Bruce Deitrick Price
Rita Kramer's book 'Ed School Follies' exposes how teachers are trained to dumb down America
Teachers are taught to 'teach political propaganda as opposed to academic subjects'
By Bruce Deitrick Price
April 10, 2024

Around 1990, journalist/author Rita Kramer (1929-2023) toured the country to study premier schools of education. She was already an expert on our K-12 schools, having published a highly praised book about Maria Montessori and having reported for years on education. Now Kramer sensed that something new and dangerous was growing in the shadows of America: a tendency toward promoting Socialism. She wanted to know why. Her journey resulted in an excellent book, Ed School Follies, in 1991.

The activities in our public schools are interesting but rarely the real story. The real story was that Professor John Dewey, starting roughly in 1900, was planning an attack on America. He wanted to transform the ed schools into weapons. They would churn out many tens of thousands of indoctrinated teachers, who would transform every public school in the country. The first clever step was to convince John D. Rockefeller, one of the world’s earliest billionaires, and much hated, that he should donate one-tenth of his income to charity, specifically, the construction of hundreds of ed schools. In this way, the dumbing down of K-12 could begin.

Harold Rugg, another top educator, described the plan in his book The Great Technology (1933):

    Through the schools of the world we shall disseminate a new conception of government—one that will embrace all the activities of men, one that will postulate the need of scientific the interests of all people.

Rugg’s “new conception of government" means Socialism. As a result, Rockefeller would end up looking good, Dewey would be hailed as the fabulous founder of American education, and totalitarian Socialism would prevail.

Of course, Socialist writing always focuses on the fulfillment of the human species and the liberation of workers. But the practical effect was rampant growth of centralized power which was a mentality exactly fitted to abet Hitler's dreams of total control. Ditto for Stalin.

I briefly communicated with Rita Kramer toward the end of her life. I sent several questions late in 2023. Here are her answers:

BDP: What were the things that offended you the most as you worked on your book in 1990?

    Rita Kramer: “Finding out that teachers were being taught to teach political propaganda as opposed to academic subjects. What I observed firsthand back then was the groundwork being laid for the crisis in education today.”

BDP: Looking back over the last 30 years, which problems seemed to come out of nowhere?

    Rita Kramer: “It seems to me that the schools are substituting politicization for learning even more than back then, but today’s students and their parents have less defense against what would have in the 1990s been considered reckless child endangerment.”

BDP: Generally speaking, was ideology the main cause, or mental confusion?

    Rita Kramer. "Back then I saw the incompetence as resulting from bad values. Now it’s clear that malicious ideology is behind the deep indoctrination of children and young people.”

BDP: Was there any pressure on you to treat certain subjects in certain ways?

    Rita Kramer. “No, I held nothing back. The publisher was conservative and did not interfere in any way.”

BDP: When you finished the book, what was your mood about the future?

    Rita Kramer: “I was pessimistic about the future because I saw no resistance in the face of anti-American and ultimately anti-intellectual politicization.”

BDP: Did you have your own formula for how things should be organized?

    Rita Kramer: “If it had all been up to me, I would have replaced MsEd degree requirements with a subject Masters. However, given what’s going on in higher education today—with the substitution of any semblance of tertiary education by ‘woke’ indoctrination – my solution at that time would not have worked in the long run. However, it might still have influenced a couple of generations of students positively.”

BDP: Last comment?

    Rita Kramer: "If I were invited to sit in on a classroom today—whether in public or private school—I would be outraged at the abuse of the classroom as a center of socialist/communist indoctrination.”

Scientific control says it all. If you want to serve this program of subversion and social engineering, that's one thing. But to be shanghaied without consent is criminal. Really, the sinister trademark of Dewey's schemes is that they would be implemented in secrecy, without the permission of teachers, students, or citizens. Top educators would be unseen chest masters; teachers would be their pawns.

We rarely see anything discussed in our media at anything but a superficial level. Try to find an article in the archives of your local paper going back 70 years where they said anything similar to: Hey, you know what? Sight-words don't work. Everything Rudolf Flesch told you in Why Johnny Can’t Read is exactly true. Similarly, The New York Times, et al., don't actually examine education so much as they try to distract you from examining education. Please, everyone, do your own examination. You’ll be shocked.

Our Education Establishment rarely tells you why our schools are declining. The main activity seems to be inventing more and dumber jargon so nobody will know what's going on.

In summary, Rita Kramer is a lovely person who wrote a lovely book. She's polite and gracious even as she homes in on the main point: that ed schools rarely concern themselves with anything so trivial as knowledge, rather they are obsessed with telling teachers what to think.

Ed School Follies is on Amazon with many enthusiastic reviews, one by me written in 2007.


Bruce Deitrick Price is the author of Saving K-12: What Happened to Our Public Schools? How Do We Fix Them? His podcast is Let’s Fix Education.

I'm hoping there can be renewed interest in Rita Kramer. If you or your friends have anything interesting to tell me about her, please do so at:

© Bruce Deitrick Price


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Bruce Deitrick Price

Bruce Deitrick Price is the author of six books, an artist, a poet, and an education reformer. He was born in Norfolk, Virginia, earned Honors in English Literature from Princeton, served two years in the Army, and then lived many years in Manhattan.

Price explains educational theories and methods on his ed site (founded in 2005; now being rebuilt). He has 400 education articles and videos on the Internet. More forcefully than most, Price argues that the public schools are mediocre because our Education Establishment wants them that way. His relevant book is Saving K-12


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