Boston Herald ~ Planned academy tied to Scientology

April 15, 2008 under Applied Scholastics, Boston HELP

‘Cult’-linked pilot school gains $20K grant

By Dave Wedge | Tuesday, April 15, 2008 | | Local Coverage

A proposed taxpayer-funded pilot school linked to an arm of the controversial Church of Scientology has scored a $20,000 grant from a blue-chip Hub charitable foundation, the Herald has learned.

The Boston Foundation recently awarded the planning grant to the proposed “Cornerstone for Success Academy,” a high school for at-risk students that would base its curriculum on a model created by Applied Scholastics International – the educational arm of the Church of Scientology.

The celebrity-backed religious organization is often criticized as a destructive, mind-controlling cult, and critics have blasted the educational curriculum as a back-door avenue to recruitment.

The Applied Scholastics Web site includes several testimonials from celebrity Scientologists, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta.

Still, Applied Scholastics spokeswoman Keri Lee said, “Our organization is a secular organization. It’s not religious.” In a statement, she added, “There is no religious mission nor religious material in our programs.”

Officials from Boston’s Church of Scientology did not return calls.

Documents pitching the proposal provided to the School Department by the Boston Foundation include a report about a Louisiana school that states Applied Scholastics is a creation of Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard.

But Boston Foundation spokesman David Trueblood said the charity was unaware of the proposed school’s connection to the controversial religious sect.

“We give these planning grants to start the conversation,” Trueblood said. “Our interest here as a foundation is to get as many educators and as many schools as possible talking about pilot schools. We are unabashedly pro-pilot schools. We know many are funded and few become pilot schools.”

The proposed school is the brainchild of a group of city teachers, including many from Jeremiah Burke High School and Boston Latin. A bid by the same group to create a charter school was rejected by the state in 2000.

The group has no official headquarters, and individual members could not be reached last night.

The grant can be used as seed money to pay for members’ travel, training, a Web site and other expenses related to making the school a reality. Pilot schools are funded through the city’s school budget and require approval from the school superintendent and the Boston Teachers Union.

“The Boston Foundation obviously didn’t pay careful attention to who they gave the planning grants to,” said teachers union president Richard Stutman. “We respect the church of a Scientology as a church, but public dollars ought not to be spent on activities that borrow from church teachings and philosophy. There has to be a separation of church and state.”

Stutman called the grant a “waste,” predicting it would be overwhelmingly defeated by the union. School department spokesman Jonathan Palumbo said Superintendent Carol Johnson hadn’t yet seen the group’s application but would consider the Scientology ties in a review.

A school that uses Applied Scholastic’s curriculum is already operating in Milton. Delphi Academy was criticized a decade ago for interjecting Scientology into the classroom, a claim rejected by administrators.

But noted cult expert Steve Hassan said he considers Scientology to be a “destructive cult.”

“It is not an organization that promotes critical thinking and freedom of mind,” Hassan said.

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Chartwell Educational Consultants Push Study Tech

January 9, 2008 under Study Technology

Former Bush administration Secretary of Education Rod Paige and his former Chief of Staff, John Danielson, have joined together to form an education consultant company called Chartwell.

Chartwell’s website, [dead link] describes the company thusly:

“The firm expands access to the best innovations in products and services designed to accelerate student achievement, and provides strategic services to the private sector and the philanthropic community enhancing their ability to link their investments to education needs.”

One might ask then, why Chartwell is pushing the Study Tech. Surely a former Secretary of Education would have the discernment necessary to identify and utilize effective educational techniques. The funny thing about Americans though, is their mindless affinity toward celebrity. When Tom Cruise seeks out your company, maybe rational thought flies out the door.

For example, Dr. Paige was invited to a premiere screening of Cruise’s latest movie, ‘Lions For Lambs.” Other guests of Cruise were mainly high level Scientologists.

You might wonder where the former Bushite got his invitation from. Turns out, he and Danielson have been using Chartwell and their former positions to push Applied Scholastics on unsuspecting schools.

On Wikipedia, it is noted that, “A professor of educational administration who reviewed the Applied Scholastics text used at Prescott described the concepts as overly simplistic and called the activities ‘moronic.’”

The same article notes, “In October 2005, St. Louis Public Schools superintendent Creg Williams discovered the group’s Scientology connections and immediately put out the word to area principals to cease working with Applied Scholastics. Additionally, St. Louis’ Hazelwood School District superintendent Chris Wright discovered that CEO Bennetta Slaughter had been falsely claiming a “partnership” with Hazelwood. She admonished Mrs. Slaughter to cease and desist doing so.”


The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on September 22 that the district’s superintendent of education has decided that teachers will no longer participate in training programs offered by Applied Scholastics International, a front group of the Church of Scientology. Teachers who had attended these programs were uncomfortable with what they saw there, and complained to their union. School Board member Bill Purdy called for an investigation of the program last week, and after visiting the center, expressed his own concerns about all the materials being labeled ‘based on the works of L. Ron Hubbard.’

Now, Paige is a great score, and a big win for Tom Cruise! Scientology often boasts about using Mr. Cruise to reach world leaders, and Paige and Danielson have credentials that Scientology would hustle for. Mr. Daniels was featured on an internal Scientology video in 2004, discussing education and “the drugging of children.” Former Chief of Staff Daniels is beginning to parrot Scientology propaganda. Scientology is clearly using Chartwell to promote Applied Scholastics. As we can see, it didn’t work in St. Louis. No matter how hard Scientology tries to distance itself, it always comes back to L. Ron Hubbard. And that is often the kiss of death to any program bearing his name. All it takes is a little web research to determine that Applied Scholastics, like all the other covert front groups, are simply a regurgitation of Scientology’s basic, flawed principals.

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Saint Petersburg Times ~ Scientology School Expands in Florida

January 1, 2008 under Applied Scholastics

School using Scientology methods will expand to a new campus
The site will accommodate up to 100 students in the private academy.

By RITA FARLOW, Times Staff Writer

A Clearwater private school that uses study methods created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is planning to add a new campus in the Largo area.

Clearwater Academy International purchased the 2.8-acre lot at the corner of S Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and Wyatt Street in August 2006 for $995,000. The school recently applied for a sewer permit on the site.

Headmaster Jim Zwers said the expansion, spurred by a steady increase in enrollment over the past several years, is still in the planning stage. Enrollment went from 150 students in 2002 to 270 in 2007, Zwers said. “We just have a lot of students,” he said. “So we’re kind of looking for now and looking toward the future.”

Plans for the corner lot include two wings of connected modular classroom buildings, an asphalt court for hockey or volleyball and a sports field. Three of six existing tennis courts on the lot will remain. The rest will be converted to parking spaces and a basketball court.

“We’ll make it look nice. There’s lots of vegetation and a big lake there,” Zwers said.

The new campus will hold a maximum of 100 students. Zwers said school officials are considering moving the upper grades to the new location, but that decision has not yet been made. Total enrollment at the two sites will not exceed 325, he said.

The school, which serves kids in grades pre-K through 12, was formed in 1997 with the merger of three small private schools: A to Be School, Jefferson Academy and Renaissance Academy.

The school is licensed by Applied Scholastics, a nonprofit organization founded by Scientologists in 1992.

In keeping with Hubbard’s “study technology,” students are taught using a system of “check sheets” that lay out the reading assignments, definitions and concepts required to master each subject. Students are schooled in a primary tenet of Hubbard’s “tech,” which is never to read past a word they don’t understand so they won’t miss the meaning of the text that follows.

Another tenet is that students learn better when they have “mass” in front of them to illustrate abstract concepts.

There are no letter grades.

Students advance to the next grade after successfully completing a check sheet for that grade.

Rita Farlow can be reached at or 727 445-4162.

Fast facts

Clearwater Academy International

The current campus is at 801 Drew St. in Clearwater. The school expansion will be at 1110 Wyatt St. near Largo in unincorporated Pinellas County. Tuition is $8,210 a year.

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Janesville Gazette ~ School to use Hubbard theories

August 31, 2007 under Applied Scholastics

By Frank Schultz

Here’s the connection between a tiny new school in Janesville and Scientology:

L. Ron Hubbard founded Scientology, a religion popular among some Hollywood types such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. Hubbard wrote science fiction books, but he also wrote about education. His educational theories are the basis for something called Applied Scholastics.

Applied Scholastics is the method used by Sequoia Academy, a fledgling school that will open its doors Sept. 4 in the home of Christine Koth on the city’s northeast side.

Koth, who founded Sequoia Academy, is not a Scientologist, and neither are her teachers, she said.

Koth said she has read some of Hubbard’s writings, but she doesn’t know a lot about Scientology.

“We use his educational philosophy, not his religious philosophy,” Koth said Monday in a presentation to the Janesville Noon Rotary.

Applied Scholastics has nothing in it about Scientology, Koth said, and people who train in the A.S. must sign documents stating that they will not teach religion in their schools, Koth said.

Indeed, A.S. methods are used in some public schools around the country.

Koth and her head teacher, Caitlin Johnston, are certified in A.S. They took a series of courses at Applied Scholastics International in St. Louis, about three months’ worth over the course of a year. They also apprenticed at an A.S. school, Clearwater Academy in Clearwater, Fla., they said.

Koth has a master’s degree in physical therapy but has never been a schoolteacher. Johnston said she studied to be a teacher for three years at Edgewood College.

So far, the pair have four preschool children signed up. They have room for four more children, through third grade.

School is in the attractively finished basement in Koth’s home, a new house she shares with her husband and two small children.

Koth said she hopes to move out of the basement to a more permanent facility and expand the school. She is excited about the possibility of improving the community through helping children learn, she said.

Applied Scholastics can help children who have trouble learning, even those with ADHD and dyslexia, Koth believes.

Applied Scholastics teachers are trained to identify barriers to learning and then apply methods to overcome those barriers, Koth explained.

A student who is staring out the window might have a problem with a “misunderstood word,” one of the three barriers. The teacher diagnoses the problem and backtracks to teach that word to the student, Koth said.

Or, the student might not be grasping an idea because he is not getting enough concrete examples of what it is about. This is called “lack of mass.” In simple terms, it’s easier to teach what an apple is by using real apples than to try to describe one.

Or, the students may not be learning because the learning “gradient’ is too steep. In other words, the topic should be broken into more steps so that the topic is easier to grasp.

The method boasts “100 percent comprehension.”

Koth said no method is perfect, “but I do believe that if you really use these tools and you apply them in the way they’re meant to be applied, that gives you the best chance for success.”

Koth said Sequoia will be the first Applied Scholastics school in Wisconsin. She said her application to be a licensed home day-care center is being processed. She is aware of the state regulations for private schools and would comply with them if she begins teaching school-age children, she said.

And, while she understands people will have questions, she’d like to put this Scientology connection behind her because, she said, there really is no connection between what she does and the Church of Scientology.

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Quincy Herald Whig ~ Quincy to be Literacy Center’s main office

June 2, 2007 under Applied Scholastics

By Steve Eighinger
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Bishop E.L. Warren says the goal is far-reaching, but so is the problem it is addressing.

“The purpose of this is to eradicate illiteracy and provide a new place of learning and hope in downtown Quincy,” he said.

Warren, who pastors the Cathedral of Worship, 215 N. 25th, and is the head of E.L. Warren Ministries International, said earlier this week that Quincy will be the headquarters of the Vision Literacy Center.

There will be 52 learning centers around the world, one for each area where a church is located that Warren oversees as presiding bishop of International Network of Affiliate Ministries. Most of the churches are in the continental United States, with the rest in the Caribbean and Africa. INAM is part of the International Communion of Charismatic Churches, a 6,000-church body spread across six continents that will be holding its world convention in Quincy later this year.

The Vision Literacy Center is a nonprofit undertaking involving the partnership of E.L. Warren Ministries and Applied Scholastics International, which describes itself as a nonprofit, nonreligious organization founded in 1972. ASI materials say it is headquartered in suburban St. Louis with a mission to promote and develop programs of effective education for children and adults alike.

Applied Scholastics is based on the Study Technology program developed by the late L. Ron Hubbard, an American fiction and self-help writer who became best-known as the creator of Dianetics and founder of the Church of Scientology.

“This program is not affiliated in any way with the Church of Scientology, none whatsoever,” Warren said. “The only connection is the name of L. Ron Hubbard, who developed the study format. What we have is the technology without the theology.

“We will be confronting illiteracy through the use of creative and effective tools, technology, methods and programs. We are not waiting for buildings in all of these areas where we will have centers. We are already training instructors. We are redirecting funds from E.L. Warren Ministries to get this going. Every day we wait, we run the risk of losing another child.”

The Vision Literacy Center headquarters will occupy the southeast corner suite on the second floor of the Maine Center at Sixth and Maine. It will include a training area.

Applied Scholastics CEO Bennetta Slaughter was in town to discuss the partnership with E.L. Warren Ministries. She is described as a prominent member of the Church of Scientology and head of several of its organizations, including Applied Scholastics. Slaughter and her husband reportedly have donated more than a quarter-million dollars to the International Association of Scientologists.

She said innovative teaching methods and programs are at the core of the ASI model, which she said is now used by 750 organizations in 65 countries to promote literacy.

“A child knows he’s not learning, but not why,” Slaughter said. “(Our programs) teach them to recognize their own barriers and how to overcome them.”

Slaughter said government studies indicate only 30 percent of U.S. students are on the grade level they should be in reading and math.

“Some schools are as low as 10 percent,” Slaughter said.

Warren said the program is in the process of acquiring grants and funding to cover the start-up and operational costs. Corporate sponsorships are also being sought so that ideally any child going through the program will be able to do so for free.

Roderick Warren, son of E.L. Warren and a recent graduate of Lindenwood University in St. Louis, will oversee the Quincy operation.

Slaughter estimates it will cost between $500 and $750 a year per individual. The area will get the first look at how the Vision Literacy Center will work with a “Literacy Boot Camp” from Aug. 6 to Aug. 17 at the Maine Center facility. Twenty-five children will be selected for the program, which will cost about $120 a person.

“The boot camp will involve leaning how to learn,” Rod Warren said. “This boot camp will do for a student what a phone booth does for Clark Kent.”

Quincy schools and the Quincy Housing Authority are partnering with the Vision Literacy Center.

Quincy Schools Superintendent Tom Leahy called the idea “a good thing” and said Quincy schools will work with the Vision Literacy Center to help identify candidates for the boot camp.

George Harper III is the executive director of the Quincy Public Housing Authority, which offers after-school programs to aid residents’ school-age children. Harper said he would welcome the Vision Literacy Central program.

“In public housing, every day we run into people who have had problems with learning,” Harper said.

Renee Higgins, director of the literacy program at John Wood Community College, said school officials have met with E.L. and Roderick Warren.

“We are looking to see how the two programs can collaborate together,” Higgins said. “Right now, we’re just at the beginning of the discussion.”

For more information about Vision Literacy Center, call the Cathedral of Worship at 223-3344, ext. 413.

Contact Staff Writer Steve Eighinger at or (217) 221-3377

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WBRZ News 2 Louisiana – The Advocate ~ Study skills class linked to Scientology

Educators say school benefiting

Advocate staff report
Published: May 29, 2007

Although created by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, a study skills class at Prescott Middle School has impressed initially skeptical local educators who say they see no evidence of religious instruction, but do see profound changes in the children who participate.

“The kids have benefited from the interaction with the trained tutors in positive ways,” said Bob Stockwell, chief academic officer for the East Baton Rouge Parish school system.

“I’m all for anything that gives these kids success, and these kids are experiencing success,” said Roxson Welch, a highly regarded former teacher and now an adviser to Mayor-President Kip Holden.

A May 20 story in the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times raised questions about the possible religious content and the academic value of the studies skills class, known as Applied Scholastics.

The story prominently featured Prescott Middle School in Baton Rouge, which adopted the class 16 months ago, soon after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

David Touretzky, a research professor from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, is perhaps the harshest critic of the program.

On Glenn Beck’s CNN show Wednesday, Touretzky admitted the course doesn’t actively convert children to Scientology. Instead, he described it as “covert instruction in the Scientology religion,” introducing underlying concepts that create familiarity with Scientology.

“What they’re trying to do is gain a foothold for Scientology in civilized society,” he said.

None of the people interviewed for this story, however, have observed anything religious about the program at Prescott Middle, even covert. This reporter, though unaware of the Scientology connection, visited one of the classes last year and noticed nothing religious in the instruction.

According to Scientology literature, Hubbard developed the study techniques now used at Prescott to help the followers of his young religion learn its intricacies and unfamiliar technology — churchgoers still use them. Hubbard, however, decided the techniques were the answer to the problems of education in general.

In 1972, Scientologists started the nonprofit Applied Scholastics as a secular initiative to bring his techniques into schools. In 2001 Applied Scholastics began a major expansion. It reports now that it has licensed the program with 738 different educational entities around the world, including public schools in at least 13 states.

Several prominent celebrity Scientologists, including actors Tom Cruise and John Travolta and singer Isaac Hayes, credit the study technique with improving their own academic skills.

In the wake of Katrina, Hayes and Travolta were two of the many celebrities who visited Baton Rouge offering help.

Bennetta Slaughter, chief executive officer of Applied Scholastics International and a Scientologist herself, said Hayes talked up the program with Holden.

Hayes thought Baton Rouge might benefit from the course, which is taught at her alma mater, Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tenn.

Holden had a school in mind: Prescott Middle.

The low-performing school had recently revamped itself to stave off a takeover by the Louisiana Department of Education. In spring 2005, Elida Bera was named principal. She hired an almost completely new staff and instituted an ambitious set of changes.

Bera said Holden called her in fall 2005. Bera took a look. In her reading, she saw that Hubbard had created the techniques.

“I’m leery about that,” Bera said. “I’m 100 percent Catholic.”

Applied Scholastics representatives, however, assured her that the program steered clear of religion.

The Scientology connection, however, was not well known in the parish school system. Stockwell, the system’s chief academic officer, said he learned of the connection only after it had begun. He said the main attraction was the price, free.

“The fact that it’s related to Scientology is probably fascinating to a lot of people, but it was not our focus or concern,” Stockwell said.

In January 2006, Bera placed about 140 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders in the program. The other students in those grades took a separate, school system-approved study skills course.

By May, when results from last year’s eighth-grade LEAP test arrived, all 20 eighth-graders in the pilot had passed. The passage rate for the rest of the eighth-grade was 77 percent.

Applied Scholastics had a big advantage over the school system studies skill program: a small pupil-teacher ratio of no more than five to one.

Bera, however, said that small classes don’t automatically translate into better results.

“If those teachers are not trained with working with a small group, they would do the same things they would if they were working with a large group,” Bera said.

Another early skeptic was Southern University physics professor Diola Bagayoko. Founder of the Timbuktu Institute, a summer ACT prep course, Bagayoko had already formed a partnership with Prescott, where he helped train teachers and improve parental involvement.

Bagayoko said he did a lot of homework, reading a copy of the curriculum and several books provided by Applied Scholastics. Applied Scholastics is based on the idea that there are three barriers to learning: lack of mass, too steep a gradient and words not understood or wrongly understood.

Although the terminology is unique, Bagayoko saw in these concepts ideas widely used in education, and ones he had written about himself in academic papers.

In practice, he says, he’s been impressed. The tutors are well trained, the students are closely monitored and students can’t move on until they’ve mastered the material, he said.

“The origin of the material is not going to be a stumbling block for me to save the lives of thousands,” he said.

Applied Scholastics has thus far eschewed recognition in academia, particularly getting its results published in education journals. Bagayoko, however, said Applied Scholastic representatives have ample data for educators to evaluate them.

“It’s rooted in the most solid and established ideas of teaching and learning,” he said.

Bagayoko now plans to train Southern students in the study techniques, so they can tutor children at nearby Southern Laboratory School.

Bera has added the program to her budget and hopes to locate tutors for next year. In the meantime, she’s still examining this year’s Louisiana Educational Assessment Program results to see how Applied Scholastics students did, but said other in-house tests show strong growth.

Stockwell said those results may decide whether the school system continues or perhaps expands the program.

Applied Scholastics CEO Slaughter said she hopes Baton Rouge leaders will soon run the program on their own.

“The most efficient method is to hand it over to the people there on the ground,” she said.


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Saint Petersburg Times ~ Church tutors embrace methods

May 20, 2007 under Study Technology

An East Tampa pastor stands united with Hubbard’s study technology program.

By Robert Farley

TAMPA – The red letters on the white sign in front of the Glorious Church of God in Christ read “Free Tutoring in the C.L. Kennedy Center.” An arrow points to a building behind the church.

Every afternoon after school, as many as 42 Hillsborough County public school students gather for tutoring in reading and math skills. Most start with a Learning to Learn course, which teaches the basics of L. Ron Hubbard’s how-to-study program.

The tutors, all wearing red vests, are members of the Glorious Church in East Tampa. They learned how to teach Hubbard’s “study technology” at the Church of Scientology in Tampa.

Glorious Church’s pastor, the Rev. Charles Kennedy, embraces Hubbard’s education and drug treatment programs, which Scientologists say are secular. Kennedy also endorses Hubbard’s moral code, outlined in a pamphlet called “The Way to Happiness,” which is widely distributed by Scientologists.

Kennedy’s bottom line is this: Hubbard’s educational program works. And Scientologists do not push their beliefs. So he sees no reason not to provide it to neighborhood kids who need a boost in academics.

The books used at Glorious Church — like most study tech texts — include a two-page biography of L. Ron Hubbard. The bio does not mention that Hubbard created Scientology. The “about the author” pages are not contained in the books used at Prescott Middle School.

The Church of Scientology in Tampa trains the tutors for free and donates the program’s textbooks for the Glorious Church’s after-school tutoring.

But the program still costs more than $20, 000 a month to operate. Donations from church members and the community pay some of it, but the bulk is subsidized, Kennedy said, by his private businesses, which he refuses to discuss.

He expects more students to enroll in the popular program when school starts next fall. Other Christian churches in Tampa and out of state have contacted him, he said, for advice about starting their own tutoring programs using Hubbard’s methods.

Kennedy’s wife, Yolanda, runs the after-school program. While she and Scientologists have different spiritual beliefs, she said, “in everything else we do in life, that’s where we have found common ground.”

Robert Farley, Times Staff Writer

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LA Weekly ~ Letters to the Editor – December 12-18 issue

Dear Editor:

Sara Catania’s sarcastic piece about L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology ["The Learning Cure'" November 14-20] was a disgrace. As international spokesperson for Applied Scholastics, I have firsthand experience with the work that volunteers all over the world are doing utilizing Hubbard’s discoveries. These individuals devote hundreds of hours of time and heartfelt effort to help both young people and adults improve their study skills. Their work daily changes lives.

As a parent, I also have firsthand knowledge with the application of study technology. There is no question as to its efficacy. It works, plain and simple, and I have a terribly bright and terrifically competent son who reminds me of the fact daily.

There is no good reason to deny students in our public schools access to study technology. Millions of parents have become so desperate that they allow their children to be drugged in the false belief that Ritalin will succeed where the schools have failed. In such a context, how dare anyone suggest that using a dictionary or learning the correct meanings of words could be even slightly controversial?

-Anne Archer
Beverly Hills

Dear Editor:

Sara Catania’s cynical and cursory review of L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology was surprising above all for its naivete. The real problems of illiteracy and educational failure are a serious matter, not a joke, and any effort to remedy them deserves more than offhand sarcasm.

According to a recent report from the California Reading Task Force, a majority of California’s children cannot read at basic levels. These are our children. Yet rather than education, Catania seems fixated on the relationship between Applied Scholastics and the Church of Scientology. I can clear the matter up in one sentence. At Applied Scholastics, we are grateful and proud of the many years of tremendous support we have received from the Church of Scientology – and we will welcome that support for years to come.

Catania also apparently couldn’t find time to interview even one of the hundreds of Applied Scholastic’s volunteers who are working one-on-one with inner-city youth. Or the non-Scientology religious and community leaders who consider Hubbard’s methods a lifeline for underserved minorities.

If Catania had exhibited any real curiousity about how Hubbard’s methods benefit students, she might have had something substantive to discuss with the experts she interviewed. Instead, she presented speculative comments from individuals with almost no familiarity with them. Further, she chose not to interview any of the many experts and educators who do have firsthand experience with their efficacy.

But let’s get down to the real issue – our educational crisis becomes graver with each passing day. And the real story, which Catania chooses to ignore, is that L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology is making a difference.

Let’s face facts. If we do not solve the problems of illiteracy, we could be headed for a new dark age. Hubbard had the courage to provide revolutionary solutions to our 20th-century educational crisis – and we need to raise our sights to the level of a man of such vision.

-Rena Weinberg
President, Association for Better Living and Education
Los Angeles

Dear Editor:

I was surprised and disappointed at the poor journalism in your article “The Learning Cure.” I felt it was written to prove a point, not written from actual research.

I am the founder of a technology company that has grown from two employees to 800 in just over three years. I’m 26 years old, and have been written about in many national publications as a young success.

I never attended college, and I attribute much of my success to my education at the Delphian School of Oregon, which trains its students in the use of Hubbard’s study technology. This technology allows you to get the most out of the study of any subject. Knowing it, I was able to accomplish my post-high school education on my own.

Being able to thoroughly understand any subject you tackle is an invaluable skill, and Hubbard’s study technology made this possible for me. If Catania had taken the time to objectively interview several people who actually use Hubbard’s technology, she would have discovered that they were thriving in their studies, and actually studying faster than previously.

I walked away from that article with the feeling the author had an ax to grind. Why? The “crisis of education” is a national concern, and everyone agrees that our school system needs major reform. We need something that works in schools and makes universal education possible. If Hubbard’s technology is working, why attack it?

-Sky Dayton
Earthlink network Inc.

Dear Editor:

The answer to the question “Can L. Ron Hubbard’s study technology make kids smarter?,” posed and never answered, is an emphatic “Yes!”
It is very easy to be a critic. It is not so easy to roll up one’s sleeves and step in to help people who are having difficulty in literacy and learning, as the volunteers, parents, tutors and teachers involved with Applied Scholastics are doing every day.

Study technology is not an untried theory, but a proven system whereby a person can become self-sufficient in any learning environment using effective “tools,” including a dictionary. The result of this process is that one understands and can use the information being learned – a goal that education is seeking in our fast-paced techno-society. These tools for learning are not some new study aid or memorization technique or phonetic-reading program. Rather, these tools are part and parcel of the subject of how individuals learn, combined with actual procedures and methods of applying these principles on an individual basis, to give one the means to grasp any subject.

Central to Hubbard’s study technology is a delineation of the primary barriers to study that constitute the underlying reasons for most educational failures. Educators may speak of “learning disabilities.” Their students are failing to learn because no one has taught them how to learn, how to identify the barriers to learning and how to overcome these barriers.

A few key symptoms that study technology overcomes include why a student gives up on a particular study (often after initially liking it), why they appear dull and confused after certain studies, and what is the primary reason that students drop out or lose interest in learning.

-Ian Lyons
Applied Scholastics International

Dear Editor:

Excellent article. I hope that you are left in peace after publishing it.
I am glad that word is getting out on Applied Scholastics, as it very much is a vehicle to get L. Ron Hubbard technology and ethics into the “WOG” world.

-Betty Rhodes
Los Angeles

Dear Editor:

I’d like to commend Sara Catania and the L.A. Weekly for publishing this article, and I hope you will stand up against Scientology harassment. Your article investigated the heart of the topic: whether this study technology has any educational value. The scholars quoted in the article confirmed my own opinions, based on my experience at university and at work.

I think that Word Clearing (looking up every word in the dictionary) is a thought-stopping technique. like counting sheep or saying “Hare krishna” 2,000 times. While such techniques are excellent to get to sleep or to get obedience, they are counterproductive in an environment where individual thinking is important. This certainly applies to all schools in the Western world.

-Tilman Hausherr
Berlin, Germany

Dear Editor:

Despite the plain-vanilla fluff and rather uninspired teaching techniques that Scientologists try to push into the minds of schoolchildren, there are really only three things that Scientology teaches well: manipulation, deception and the selling of $cientology.

Make no mistake about it – Scientology’s front groups, including those that purportedly offer “”earning technology,” are all pieces of bait on a large, aggressive and expensive hook. The organization itself was founded by a con man and continues to be led by those who will go to great lengths to silence critics and former members of the cult.

-Mark Dallara
Tampa, Florida

Dear Editor:

Fantastic, excellent work by Sara Catania. She and the Weekly should be commended for the production of such a frank and accurate description of Scientology’s study technology. As a mother and a taxpayer, I thank you. I shudder to think of my children being educated with such mind-controlling, thought-stopping material

-Sandra Jamison
Robins AFB, Georgia

Copyright © 1997, Los Angeles Weekly, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Wichita Eagle ~ Quality of tutors goes unchecked

April 24, 2007 under Applied Scholastics, Study Technology

by Icess Fernandez

Here’s a word problem for you: There are two tutoring programs in a Wichita school. One is very structured, complete with math worksheets and teachers giving direction. The other focuses on helping students explore learning with such techniques as playing with dough. Both are part of a $1 million federally mandated experiment. Which one will be the most effective in raising students’ assessment test scores?

Answer: No one will know until next year. And that’s the real problem, some local educators say.

In the Wichita school district, 583 students from schools with a high percentage of low-income families are enrolled in such after-school tutoring services.

The federal No Child Left Behind law, which aims to make all students proficient in math and reading by 2014, requires that school districts pay for these private tutoring services. In Wichita, the bill to taxpayers is $1 million.

But monitoring the students’ progress and holding tutoring programs accountable has been an issue since the law’s inception. The law is up for reauthorization by Congress this year.

The Kansas State Department of Education selects these “supplemental educational services providers.” Critics say there isn’t a provision for measuring whether their programs do any good.

Once parents sign a contract with the tutoring provider, the school district has very little say.

“If parents choose it, we have to go with it,” said Susan Smith, the Wichita district’s Title I director. Wichita is spending an average of $1,800 per student.

In the middle are the parents, who want to ensure their children do well in school, and the students who need help in reading and math.

State education officials concede that the system needs work.

“The big issue is evaluating the effectiveness,” said Judi Miller, the state Department of Education’s assistant director of state and federal programs.

Helping poorer students

Hamilton Middle School, which has been praised for closing the academic achievement gap between races on assessment tests, has 106 students signed up for private tutoring. The district is required to pay for it using part of its Title I money, federal funding for schools that have high percentages of low-income students.

Only parents of students whose family income qualifies them for free or reduced lunches can sign up, and only if they attend Curtis, Hamilton, Marshall, Mead or Pleasant Valley middle schools or Caldwell Elementary — all Title I schools that did not meet certain minimum standards on state tests for four years. The district has several other Title I schools.

Parents chose tutoring providers for their students after attending an informational meeting.

At Hamilton, two providers — Achievia Tutoring and Applied Scholastics International — help students with math. This is the first school year that both have worked with Wichita students.

Achievia, the company that most Hamilton parents chose, uses schoolteachers as tutors. Students work on math problems individually, using cards that are similar to worksheets, while their tutors offer guidance.

Parent Poppilyn DeLano said she has already seen some changes in her sixth-grader’s grades.

“He comes home and he’s more eager to do homework,” she said. “He’s not struggling with comprehension of math.”

Applied Scholastics uses a different approach, targeting why kids can’t learn.

“Students come in with many gaps,” said Mary Duda, director for research and development. “So when they have skipped gradients, students feel confused. We teach students about barriers so that they are independent learners.”

In a recent visit, students were tracing pictures out of a book and working with playdough to learn about why they are not succeeding. “They understand that learning depends on them. When they have that,” Duda said, “they realize that it’s very liberating.”

Deloris Fogle’s sixth-grader is being tutored by Applied Scholastics. She preferred tutors who didn’t already know her son, she said; she wanted to see if they could help in ways his teachers couldn’t. He’s been in the program for two months.

“I don’t feel he’s been there long enough” to see significant change in his school work, she said. “But what I have noticed is that he’s comfortable doing assignments.”

There are five other tutoring providers working in the Wichita district: ATS Project Success, Club Z Tutoring, Huddle Learning, Jefferson Learning and Urban League of Kansas.

Each one functions differently. ClubZ, for example, does individual tutoring in homes, but ATS Project Success sends home a computer and there is never any direct human contact, Smith said.

“They have to have a pre- and post-test, but that’s pretty much it,” Smith said.

The state uses federal criteria to determine whether an applicant can become a Kansas tutoring provider. Requirements include showing the program is:

• High quality and research-based

• Designed to increase academic achievement

• Consistent with district curriculum and state standards

• Secular, neutral and non-ideological

They also have to detail how they will ensure children are learning and how they will measure it.

Which method is best?

The Wichita district does spot checks and has set some basic ground rules for working with its students. But when it comes to the companies’ approach or tutoring curriculum, the district can’t interfere, said Jackie Farha, the district’s Title I improvement supervisor.

Monitoring the private providers isn’t written into the law, said Jeff Simering director of legislative services at the Council of Great City Schools, which represents 66 of the nations largest urban school districts, including Wichita. And he doesn’t know of any data that says additional tutoring by a private company works better than a teacher’s additional face time.

Miller, of the Kansas Department of Education, agreed that even if a student’s test score increases, there is no way to tell why: Maybe it’s the tutoring program; maybe it’s something a classroom teacher is doing.

Or maybe it’s something else altogether: Perhaps the student’s home life is less chaotic or a health problem has cleared up and he’s better able to focus on school.

Tutor monitoring

Although it doesn’t have direct authority, the Wichita school district is monitoring on its own. It does spot checks to make sure providers show up and that the district is being charged for tutoring and not baby-sitting, Smith said. It is watching students’ academic performance closely.

“Every kid is being tracked, because if it’s not working, there will be changes,” said Wendy Lowmaster, Hamilton’s tutoring program coordinator.

The district will report its findings to state education officials.

Smith said the district already has a reputation among tutoring companies of being “hands on.”

“We have a vested interest,” she said.

And parents with concerns are being encouraged to contact their school principal, who will give the message to her office, Smith said.

The state review occurs annually, when — and if — providers reapply to work in Kansas.

Miller said she hopes to have a system for increased state oversight in place by next school year.

Reach Icess Fernandez at 316-268-6544 or © 2007 Wichita Eagle and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

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Saint Petersburg Times ~ Scientology makes it in classroom door

March 20, 2007 under Applied Scholastics, Study Technology

by Robert Farley

BATON ROUGE, La. – Inside the industrial looking brick walls of one of Louisiana’s poorest performing middle schools, Scientologists finally have achieved a longtime goal.

A study skills curriculum written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is being taught as mainstream public education.

All the eighth-graders at Prescott Middle School are being taught learning techniques Hubbard devised four decades ago when he set out to remedy what he viewed as barriers to learning.

The curriculum and textbooks used by Prescott’s 156 eighth-graders are similar to methods and books used among Scientologists worldwide. And teaching the children is a Scientologist hired by the school district.

Scientologists helped usher Hubbard’s program into the school during the chaotic months after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrity Scientologists John Travolta and Isaac Hayes played key roles, as did a former Clearwater resident known for her persuasive voice.

The people who run the program say Hubbard’s teaching technique is divorced from Scientology, that it is just a masterful way to learn. They note that it has won the support of many non-Scientologists, including a number of academics.

Other experts, though, question the quality of the program. And some church skeptics fret that it is an insidious plan ultimately aimed at promoting Scientology.

Prescott’s principal had those same concerns. But after closely monitoring the program for more than a year, she is confident Hubbard’s program is not teaching Scientology.

All she knows is that the school’s long-dreadful scores have turned around.

* * *

“Can you show me what ‘squashed’ looks like?” veteran educator Carol Woodruff asks a student.

The girl makes a sour face.

“Good, ” Woodruff says. “Can you draw it?”

The girl draws a stick figure with a frown.

Woodruff nods. That’s how you sometimes feel if you are learning something and you don’t have “mass, ” she explains.

Hubbard believed a key to learning is having the thing itself, its “mass, ” in front of you.

A “lack of mass, ” Hubbard taught, can cause physical reactions in a student, such as eye irritation or dizziness, or cause feelings like being squashed, bent, lifeless, bored or angry.

That’s why students at Prescott often fashion objects out of clay and use small stones and common objects such as paperclips and rubber bands to represent what they are studying.

Hubbard identified two other barriers to learning.

The second barrier is trying to learn on “too steep a gradient.” One must learn the fundamentals of ideas before moving on to more complex levels.

The third barrier is misunderstood words. When students don’t understand a passage, it’s because it included a word they didn’t understand. Hubbard’s curriculum teaches students to find the word and grab a dictionary.

Students who yawn or doodle are told to “find your misunderstood.”

These concepts are hardly revolutionary. Teachers have long known the value of hands-on learning, the need to build new concepts on the foundation of prior knowledge, and that it is important to understand the meanings of words. Where study tech is different, proponents say, is that Hubbard identified specific and absolute physiological responses to his three barriers to learning. For example, if you yawn, it is always because you misunderstood a word in the last passage you read.

The Baton Rouge School District hired Woodruff, a Scientologist, to teach five 90-minute classes each day. Helping her are another full-time teacher and a half dozen unpaid teacher aides, mostly teenagers from a private school in Oregon that uses study tech. They volunteer for three weeks at a time, fulfilling a community service requirement at their school.

Their presence also assures that Hubbard’s program has the advantage of student to teacher ratios of no more than 5 to 1. The program is self-directed, and students are broken into small clusters of desk. Kids work at their own pace and an instructor is available at each cluster to give one-on-one attention.

A science fiction writer, Hubbard created Scientology in the early 1950s. He taught that a person is a spiritual being called a Thetan, whose mind has a “reactive” or subconscious side that stores mental images and is not under a person’s control. Through spiritual counseling called “auditing, ” he taught, a person can solve personal problems by locating these images and addressing them.

According to Scientology literature, Hubbard began researching the barriers to learning when he noticed some Scientologists struggling with their courses.

Hubbard released his “study technology” in 1964, touting it as a way not only to help Scientologists, but also to solve the world’s struggles with education.

In 1972, Scientologists founded the nonprofit Applied Scholastics to advance Hubbard’s “study technology” outside Scientology. Nothing in its literature notes any ties to Scientology. Nor should it, they say; his study curriculum is secular and, therefore, appropriate for public schools.

It’s used in hundreds of after-school tutoring programs, but perceived ties to Scientology have slowed its expansion into the core curricula of public education. School districts in San Antonio, the St. Louis area and Nevada backed off the program after parents or educators voiced concerns.

In 2001, Applied Scholastics bought and renovated a former retirement home of the sisters of Notre Dame outside St. Louis. The building, on nearly 100 acres, became Applied Scholastics’ headquarters.

Watching from afar was Clearwater’s most prominent Scientology parishioner, Bennetta Slaughter. Time and again, the savvy coalition builder and respected community volunteer persuaded members of Clearwater’s civic establishment to be accepting of volunteering Scientologists.

To Slaughter, Applied Scholastics’ purchase of the St. Louis property signaled a commitment to serious expansion. She became chief executive in 2001 and in the years since, Applied Scholastics recorded dramatic growth.

* * *

Prescott Middle is in a predominantly black neighborhood of small, aging homes with chain link fences and convenience stores with bars across the windows.

More than a quarter of its students have been held back at least two years. Another quarter are special education students.

Prescott was the first Louisiana school to be “reconstituted” two years ago as a result of enduring academic failures. Elida Bera was hired from Texas to take over the school and essentially start over.

“The school was horrible, ” she says. She kept just 10 of the school’s 75 employees.

And that was before Katrina.

Hurricane evacuees made their way to every corner of southern Louisiana. Prescott’s classes swelled.

After Thanksgiving of 2005, Bera got a call from the office of Baton Rouge Mayor-President Kip Holden. He had a program he thought the school should consider. He had been visited before and after Katrina by Slaughter – the chief executive of Applied Scholastics.

Holden also had met Travolta and his wife, Kelly Preston, when the two actors came to Baton Rouge after Katrina. Musician Isaac Hayes, a longtime proponent of Hubbard study tech, also put a word in Holden’s ear.

At Holden’s suggestion, Bera met with two representatives from Applied Scholastics. She had done her homework on the Internet. Her first question: What does this have to do with Scientology?

“I’m so glad you asked, ” Bera says she was told. “We want to put that on the table.” They said the program has nothing to do with Scientology other than sharing a common architect.

Bera was sold. The Baton Rouge school district agreed to pay $20, 000 a year to Applied Scholastics for a licensing fee and to hire a teacher from the nonprofit to help teach the course. Costs were offset by seed money that Travolta contributed and by donations from local businesses. Parents were enlisted to volunteer as tutors.

Bera rolled out Hubbard’s classes as a pilot program for a small sample of students in grades six, seven and eight. She was impressed when Applied Scholastics reps asked her to put the most challenging students in the pilot classes.

Positive results came fast, astonishing Bera and district leaders. Absenteeism dropped. Students became more involved in their studies. But the real affirmation was in the LEAP test scores, Louisiana’s version of Florida’s FCAT. Every one of the 20 eighth-graders in the pilot passed in the spring of 2006. Among the Prescott students not in the pilot, 77 percent passed.

Bera decided to teach the program to all of Prescott’s eighth-graders during the 2006-07 school year.

Last week, the LEAP scores came in. In English and langauge arts, the students performed just slightly better, with 78 percent performing at a level of “approaching basic” understanding or higher. That’s an increase of one percentage point. But math scores increased from 52 percent competency last year to 59 percent this year.

Bera said last week she was “very happy” with the scores, though they remain well below district and state averages. Next year, in addition to teaching the program to all eighth-graders, she plans to make it available to all grade levels as an elective.

Several Prescott students picked by the school for interviews said they like the study skills program. They said when they find themselves struggling with a subject, now they know ways to identify and attack the problem.

Tanika McDaniel, 14, said she was skeptical at first, but it became fun. “You want to see how far you can get, ” she said. “And the next day, you want to get even further.”

Jonisha Williams, 15, said the program has given her “a whole new reading strategy.” And it gave her a system to “find out what’s wrong with me when I don’t understand something. I know how to break down paragraphs and find the main idea.”

It has helped her with her passion, writing poems. Now she knows and uses bigger words.

“It helps you out in other classes, ” said Reginald LeBrane, 13. Before he took the class, he said, he got A’s, B’s and C’s. “Now, ” he said, “it’s all A’s.”

None of the students said they know who L. Ron Hubbard was.

* * *

The folks at Prescott Middle School aren’t the only ones buying in. Diola Bagayoko, a professor at nearby Southern University and CEO of the Timbuktu Institute, a nonprofit think tank on teaching practices, has become a cheerleader for Hubbard’s program.

Study tech puts knowledge into a hierarchical order, one idea building upon another, he said. Students pass tests before they move on to the next ideas, so “progress is assured, not assumed.”

It’s the best program he has seen, he said. “I would like to see this in many more schools.”

The obstacle is money. The program requires lots of one-on-one instruction. Next year, Bagayoko has arranged for student teachers from Southern to be the teacher aides at Prescott, replacing the teen volunteers. But that model is too costly to be expanded beyond Prescott, district officials say.

Slaughter also provided the Times a letter of enthusiastic endorsement from Venetta Whitaker, a University of Missouri professor and former assistant superintendent for the Los Angeles United School District.

“This application allows students to become more accountable, self-directed and self-advocating, ” Whitaker wrote, “while teaching them strategies and skills to help them think, learn and develop more of their potential over an entire lifetime.”

The Times asked two independent academics to review the study tech text used at Prescott. Both were underwhelmed.

“It’s hard to believe that someone is putting stock in this, ” said Linda Behar-Horenstein, a professor and distinguished teaching scholar in the department of educational administration at the University of Florida. “I’m a little stunned. It ignores everything we know about brain-based learning.”

She criticized the concepts as overly simplistic and the activities “moronic.”

“I can’t imagine kids sitting still doing this, ” she said.

Also alarming, she said, is that there is no research to back up whether the concepts work, whether the program is cost-effective and how students fare over time.

The lack of peer-reviewed research was also of concern to Michele Gill, assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Central Florida.

If used as an after-school program, Gill said it would be “fairly harmless and could be somewhat helpful.” But, she said, “I would not want to be taught this way.”

The text is prone to overstatement, she said, like the idea that if you are bored it is always because of a misunderstood word. That may be a good first place to start, but sometimes kids know the words, “but they are hungry or their parents are getting a divorce.”

So how to explain the success at Prescott?

Both said a likely key is the low teacher-student ratio. It also could be attributed to the quality of the instructor.

“There are other things at play, ” Behar-Horenstein said. “It may not be the curriculum at all.”

While critical of the program, neither of these experts saw any hidden Scientology agenda or proselytizing in the text.

According to one of the program’s harshest critics, Dave Touretsky, a research professor at Carnegie Mellon University, that’s only because the academic experts don’t know the intricacies of Scientology.

Study tech is “covert religious instruction” and therefore unconstitutional to teach in public schools, said Touretsky, who has studied Scientology and written extensively about Hubbard’s study skills curriculum.

The vocabulary used in Hubbard’s texts echoes the language of Scientology, he said. For example, using “misunderstood” as a noun – as in, “Find your misunderstood” – is part of the argot of Scientology. He also calls the physiological effects attributed to various barriers to learning “nonsense” and “like believing in Bigfoot.”

Scientologists will use the program at Prescott to sell the program to other struggling communities, Touretsky said, and to promote the image of Scientology.

The idea, he said, is probably not to convert people directly, but rather to establish Scientologists as “do-gooders” and then to “slip in more Scientology down the road.”

That’s essentially how it worked for Tom Cruise. The actor has said Hubbard’s study tech helped him improve his reading and writing – and piqued his interest in Scientology.

Slaughter said it’s absurd to characterize study tech as a recruitment tool for Scientology. Sure, she would love for people to check out Scientology, she said, but the study tech program is purely secular. The only fair criticism is that she has been slow to get it peer reviewed.

“I don’t have to justify this, ” she said. “What I care about is that it is working and making a difference for children. I don’t need to care about anything else.”

Robert Farley can be reached at or 727 893-8603.

Fast Facts:

CEO gives Applied Scholastics a boost

L. Ron Hubbard’s study skills program is advanced worldwide by Applied Scholastics, a nonprofit organization that Scientologists created in 1972. It has racked up impressive growth since former Clearwater businesswoman Bennetta Slaughter became chief executive six years ago.

- Hubbard’s study tech now is licensed for use in 738 private schools, community centers and after-school or tutoring programs, more than twice the participation levels from when Slaughter took over (many other programs use its ideas). Florida has 24 such programs, 23 of them in Clearwater, the church’s worldwide spiritual headquarters. The other is in Miami.

- Applied Scholastics has significantly increased its training of private and public school educators. It reports training 45, 000 since 2001 at its headquarters outside St. Louis, compared with 50, 000 trained in the three previous decades.

- Applied Scholastics has licensed 112 private schools to use study tech. Another 3, 500 schools use study tech in some way, Slaughter said.

- Globally, Applied Scholastics has made its biggest strides in Africa, where it claims to have taught thousands of educators who are exposing study tech to hundreds of thousands in Nigeria, South Africa and other nations. Slaughter said 2.6-million worldwide were taught study tech last year.

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