Skidding Off the Learning Curve

Charles A. Kohlhaas | January 18, 2024
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Fifty years ago this week, in the middle of the Arab Oil Embargo, I was in Washington trying to convince Congressional representatives, policy makers, and bureaucrats there was no crisis. 

As some of you know, at the time I was on the petroleum-engineering faculty of the Colorado School of Mines. My department chairman decided we had a responsibility to tell the government there was no crisis. We explained the Saudis did not reduce production and the oil companies were rerouting tankers to bring oil to the United States from other producers.

Although the United States imported oil from Saudi Arabia it was not dependent on that oil. 

All to no avail. Washington had decided there was a crisis and was not about to listen to anyone else. John Love, Nixon’s energy advisor and a former Colorado governor, did not take the crisis seriously enough, so was fired and replaced by a former bond trader who believed in the crisis. Policies destructive to the economy and security of the United States were enacted, which perpetuate energy problems and affect us to this day.     

During that same period, another problem developed. It was much subtler, but it also led to long lasting economic and political problems, which recently were exposed.

We came to realize students from American public school systems were no longer prepared for our curriculum. We attempted to compensate, but remedial instruction left little time to teach engineering. Reluctantly, we came to the conclusion that we needed to reduce our requirements to match the preparedness of our students. The changes were necessary after we started receiving graduates of a public school system which had been radically changed in the 1960s. After doing so, we were aware we had done something significant. We sensed our action marked a transition from progress and improvement to decline.   

The immediate cause was a convergence of political and social trends in the 1960s, which reduced the educational quality and rigor of the American public education system.

Elementary and secondary public education traditionally had been governed, and standards determined, by local school boards and State Boards of Education. Knowledge and skills in language, mathematics, Western and U.S. history, civics, sciences, and arts were recognized as important to develop and maintain a prosperous, productive society.  

The changes in the 1960s combined to change the education system to a homogenized national means of indoctrination and political manipulation.  These were part of a long-term process with roots in dark German philosophies, which wound their way through German universities and politics to the U.S. education system. The objective was to change society in accordance with ideas dating from Hegel, expanded by Marx, using methods identified by Wundt, which were consolidated and formulated by the Frankfurt School in the 1920s. The Frankfurt School was a group of Marxist Germans, mostly Jewish, who plotted for the overthrow of the West to remake world society in accordance with Marxist-Socialist ideas.

The U.S., as the most prosperous and politically advanced expression of the West, became its primary target. The Frankfurt School methods for a cultural revolution to impose socialism on the U.S. were nicely summarized by Timothy Matthews in Catholic Insight:

  1. Create racism offenses.
  2. Continual change to generate confusion.
  3. Teach sex and homosexuality to children.
  4. Undermine schools’ and teachers’ authority.
  5. Open immigration to destroy national and cultural identity.
  6. Promote excessive drinking (drug use).
  7. Discredit religion and empty the churches. 
  8. Destroy reliability and trust of legal system with bias against victims of crime.
  9. Create dependency on the state or state benefits.
  10. Control and dumb-down the media.
  11. Encourage breakdown of the family.  


Seem familiar? Like something happening now? These plans were formulated in the 1920s and were slowly and persistently applied to our society to reach culmination with university student intolerance, leftist faculty dominance, widespread Marxist campus advocacy, and epitomized by the appointment of Claudine Gay as President of Harvard. Our basic institutions have been taken over and corrupted. Millions of refugees cross our borders for the benefits provided by hard-working Americans who should not wonder why they have such high inflation and declining standards of living – it was all planned.    

The violent anti-Semitism on many campuses and the fumbling testimony of so-called elite university presidents has torn away the curtain. Public and media focus has been on the three schools represented in the Congressional hearing (Harvard, MIT, and Penn), but the rot is pervasive throughout the university system across the country. Everyone now knows many university administrators preside over a program designed to impose Marxism and destroy American society, prosperity, and cohesion.

Many student Marxists are enthusiastic about a political and economic system they do not understand. Faculty who might object are not hired or are sidelined. Others do not have the moral conviction or backbone to do anything about it. Correction must come from outside academia.   

The mystery is how any thinking person, young or old, black or white, Jew or Gentile, can follow the crackpot philosophy of a psychological misfit who was thrown out of Germany and Belgium and holed up in the British Museum to hallucinate over his ideas.

He never built anything, never started a business, never ran a business, never grew anything, never went anywhere with good weather, never made anything, and never experienced another culture.  People accept his ideas for organizing societies, economies, and government as valid?  Why?  Adherents of his philosophy have been responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people and the impoverishment of hundreds of millions. His ideas have not been successful anywhere they have been adopted. Followers are suffused with passions of hate, violence, and intolerance to impose their will. Even the young should be able to see it is all a bad idea.    

University subversion was a long and gradual process; its roots go deep. Dismissing a couple of university presidents will not fix the problem. Fundamental change is needed.

Accreditation and college rating criteria need deep change. Board members, alumni, donors, and administrators must be hired with the moral certainty and strength to expel students and fire faculty. Approximately 700 faculty members reportedly signed a letter supporting Claudine Gay.  Conveniently, they identified themselves; fire them and consider it a good start. Expel students who rioted in the streets advocating mass murder. 

That is only a start. The same cleansing process needs to be applied nationwide.