The work of this film will not be to uncover some vast conspiracy at work for the past century and a half, consisting of industrialists, twisted utopians, and phrenologists. Much more to the point, we hope the viewer will be compelled to look at the evidence of the persistent dumbing down of our children and ask: Is it simply bureaucratic dysfunction that has caused this or have there been other dynamics, other forces, trends and tendencies that have produced these appalling results? If so, what might they have been? The urgency of our young utopian visionaries to create a more perfect and perfectible society? The needs of our juggernaut economy to absorb a docile and tractable workforce along with its complementary requirement of a vast army of compliant consumers?
What historical developments might have fueled the shaping of policy during those early years: Immigration? The Civil War? What intellectual megatrends might have informed the architects of compulsory schooling: Darwinian thought and its evil twin, Social Darwinism; Behavioral Psychology; Taylorism; Socialism?
What goals were set down for our country? And what price were we willing to pay in order to achieve them?
There will be no easy answers to this question of a fourth purpose. The anomalies of Part I, the historical clues provided in Part II, and the alternatives in Part III will form a trail for the audience. The viewers will be asked to do work as they watch this series. They will be asked to observe, think, evaluate, and draw their own conclusions. But if they do their work and we do ours, then the audience will be rewarded with a heightened awareness of the conditions of modern schooling. And if change, real change is truly on the minds of our politicians, parents, and education experts, awareness is essential.