Background Paper on President Reagan and the U.S. Department of Education

Charlotte Iserbyt

June 15, 2004

Although Ronald Reagan had made abolishing the unconstitutional

U.S. Dept. of Education one of his most important campaign promises

while running for President in 1979-1980, once elected he made

a very strange choice for his Secretary of Education, T. H. Bell from Utah,

who had not only been a former state superintendent of schools

and United States Commissioner of Education under President Ford,

but who also had lobbied hard for the creation of the U.S. Department

of Education, the very Department President Reagan would

require him to abolish. Fox in hen house if ever there was one.

This writer, after having spent one year as a Senior Policy Advisor in

the U.S. Department of Education where I had access to the most

confidential and controversial education and work force training

documents, grants, contracts, etc. (some going all over the world

through UNESCO, etc.), decided to leak a very important technology

grant to Human Events. The purpose of this grant made to

the Association for Educational Computing and Technology (AECT

which was a spin-off of the National Education Association) was to

control computer curriculum (in all subjects) in all the schools of

the nation. The project, entitled Project BEST Basic Education Skills

through Technology, contained one page marked "Confidential"

which stated in regard to state implementation of the Project: "What

we (the feds) can control and manipulate" and then went on to list

what the AECT could control and manipulate as follows: State participation/

selection process, role of advisors, content of program,

training of state leaders, resource people utilized, basic skills content

areas emphasized, perception of need to use technology. Not

only did the Project intend to influence local education, it's promotional

flyer stated "In addition, the State Team approach and

the communications network with professional associations and

other groups established by the project will serve as a model for

the states in implementing similar efforts in other areas of education,

or in such program areas as health, human services, housing,

transportation, etc." Note: The word "basic" has to be taken with

a grain of salt since this project covered many areas which

had nothing to do with basic skills, ie. lifelong learning, health

education, life process skills plan, etc.

Since I knew I would get fired for leaking this grant I, in advance,

removed from my office to my apartment all the controversial files

to which I had access. When the phone rang that I would not be

allowed back in my office I felt secure in that I had a gold mine

which would serve a very important documentation purpose in

the future.

While making plans to return home to Maine I worked for a short

time in the White House and tried my best to inform the powers

that be regarding what was going on in the Department of Education.

Fortunately, I had a friend in the White House who was able to

deliver to President Reagan a letter I wrote him dated July 7, 1982

(enclosure #1) regarding the Marxist goings-on which I felt would

be of great concern to him, considering his fine statements regarding

the need for parental values, etc. Not receiving a response

from the President, a journalist friend of mine, John Lofton, called

to find out if the President had received my letter and was informed

by Reagan's secretary that he had received my letter and that it was on

his desk and that he had scribbled all over the margins and requested

it be forwarded to Edwin Meese, Counsellor to the President.

I then wrote a letter dated October 20, 1982 to Ed Meese (enclosure

#2) regarding the whereabouts of my letter.

When no response was received to either letter I called Ed Meese's

office and asked for an appointment. Although I was unable to

meet with Meese, Ken Cribb, his top assistant met with me. I paid

my own way to Washington for this meeting which turned out to

be a total waste of my airfare. Ken Cribb patted me on the shoulder

and said "Aren't you pleased to know the President received

your letter?" to which I responded "Yes, but that's not the point. I

want a response signed by President Reagan on his letterhead indicating

he had received my letter." I wanted proof, that I could

use with the public, of Reagan's knowledge of what was going on

in the U.S. Department of Education, the most important ministry

of education in the world, implementing with American taxpayers'

money the global brainwash necessary for world government.

Subsequent to Reagan's receiving my letter Edward Curran, the

Director of the National Institute of Education, a fine career educa-
tor who had left his position as Head Master of the Cathedral School

for Girls in Washington, D.C. to work for the Reagan Administration,

wrote a letter to President Reagan recommending that his

office, the NIE, be abolished. Curran understood what I and others

had come to understand...that the NIE was a Marxist factory, churning

out educational materials (curriculum, teacher training, the Skinnerian/

Pavlovian dog training mastery learning/direct instruction

method, assessment, international curriculum, school choice proposals,

etc.) NIE also supported laboratories and centers where such

activities were carried out across the nation and were connected

to international entities. For example: one activity was titled "Pacific

Circle Consortiunm" which, of course, was connected with the

Northwest Regional Education Laboratory in Portland, Oregon.

Unfortunately, Curran's letter arrived while Reagan was in Europe.

One of the President's handlers forwarded the letter to Secretary

of Education T.H. Bell, who promptly fired Curran. When the President

returned to the White House he allowed the firing to stand,

rather than firing the socialist Secretary of Education T. H. Bell and

replacing him with Edward Curran, the fine career educator who

does not believe that education is "science." Curran, in an interview

with "Education Week" dated December 9, 1982, stated "NIE

is based on the premise that education is a science whose progress

depends on systematic "research and development." As a professional

educator, I know that this premise is false." This statement is

of enormous significance in light of the present Bush

Administration's "Leave No Child Behind" legislation which calls for

"scientific, research-based" education models.

Had Reagan acted in the best interests of our nation, he would

have fired Bell, appointed Curran as Secretary of Education, and

allowed Curran to dismantle the most important, academically/

morally destructive office in the Department, the National Institute

of Education. I can make that statement emphatically since

my boss, a political appointee, the Assistant Secretary for the Office

of Educational Research and Improvement, who was becoming

suspicous regarding my activities in his office, detailed me to

NIE to work uptown (great restaurants!) with a nice fellow from the

General Accounting Office who was doing a Waste, Fraud and Abuse

audit of NIE's grants and contracts. This transfer enabled me to

have access to computer printouts of hundreds of NIE grants and

contracts related to just about every subject one could imagine

dealing with so-called education, including international education,

plans for school choice, tuition tax credits, vouchers, etc. One day

I ran across a grant to the Lansing, Michigan School District which

dealt with curriculum designed to change the values of elementary

school children which included pre and post testing!! I asked

this nice fellow if he would consider this particular grant "abusive"

in a non-fiscal sense of the word? He looked at it and said "absolutely".

He saw what I saw. I then asked him if I could have an extended

period on this project so I could take a closer look at the

computer printouts. He said "absolutely, you take as long as you


I stayed late at night, after the career educators and political appointees,

had gone home, in order to delve into files I couldn't

access while they were in the office and to make copies of documents.

Since it was impossible to copy the computer printouts

due to their being on a huge rollers, I had to painstakingly copy

them using shorthand. All was quiet in the office with the exception

of the entrance of the very sweet Guatemalan cleaning woman

who, upon her first visit, terrified me. I froze at the copying machine,
my mouth became dry, my heart pounding, believing I had

been discovered red-handed.

One night, while looking for a typewriter ribbon, I noticed in the

corner of a storage room a box entitled "The Goodlad Study". I just

about had a heart attack since I had been following this world famous

international change agent's subversive activities for many

years, especially when I served as a local school board member

prior to going into the Department of Education. Much of the values

destroying curricula and school organizational restructuring

could be laid at his feet. This particular box held a gold mine of

information regarding the efforts of the tax-exempt foundations

and the federal government to implement the United Nations

agenda, to restructure American schools for global government. I

couldn't believe what had landed in my lap! Four books, all published

by McGraw Hill, were commissioned for this Study. They were:

John Goodlad's "A Place Called School”; Don Davies' "Communities

and their Schools" which laid out the socialist/communitarian

agenda to be implemented in America through the schools, pointing

to communist countries as models; Jerome Hausman's "Arts

and the Schools" which dealt with how to use the arts to change

students' perceptions and values; and the worst one of all, James

Becker's "Schooling for a Global Age" which contained the

Foreward by John Goodlad from which parents love to quote:

"Parents and the general public must be reached also.

Otherwise, children and youth enrolled in globally oriented

programs may find themselves in conflict with values

assumed in the home. And then the educational institution

frequently comes under scrutiny and must pull back."

As an aside: when I returned home I called McGraw Hill to order the

books and was told they were not yet published but that they would

put me No. 1 on their list which they did. Later, when I checked

back with them, they said: "Don't worry, Mrs. Iserbyt, we'll get them

to you as soon as they are received; you are No. 1, even ahead of

each of the 50 Chief State School Officers." That sure told me something

about how important these books were and exactly who would be

carrying out the radical agendas promoted in each one of them.

There are many other interesting and amusing stories I could relate

regarding my two years in the Department of Education. However,

since the primary reason for this epistle to all of you is to

provide you with the content of the two letters I wrote to Reagan

and Meese, I'll cut this short and get on with copying those letters

for you. I have included the above to enable the reader to get a

sense of what I saw and the environment in which I worked for a

short time prior to being fired. I was so thoroughly disgusted by

what I found out that I felt it was my duty to inform the President,

hoping he would fulfill his promise to abolish the Department and

if not the Department, at least the National Institute of Education

from which most of the rot emanated.

No. 1. Letter dated July 7, 1982 from Charlotte Thomson

Iserbyt, 2324 19th Street, Washington, D.C. 20009 to President

Ronald Reagan, The White House, Washington, D.C. 20600:

Dear President Reagan:

I understand that the White House has received many

letters and petitions requesting that the Department of

Education (DOE) be abolished, that Secretary Terrel Bel

be asked to resign and replaced by a Secretary more in
tune with your philosophy, and that grants and contracts

relative to the Secretary's Technology Initiative be

cancelled or broken. Friends of mine across the country

inform me that they have either received no reply to

their letters or that they are receiving replies from the

Department of Education which do not even address

their concerns.

Leading conservative organizations and media (national

and state) are concerned that the Reagan agenda for

education is hardly distinguishable from that of President

Carter and the NEA. Your promise to abolish the

NEA/Carter Department of Education did not include a

promise to replace it with a foundation for education.

Your publicly stated concerns over the issues of manipulation

of school children and declining test scores were

not couched in terms that would allow for the present

continuation of federal support for the development,

evaluation, and dissemination of behavior modification/

values clarification/social change curriculum and/or basic

skills computer-based courseware (curriculum).

Why is it that scarce tax dollars continue to flow to

education associations that publicly oppose and sneer at

everything you stand for? The most recent example of

this is the DOE's award of a contract to the Association

for Educational Communications (AECT) to carry out

Project BEST — Basic Education Skills through Technology.

Are you aware that the advisory board of Project

BEST includes education associations which have for

years opposed any position or policy to the right of

President Carter or Senator Kennedy. In fact, one of the

prime beneficiaries of Project BEST (which will be

strengthened by its significant role in the Project), and a

member of the Advisory Board, is the Council of Chief

State School Officers (CCSSO) which in a joint statement

with the National Association of State Boards of Education

(NASBE), dated April 7, 1982, came out against many

of your education proposals. The concluding paragraph

of the joint statement released to the press follows:

"Briefly stated....CCSSO and NASBE Joint Legislative

Conference speaker Haynes Johnson, a well-respected

Washington Post commentator, mentioned that it

appears that there is absolute consensus that we are

headed down the wrong economic path...the one major

dissenter, however, is the President, and he remains firm

in his convictions. Johnson also predicted that President

Reagan would be a one-term President."

As one of your long-time supporters (founder of the

Maine Conservative Union in 1973 which is affiliated with

the American Conservative Union), and as a former

(recently resigned) political appointee in the Department

of Education (served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Asst.

Secretary for Educational Research and Improvement,

which is the office handling the Secretary's Technology

Initiative), I am infuriated that precious tax dollars are

going to an organization (AECT) which includes on its

Project BEST Advisory Board associations which have

played a significant role in the decline of student test

scores, which have been deeply involved in the controversy

over humanistic education programs, and whose

memberships include a good number of educators who

supported the creation of the Department of Education

and worked to elect President Carter in 1976 and 1980. It

is unlikely President Carter would have rewarded conservative

organizations that opposed his election with

million dollar contracts.

What ever happened to the Reagan Revolution? Reagan

appointees, who stood on principle and backed your

philosophy to the hilt, have been asked to resign or have

voluntarily resigned in disgust over the present policies

of the Department of Education. How can your revolution

take place without principled Reaganaut soldiers The

educationist philosophy of the past thirty years, now

cleverly couched in terms such as the "New Federalism",

Partnerships with the Private Sector", etc., proceeds

apace, and a strengthening of the very establishment

you pledged to reduce, which has little or nothing to do

with what actually goes on in our children's classrooms,

continues without a hitch or a peep from the White House.

Cosmetic changes in the Department, i.e., the replacement

of Carter liberals by Reagan conservatives on

Advisory Boards, and the removal of a few controversial

programs from the National Diffusion Network (NDN),

etc., temporary changes which will disappear should

there be a change in administrations, are of little or no

significance. The abolition of the NDN, the federal

government's transmission belt for federally-funded

(developed) and evaluated programs, many of which deal

with social change, and the abolition of the National

Institute of Education (NIE), the left-wing education think

tank (I know since I carefully went through many of its

project files while on a 2-month detail to NIE), were

essential steps for your administration to take. Why was

this not done? Not only is the NDN securely in place, its

federal control over curriculum (federal bureaucrats

evaluate programs before they can go into the NDN), has

been strengthened by moving it into the Regional Offices

where it is in an even better position to compete with

the private sector in the business of selling its federallysupported

products. Why is it that the highly-principled

and respected NIE Director, Edward Curran, was forced to

resign due to his courageous letter to you recommending

that NIE be abolished, when you, Mr. President, promised

the voters you would abolish the whole Department of

Education, in which case NIE would have disappeared?

I am sure that if you could see how NIE wastes taxpayers'

money on silly and controversial social change projects

that support the growth of the very educational establishment

you pledged to cut back (most of which includes

organizations which lobbied against your proposed

education cuts), you would be very upset over the

decision, taken while you were in Europe, to request Mr.

Curran's resignation. You would undoubtedly initiate an

investigation of exactly what Secretary Bell is up to in

"his" Department of Education, as opposed to what he

leads the public to believe as a result of his speeches, etc.

Plans for education in the eighties to which I have access,
could not possibly please the Ronald Reagan I have

come to admire, support, and believe in over the years.

Grassroots citizens, who worked day and night to get

you elected, ask me "What is going on?" Since I am loyal

to you, all I can say is "I guess the President isn't allowed

to know what is really going on. If he were, he would

certainly take steps to reverse the present course in the

Department of Education."

I would like to meet with you to discuss the concerns of

your constituency. I feel that nothing less than a personal,

private meeting with you will allow you to know

what is really going on. I look forward to a reply from

the White House to this letter and to my request for a

private meeting. I trust, since I have recently resigned

from the Department, that your staff will not refer my

letter to the Department for a reply. Thank you so much

for everything you are trying to do for our great nation.


Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt


(1) Human Events article entitled "Bell's Education

Department Betrays Reagan Policies", May 22, 1982

(2) Heritage Foundation "Education Update", April 1982,

entitled "Reagan Revolution Stalled in Education Department".

(3) The Washington Post article entitled "Conservatives

Zap Idea of Pac-Man as Teacher", May 18, 1982.

(4) Human Events "Capital Briefs", June 26, 1982, item on

resignations of Charlotte Iserbyt (writer of this letter)

and Dan Cathcart.

(5) "Project BEST" Dissemination Design Considerations,

taken from Project BEST documents. "Project Design

Features (What we can control or manipulate?)"

(6) Page from Georgia Basic Life Process Skills Plan,

funded by Department of Education

(7) Georgia Department of Education — Narrative

Response — Project BEST. This document proves connection

with Enclosure No. 6.

No. 2. Letter dated October 20, 1982 from Charlotte Thomson

Iserbyt, 4 Union St., Camden, Maine 04843 to Edwin Meese,

Counsellor to the President, The White House, Washington,

D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. Meese:

First of all, let me express to you and your wife my

deepest sympathy over the tragic death of your fine

son. My thoughts and prayers have been with both of

you for some time. Your sorrow over the loss will never

totally heal. Time, however, will lessen the sharpness of

the pain.

This letter is to inquire regarding the whereabouts of a

letter I wrote to the President on July 7, 1982 (enclosed).

The White House mailroom has informed me that

President Reagan did see my letter and that he made

some notes in the margins and sent it on to you last
August. I would very much appreciate knowing what

action, if any, the White House intends to take in regard to

my concerns.

I realize that all of you are overburdened in the White

House. Government has grown so enormous that it is

truly unmanageable. I saw that in the Department of

Education. With problems related to defense, foreign

policy, and the economy, all of which require immediate

action, facing those of you in key positions, there is

probably little time left to deal with problems related to

education. The world won't blow up if education is put on

the back burner. However, leaving education on the back

burner, as has been the case for years, has resulted in

fewer and fewer qualified persons available for positions

in government, persons who understand that history

does truly repeat itself, that he who dances must pay the

fiddler (deficit spending), etc. The young people educated

in the public schools of America are the future congressmen,

Cabinet officials, university presidents and teachers,

military generals, corporation presidents, creators of

culture, etc. You know this as well as anyone, but I fear

too many of our leaders, understandably preoccupied

with issues that require immediate attention, tend to

forget that those very issues might not require immediate

attention — might not even arise — if we had better

educated Americans in key positions in Washington, D.C.

and across the nation.

I have been most impressed with your ability to get things

done and to keep a cool head under difficult circumstances,

including media fire. Keep up your good work.

Please let me hear from you.


Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt


Copy of letter to President Reagan

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