Apr 24, 2013 by

brainwashingby Donna Garner

Someone wrote to me today and said that the CSCOPE/TESCCC/ESC establishment is using the Delphi Technique to manipulate the parent meetings being held around the state.  If that is the case, then people need to become highly aware of the Delphi Technique and how to defend themselves from being manipulated by it.

I was delphied when I served on the writing team for English / Language Arts / Reading  curriculum standards (TEKS) from 1995 – 1997.  I have posted my article on the Delphi Technique at the bottom of this page.

Following is an article written by Albert V. Burns in which he describes the Delphi Technique:

“The Delphi Technique: Let’s Stop Being Manipulated!”

By Albert V. Burns

More and more, we are seeing citizens being invited to “participate” in various forms of meetings, councils, or boards to “help determine” public policy in one field or another. They are supposedly being included to get ”input” from the public to help officials make final decisions on taxes, education, community growth or whatever the particular subject matter might be.


Sounds great, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, surface appearances are often deceiving.


You, Mr. or Mrs. Citizen, decide to take part in one of these meetings. Generally, you will find that there is already someone designated to lead or “facilitate” the meeting. Supposedly, the job of the facilitator is to be a neutral, non-directing helper to see that the meeting flows smoothly. Actually, he or she is there for exactly the opposite reason: to see that the conclusions reached during the meeting are in accord with a plan already decided upon by those who called the meeting.


The process used to “facilitate” the meeting is called the Delphi Technique.


This Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation for the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1950s. It was originally intended for use as a psychological weapon during the cold war. However, it was soon recognized that the steps of Delphi could be very valuable in manipulating ANY meeting toward a predetermined end.


How does the process take place? The techniques are well developed and well defined. First, the person who will be leading the meeting, the facilitator or Change Agent must be a likable person with whom those participating in the meeting can agree or sympathize. It is, therefore, the job of the facilitator to find a way to cause a split in the audience, to establish one or a few of the people as “bad guys” while the facilitator is perceived as the “good guy.”


Facilitators are trained to recognize potential opponents and how to make such people appear aggressive, foolish, extremist, etc. Once this is done, the facilitator establishes himself or herself as the “friend” of the rest of the audience. The stage is now set for the rest of the agenda to take place.


At this point, the audience is generally broken up into “discussion—or ‘breakout’—groups” of seven or eight people each. Each of these groups is to be led by a subordinate facilitator. Within each group, discussion takes place of issues, already decided upon by the leadership of the meeting. Here, too, the facilitator manipulates the discussion in the desired direction, isolating and demeaning opposing viewpoints.


Generally, participants are asked to write down their ideas and disagreements with the papers to be turned in and “compiled” for general discussion after the general meeting is reconvened.


This is the weak link in the chain, which you are not supposed to recognize. Who compiles the various notes into the final agenda for discussion? Ahhhh! Well, it is those who are running the meeting.


How do you know that the ideas on your notes were included in the final result? You don’t! You may realize that your idea was not included and come to the conclusion that you were probably in the minority. Recognize that every other citizen member of this meeting has written his or her likes or dislikes on a similar sheet of paper and they, too, have no idea whether their ideas were “compiled” into the final result! You don’t even know if anyone’s ideas are part of the final “conclusions” presented to the reassembled group as the “consensus” of public opinion.


Rarely does anyone challenge the process, since each concludes that he or she was in the minority and different from all the others. So, now, those who organized the meeting in the first place are able to tell the participants and the rest of the community that the conclusions, reached at the meeting, are the result of public participation.


Actually, the desired conclusions had been established, in the back room, long before the meeting ever took place. There are variations in the technique to fit special situations but, in general, the procedure outlined above takes place. The natural question to ask here is: If the outcome was preordained before the meeting took place, why have the meeting?


Herein lies the genius of this Delphi Technique. It is imperative that the general public believe that this program is theirs! They thought it up! They took part in its development! Their input was recognized! If people believe that the program is theirs, they will support it. If they get the slightest hint that the program is being imposed upon them, they will resist.


This very effective technique is being used, over and over and over, to change our form of government from the representative republic, intended by the Founding Fathers, into a “participatory democracy.” Now, citizens chosen at large are manipulated into accepting preset outcomes while they believe that the input they provided produced the outcomes which are now theirs! The reality is that the final outcome was already determined long before any public meetings took place, determined by individuals unknown to the public.


Can you say “Conspiracy?


“These “Change Agents” or “Facilitators” can be beaten! They cam be beaten using their own methods against them. Because it is so important, I will repeat the suggestions I gave in the last previous column.


One: Never, never lose your temper! Lose your temper and lose the battle, it is that simple! Smile, if it kills you to do so. Be courteous at all times. Speak in a normal tone of voice. Two: Stay focused! Always write your question or statement down in advance to help you remember the exact manner in which your question or statement was made. These agents are trained to twist things to make anyone not acceding to their agenda look silly or aggressive. Smile, wait till the change agent gets done speaking and then bring them back to your question.


If they distort what you said, simply remind those in the group that what he or she is saying is not what you asked or said and then repeat, verbatim, from your notes the original objection. Three: Be persistent! Wait through any harangues and then repeat the original question.


Four, don’t go alone! Get as many friends or relatives who think as you do, to go along with you to the meeting. Have each person ”armed” with questions or statements which all generally support your central viewpoint. Don’t sit together as a group! Spread out through the audience so that your group does not seem to be a group.


Fifth, when the facilitator or change agent avoids answering your question and insists that he must move on so everyone may have a chance to speak, your own agents in the audience can then ask questions, worded differently, but still with the same meaning as yours. They can bring the discussion back to your original point. They could even point out, in a friendly manner, that the agent did not really answer your question. The more the agent avoids your question, and the more your friends bring that to the attention of the group, the more the audience will shift in your favor. To quote my informant: “Turn the technique back on them and isolate the change agent as the kook. I’ve done it and seen steam come out of the ears of those power brokers in the wings who are trying to shove something down the citizen’s throats.


And it’s so much fun to watch the moderator squirm and lose his cool, all while trying to keep a smile on his face. “Now that you understand how meetings are manipulated, let’s show them up for the charlatans which they are.


From Donna Garner — 6.18.09 — My experiences with the Delphi Technique:


[Friends, you might find my article interesting.  Some of you have been discussing the Delphi Technique lately because Organizing for America in its facilitating of the healthcare meetings around the country has been utilizing the Delphi Technique. The RAND Corporation actually developed it in the late 1960’s — — to provide a model in which a “group of experts could come to some consensus of opinion when the decisive factors were subjective and not knowledge-based.”


This technique was used in Texas in the early-to-mid 1990’s to produce the Texas standards (TEKS) in every subject area.  Thankfully the State Board of Education adopted new English / Language Arts / Reading TEKS in May 2008 and new Science TEKS recently. [Since I wrote these comments in 2009, new Social Studies and Math TEKS have also been adopted by the SBOE.]


A new day came to Texas when Gov. Perry appointed Commissioner of Education, Robert Scott.  He is a fine man and has set a new tone for the TEA.  Most of the TEA staffers who participated in the Delphi Technique back in the mid-90’s are no longer employed at the Agency; however, during the hostile debates that occurred with the adoption of the new English / Language Arts / Reading TEKS in May 2008, I learned that some of the same Delphiers from the mid-90’s were poisoning the public against the good work of the conservative SBOE members and myself.  This is why there was such instant vitriol that erupted when the Substitute Amendment (i.e., TAD) was brought forth for consideration at the February 2008 SBOE meeting. These TEKS Delphiers are still around, and I have an idea that some of them have influence that reaches into the Texas Freedom Network, the Austin American Statesman, and the Texas Legislature. — Donna Garner]



“The Delphi Technique in Texas”

by Donna Garner

December 13, 2004


When the Texas Education Agency orchestrated the writing of the public school curriculum standards (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills — TEKS — adopted in July 1997), the Delphi Technique was used on the writing team members.  I, as one of the writing team members for the English / Language Arts / Reading (ELAR) standards, experienced the Delphi Technique up-close-and-personal.


The Texas Education Agency (TEA) staff was trained in the Delphi Technique by the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) — Marc Tucker, Hillary Clinton, Ira Magaziner, Gov. Cuomo — at a price tag of $1.5M.  The Texas State Board of Education never approved the large expenditure by the TEA to NCEE.


A professional consensus-builder from Washington, D. C. was hired to manipulate our English / Language Arts / Reading writing team. Representatives from the Chief State School Officers were brought in to our meetings, plus there were other various and sundry individuals at every table — to the right of us, to the left of us, all around us.  We never really knew who these people were, but they would hardly let us go to the bathroom by ourselves.


The “lightning rods” (such as myself) were immediately located, and we were put through various psychological strategies.  First, the facilitators tried appealing to our egos.  When that didn’t work, they tried peer pressure.  Then we were labeled as “the bad guys” and were treated with disdain and downright antipathy.  Soon the other writing team members didn’t want to be around us because we were considered the troublemakers.


By the way, who were the other writing team members?  They had been carefully chosen from the TEA’s favorite organizations who held the same educational philosophies as the TEA staff:  whole language, holistic scoring, inventive spelling, no grammar instruction, constructivist/performance-based/subjectively assessed curriculum.


At my first meeting, I counted 7 out of approximately 45 people who were current classroom teachers, and the parent representatives could have been counted on one hand.  The rest of the members were reading coordinators, curriculum directors, bilingual coordinators, special education directors, and various other non-classroom educator types.


The interesting thing was that most of the other writing team members all knew each other and knew the TEA staff.  Supposedly the TEA chose the members based upon their applications.  Strangely enough, only certain professional organizations had been notified of the application process for writing team members. At that time, there was one conservative professional organization in Texas (ATPE), and it was completely left out of the loop undoubtedly to make sure that none of its more traditional educators applied for the writing teams.


Obviously, the whole agenda was stacked from the very beginning and was done so with careful intent on the part of the Texas Education Agency et al. (It was a miracle that I was placed on the writing team because I certainly did not fit the TEA’s prototype. The reason several of us were added to the writing team is a long story that basically evolved because I managed to get an important political figure to take my concerns over the “stacked” writing teams seriously.)


What did I do to break out of the Delphi?  I tried to work very judiciously with the other members, only disagreeing on those issues about which I felt strongly.  Next, I refused to be sidetracked whenever I asked a question.  I insisted on going back to my original question whenever the facilitator tried to Delphi me.


At the first meeting, I was very forthright and announced that I wanted quite badly to work in concert with the other members but that I would reserve the right to vote my convictions. I said that if that right were taken from me, I would then be forced to submit an alternative document and/or to contact the news media about my concerns.  I also stated that since the TEKS writing teams were funded out of Goals 2000 and other public funding that I would insist on following the Open Meetings Act and make our deliberations known to the public.


I said that there was an epidemic in our schools — children could not read.  We needed to do what doctors do when an epidemic occurs. They study the research, set up a protocol, go back to their local settings and implement the protocol, and then come back later and share their results.  I said our ELAR team needed to do the same thing, beginning with studying the latest reading research.


I made sure that I attended every social occasion that the writing team members had outside our formal meetings.  I deliberately sought out people who had similar concerns to mine, and we managed to build a small but effective coalition.  We enlisted help from outside education experts and utilized their expertise. (Some of the most well-known education experts in our country today willingly and graciously offered their help because they knew the importance of writing quality standards.)


I asked the TEA staff if I could deliver an oral report on a piece of outstanding reading research which I had obtained from California; I was denied the opportunity.  I ran off the research and passed it out to the writing team members anyway.  I kept telling the members about the NIH reading research under Dr. Reid Lyon and kept referring members to Marilyn Jagger Adams’ book.


All of us in our little coalition tried to offer positive suggestions, and we tried to work cooperatively with the other members.  Unfortunately, a few in our little coalition gave up because of the peer pressure which was very uncomfortable. It was no fun being lied about for the two years it took for the TEKS process to be finalized.


Almost all of us in our little coalition were classroom teachers.  We didn’t have secretaries and other resources to step in whenever we needed to work on the TEKS project.  We taught all day and then performed our TEKS duties after hours.


When TEKS meetings were scheduled by the TEA, we classroom teachers had the added pressure of getting our classes ready for a substitute teacher; and when we got back from the meetings, we had discipline problems to handle and additional papers to grade.


For two years, this process went on; and our little coalition had little-to-no support from administrators. I found out later that our own administrators were communicating behind our backs with people at the TEA. I was given the worst teaching assignments, the worst students, the least disciplinary support from the office, and on and on.  We certainly were never validated by our local administrators even though what we were doing was to impact the future of every public school student and every public school educator for the next ten years in Texas.


One positive step which I took was to provide writing team members with the Virginia standards which were far superior to the sample standards our team was given by the Texas Education Agency. The Virginia standards were based upon academic, knowledge-based elements which could be objectively tested.  The state standards which the TEA provided our writing team were examples of grade-cluster, constructivist, performance-based, subjectively assessed elements; and, unfortunately, this is the style in which the final Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills document was written.


Those of us in our little coalition who did not give up eventually submitted an alternative document — the Texas Alternative Document for English / Language Arts / Reading — because in all good conscience, we could not endorse the miserable TEKS standards.  We TAD writers had the help of many wonderful people who contributed to our document, and we gave credit to them in our document whenever possible.


The end result was that the TEKS vs. TAD controversy became too politically hot to touch by those running for higher office, and the TEA-produced TEKS became the law in Texas for ten years.  The TAKS tests were later written to align with the TEKS.



Donna Garner

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