CLONING OF THE AMERICAN MIND - Eradicating Morality Through Education, by B. K. Eakman; Huntington House Publishers, Lafayette, LA, 1998, 606 pp, ISBN: 1-56384-147-9
Review by Del Meyer, MD
"The educational system should be a sieve, through which all the children of the country are passed. . . It is very desirable that no child escape inspection. . ."
Paul Popenoe, behavioral eugenicist
American Eugenics Society; Editor, 1926
With this quotation, B K Eakman, educator, speech and technical writer, and researcher, sets the tone and the caution of a well researched "call to alarms." She previously wrote the first publication to warn of individually identifiable psychological assessments being given under cover of academic (achievement) testing. That 1991 book, Educating for the "New World Order," was a surprise hit. It revealed that "corrective" curricula were being brought into classrooms under the umbrella of remediation. Youngsters' beliefs and viewpoints were being remediated, not their skills in academic disciplines.
Eakman does a masterful job chronicling three parallel efforts dating over a century--information gathering methodologies, behavioral science, and legislation--and places these in context to provide insight, not only into the times and circumstances surrounding each event, but the ramifications for our present era.
Cloning of the American Mind centers on America's "illiteracy cartel," a term Eakman coined to describe an out-of-control psychographic consulting industry. Psychographics is a relatively new field that combines elements of demographic and marketing research, where personal, student, and family records assume a commodity that with recent advances in computer technology can be acquired by almost anyone. Psychographics means "the study of social class based upon the demographics . . . income, race, color, religion, and personality traits. . . which can be measured to predict behavior." Their use in persons in captive, compulsory settings like elementary and secondary schools is of serious ethical and civil rights concerns.
This book explores today's behemoth psychographic consulting/information brokerage industry, focusing in particular on state-of-the-art computer technologies and advertising strategies to illustrate how behavioral scientists are combining these with psychiatry to reform education. In the process, Eakman shows us two factions of behavioral science as they evolve, clash, and then come together to accomplish what no extremist group or power elite has been able to do in the history of the world: hold an entire population hostage to a set of quasi-political, psychological criteria by predicating children's job prospects on whether they hold "acceptable" worldviews and opinions. These social engineers, by obtaining personal information about youngsters and their families, also get into the belief system of the students and correct any viewpoints they find distasteful.
As a society we are getting desensitized to divulging personal information. We're no longer sure what "personal" means. Certainly our children don't know. When they're asked questions about the family's medicine cabinet, mental problems, drinking habits, sexual practices, they are only too eager to impress, divulge and exaggerate information to please the teacher, and sound impressive misinterpreting what they see and hear. False information is thereby interspersed with accuracy being of little or no concern to those collecting information. The media, of course, has no stake whatsoever in other people's privacy.
The critical point is that there is a computer model available to predict behavior, simply by deriving a pattern of one's past activities. These activities can include anything from long-distance telephone usage to spending, recreation, and health. These are increasingly available, not only as part of any security background check, but also can now be added to a routine background check. If this is not enough, there is the ever-lurking "information underground' to which even government officials turn when they cannot get their data on us through legitimate channels.
Eakman points out that Jeffrey Rothfeder in his 1992 volume, Privacy For Sale, decided to show just how much information he could obtain about a prominent public figure. He selected former Vice-President Dan Quayle, someone he held in mild contempt. By using his personal computer and telephone, Rothfeder found he could easily gain access to information he wasn't supposed to be able to get. He found more than he bargained for and started sounding alarms. However, Rothfeder was blissfully unaware that techniques identical to those he was describing were being used in the nation's elementary and secondary schools. A database exists that not only has the capability to track and cross-reference generic information about people, their beliefs, family ties, friends' and associates' names, addresses, phone numbers and aliases; political/civic clubs and associations joined; magazine subscriptions; frequent shopping places; political campaigns and causes contributed to; how important a person is by region, state, or city; what potentially embarrassing information one may harbor; but can also predict a person's future action.
Education policy--indeed, all of social policy today--is aimed at dysfunctional people, not toward the backbone of society. When ordinary folk use the term "parents," we mean the majority of upstanding, decent people who care about their children. Statistics show that about one-half of one percent of American youngsters have no responsible adult to care for them. Yet, over the past 30 years, social and domestic policy has focused almost exclusively upon this irresponsible, negligent and abusive element. So when education policy makers hear the term "parents," they're thinking of negligent, abusive, and irresponsible people, or at the very least, of "rank amateurs."
Eakman found that the Educational Quality Assessment (EQA) test was made up of 375 questions covering attitudes, worldviews, and opinions with 30 questions on math and another 30 covering verbal analogies, which amounts to just enough academic questions to appear credible. However, she found the scoring mechanism revealed that points were given only for what were called "minimum positive attitudes"--in other words, state-desired responses, which the parents saw as neither positive nor desirable. It was years before behavior modification, a specialized clinical technique used primarily by licensed psychologists to achieve a therapeutic goal with patients, was the admitted purpose and the EQA was indeed psychological testing.
The National Institutes of Health made a grant to the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic for a "Multi-site Multimodal Treatment Study...." Among the significant aspects of this case was that psychological data was being mixed not only with students' education records but also with medical records. This violates the bible of the law profession, Black's Law. There one finds that malpractice has three aspects: ethical violation of the doctor-patient relationship; lack of good-faith; and compensable harm. In this case neither the student nor the parent sought out the doctor or psychologist. Instead the clinic went looking (stalking) for a "patient" (subject) and thus no doctor-patient relationship occurred. There was no informed consent, and, therefore, no good-faith. There was no proof that data on a particular child could not be retrieved at a later time causing compensable harm. In fact, insurance companies, potential employers or even a political candidate find such information useful (e.g. as a child having been seen or treated by a psychiatrist, forced sexual activity, use of a weapon, cruelty to animals, to name a few).
It was the year of the nation's Bicentennial, 1976, when education's high priests finally succeeded in their long-standing struggle to shift schools from academics and scholarship to socialization and guardianship. Teachers threw out stuffy old books, learned how to say "Hey, Man!", exchange their dresses and suits for blue jeans, and dismissed "the value of x." Likewise, student dress codes and rote learning were scrapped, tests and curricula were dumbed down, once-neat rows of desks were traded for "open classrooms," teachers lecturing and grading scales were condemned, and a technique called "behavioral conditioning" began replacing drill and repetition. The teachers became unionized, in some places with legislative mandates, with the NEA and AFT getting a windfall from membership dues. This implemented a us vs them mentality. Principals and superintendents withdrew the traditional disciplinary support teachers had enjoyed for decades. School administrators were no longer expected to have had taught any academic subjects as long as they obtained the requisite administration credentials. They pushed teachers to pass failing students and to "relate to youngsters on their own terms." Teachers now had to forget what little they ever knew of a classical education and change their focus to "humanizing the education process" and "being relevant."
Students loved watching teachers traipse about in cutoffs and listening to "hip" music while doing math. But they quickly became disenchanted when creatures who didn't look much different than they did started getting huffy around mid-term and demanding assignments. Their response frequently was an obscene gesture. Meanwhile educational psychologists in expensive "think tanks" questioned whether the ability to spell correctly was worth the price of a traumatized student. They didn't ask if the license to spell incorrectly was worth the price of a traumatized adult. As time went on, good, responsible parents became less trusting of the schools, and finally apathetic. Statistics began showing that after a child's fourth year of school, parental interest dropped dramatically.
As grade inflation became rampant, along came "accountability" legislation. Accountability meant developing a process by which teachers would prove statistically each term that so-much learning had transpired in their classrooms. By 1980, the semester objectives for a 9th grade English class looked something like this: "Forty-three percent of my eighth-grade students will improved their vocabularies by twenty percent over the next thirteen weeks." This was considered a realistic goal! Accordingly, 57 percent of the students could be chronically absent, get suspended, or spend the term decorating the gym. Assuming none of the pupils knew beforehand a single vocabulary word the teacher would present that semester (a patently ridiculous notion), the 43 % who supposedly would improved their vocabularies by 20 percent, overall. The possibility that anyone would analyze the semantics of the figures was slim. School principals knew statistics could be made to say anything, and so did their superiors in the district office.
The then new trend toward comparative scoring, or "norming," actually aided and abetted this deceit. To satisfy legislators and the local news media that students were receiving a quality education, test scores were publicized in percentile form, which administrators could count on being misinterpreted as a numerical (or "raw") score by the public. Thus if a student only learned half of the material he or she was tested on and if the majority of the students even performed worse, our student could conceivably score at the 90th percentile. With no raw scores to rate achievement, comparative scores like percentiles can be made to look as though students have excelled or improved, and disguises the fact that knowledge, per se, has declined.
By the late 1970s, day care was a booming business. Awash in unworkable philosophies of child management for over a decade, parents could scarcely get rid of their youngsters fast enough or for long enough periods. Psychiatrists touted the day care concept as beneficial not only to parents, but a boon to a child's socialization and school-readiness. Reality, however, was less positive. Daycare overstimulated toddlers, transmitted diseases like hepatitis, and weakened the bonds between parent and child. Institutions of learning had now taken on a new function: that of substitute parent.
Eakman's behind-the-scenes objective look at our bureaucratic education system makes Cloning of the American Mind an indispensable book for parents, educators, physicians, or anyone involved with our children. One can open up this volume to almost any of its 600 pages and find alarming news. In these two pages I have just touch the tip of the iceberg of what Eakman is telling us is happening to our children and the future of our society. We should all purchase our own volume for careful reading and tell all our friends about this book. We should even consider an extra volume for a concerned friend, and one for a member of our local school board. Our country's future is at stake--and our children won't be able to save it unless we take drastic action now.
The epitaph of the 20th century should be: "Here lie the victims of open-mindedness." --Joseph Sobran, syndicated columnist.