in the history of the planet. And suddenly Prussia, in 1819, drew in all of the children, put them in a 2 stage system. The first stage was to trivialize the greatest learning time by filling it - I realize that this is going to get the backs up of some of your listeners - with balloons, songs, and funny games. But to keep the intellectual/moral part under the control of the teacher. Somewhere in the age of 12, the idea was to set everyone suddenly in competition with each other, and produce visible marks of rank everyone, so that no matter how secure you were in your understanding of something, there would always be people you could see who had been visibly recognized as your masters. And according to Hegel and a number of other thinkers, this constant "alienation"- that was the world they used which was translated directly to American schools - this alimentation would lead to the kind of society which could be placed under the direction of certified experts that the state, and the corporate world, found safe and productive! The net result of this, Jerry, was that Prussia, a dirt poor country, in 30 or 40 years, was one of the world leaders. The Prussian king decided the Canadian/American border, because he was the most prestigious monarch on earth! Hartsman, and every other founder of American schooling before we had compulsory schooling, went to Prussia and came back with glowing reports of what the Prussians had produced, that is to say a predictable society that could be run by the best minds.

What you see on a normal bell curve, probably at a moment when assessment is the wrong thing to do, its inappropriate, people learn on private learning curves. We know the point in which we cross the barrier and understand something. Some people learn instantly certain things, and others learn six years later. I will tell you this - a kid who learns to read at five, and a kid who learns to read at 9, will be indistinguishable to each other at the age of fourteen, assuming they both like what they're doing. On the other hand, we can say its too inconvenient, or too expensive, to allow that and impose a learning curve in first grade that produces this wonderful bell, we can then assign the people on the fringes of the bell to special ed and the people in the middle of the bells - the walls of the curve - to the dull classes and so on. And we will create a class system by simply doing that. Inside of a year or two, the kids will impose that kind of class system on themselves! It's a phenomenally intricate, but rather easy to unravel puzzle there - reading is pathetically easy to teach, you assume that once you assemble 30 people in a room, and do it in the same routines, that you'll fail to teach it to some of them, that this bell will appear, and the atmosphere in the classroom is that the humiliation of being a dull reader or bad reader will never wear off. You can predict the rise of a giant remediation industry.

On the other hand, I want your to compare it to 1812 or 1815 when the founder of the DuPont fortune wrote to investors in France and said there's a miracle going on in this country, because everyone here can read and debate like a lawyer! "There's nobody who can't read and they're facile with numbers." Or you can look at De Tocqueville's famous 1835 analysis, when he said that the classical Greeks are children compared to these dirt farmer's kids! Look at the best-sellers of that day! The Last of the Mohicans [by James Fennimore Cooper] - I would urge your readers to get an uncut version of Last of the Mohicans, especially if they have one or two college degrees, and see what an impossible book it is to read. And yet, it sold the equivalent of 10 million copies!

JB: I notice that you're also saying that judging from the Army Intelligence Test that you have 17% of the whites who can't read and 44% of the African Americans who can't read.

JTG: Its just amazing because just in 1941, these figures were just 4% for the white group and 20% for the African American group.

JB: Do you believe, John, do you believe those numbers, because they're very shockingÖ

JTG: I believe those numbers from my own experience! When you try to reconstruct the intellect of a 13 tear old kid, which is essentially what my classroom was about, you're dealing with social resistance which is quite unbelievable, yet I just got a call today from a kid who had 16 criminal charges against him at 13, and furthermore he was filed as a functional illiterate by the school. He's working on his second college degree and trying to decide among 3-4 offers which would make him leave academia. This is a boy that wanted to have a gun at 13, he's only about 23 now. So what miracle happened? Well the miracle that happened was that he was given himself back - and it didn't take a N.Y. teacher of the year to do that. I'm not claiming any particular insight, other than what was common knowledge a century ago. This country was unique in world history, because it took ordinary people, people who were considered trash in Europe, and made them independent hard working self-respecting people. To deny what is unique about American history is just nuts, because in there we have the skeleton key to unlock the problem of our schools!

JB: My own grandmother I think went to school until the 6th grade, she was quite a reader well into her 90's, very well read. Now we have a world in which this president is saying that we have to create a situation that everyone can have at least two years of college, in the same way that I suppose that the 6th grade was assumed to be necessary at the beginning of the century.

JTG: I hope that he's just a dupe, Jerry, I really hope so. The way that the game works is that we say that the reason this problem exists is that A. we don't have enough money and B. we don't have enough of the kids lives to work on them. So we've watched schooling go from an average 12-14 weeks and produce a totally literate nation -

JB: 12-14 weeks or 12-14 years??

JTG: 12-14 weeks! The truth is that nowhere in the US as late as 1876, nowhere did more than 49% of the people go to school.

JB: And when they went to school, you're saying that they only went for 12-14 weeks? That's only a couple of months!

JTG: And kids who went for longer than that didn't go every day, or even every week! So they came and went. And furthermore, they were under the control of one woman who had 6-7-8 ages and class sizes of 60-80, that's an impossible situation according to the way we do business today. And yet, as soon as you change the teacher-student ratio from the teacher being 90% of the solution and the student 10, to the reverse of that, the student 90% of the solution the teacher 10, then you can see how very large classes, or mixed classes, can work, because the kids are responsible teaching each other.

JB: What I'm hearing here, one of the key building blocks, more important than TV, in the development of a society of dependent, obedient, sheep-like herdlike uncritical people is that the school is the mechanism of schooling, enshrined as a secular religion. So if the goal is independent thinking, self reliance, critical thinking, all the good stuff that Abe Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin held up as such important values, then somehow this whole schooling mechanism needs to be smashed! And I want to get that very clear, because there is a childlike devotion to the school system that reminds me of the "Devotion of the Blessed Mother" at St. Brendan's grammar school 50 years ago!

JTG: It was sold that way, all of this, the various media sold it this way. I'm not saying that there was a cabal, but simply that it was the way it was presented to them. Flattering luncheons where the decision has been made to take that wonderful woman who had run without an administration those one-room schools which had done so well, and put her under the direction of an apparatus of men, not just a single layer, but infinite layers which are still being spun out.

JB: It almost sounds like the apparatchiks in the late stage Soviet Union!

JTG: That's an excellent kernel! The question is whether this grows naturally as a result of certain economic decision. MIT makes mandatory I believe a book called "Autonomous Technology" by Langdon Winter written about 30 years ago, in which Winters says once you start with certain premises, it is inevitable that the system will eventually control all the personnel, the apparent leaders will remain only as long as they serve the system's purposes, if they don't heir marginalized and gotten rid of, and someone else is put in.

A lot of them that the family was the barrier to a sane future. They may not have liked each other, but they all agreed that you had to get children away from the family. School was the mechanism to utopianize. I think both things are at work here - ideologues who communicate this idea and are able to perpetuate themselves from generation to generation. They control hiring at universities and foundations and so on, and look for people like themselves.

JB: Today we get a report of Al Shanker's funeral, a memorial, Al Shanker being the head of the United Federation of Teachers of America, probably the most powerful educator of this country. And you have Senator Kennedy, representing the Left wing of the remnant Democratic Party, and you have [former New York City mayor Ed] Koch, once a Democrat, but now a populist-corporatist-conservative former New York mayor. So you have a pretty wide spectrum, at least on the left-right spectrum, giving real encomiums of adulation to the creative work of Shanker, which as far as I know, without speaking ill of the deceased, Shanker was a pillar of this entire apparatus which you have been criticizing for the last 40 minutes!

JTG: He was. Let me say, not in Shanker's defense, but an explanation of how Shanker managed to draw support from all portions of the political spectrum: Shanker was, to his credit, very outspoken of the division that he represented. Shanker is as close to being a classical old-line socialist - nor did he make any bones about that. Shanker is on record a number of times saying that schools are not about the best destiny for the children, schools are not about making Johnny's family stronger, or bringing his parents in on the governance or deliberations. I had dinner twice with Shanker, I was at this small table with him, and I must say, that compared to everyone else at the table, probably me included, that Shanker absolutely said what was on his mind [laughs]. Not that I agreed with him!

JB: But that's the real issue: what is on his mind and what's on America's mind is that the problem of America is that there is not enough education, there's not enough getting to these poor people who are causing all of the crime, or there's not enough in the middle to compete with the Japanese, or the Chinese, or all of those smart people. And the answer is, whether it's the market based people who have their strategy, or the liberals who have theirs, one way or another its to get these little kids more programs for the competitive world and not for the kind of disruptive, individual critical thinking which I believe you're suggesting and that I certainly very much recommend.

[break]

JB: John, I'm going to read you something that you've said, and I'm going to ask you how to attain what you're suggesting. I quote, "We have to radically decentralize government corporate schooling, return the power of designing and assessing programs to the local level, and ensure that every form of training for the young aims at producing independent, self-reliant minds, good characters, and individuals who get fighting mad when called a "human resource" and told their main function is to be part of the work force. Ok, great, I accept that - so how do we get there? Who do we attack and what do we build?

JTG: The schema, first, has to be seen clearly: as long as the economy is built up of very large corporations, very large institutions, and very large government agencies, by necessity all the training that is approved leads towards some position on the pecking order of these giant employment pyramids. I'd like to jump from that to two groups who have never participated in that, and who've had a sort of blemished record of success. I'd like to do this, to allow your listeners to independently verify that its possible.

Look at Johns Hopkins University, not one of my favorite universities, but they've been tracking the Amish for a long time. They've published several I think mind blowing books about what has happened in Amish America. In this century, at the beginning of the century, there were 5000 of these people, now there are 150,000. So the group itself has retained its integrity and grown 30 times. Second, 100% of the Amish, or as close to that as humanly possible, has independent livelihoods, and its divided 50% in small entrepreneurial businesses and 50% in small farms. Now consider the drawbacks these people labor under - the government of Pennsylvania has been their sworn enemy through the century. And, they don't use telephones, they don't use computers, they don't use cars, and they go to the 8th grade only because the Supreme Court cut a deal with them in the 1976. So with all these drawbacks you have a community that with all intents and purposes has no crime at all, that takes care of old and young because it mixes both of those groups together in the life of the community, is amazingly successful, amazingly wealthy, and amazingly unschooled! Now, many of your listeners, or my friends who would no doubt say that it's that religious glue, that pious glue, that gives them the advantage. So I'd like to jump to the group that's resolutely, militantly free-thought, probably as any that's ever existed.

And that's in the Basque country in Spain, the north-west of Spain, and its, forgive my accent, the Mondragon Cooperative. There's about the same number of these people as there are Amish, and they aim for exactly the same grown-up solution that everyone will have an independent livelihood, or they'll be a part of a small group that makes its living proving to other people that it's valuable. So their schooling is resolutely directed toward developing the kind of independent, self-reliant, tough minded characteristics that, oddly enough, Amish education also stresses.

So here we have bracketed now, two groups that are small but not that small, who manage to keep what Lincoln's idea for America was! Independent livelihood was where it was at! You know, back in the 1840's - 1850's it was impossible to assemble an American work force over 40, because people would only work for you long enough to get a little stake, and then cut off and go off on their own. When we look at the history of New England factories, that they're going to concerts, and dances and libraries for the young girls who worked there for just a couple of years until they could bring a little stake to their marriage. That was the American dream, that you could write the script to your own life! And very , very gradually, that dream was converted, and this is quite easy to track, not by evil people, but by people who understood that wealth depends on your ability to command labor. And unless you can assemble large groups of labor, you were never going to be wealthy as the Europeans reckoned wealth, or the English reckoned wealth.

JB: Ok John, since we have a few callers on the line, I'd like to encapsulate what you're saying: that the accumulation of great wealth requires the ability to command labor. You cannot labor if its independent and critical, therefore you need a schooling system much in the way that obedience school provides for dogs - they have to be taught not to pee in the house, or heel at their master's beck and call. And in effect, the entire school enterprise, and there are obvious examples, is a huge obedience school run on the kennel model. And the two examples you've given me - Amish, which is based on a character, traditional, very family based with a very god-centered decentralized form, and the other one which you refer to as secular, is the worker-owned cooperatives in the Basque land in Spain. Two poles which are totally at variance with the consumer mass-obedience operation which is cheerleaded from Jesse Jackson on the Left, or [Nation of Islam leader Louis] Farrakhan even more to the Left, to, you know, the Right Wing folks, the Moral Majority and the chamber of commerce!

So if I hear you right, what we really have to face up to is the absolute need for a critical distancing from this whole status quo which seeps into our deepest aims.

JTG: Absolutely, that's a perfect abstract. Notice that we can eliminate Marxist ideas that evil or venal people are doing this. What is happened is that the people who are doing this have convinced themselves "scientifically" that this is the only that it can be. This is what [sociologist Thomas] Malthus, [biologist Charles] Darwin, or [chemist John] Dalton all said. This is what the book the Bell Curve a couple of years ago said. This is the way wishes it to be, it can't be any other way. So they have to overlook Jaime Escalante in California, or Marva Collins in Chicago, or even John Taylor Gatto in New York! They have to overlook the Basques, they have to overlook the Amish, because they don't fit that theory!

JB: So John, then, I take it you have no objection to vouchers?

JTG: Its not that I have no objection to vouchers - there's a real danger built into vouchers, and that is the same sort of surveillance over your kids lives will follow the voucher. What we have to do, and we're going to do it whether its allowed or now, we have to begin to break the fealty to these enormous organizations, whether they're government, or corporate, or institutions!

JB: Ok, let's take a few calls now. Craig has been waiting; go ahead Craig!

Craig: Thank you for your recent programs with Susannah Shepherd and Grace Malone. We are a home schooling family for many years, and I guess in a sense I'd like to explain why it is we home school. I'd like to start by recommending a book, "Teaching as a Subversive Activity," by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner. And I'd would say that anyone who has an interest in this subject, if you have not read that book, consider yourself uneducated! That book was written in 1956, didn't deal with home schooling, but it does explains the need to raise children who do not just accept the unexamined assumptions of our society. That impulse is out there across the country, but its really at war against what seems to be a stronger approach to suppress that kind of approach. I know there are exceptions - there are good teachers who really want to educate kids in the truest sense of the term, but they're fighting the system. What I really want to say here is that the school system at its heart, even though yes its their to, in some sense, to educate the children, but at its heart its really there to break their spirits. That is what I think all the time. We've had some experience with our own children for short periods of time at our local schools, and its only confirmed and reinforced what we already thought we knew.

JB: Thank you Craig, very eloquent. John?

JTG: I'd like to comment on what Craig said on breaking the spirit. The most influential US commissioner of education that ever existed was William Torre Harris, and in a book he wrote, back in 1906, The Philosophy of Education, he said that the purpose of schooling was to alienate children from their families, their churches, their neighborhoods, and themselves! I mean, it wasn't a secret, its just that people who walk their dogs, or look at the sun come up in the morning, they don't have time to read books called "The Philosophy of Education!" [laughs] Of course that's what it's about!

JB: Amazing!

JTG: He was the only prominent school man who, and I believe that's still true, who was a house guest to the Rockefellers, the Carnegies. Harris brought German schooling to the US and made sure that it stuck.

JB: All right, let's take a call from Angel in New Jersey!

Angel: Hi, thank you both. My question concerns what I seem to see as an apparent contradiction between the acknowledged purpose of the school systems as they now stand and the stated belief that they can in fact be altered without actually altering the primary purposes of society. In other words, with corporations wanting a docile work force, with a government needing a military going overseas and to engage in practices that many would consider are against the very interests of the very people who are being asked to fight in that military, why would you believe that under the current system that people who are in control of the schools, ultimately the politicians, would in fact want to change the system so that it would in fact produce critical thinkers?

JB: Ok angel, you've just asked the $64,000 question! I think you're hitting it right on the head here - you're going to need to change a lot more than just the schoolhouse!

JTG: Angel, let me speak to that. One of the great ways that people are held in place by their own fear. Because these enormous employment pyramids control the flow of money and even the flow of information around the whole country, you might assume that nothing can be done about them. The truth is, they have almost no internal cohesion at all - they hate each other! Look how fast the soviet union came apart - I would like to just tell you, very quickly here, that I sat with Jeane Kirkpatrick about two weeks before the first signs of the crack took place. There were a few other people in the room, and she said in that cold steely flinty voice of hers, "let me tell you that it won't be for a hundred years that you see a crack in the soviet union, because they have a personal dossier of every citizen, and they have mathematical ways of telling where the fault lines will appear." And two weeks later, of course, it was dying, and a short time after that, it was dead.

JB: Ok John, John, we've got to break in. One hour has gone by! We'll do it again, we'll do it again, but we are out of time. We'll come back to this topic again; there's a lot more to dig in, and there's a lot of people who want to talk about the public schools. This is Jerry Brown for We the People, thanks for listening!

Transcribed by Howard Wang


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