Home homeschooling The New Dumbness–Gatto and Public School

The New Dumbness–Gatto and Public School

by Kelly Crawford

“Ordinary people send their children to school to get smart, but what modern schooling teaches is dumbness.”


I realize it’s quite possible you get tired of my posting about public school. But if you asked me to narrow down our social problems to ONE thing, I would probably owe the bulk, or at least the beginning of it to the mass public school crisis.

Crisis? Yes. As readers have proven before, most people don’t see the public school system as a *bad* thing and certainly not a crisis. This is part of the plan. “They” tell us it’s wonderful and we believe them and send our children there. The frightening results of the terrorist lifestyle begins as they “teach” their small children to think a certain way; so it is here…”whoever controls the children controls the culture”.

(And please don’t take my passion against public school as a personal insult; I have wonderful friends and family with children in the system; I’m not *against you*…the very reason I address it is because I’m FOR you! I ache to see Christians understand the dilemma and begin discipling their children.)

“Old-fashioned dumbness used to be simple ignorance; now it is transformed from ignorance into permanent mathematical categories of relative stupidity like “gifted and talented,” “mainstream,” “special ed.” Categories in which learning is rationed for the good of a system of order. Dumb people are no longer merely ignorant. Now they are indoctrinated, their minds conditioned with substantial doses of commercially prepared disinformation dispensed for tranquilizing purposes.” JTG

With all that’s going on in our nation, it has caused me to reflect even deeper about “how we got here”. There are no easy answers, of course. And no one answer. But I keep going back to the fact that we created a group of people who willinging accepted a socialist agenda. We have just said “yes” to a socialist government.

We–formerly hard-working Americans who built a country from the ground up…who believed the government had very little power beyond enforcing the civil law…who believed in personal responsibility–Americans who worked til we dropped and were willing to die so that our grandchildren could have a free place to live, have, in a few short years, become lazy, selfish, immoral idiots who want everything given to us and have such a perverted sense of government and personal responsibility that we’re paying for it like no other nation ever has. Where suffering was once a bedrock of building character, now the constant attempt to escape any hardship has pushed us to kill our own children!



And as long as I know Christians who still don’t understand the seriousness of what the public school system has to do with this, I will keep talking about it. I know I risk upsetting people; but this is one of those “cliff up ahead” that I cannot keep silent about.

If anything else, read, learn, research. At least be open to consider the arguments that exist.



John Taylor Gatto’s “The Underground History of American Education” is probably the most telling work about the public educational system. A public school educator himself for 30 years, he stands as qualified as any to reveal the system’s destructiveness.

His assertion, in a nutshell, is that we have systematically and purposely mass-produced a nation full of dumb people in order to control them. What do you think?



“The individual has no chance to exercise his judgment either on principal questions or on their implication; this leads to the atrophy of a faculty not comfortably exercised under [the best of] conditions…Once personal judgment and critical faculties have disappeared or have atrophied, they will not simply reappear when propaganda is suppressed…years of intellectual and spiritual education would be needed to restore such faculties.”


And just an interesting side note, I’ve heard so many times in an argument against homeschooling that “public school children are given the opportunity to think”…which is directly opposite the observation above.


“A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” Luke 6:40


And the main reason I keep talking? I don’t believe the damage to our nation is irreversible. I believe when God’s people begin understanding their crucial responsibility to train and disciple their children in godliness, character and love–take them back from the government, we will begin to see a revolution. And THAT is why I keep talking 😉


Excerpts taken from: The New Dumbness from The Underground History of American Education


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Lori February 11, 2009 - 9:46 am

Another good, necessary posting. For those who don’t know, John Taylor Gatto is probably the most famous “teacher of the year” in the history of that award. He is the teacher on whom the movie, “Stand and Deliver” (starring Edward J. Olmos and Lou Diamond Philips – an excellent movie!) was based.

7 and counting! February 11, 2009 - 10:25 am

Keep talking Kelly! This is a message that needs to be heard. What is sad to me is that my fellow sibs in Christ find this message so offensive. It boggles my mind. I am starting to wonder WHEN true persecution hits, if we (homeschoolers in general) will get thrown under the bus as a sacrifice to the god’s of the world.

Mama Hen February 11, 2009 - 10:56 am

Keep talking. This is something every Christian family needs to think about.

Bethany Hudson February 11, 2009 - 11:45 am

While I agree that the public school system is largely flawed, I don’t think I can agree with Gatto’s assertion that it was BEGUN as some sort of conspiracy to create dumb, controllable citizens. Then, I’m not big on conspiracy theories, period.

That said, while I believe that there are a lot of things wrong with the public school system, I know a lot of teachers who are dilligently trying to make things right–especially for the children who will have NO CHOICE but to be in public school. Homeschooling and private school can be wonderful options, but that doesn’t mean that there are no good public schools out there, too. Homeschooling does not mean your child will never rebel once they are adults. Being in public school doesn’t mean you’ll become “part of the system.” I think parents really need to pay attention to THEIR children (each child as an individual) to discern what is best for that child, and to study each possiblity for education in their area to see what will fit that child. Things can differ widely from town to town, city to city, state to state, country to country. Then, the parent needs to be aware of the negatives with each type of schooling and work to combat or balance those negatives (there are negatives with every type of education). If a parent is caring, responsible, active, participatory, and dedicated, I don’t see why their child shouldn’t manage in whatever educational arena they find themselves in. There’s no need to make the single mother out there who has to work and put her child in public school to feel frightened or guilty about her need of the public school system. (Not that this is your intent, certainly, but I can definitely see how it might feel that way to someone in this position.)


Word Warrior February 11, 2009 - 12:08 pm


I hear what you are saying, and do agree with you about lots of great teachers, etc. The problem is not all the great teachers, it is the corrupt undercurrent that flows through every part of the system, good teachers or not, and plays itself out over time.

If the ills were so obvious, it wouldn’t work. It’s the subtlety that makes the whole thing so dangerous, because anyone who speaks against it becomes a “conspiratist”. And people think they are crazy.

I happen to feel so strongly about it that even though I realize there are people who feel like they have no other choice, I believe if they are convinced it is as destructive as it is, they would go to the ends of the earth to get around it. I know some single mothers who homeschool, and I feel like Christians and churches need to be considering this a priority in helping these families.

That’s my whole point; we like to smooth it out for those who “have no other choice” and not make them feel bad, when in reality, we need to be grasping the seriousess of it and stepping in as churches and the body of Christ, doing whatever we have to do to help Christians keep their kids out.

I could refrain from speaking out in order to prevent hurt feelings, but does that really help my brothers and sisters in Christ?

I could refrain from speaking out about the atrocity of divorce so as to keep from offending those who are divorced, but in the big scheme of things, that would not be helpful.

It all depends on what you believe about the system. Obviously, until you believe it is as destructive as I and others believe it is, then it remains not as big a deal.

My convictions are so strong I would go to jail or leave the country before I allowed my children to be put there. It’s all about perspective.

And I know you are not scolding me for talking, but I think it’s important to think through this point, no matter what we are talking about. It’s kind of like the saying, “Do the right thing, come what may”.

There is a right way to speak truth, but truth must always be spoken. Changing truth to soften its effects is a lie. Changing circumstances to allow people to respond to the truth is what we need to be about.

The Whites February 11, 2009 - 12:39 pm

I love John Taylor Gatto… wasn’t he making a documentary? That would be so great to see!

I love reading your posts on public school!

Quinn February 11, 2009 - 1:25 pm

I think that if the public schools were full of Christian teachers, and if all 842 reasons to pull your kids out didn’t exist, and the Bible and it’s precepts taught all the live long day, it doesn’t change the fact that God gave parents the responsibility to educate their children. I understand that not every one looks at it from that perspective, so thank you for continuing to furnish us with reasons to persevere, and arming us with defenses for those who may criticize our choices.

A person (single mother) who can’t choose whether to homeschool because of their circumstances, also can’t scour the country looking for that one school that is different. Even if they found that fantasy school, there is always the possibility that things could change at any time as the people who run the school, attend the school, and the parents of the attendees are constantly changing. Theoretically, a good school today, could be a nightmare tomorrow.

As far as a parent being “caring, responsible, active, participatory, and dedicated”, I know that if you asked my mother if she had been all of those things to me when I was in school, she would have said, “Yes!” I learned from my peer group beginning at the age of 6, however, that my parents were the enemies, so to speak, and that in order to get along at school, I had to thwart my mother’s active participation in my life. Instead of being considered active, she was considered a trouble maker. Schools want parents to bring cookies on the holidays (if they even have them anymore) and shut up and go home.

Leslie February 11, 2009 - 1:25 pm


As a former teacher in the public schools, I cannot agree with you more.

Bethany, I was one of those teachers who loved and cared for her students as if they were my own. (I taught 5th and 6th grade. My husband taught 8th grade Algebra.) I hear what you are saying about parental involvement and you are right. However, the most frustrating thing for me as a “caring teacher” was to invest in a child for a year…..praying, working after hours and spending our own money when the school system couldn’t help fund the resources…..and then see them go to classrooms where the next teacher only cared about the paycheck! No matter how hard the parent tries to get his/her child the best teacher all 12 years, it can’t be assumed that the request will happen each year.

Bethany, not all teachers are “safe” for Christian children. If you have 2 teachers that have your worldview, you may have 10-12 teachers in the future that do not. The long term effects of having the 10-12 teachers that are unsafe is mind boggling! The hearts of your children are at stake. Education is more than learning the 3 R’s.

My husband and I respect our fellow teaching friends (and you), but 15 years ago we decided that our soon to be born children would have to be free from the system to truly learn. (The time wasted during the public school day is so frustrating for teachers and students too!)

Nothing is neutral in the public schools. There is an agenda and following the money trail helps decide what that agenda really is.

Blessings to you, Bethany.

Thanks again for another thought provoking post, Kelly. I hope you are feeling well now with the baby and your thyroid issues.

Word Warrior February 11, 2009 - 1:39 pm

Bethany and any others interested,

Here is an article that more specifically defines Gatto’s claims of the original intent of the public educational system. VERY enlightening, and so few people have a clue about how our PS system came into being!

(Public schools aren’t actually failing, they’re achieving exactly what they were intended to!)

I’ll be posting a video tomorrow with Gatto talking about this too.


Bethany Hudson February 11, 2009 - 2:28 pm

You are all making good points, but as the daughter of a public school teacher and a public school graduate myself, I just cannot agree that all public schools are bad. I don’t really like making blanket statements; there are exceptions to nearly every rule. For example, I lived in South Central Los Angeles for nearly 4 years. SCLA is a VERY rough neighborhood. But, that doesn’t mean that I got robbed or attacked in anyway by living there. If you take precautions, you are likely to avoid many dangers. Similarly, some of the most heinous, bizarre crimes ever committed have been in sleepy little towns whose residents would never have suspected such an attack.

Does this mean South Central LA is “safe”? No, certainly not. But, does that mean that everyone who lives there should move out? No. Similarly, I wouldn’t call public schools “safe,” but that doesn’t mean that no child is going to thrive in the public school system.

I do relate that putting your efforts and passion into a child who nonetheless gets put through the system can be devastating. I tutored such children in my middle school and high school in an inner city public school in New York–only to watch the paid employees of said school push my classmates on through the system so they didn’t have to “deal” with them the next year. Of course, this was discouraging and frustrating for me.

On the whole, I feel the homeschooling would be the ideal for our family. I am particularly appalled by the public school system in the state where I currently live–though, my homestate of New York had a much better system, in my opinion. Considering the state of the school system in my area, I would, as Kelly puts it “move heaven and earth” to keep my children out of it. However, as I said before, that doesn’t mean that every public school is a disaster. My mother happens to work in one of the most excellent schools I have ever seen–in a blue collar suburb known for its high school dropouts and lax morality. Her students are thriving because of a staff of committed teachers and an excellent curriculum.

Moreover, I am of the opinion that merely being exposed to peer groups and their influence is not necessarily going to corrupt a child. For most children, yes, that will be the case. But, not for everyone. I have several amazing Christian friends who went to public schools that were highly immoral and came out stronger for it, able to witness in an incredible way. As I said, this is not going to be the case for everyone, as Quinn pointed out. Peer pressure can be strong, and we should be committed as parents to surrounding our children with positive influences. But, my point is that “just” because a child makes friends with another child who does not hold your “worldview” does not mean that your child is lost. If that were so, many of us would not permit our children to even associate with their family members!

I’m not saying that I find anything that’s been said out of place. Actually, I do plan on homeschooling, so I agree with much of it. My only qualm is in saying that “public school is bad. period. no exceptions.” My experience simply cannot justify this.


Deanna February 11, 2009 - 2:49 pm

Kelly, I think it is really neat how you give links so we can check out additional sites relating to what you are blogging about. This is very helpful and informative.

Isn’t it wonderful when veils covering people’s eyes fall off and the Bible becomes alive? Just like the scales that fell off of Saul/Paul’s eyes and he became a true Believer of Christ, when we see the light about what’s really going on out there in the world, we are not the same. Awesome when we hear the Good Sheperd’s voice, listen and follow.

Children at one point in early American History were taught to read so they could read the Holy Scriptures for themselves.

The newer war that rages on with the modern public school system is a different animal that’s conditioning students to embrace unfit lifestyles verses learning the 3 r’s. Readin’, Ritin’ and Rithmatic. It’s a far cry from the good intentions of yester year that was a charitable attempt to educate the masses so they wouldn’t be illeterate.

In today’s economy, no matter where in the U.S. the school is located they answer to leadership that says what will be taught to the students and pretty much how it will be presented. The schools have to include behaviour modification that embraces unfit lifestyles.

The almighty buck isn’t forgotten…the more children that don’t enter into the public school system, the fewer the dollars are given. Each student represents x amount of dollars that the school receives. If the funds aren’t there it effects administrative paychecks and all the other expenses associated to running a school that uses utilities, pay teachers and others involved.

We will hear the Government and others that like getting a paycheck and have supplies to use while teaching in the Public Schools HOWL.

We won’t all be surprised when it’s said that having all children in public schools IS GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY. The main focus will not be having all children in a school system full of misguided compassion is BAD FOR THE ETERNAL SOUL.

Though you may have a highly educated person, they may be a highly educated barbaric that doesn’t have the spirit of God living in them. Those Christians that teach and run public schools may not recognize the trend of educating students with emphasis of tolerating worldly standards.

Even the elect can be desensitized.

Remember the story of the frog that’s placed in a pan of water and slowly the temperature is turned up and up til the frog doesn’t notice?

He gets cooked.

You have something important to say.


Chief Cook and Bottle Washer February 11, 2009 - 3:30 pm

Keep on, Kelly!

We were blessed about 15 years ago to be able to go see Mr. Gatto speak when we lived in Austin. We went to get some insights into homeschooling. We were in our 2nd year.

My husband and I left filled with insights into ourselves, into what had been done to us in the name of education and into what I pray will never befall any of our progency.

There should be absolutely no compromise with a corrupt system. I am for the abolishment of all publicly supported miseducation facilities. Why should we work to support this institutionalized brainwashing?

And what of all the poor folks who have no options but to rely on the public schools? Well I wasn’t aware the mission of schools was supposed to be to provide babysitting so parents could work anyway. Yet, that seems to be one of the main functions that public educational institutions have gladly taken upon themselves.

Bethany, have you read The Underground History of American Education? It sure beats Stephen King for a chilling read. Give it a try if you haven’t.


Bethany Hudson February 11, 2009 - 3:56 pm


Thank you for the suggestion: I believe I will try to pick up Mr. Grotto’s book at my public library and give it a read when I find the time. I greatly dislike thriller novels, but perhaps I will enjoy it nonetheless 🙂

Btw… I appreciated your comment on not being “aware the mission of schools was supposed to be to provide babysitting so parents could work.” Of course, I don’t think this is what public schools started out as–but it really has become that over time, and it is one of the things I find appalling about our public school system, in general! Why on earth should a child have to be in school from 7:30-3:30 every day? And, what working parent gets home by 3:30, anywa? It’s just silly. But, I’d still rather see our poor inner city children in school than running around in the streets or being forced into early labor in a factory. *sigh* I’m sure there’s a better answer than public school for people in such a situation, but darned if I can come up with it. If only someone with some power could come up with it, first!


Bethany Hudson February 11, 2009 - 4:06 pm

There we go: I’ve now got The Underground History of American Education, A Different Kind of Teacher, and The Exhausted School: Bending the Bars of Traditional Education on hold at the library. The Exhausted School seems to be a compilation of writings edited and compiled by Gatto. I’m particularly looking forward to that one. Sometimes the best solution is the most obvious–and the one I’m slowest to take: Thanks, Beth!

Word Warrior February 11, 2009 - 4:12 pm


I’m so impressed by your zeal for learning and being open 😉

By the way, I don’t know if you read it all, but the link in the post gave a pretty exhaustive prologue to Gatto’s book if you click on the page numbers or contents at the top–lots to ponder.

Word Warrior February 11, 2009 - 4:13 pm

On second look, it looks like a large part of his book is right there on the site.

Joyful Mama February 11, 2009 - 6:58 pm

Hey, I thought “Stand and Deliver” was based on the work of Jaime Escalante from the West, not the East Coast (Los Angeles, to be exact).

That said…
That doesn’t mean that Mr. Gatto doesn’t give a wonderful, articulate voice to those of us who think there’s something awfully fishy going on in government schools!

Lori February 11, 2009 - 7:58 pm

Joyful Mama – You’re absolutely correct, it was Jaime Escalante. Thank you for the correction! I think I even remember the conversation in which I got the two confused – Gatto came out of and against the pub sch system, Escalante jsut came out against bilingual ed. (http://www.biography.com/search/article.do?id=189368)

Thanks again for drawing that to my attention, who knows how long I would have been carrying around that misinformation…

bran February 11, 2009 - 8:43 pm

I couldn’t agree more. When hubby and I are talking, the answer to the question, “How did we get here?.” always comes back to the public school.
There is no “good” public school, as by definition, it’s over-stepping the purpose of government. It’s out of bounds for a safe government. Government is interested in bigger government; what do you think they are going to train the kids to believe. By it’s very nature the teacher’s are going to try to preserve their own jobs and you go from there….

Gombojav Tribe February 12, 2009 - 1:35 am

I think people have a lot more educational choices then they realize (or will admit)! I know many single parents who homeschool. I know low income families who send their children to private schools. I know grandparents who homeschool their grandchildren. I know a group of moms who pulled their resources and skills and taught their children together.

Where there’s a will there’s a way. Most people just don’t have the will to think outside the public school box.

Quinn February 12, 2009 - 12:51 pm


Just read about this at spunky homeschool. It pretty appalling.


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