Chapter 6. Molding HandsIf large philanthropy was to be the solution then there was only one way for the great monopolist Rockefeller to go about what he called "the difficult art of giving":
If a combination to do business is effective in saving waste and in getting better results, why is not combination far more important in philanthropic work?The game plan was simple: here was all this Rockefeller money, and here was Mr. Rockefeller being constantly badgered, scrutinized, and hauled into court; why not set up a monopoly on philanthropy, funnel into it large sums from the fortunes of Rockefeller and the other industrial barons, and distribute the money in a way guaranteed to ensure Mr. Rockefeller the respect and admiration of those elements of society which had castigated him most? In other words, it was time to launder the money.
The creation and funding of the University of Chicago had done much to enhance Rockefeller's public relations profile among Baptists and educators. Educational philanthropy, since it was paying off in good publicity, might be the way to go. The only difficulty was that education, on the whole, wasn't in bad shape. The indigenous American educational system was deeply rooted in the beliefs and practices of the Puritan Fathers, the Quakers, the early American patriots and philosophers. Jefferson had maintained that in order to preserve liberty in the new nation, it was essential that its citizenry be educated, whatever their income. Throughout the country, schools were established almost immediately after the colonization of new areas. Fine school systems were established by the Quakers in Pennsylvania and the Midwest. The free school movement in New York, under the aegis of DeWitt Clinton and Horace Mann, was flourishing. A large number of "normal schools" (so-called due to their role in setting the norms and standards of education) turned out thousands of well-trained teachers each year. Major universities had been established early in the country's history, and yearly graduated intensely literate and well-educated people who were to be the leaders of our nation.
Educational results far exceeded those of modern schools. One has only to read old debates in the Congressional Record or scan the books published in the 1800's to realize that our ancestors of a century ago commanded a use of the language far superior to our own. Students learned how to read not comic books, but the essays of Burke, Webster, Lincoln, Horace, Cicero. Their difficulties with grammar were overcome long before they graduated from school, and any review of a typical elementary school arithmetic textbook printed before 1910 shows dramatically that students were learning mathematical skills that few of our current high school graduates know anything about. The high school graduate of 1900 was an educated person, fluent in his language, history, and culture, possessing the skills he needed in order to succeed.
Except in the rural South. The South had been devastated by the Civil War, and was undergoing a period of reconstruction which broadly shifted traditional values and institutions. Few schools existed in rural areas, even for the white children, much less for the children of parents recently freed from slavery. It was in this rural South that Gates found the right circumstances for the implementation of his plans.
Some work had already been done in the reconstruction and development of the rural Southern educational system. The Peabody and Slater Funds had long been active in funding black schools, and the Tuskegee and Hampton Institutes were offering black children the benefits of industrial education, suitable for their future jobs in industry and agriculture. One of the leaders in Southern education was Robert C. Ogden, a Northern merchant (manager of Wanamaker stores) who had assisted in the creation of Hampton Institute. Concerned about the condition of rural education in the South, he initiated a series of yearly education conferences and, in 1901, hired a train to take 50 prominent men and women on a grand tour of the schools of the South.
Gates was the brilliant dreamer and creator. I was the salesman - the go-between with father at the opportune moment. Gates and I were father's lieutenants, each of us with a different task, but acting in perfect harmony. Gates did the heavy thinking, and my part was to sell his ideas to father. Of course, I was in a unique position. I could talk with father at the strategic moment. It might be in a relaxed mood after dinner, or while we were driving together. Consequently I could often get his approval of ideas which others couldn't have secured because the moment wasn't right.The younger Rockefeller was captivated by the possibilities of a Negro Education Board. After preliminary discussions, however, he decided not to limit the educational "philanthropy" program to one race. Thus, at a dinner party on January 15, 1902, junior laid out his plans to an assembled group of noted Southern educators, and received an enthusiastic response. A month later, the same group assembled again, this time to charter a new organization called the General Education Board, for "the promotion of education within the United States without distinction of race, sex, or creed." It was to be a philanthropic monopoly. In the words of Gates:
The object of this Association is to provide a vehicle through which capitalists of the North who sincerely desire to assist in the great work of Southern education may act with assurance that their money will be wisely used.The new organization, after an initial donation by Rockefeller, Sr. of over $1 million, quickly absorbed the major existing philanthropic groups working in the South - the Slater and Peabody Funds. The General Education Board first assisted Robert Ogden's Southern Education Board, established several years earlier, then broadened its horizons to include other aspects of education.The real motivation behind the General Education Board, however, was perhaps best expressed in the Board's Occasional Letter No. 1, written by Gates:
In our dreams, we have limitless resources and the people yield themselves with perfect docility to our molding bands. The present education conventions fade from their minds, and unhampered by tradition, we work our own good will upon a grateful and responsive rural folk. We shall not try to make these people or any of their children into philosophers or men of learning, or men of science. We have not to raise up from among them authors, editors, poets or men of letters. We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have an ample supply.A similar view of the power of philanthropy was expressed by Board trustee Walter Hines Page (later to become editor of the Atlantic Monthly, ambassador to Great Britain, and early advocate of America's entry into World War I) to the first executive secretary of the Board, Wallace Buttrick:
... the world lies before us. It'll not be the same world when we get done with it that it was before: bet your last penny on that will you!John D. Rockefeller, Sr.'s attention, however, was not just on grandly paternalistic schemes of social control. McClure's Magazine had begun publication of its serialization of Ida Tarbell's muckraking book, The History of the Standard Oil Company. Rockefeller was being hounded each day by hundreds of letters demanding or pleading for money, while the newspapers and magazines constantly attacked him and his organization.
Under the accumulating pressures, the body that be had pushed so remorselessly for the past forty years finally rebelled. Letters between Rockefeller and his wife during this period tell of sleepless nights. He began to suffer from serious digestive disorders, and his doctor insisted that he retreat from his cares ... almost overnight the people who visited Rockefeller came away shocked by his stooped and careworn demeanor ... His face bad become deeply lined; be had put on weight, sagging at the midsection. He was ravaged by a nervous disease ... which left him without any hair on his body, and in the first noticeable vanity of an otherwise spartan life, he began to worry about his baldness, hiding it first with a grotesque black skull cap and later with a series of ill-fitting white wigs, each of them a slightly different length so that he could imitate a natural growth of hair over a two-week period.Rockefeller's greatest desire at this time was to buffer himself against his enemies and against public opinion by pouring millions into whatever medical or educational charities Gates could find. He had enthroned Gates as his financial overseer, and had increasingly turned over the job of laundering his wealth to his son, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., who over the years would seek out larger and more effective ways of investing the Rockefeller fortune toward, in Fosdick's words, "this goal of social control." These men, it can safely be said, conspired to control American education while buttressing the Rockefeller fortune against all attacks, ensuring that their autocratic views would prevail. With the General Education Board, Rockefeller's "education trust," a virtually unlimited source of funds was to be made available to the Wundtian psychologists' ambitious designs on American education.
(End of Chapter 5)
Get The Book!The Leipzig Connection by Paolo Lionni - the complete book with more details & facts about the scam known as modern education and psychology.
Suggested Reading List - the Demise of the Educational System - OBE (Outcome-Based Education), NEA (National Education Association), educational psychology, German psychology & influences, demise of public education, educational sabotage, Wundt, Pavlov, Dewey, Skinner, Watson.
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