by Charlotte Iserbyt

Fascinating Story behind the boycott of Soviets in the Classroom…

[Soviets in the Classroom… America’s Latest Education Fad, written in 1986, was published in 1989. The delay in publication date to 1989 is an interesting story in itself. Although submitted to all conservative media outlets and sent to all conservative organizations in 1986, it was ignored by all until 1989 when the late Judge Robert Morris, N.J. who had recently been named President of America’s Future*, a well-known conservative organization, found it in his desk, called me, and immediately published it. Rudy Scott, former President of America’s Future, one of the many conservative organizations that had turned it down for publication, had by mistake left the manuscript in the bottom drawer of his desk.

Bob Morris, who had been deeply involved in the congressional investigation of communism in public education was, of course, shocked to find out, four years after the fact, what had happened in 1985 when President Reagan and the Carnegie Corporation signed the extensive agreements with President Gorbachev of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Academy of Science, respectively, to basically merge the two nation’s education systems.

Obviously, when a well known member of the nation’s conservative establishment did not even know what had happened, one can draw no conclusion other than that the boycott had been successful beyond belief.

So, here, FINALLY, is the article, successfully boycotted for over THIRTY-THREE YEARS!]

Education Agreements With the Soviet Union

Is the repugnant act of burning the American flag more damaging to our nation’s political integrity than letting the Soviets into our classrooms, in person, on video, or through U.S.-Soviet jointly developed curricula?

One would think so, considering the extensive establishment media coverage given the flag decision compared to the wall of silence built around the Soviet invasion of American classrooms.

Maybe America needs a Supreme Court decision similar to the flag-burning decision saying it’s legal to let the Soviets teach our children and to “put up statues of well known Soviet cultural figures in our parks,” as called for in the General Agreement between the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. on Contacts, Exchanges and Cooperation in Scientific, Technical, Educational, Cultural and Other Fields, signed in 1985 and 1988 at Geneva and Moscow, respectively. The media might find it impossible to “cover up” a Supreme Court decision. Perhaps if Americans knew about and understood the deep significance of these agreements, their outrage might even exceed that demonstrated over the flag decision. They might even call for a fully televised Congressional investigation leading to cancellation of all education agreements with the Soviets—government-initiated agreements as well as those with tax-exempt private foundations.

The agreements call for “cooperation in the field of science and technology and additional agreements in other specific fields, including the humanities and social sciences; the facilitation of the exchange by appropriate organizations of educational and teaching materials, including textbooks, syllabi, and curricula, materials on methodology, samples of teaching instruments and audiovisual aids, and the exchange of primary and secondary school textbooks and other teaching materials… [and] the conducting of joint studies on textbooks between appropriate organizations in the United States and the Ministry of Education of the U.S.S.R.”

What do the Soviets—who kidnapped 10,000 Afghan children and shipped them to the Soviet Union for “re-education” and in the spring of 1989 used poison gas and sharpened shovels to disperse a nationalistic demonstration in Soviet Georgia, killing at least twenty persons and injuring 200—have to offer our children in the way of school materials? What does a country have to offer our children in the way of school materials which, according to an 1987 “out-of-print” book by American Federation of Labor—Council of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) entitled Cruel and Usual Punishment: Forced Labor in Today’s USSR, holds tens of thousands of political prisoners in Soviet prisons, labor camps, and psychiatric hospitals, including between four and five million non-political prisoners in slave labor camps? What does a country which publishes children’s books for disinformation purposes overseas—and in the case of books distributed in India, portrays America as “rich, uncaring, and prejudiced,” and compares us with the Brahmin caste, which is the ruling caste much resented by the disadvantaged in India—have to offer our children in the way of school materials?

Contrary to the media’s portrayal of political change in the Soviet Union, the August 1986 issue of Comparative Education Review published an article entitled “Aspects of Socialist Education: The New Soviet Educational Reform” which states that the Soviet reform movement recommends the “intensification of ideological education.” A June 2, 1986 Washington Times article entitled “Russian Education Obsolete” says in a discussion of education reform, “The specialist of today should have a thorough Marxist-Leninist training.” Professor Adam Ulam, the distinguished director of Harvard’s Russian Research Center, reports that

[O]ne of the principal goals of military patriotic education is to counteract any pacifist tendencies, to teach all Soviet citizens, from the youngest children to pensioners, that they must be prepared at any moment to fight for socialism…. The determination to instill explicitly military values in the schools comes through with equally striking clarity in textbooks and manuals used by teachers.

Soviet General Popkov wrote in August 1986 in a regional military paper, Sovetskiy Voin, that

[T]he schools are taking on ever increasing importance in military and patriotic indoctrination. Party documents on school reform define an extensive, scientifically based program for this work.[2]

In light of the above information, which contradicts Gorbachev’s glasnost/perestroika propaganda, why has our government signed education agreements calling for extensive cooperation with the Soviets in curricula development, exchanges of educational materials and the conducting of joint studies?

Why are Soviet educators permitted to do what U.S. Department of Education educators are forbidden by law to do: involve themselves in curricula development?

Why did the U.S. Department of State authorize the unelected, tax-exempt Carnegie Corporation, a long-time and well funded advocate of disarmament and “world interdependence,” to negotiate with the Soviet Academy of Sciences, known to be an intelligence-gathering arm of the KJB, regarding “curriculum development and the restructuring of American education”? Is it because “privately endowed foundations can operate in areas government may prefer to avoid” as stressed by psychiatrist Dr. David Hamburg, President of the Carnegie Corporation and chief negotiator for the exchange agreement, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times on June 12, 1987? (Colonel Oliver North’s “operations in areas government preferred to avoid” resulted in a fully televised multi-million dollar Congressional investigation.)

Representative Lee Hamilton (D-IN) said during the Iran-Contra hearings that “The use of private parties to carry out the high purposes of government makes us the subject of puzzlement and ridicule.” Shouldn’t he be asked why the use by our government (State Department) of private parties (tax-exempt Carnegie Corporation and other foundations) to carry out the high purposes of government does not similarly make Congress the subject of puzzlement and ridicule?

A Few Examples

A complete listing of the many shocking exchange activities taking place as a result of the 1985 and 1988–1991 agreements would require volumes. A few concrete examples should suffice to convince the reader that all proposals called for in the agreements are being faithfully and fastidiously carried out.

1. Cambridge-based Educators for Social Responsibility (ESR) project, “Educating for New Ways of Thinking: An American-Soviet Institute.” Two such institute sessions have been held (one in Leningrad the summer of 1989) at which “Soviet and American educators examined classroom theory and practice in critical thinking about social and political issues and worked on recommendations and resources for improving the ways we teach about each other’s country, and on A Source-Book for New Ways of Thinking in Education: A U.S.-Soviet Guide for use by teachers and students in both countries.”[3]

“Critical thinking” is the latest fad to hit our children’s classrooms. N. Landa’s Lenin:

On Educating Youth, published by the Soviet state-controlled Novosti Press, quotes Lenin on “thinking” as follows:

To pose a real question means to define a problem which demands a new approach and new research…. Sometimes accepted truth no longer answers as a solution for a serious and pressing problem. The school should cultivate in pupils the ability to perceive scientifically evolved truths as stages along the endless road of cognition—not as something stationary and set.

More recently, an article in Education Week (4–9–86) entitled “Are Teachers Ready to Teach Pupils to Think?” laments the fact that graduating college seniors show little evolution of alternative views on any issue, tending to treat all opinions as equally good, tending to hold opinions based largely on whims or unsubstantiated beliefs, and hesitating to take stands based on evidence and reason. Summing up a decade of research in the 1960’s, O.J. Harvey laments that very high percentages… [of educators] “operated in cognitive styles grounded in absolute assumptions—viewing reality in terms of good/bad, right/wrong, and either/or, while attributing goodness andand truth to wise and all-knowing authorities.”

One doesn’t have to have a Ph.D. to accurately predict what U.S.-Soviet jointly developed critical thinking curricula will look like. Do American parents want their children exposed to this type of education, especially when it will also be on computer where they can’t get their hands on it?

2. The Carnegie Corporation’s exchange agreement with the Soviet Academy of Sciences has resulted in “joint research on the application of computers in early elementary education, focusing especially on the teaching of higher level skills and complex subjects to younger children.” (“Higher level skills” is often a euphemism for “critical thinking skills,” or values, attitudes, etc.) Carnegie’s 1988 one-year, $250,000 grant is funding implementation of this program, coordinated on the American side by Michael Cole, Director of the Laboratory of Comparative Human Cognition at the University of California, San Diego.[4]

3. The American-Soviet Textbook Study Project began in 1977, was suspended in 1979 when Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, and resumed in 1985 under the Geneva Agreement. At a conference held in Racine, Wisconsin in November 1987, the U.S. representatives acquiesced to the Soviet insistence that American textbooks should present a more “balanced” (i.e., friendly) discussion of Lenin and should give the Russians more“credit” for their role in World War II. A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times said in a December 8, 1987 editorial that American educators solemnly discuss with Soviet educators the mutual need for textbook revision, just as if the state did not censor every single book published in the Soviet Union and the Russians could write as they pleased. That is comedy, IF you like it real black.[5]

4. Scholars from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Ministry of
Education of the Soviet Union met in the United States in 1986 and agreed to establish a Commission on Education that will be responsible for joint scholarly relations in pedagogy and related fields between the United States and the Soviet Union. Some major joint U.S.-Soviet project themes are: Methods of Teaching and Learning School Science and Math Subjects Using Computers; Theory of Teaching and Learning; Psychological and Pedagogical Problems of Teaching in the Development of Pre-School and School-age Children, and Problems of Teaching Children with Special Needs.[6]

5. The Copen Foundation/New York State Education Department/Soviet Academy of Sciences agreement “links students, teachers, administrators in U.S. and Soviet schools by computer and video-telephone lines.” Mr. Copen declared:

“Soviet officials are especially interested in studying the effects of telecommunications on intercultural understanding, teaching methods, and learning outcomes, and that the Soviets have assigned five scientists to monitor the project.”

This agreement should be challenged on constitutional grounds since Article I, Section 10 of the U.S. Constitution says, “No State shall, without the consent of Congress,… enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power.”

6. Under terms reached with the Soviet Academy of Sciences, the National Science Teachers Association will publish a Soviet science magazine in the United States. Copies of Quantum scheduled for publication in September 1989 will be distributed free of charge to gifted and talented children in this country.[7]

7. On December 8, 1987 the independent National Academy of Sciences pledged to help place more than a million computers in Soviet classrooms by the early 1990s.[8]

8. A $175,000 grant was made from the United States Information Agency (USIA) to the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the American Council of Teachers of Russian, and Sister Cities International. This grant will implement an expanded student exchange program, calling for up to 1500 American high school students to live and study in the Soviet Union each year and an equal number of Soviet students to come to the United States.[9]

Former Education Secretary William Bennett told the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce on January 21, 1986 that American students know little about their own history and heritage and we have forgotten that intellectual innocence is easily seduced and the price we pay is that some of our children can only nod their heads in agreement when confronted with standard Soviet propaganda. They lack the knowledge to recognize it as propaganda, much less to refute it.

9. On March 4, 1989, fifteen Soviet teens and two adult teachers arrived in Aurora, Colorado as part of the Reagan-Gorbachev agreements. According to an article by Beth Peterson in the high school newspaper Raider Review:

“A conflict arose when reportedly a Russian student, Farkhod (who was head of the Komsomol Young Communist League and spokesman for the group) told students in an honors history class, “You are all going to be Communists within fifty years. Just remembert that every society must be ready for Communism—even America.”

10. Students participated in the Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts student exchange with an elite Soviet prep school deep in Siberia. The students “agreed one characteristic was more striking than any other: an indefatigable commitment to Soviet communism.” One student, Horovath, said, “I think in general young people are more committed to the Party’s ideology than to their parents.” Another student, Tom Clyde, said, “They seem to think there is going to be a world revolution any day now and the Communist Party will overtake America.”[10]

The Soviet Union: The Only Benefactor

Does our government really believe that the Soviet government is participating in these student exchanges so that their students can be de-programmed and become good little capitalists eager for peace at any price?

Michael Warder of the Rockford Institute says that “Exchanges are allegedly designed to promote peace.” However, he points out that, as currently devised most exchanges are of benefit only to the Soviet Union. In the summer of 1985 a group of 46 Soviets visited the United States on a so-called goodwill mission. But the 46 were selected, briefed, and controlled by Soviet security organs. Each of the “friendly visitors” had relatives being held hostage at home, lest any of them might consider defecting or deviating from the official Soviet propaganda line. Their trip was paid for by the Soviet government, and among them were Soviet agents. Mr. Warder notes that Soviet leaders know that if peace propaganda effectively reaches the U.S. public it will result in the Congress voting less money for national defense. U.S. groups going to the Soviet Union have no such “equal” opportunity to reduce Soviet arms expenditures.[11]

How on target Warder’s comments have proven to be! Soviet propagandizing of the American people has been so successful that on May 9, 1989 four top Soviet officials were given the red carpet treatment by the U.S. House Armed Services Committee: “They appealed for a warmer approach by Washington and asked us to open a second front against the Cold War.”[12] Could their appearance have something to do with the proposed defense budget cuts?

The cost to the American taxpayer—not only in terms of the mis-education of his children, but also in terms of plain, hard-earned tax dollars—is immense. Soviet students coming here are having their travel, living expenses, and tuition paid for by our tax dollars, while some of our children cannot afford to go to college.

In 1988 the U.S. Department of State awarded $4,540,000 to various groups involved in education exchanges with the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.[13] This amount, which is probably the amount doled out annually, is just the tip of the funding iceberg, with large annual grants from other government agencies and tax-exempt foundations keeping the controversial exchanges afloat.

It is to be hoped that the tragic Tiananmen Square massacre of Chinese students will result in cancellation of the U.S.-Chinese student exchanges, resulting in a lessening of our budget deficit, rather than in a transfer of those tax dollars into the U.S.-Soviet education exchange account.

A Night to Remember tells of the five iceberg warnings sent by wireless to the Titanic.

When the sixth message—”Look out for icebergs!”—came in, the Titanic’s operator wired back, “Shut up. I’m busy.” Just 35 minutes later, the ship whose captain had said, “God Himself could not sink Titantic,” was sinking.

We have been warned. Are we, like the Titanic’s operator, convinced that “God Himself cannot sink” America?

The question Americans must ask themselves is: Why, when the Soviet Union is an economic, political, moral, and social basket case, militarily superior but internally on the verge of collapse, does the United States seek its assistance in improving our educational system? Those responsible should be required to justify their support for actions which are not in the best interest of the United States.

*The address for America’s Future is: 7800 Bonhomme, St. Louis, MO 36105


1. Bailey, Kathleen. “Disinformation: A Soviet Technique for Managing Behavior.” Issues in Soviet Education: Proceedings of a Conference, National Advisory Council on Education Research and Improvement, March 3, 1988.
2. Finn, Chester E., Jr., Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Education, “Mapping the Common Ground.” Remarks before the American Forum on Education and International Competence, St. Louis, MI, May 16, 1988.
3. Educators for Social Responsibility, Cambridge, MA. Promotional flyer entitled “Teaching for Critical Thinking in the Nuclear Age: A U.S.-Soviet Institute,” Leningrad, U.S.S.R., July 27–August 12, 1989 and flyer entitled “Educating for New Ways of Thinking: An American-Soviet Institute,” Hampshire College, Amherst, MA, August 7–21, 1988.
4. Carnegie Corporation of New York. “The List of Grants and Appropriations 1988,” reprinted from the 1988 Annual
Report of the Carnegie Corporation.
5. National Academy of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, MA. Informational Letter entitled
“ACLS–U.S.S.R. Ministry of Education Commission on Education,” Fall 1987.
6. “Computers,” Education Week, Dec. 7, 1988.
7. “NSTA to Publish Soviet Journal,” Education Week, May 17, 1989.
8. Breen, Tom. “Academy to Give Soviets Computers,” Washington Times, Dec. 9, 1987.
9. “New Exchange Set for U.S., Soviet Students,” Education Week, Sept. 28, 1988.
10. Lee, Gary. “The Students’ Surprise,” Washington Post, May 26, 1987.
11. The Don Bell Report, Nov. 21, 1986.
12. Gordon, Michael R. “House Panel Sees 4 Soviet Officials,” New York Times, May 10, 1989.
13. Federal Register, Feb. 18, 2015