PBS ~ Travolta promoting Study Technology on Tavis Smiley show

January 14, 2005 under Study Technology

On January 14, 2005, John Travolta appeared as a guest on the Tavis Smiley show on PBS. Travolta promoted Scientology, specifically study technology, and explained the “three barriers to study”. The full transcript [was] available online.

Now, speaking of education, you know, in Scientology, the first thing you’re taught is the barriers to study, and it’s a misunderstood word, basically. So dictionaries are very important in one’s education. If you hear someone speak to you, and you don’t understand a word, write it down, look it up later, remember what context it was said in. When you’re reading a newspaper article or a magazine or–remember that if you have a misunderstood word, even if it’s nomenclature, you will not grasp that subject matter. The other one is gradient. That’s usually in the field of doing this–too steep a gradient. You know, if you’re learning a dance step, you have to learn how to do this before you can do the next one–in sports, the same thing. You learn things on a physical gradient. The third would be the lack of mass itself on the subject matter. If you’re studying–let’s say jet engines–you must see a jet engine to understand the technicalities of how it works. So the misunderstood word, the gradients, and the lack of mass are the 3 barriers to study. If you just knew that, every area of knowledge would become much more interesting to you. And that’s the gift that I had, soon after I got into Scientology, was the gift of any area was possible for me because I had a dictionary. Now, you have to take your time. Dictionaries are not a glib thing. There’s derivations, and there’s the basic, and there’s the multi-definitions to any given word. I mean, most people don’t know there’s, like, 21 definitions of “the.” Tavis: So was Clinton right when he said, “It depends on what ‘is’ is”?

John: Yes. [Laughs]

Tavis: OK. I just love talkin’ to John Travolta.

John: What’s the 16th definition of “is”?

Tavis: Of “is,” yeah. [Laughs]

John: You know what I mean?

Tavis: I would not have gone here, John Travolta, had you not raised it because I try to respect people’s personal and spiritual space. But I won’t surprise you when I say to you that there are critics of Scientology. I don’t want to get into a debate about that, but I want to ask you, though, because when I listen to you talk about this and explain it, it makes perfect sense to me. What, then, do you think is most misunderstood about what you believe–Scientology?

John: Well, you know, if there is anything. I mean, lately, I think it’s being much more understood because of the evolution of the reading on the subject matter, which is what I’ve always insisted on: read a book. But, moreover, I’m getting opportunities to give specific examples, like I just gave you with the misunderstood word, a very basic thing in Scientology. So if I ever get the opportunity to give examples, it’s much better than not giving an example. But, at any rate, I don’t know, it’s going very well.

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UW-Fond Du Lac

July 29, 2004 under Study Technology

UW Fond Du Lac
Letter to parents

July 29, 2004

Dear Parents,

We feel it is important to notify you of a concern that has been brought to our attention by a parent regarding the Applied Scholastics ™ curriculum utilized in our College for Kids Study Technology course. Some organizations believe this curriculum is being used by Scientology to promote their philosophies and teachings. This five-day course was purely designed as a study skills class.

The intent of Study Technology is to assist students by teaching them how to overcome barriers to learning. Although L Ron Hubbard developed the ‘Study Technology’ concept, and L Ron Hubbard is the founder of Scientology, Applied Scholastics ™ is a secular, charitable organization independent of Scientology.

The University of Wisconsin-Fond Du Lac supports diversity and does not in any way promote any particular group or religious ethic. Nor do we discriminate based on religion.

The instructor has been made aware of this concern. While your child may demonstrate an exceptional level of performance in one or more if the five areas of giftedness, your child may benefit by improving study skills in other areas. The intent is not to promote specific philosophies of beliefs, the intent is to provide creative and stimulating ideas for improving study skills. We thank the parent for bringing this information to our attention. Because these perceptions exist, we will not offer the course again in the future.

As stated in a memo that was sent home with your child on Tuesday, please know you are invited to attend classes with your child on Friday. Feel free to contact me at 929-3622 or Dean Blankenship at 929-3602 if you have any questions or would like further information. We value and appreciate your support of our programming for area gifted and talented youth.

Leanne Doyle

Continuing Education
400 University Drive, Fond Du Lac, WI 54935-2998
Phone 920-929-3622
Fax 920-929-2919

View a scan of the actual letter

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ~ Class yields a surprise subject

July 29, 2004 under Study Technology

UW-Fond du Lac study course based on writings of Scientology founder

When Sydney Dillmann, a 12-year-old from Fond du Lac, enrolled in five-day course called “Study Technology” at her local University of Wisconsin campus this summer, she and her mother thought it would be a good way for young Sydney to improve her study skills.

Thanks to the course, she stumbled upon a surprise subject – the Church of Scientology.

The Study Technology curriculum relies on the educational writings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Scientology movement.

On one hand, it appears rather routine, and, in the words of Sydney and some of her friends, “boring.” The children are taught effective methods of using a dictionary, for example, or how to associate abstract math exercises with concrete objects.

But according to some scholars who follow Scientology, the same Hubbard writings used to devise Study Technology are considered scriptures in the church. The point of sponsoring such courses is to promote Scientology methods and beliefs while burnishing Hubbard’s image, skeptics say.

Much of this Sydney and her mother, Mary, learned from scouring the Internet. And they haven’t been shy about challenging UW-Fond du Lac or the session’s teacher, Barbara Abler. “It’s just such junk science,” Mary Dillmann said.

But that’s one side.

Study Technology has its defenders, and they adamantly deny trying to promote a religion in the classroom. UW-Fond du Lac officials, for the record, say they’re comfortable with the summer enrichment offering.

Abler declined Thursday to identify her religious background and said she never tried to promote Scientology in the classroom.

“I’m teaching a study skills class – it’s a totally secular class,” Abler said, adding that she welcomed calls and visits from parents.

She referred a reporter to Mary Adams, a senior vice president for external affairs at Applied Scholastics International in St. Louis. Applied Scholastics is a non-profit group founded in 1972 that promotes Hubbard’s Study Technology. However, outside of using his educational writings, Applied Scholastics isn’t affiliated with the church itself, Adams said.

“It’s just a misconception,” Adams said. “When people see Mr. Hubbard’s name, they immediately think of the things that they are familiar with that he is associated with. I don’t know if they know of Study Technology.”

Adams said Applied Scholastics has 450 groups on six continents. She defined groups as “schools, community learning centers or tutoring centers.” She also said school districts in the United States had started to use Study Technology but declined to identify which ones or how many.

A spokeswoman for the church, Karin Pouw, offered this statement: “The church completely supports Applied Scholastics, but Applied Scholastics is an independent, secular organization.”

UW-Fond du Lac’s dean, Dan Blankenship, said the two-year college was not allowed to question its employees about their religious backgrounds before hiring them. He said he’d talked to Abler after hearing about the concerns.

“It sounded like, to me, that the allegations that she was teaching a religion seemed extraordinary and didn’t seem consistent with what she was doing,” he said.

Leanne Doyle, director of continuing education at UW-Fond du Lac, said the college was aware that Study Technology was based on educational methods devised by Hubbard, but she observed the class and doesn’t believe Abler was promoting the church.

Mary and Sydney Dillmann said they didn’t believe Abler was trying to convert the students to Scientology either, but the methods and ideas didn’t make sense.

According to the Dillmanns, the students were told that a key part of learning is knowing certain words, and that if they ever felt tired or dizzy that they needed to learn the meanings of certain words to get re-energized.

David S. Touretzky, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University who has studied Scientologists, said such concepts were central to church teachings.

“Scientology believes that if someone has misunderstood a word, that that can actually cause a kind of pain or trauma,” said Touretzky, a frequent critic of Scientology whose academic specialty is computational neuroscience.

Touretzky believes teaching Study Technology in public schools violates laws governing separation of church and state and promotes Scientology beliefs. The church spokeswoman, Pouw, blasted Touretzky, insisting: “He is discredited in the field that he’s trying to comment on. He is a specialist in rat brains.”

Despite her concerns, Dillmann chose to keep Sydney in the class, which ends today.

“This is the best time she’s had all summer,” Dillmann said. “Her forensic skills, her research skills, her sifting through different Web sites, looking at data, interpreting information. . . . You wouldn’t believe how much she learned from this class. It’s just not the type of information we thought she’d get out of it.”

comments: Closed

People Magazine ~ Tom Cruise claims Study Tech cured his illiteracy

by Fannie Weinstein, John Hannah, and Lyndon Stambler

People Magazine
Tom Cruise : My Struggle to Read


Graduating high school in 1980, “I was a functional illiterate,” says Tom Cruise, who hid his problem for years. Cruise, who showed signs of a learning disability beginning in grade school, says he finally learned to read as an adult through Study Technology, a learning method developed by L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the controversial Church of Scientology. Last month Cruise was honored by MENTOR/The National Mentoring Partnership for his work with the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.), a nonprofit organization whose volunteers offer free tutoring, using Hubbard’s system, in 26 communities around the world. Though H.E.L.P. has its detractors (see box), Cruise, a Scientologist, has provided financial and public-relations support for the program. “I don’t want people to go through what I went through,” says Cruise, who sat down with senior editor Jess Cagle to talk about his painful, private struggle as a child and his fight for literacy.

One of my dreams, as a child, was to be able to fly an airplane. My whole life we moved around a lot. As a young child, everywhere we went, these are the things that traveled with me: a stuffed animal for the first few years and pictures of planes–a Spitfire and a P-51. When I was 22, when I was making Top Gun, I got the chance to make my dream come true–to become a pilot. I thought, “This is the time to do it,” so I had a couple of lessons. But then I just blew it off.

When people asked what happened, I told them I was too busy preparing for the film, just didn’t have time. The truth is, I couldn’t learn how to do it. When I was about 7 years old, I had been labeled dyslexic. I’d try to concentrate on what I was reading, then I’d get to the end of the page and have very little memory of anything I’d read. I would go blank, feel anxious, nervous, bored, frustrated, dumb. I would get angry. My legs would actually hurt when I was studying. My head ached. All through school and well into my career, I felt like I had a secret. When I’d go to a new school, I wouldn’t want the other kids to know about my learning disability, but then I’d be sent off to remedial reading.

I made new friends in each new school, but I was always closest to my three sisters and my mom. As a kid I used to do ad-lib skits and imitations for my family. I always enjoyed making them laugh. My mom kept saying, “You’ve got so much potential. Don’t give up.” She worked three jobs and took care of my sisters and me, but with everything she had on her plate, she would also work with me. If I had to write an assignment for school, I would dictate it to her first, then she would write it down, and I would copy it very carefully. I went to three different high schools, so I was always given the benefit of the doubt for being the new kid. And I had different techniques for getting by in class. I raised my hand a lot. I knew that if I participated, I’d get extra points and could pass. If I had a test in the afternoon, I’d find kids at lunchtime who’d taken the test that morning and find out what it was like.

I went out for athletics–baseball, wrestling, soccer, football, hockey, you name it–and really blew off a lot of steam there. My senior year in New Jersey, I got the part of Nathan Detroit in the school’s production of Guys and Dolls.

I graduated high school in 1980 but didn’t even go to my graduation. I was a functional illiterate. I loved learning, I wanted to learn, but I knew I had failed in the system. Like a lot of people, though, I had figured out how to get through it. I did the same thing when I moved to New York City, and then Los Angeles, to become an actor. When I auditioned for parts and was given a script to read cold, I’d get the director and producer to talk about the characters and the film. I’d glean information from them and I’d use that. I got pretty good at ad-libbing. In 1981 the door cracked open for me with Taps. Risky Business came out in 1983 and my career took off. I wanted to produce movies. I wanted to know more about my craft. I wanted to work with writers. I had stories I wanted to tell. But when I backed out of the flying lessons while making Top Gun, I thought to myself, “What the hell am I going to do now?”

I’d gotten to where I was operating on the force of sheer will. But I knew I was flying by the seat of my pants. I knew that if I didn’t solve this problem, the trapdoor was going to open up and that would be it.

In 1986, the year Top Gun came out, I became a Scientologist. A friend gave me a picture book on Scientology, and through this I was introduced to the writings of L. Ron Hubbard, who had founded the religion. Mr. Hubbard was also an educator who had been researching the field for decades. He had found that literacy and comprehension levels were declining worldwide, so in the 1960s he had developed “Study Technology.” It pinpoints three barriers to learning: Lack of mass (you can’t learn to fly a plane by just reading about it–you have to sit in the cockpit or at least have a picture of a plane); skipped gradients (trying to master skills or information without mastering or understanding that which comes before them); and misunderstood words (the most important one and a cause for stupidity).

Once I started focusing on those problems, everything fell into place. I had a lot of catching up to do, but that was it. I had run the gamut, hiring specialists for myself privately, bringing in tutors and hearing why I would just have to “learn to deal” with being dyslexic. Many people had tried to teach me, but no one had taught me how to learn or how to study; I had been told I had all the symptoms of dyslexia, but no one had given me a solution.

I realized I could absolutely learn anything that I wanted to learn. In 1989 I learned to race cars while preparing for Days of Thunder. And about 10 years ago I learned to fly. When I was studying for my pilot’s license, I kept a model airplane nearby as reference and pictures of a cockpit in front of me so I could study the instruments. I would often go over to a shop where mechanics were working on planes. Finally I took off on my own from the Santa Monica Airport. After the flight I called my mom, and she started crying. My family is very close and they were so happy for me.

I’m now a founding board member of the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project (H.E.L.P.), which opened its doors in 1997. H.E.L.P. is a non-profit program that uses the Study Technology in a totally secular setting to provide free tutoring in communities all over the world. Before this, I was supporting Applied Scholastics, H.E.L.P.’s parent organization, which was started by teachers to make Study Technology available broadly. When you consider that schoolteachers are sometimes dealing with four or five different levels of literacy in one classroom, you can see what they have to contend with. I had so many different teachers and I really feel for them. I see how they struggled with me. They were rooting for me and cared about me and wanted to see me do well, but they didn’t have the tools to really help me.

I don’t want people to go through what I went through. I want kids to have the ability to read, to write, to understand what people are saying to them, to be able to solve life’s problems. If you’re flying a plane, and you are using all you know, and yet barely keeping it in the air, you’re not truly flying that plane. When the fuel gauge gets down to “E” and you haven’t paid attention, your engine is going to stop. When you know how to fly, you’re watching the instruments. You can properly prepare for landing. You can keep your view outside. That’s the view of life people should be able to have.

A Look at H.E.L.P.

Although Tom Cruise says that the Hollywood Education and Literacy Project is “totally secular,” some educators have complained about its ties to the Church of Scientology. For example, H.E.L.P.’s textbooks, which use Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology, contain words and concepts—-such as “mass” and “gradient”—-that are also found in Church doctrine.

H.E.L.P.’s president and cofounder Kinder Hunt is a Scientologist, but she says that most of the volunteer tutors in the program are not. Nor are students required to be Church members. The program does have proponents outside the Church. In addition to private donations, the nonprofit organization has received public funding. In 2001 Hunt was awarded the private Points of Light Foundation’s President’s Community Volunteer Award.

A spokesperson for the Los Angeles Police Department, which has worked closely with the program, says “LAPD has endorsed what H.E.L.P. is trying to do with kids and their ultimate goal of trying to provide a more stable environment for kids to enrich them culturally.”

Cruise has strongly denied that H.E.L.P. is a recruiting tool for Scientology. “People who want to know about Scientology, they can read books,” he said. “People may go in there and say, ‘Who is this guy?’ and start reading [Hubbard’s] other books. Good for them. There are tools that he has that can improve their lives. But the purpose of H.E.L.P. is to help.”

Reported by Fannie Weinstein in New York City and John Hannah and Lyndon Stambler in Los Angeles

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Magill ~ The company, the course, the church and the controversy

June 1, 2002 under Study Technology

A training course that Dell has used for its Irish employees is derived from writings by Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard and is run by a company with links to the controversial movement.

By Paul O’Brien

L Ron Hubbard was one pretty amazing individual, if you believe the brief biography in the “100% Proficiency Training Workshop” manual. This manual, produced by California-based company Effective Training Solutions, says Hubbard was “a popular writer of adventure, western, fantasy and science fiction stories.” His personal research projects comprise “major contributions to the prevention and cure of social ills such as drug addiction, crime, and illiteracy. His contributions in these areas have found widespread acceptance and use throughout the world in many sectors of society, including families, schools, businesses, governments and religious organisations… Although mainly known for his career as a writer, L Ron Hubbard was fully professional in many fields. His career as an educator spanned the globe and the decades from the 1920s to the 1980s. It spanned the lecture halls of Harvard University and the ships and crews he commanded and trained during WWII, as well as the expedition crews he led as a member of the Explorer’s Club.” His research “formed the basis of entirely new subjects in the fields of mental science and religious philosophy.” He also recognised a collection of barriers to learning “apparently not previously recognised by educators, yet they proved to be the senior factors in all learning.” That last sentence seems to suggest he pretty much revolutionised education. Impressive stuff.

Or at least it is if you believe it. Cynics who have researched his background scoff at claims that Hubbard, the founder of controversial religious movement Scientology, achieved everything he said he had. They see far too many embellishments. One of them, former Sunday Times journalist Russell Miller, wrote a critical book in the mid-80s exposing Hubbard as a fraud and a liar: “a conman” according to one former Scientologist that the author interviewed. Also in the mid-80s, in the case of the Church of Scientology of California vs Gerald Armstrong, a California Superior Court judge declared that the evidence before him portrayed Hubbard as “a man who has been virtually a pathological liar when it comes to his history, background and achievements. The writings and documents in evidence additionally reflect his egoism, greed, avarice, lust for power, and vindictiveness… against persons perceived by him to be disloyal or hostile.”

The reality goes more along these lines: Hubbard, who died in 1986, was a best-selling science-fiction writer, and became a self-declared prophet when creating Scientology in the early 1950s, establishing the Church of Scientology in 1954. The movement made him an extremely wealthy man, and he broadened his scope to include doctrines on diverse fields such as education, business, drug addiction and more. These writings have influenced a range of educational, anti-drug and training programmes among others, most of which are run or administered by Scientologists or legally incorporated bodies or companies with some affiliation to the movement.

One training programme derived from Hubbard’s writings has been used here by Dell, Ireland’s largest IT employer.

100 per cent proficiency

Since February of this year, Dell’s Limerick plant has been availing of the services of Effective Training Solutions (ETS) and its “100% Proficiency Training” programme. The programme helps employees to train better, and thus become more efficient in their work. ETS trained a number of Dell’s own in-house trainers, who then rolled it out to employees. “You will learn about and become skilled in the use of some vital training tools that very few people are trained in,” explains the introduction to the programme’s “100% Proficiency Training Workshop” manual, which forms one part of the overall programme. “Your power and ability to influence your own training and education (and others’ should you help other people) will be greatly increased.” Since February, Dell’s in-house trainers have rolled out the programme to approximately 200 Dell employees who are engaged in production work at the plant. Dell says the reaction from employees to the course has been extremely positive. But not every employee who underwent the course was happy after realising where the course originated from. The 100% Proficiency Training Workshop is, the manual explains on its last page, “derived from the copyrighted writings of L Ron Hubbard on the subjects of training, education and management, and used with permission.” Nowhere does the manual state that Hubbard was the founder of Scientology. A spokesperson for ETS, in response to questions from Magill, stressed that those who chose to undergo the training course at Dell did so voluntarily.

It is not the first time that ETS has been asked to answer questions about training it provided.

ETS was formerly known as Applied Scholastics of Fremont, California – part of the wider Applied Scholastics International movement which is seen by many as an educational arm of Scientology, although Applied Scholastics disputes this, saying it is a secular charitable organisation independent of Scientology. The organisation has the purpose of “improving education worldwide by providing Mr Hubbard’s breakthrough study technology to educators, governments, vocational trainers, community groups, parents and students, giving them the learning tools they need to achieve a world free of illiteracy, where individuals know how to learn and can achieve their chosen goals.” Applied Scholastics International has over 300 groups, schools and business training consultants around the world.

Applied Scholastics of Fremont was founded in 1980, changing its name to ETS some time in the mid-90s, but remaining a licensee of Applied Scholastics International. In 1992, a Californian company, Applied Materials, settled out of court for an estimated $600,000 with three former employees who claimed they were forced out of the company after complaining about work-place training given by Applied Scholastics of Fremont. According to one newspaper report from the time, Applied Materials, a computer chip manufacturer, admitted that it had “lacked sensitivity with regard to the controversial nature of L Ron Hubbard” when employing the Applied Scholastics training. The training involved communication courses. An attorney representing the three workers claimed before the case was settled that some of the training given was identical to material in Scientology handbooks.

Ingrid Gudenas is president of ETS, a position she also held when it was known as Applied Scholastics of Fremont. She has over 20 years’ experience of “training trainers” and delivering training programmes, and is past president of the Silicon Valley chapter of the International Society for Performance Improvement. She deals with Magill’s inquiries in an open and friendly fashion. Of the attorney’s claim in the Applied Materials case, she says: “Well, people can claim anything.” She adds that the case was more about the company and its relationship with its employees, and that Scientology and Applied Scholastics became “red herrings”.

More about the course

On the second-last page of the 100% Proficiency Training Workshop manual, it explains in greater detail the course’s origins. It says the “unique training system called 100% Proficiency” is based on “the breakthrough discoveries on the subject of training and education made in the 1960s by American author and researcher L Ron Hubbard.” It then gives the brief biography of Hubbard outlined earlier.

It goes on to explain how and why he devised the course in the first place: “Mr Hubbard was also a widely published professional photographer. During the 1960s, he decided to study a professional photography course to update his knowledge and skill in the area. While doing this, he encountered certain barriers to learning the material. He used himself as a test case in fully understanding and resolving these barriers. Further research demonstrated that these same barriers were frequently encountered by others. These were apparently not previously recognised by educators, yet they proved to be the senior factors in all learning. Mr Hubbard published his discoveries as a 12-lecture cassette series called ‘Keys to Effective Learning’. This cassette series is available for purchase. As Mr Hubbard shared his discoveries with others, they proved to be tremendously effective and popular. They were codified into a system of education and training which has since become widely known and used in all parts of the world and throughout all sectors of society.”

Hubbard’s ability to break down barriers not recognised by other educators is news to some. Professor of Education and Vice President of University College Cork, Aine Hyland, is one of this country’s leading authorities on the history of education. She is unaware of any breakthrough contribution made by Hubbard to the field. “In my research into education in the 1960s in scholarly educational journals, I have not come across any reference to any major or significant contribution made by L Ron Hubbard to educational philosophy, nor am I aware that scholars in the area since then would regard any of Hubbard’s writings as of major significance in the history of education.”

Dr Finian Buckley of Dublin City University’s Business School, meanwhile, doesn’t agree that Hubbard has made significant contributions to business, management or training.

“Hubbard wouldn’t be regarded as having contributed to any cutting-edge research in these fields,” he says. Hubbard’s writings, he believes, are more in line with the type of books available in bookstores that promise to reveal the previously-secret steps to sensational business success. “Most of those serious professional trainers wouldn’t touch,” he adds. Whatever the truth of Hubbard’s achievements, the ETS course based on his writings is highly regarded. Dell says that it has proved very beneficial for its staff. In-house and independent resources are utilised to deliver “a wide range” of such training courses for the company’s 4,500-strong Irish workforce. Over the last year, Dell has committed over $250,000 in training for its employees.

In a statement issued to Magill, the company said that, prior to selection, ETS “went through our usual rigorous evaluation, including face-to-face meetings, a closely-monitored pilot programme and the sourcing of multiple references from existing global customers.” The results of the programme at pilot level “led to significant quality improvements on the Dell production floor. The company was selected solely for the excellence of its course material, the results of the pilot programme and the excellent references we received from other world-class companies across many different industry segments. The reaction from Dell employees to this particular training course has been extremely positive.”

A host of major international companies other than Dell who have used the course say likewise: DuPont, Bayer, National Semiconductor, Chevron and Cisco among others. Yet it is not the course materials as such that bother the Dell employees who spoke to Magill, but rather the fact that L Ron Hubbard was, in part, responsible for it. The manual states that if the participant is interested in learning more about Hubbard or his lecture series, or ETS itself, they should mention this to their trainer.

In other countries, courses using Hubbard material have been accused of trying to introduce participants to Scientology. ETS states categorically that while its 100% Proficiency Training Course is derived from Hubbard’s writings, it does not address religious issues. Nor does it make mention of Scientology. Nor does it attempt to introduce participants to Scientology. “A decade after the Church of Scientology was established, Mr Hubbard taped a series of 12 lectures which are called ‘The Keys to Effective Learning’ and which cover the subject of learning and education… This material is secular, ie non-religious,” says Ingrid Gudenas. “This tape series is very interesting and is the basis for the 100% Proficiency Training system, which is why you see Mr Hubbard’s name referenced on our training material. The fact that [Hubbard] also developed Scientology, however, does not make our material religious. ETS uses the secular research in the field of education and learning to improve workforce efficiency, which is what companies are interested in so as to achieve improved efficiency, productivity and performance and so as to compete in the world market.” Dell, meanwhile stressed in its statement that it “supports diversity in the workplace and does not in any way promote any particular religious group or religious ethic. Dell does not permit its workplace to be used to espouse any specific beliefs or philosophies. While the 100% Proficiency Training system is based on research that was conducted by L Ron Hubbard, we are satisfied that there are no references to any religious groups in any of the training material used either by [ETS’s] trainers or in-house at Dell by our trainers.”

Dell concluded its statement with the following: “The company – ETS – have also confirmed to us that they have no links – financial or otherwise – to the Church of Scientology.”

Links or not?

Now Effective Training Solutions, formerly Applied Scholastics of Fremont, ETS is a licensee of Applied Scholastics International. The latter is regarded as an educational organisation with close ties to the wider Scientology movement. It disputes this, however, saying that Scientologists merely support it: “Applied Scholastics is a secular social betterment programme, a separate and autonomous charitable programme that is independent of the Church of Scientology,” a disclaimer on its website reads. “It is supported by Scientologists and others who volunteer their time and talents.”

Yet many official Scientology websites have sections on Applied Scholastics. One such site, which explains in full Scientology’s community services, mentions Applied Scholastics as one of its “related programmes”, and the information printed is copyrighted to the Church of Scientology – although it also includes the disclaimer mentioned above. America’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS), however, apparently made little of the disclaimer when it reached a confidential settlement with the Church of Scientology in 1993 after a long-standing tax dispute between the two. Applied Scholastics was included in the settlement as a “Scientology-related entity”.

ETS’s website is www.trainingsuccess.com, and domain name registration details show that the administrative contact for the website is Christina Younkers. Younkers is a Scientologist, and has her own personal website in which she talks about her “success in Scientology”. Ingrid Gudenas points out that she has people of “every religion” working for her at the company; she herself is a Catholic, she adds. ETS’s website is hosted by internet service provider EarthLink Inc, whose founder Sky Dayton is also a Scientologist, and the ISP – one of America’s biggest – has struggled to distance itself from its Scientology roots.

Gudenas denies there is any link, however, between ETS and Scientology. She points to several ways one organisation can be linked to another: financially, through management structures or if one actively recruits for the other. “We are not linked in any of those ways. At all. There is no link to the Church of Scientology.”

What of the IRS settlement which listed Applied Scholastics International as a Scientology-related entity?

“The IRS just listed every affiliated group,” she says.

If something is “affiliated”, would that not classify it as a link? “Well see, it depends… Let me give you an example of something. In the United States, we have an extreme separation of church and state. So if you are any religious organisation – whether you are Buddhist, or you are Catholic – if you were any religious organisation or if you have any religious affiliation, you are not allowed to work with any government agencies. You are not allowed to do business with them and receive money in exchange for the business. It is a law in America; I mean a law. So anyway, we’ve a lot of government clients, which we could not have if we were linked [to Scientology].”

In a statement later emailed to Magill, Gudenas added: “Those government clients, along with Dell, along with other corporate clients, have asked the tough questions that you are asking and the reason they are working with us is that, as a result of their due diligence, they are satisfied that ETS has none of the hidden agendas which you imply.”

A problem of perception

Accepting that is the case, however, a problem still remains, and it is one of perception. The Dell employees uneasy with the course’s origins felt unhappy that the manual did not explain clearly that Hubbard was the founder of Scientology. ETS says there is no need, as the material is not religious, and because the company is not linked to Scientology. It also says that, if employees are concerned, they should contact Dell management, rather than the media. “If there are employees at Dell who have questions about this, or even concerns, why don’t they discuss these with management?” says Gudenas. “I’ve worked with Dell management for a while now and I can solidly state they are sincerely concerned about employees and that they would respond to any questions or issues with genuine openness and sensitivity. We are continuously working to improve the implementation of 100% Proficiency at their site and we are always interested in comments from employees to improve every aspect of this training system, including its presentation.”

Scientology itself also suffers from perception. It has attracted all the wrong kinds of attention in recent years – most notably in Germany and France, two countries which have grown increasingly hostile towards the movement – and is also the subject of an ongoing legal case here in Ireland, where a former Scientologist, Mary Johnson, is taking action against the Church of Scientology.

But while Scientology is strong across America and Europe, with growing membership in many countries, the actual strength of the movement in Ireland is debatable. Mike Garde, who monitors alternative religious movements for the main churches in Ireland, is of the opinion that “Scientology in Ireland is a Mickey-Mouse affair. Generally speaking, it isn’t penetrating. Scientology’s headquarters in Ireland [in Dublin’s Middle Abbey Street] is classed as a mission – the lowest grade of organisational activity within Scientology.” Garde believes that one prominent Irish couple had been working towards building an improved Scientology structure here, but both died before they could achieve that aim. Nevertheless, Garde is cautious: “The threat is more imagined than real, in that they don’t pose a great threat at present. But if they get a platform, it could be serious.”

Why? Is there a reason to fear Scientology? A former Irish member of Scientology says the following: “The aims [of Scientology] themselves seem noble enough, and I think you’d find that most of Scientology is unobjectionable enough… However, the real objection to Scientology is the extortionate money they charge for their services and the extraordinary pressure that is brought to bear on people to part with ever-increasing amounts of money on an almost never-ending series of courses and counselling. The control they exert on their members is frightening. It is this pressure, control over your life and the money that are the main objections.”

Back at Dell, meanwhile, it’s been a tough week since it announced it is to cut 150 jobs at its Limerick plant. The jobs being cut will come from the administrative and middle-management staff, and will be decided on a voluntary redundancy basis. The company’s future looks bright nonetheless, and it will continue to contribute significantly to the Irish economy – it is estimated that Dell contributes to at least 5.5 per cent of Irish exports, two per cent of GDP and four per cent of all expenditure in the economy. ETS’s Gudenas says that the real story is not the origins of the training course Dell is using, but the issue of training in general. “The real story in our business world is the exodus of jobs and companies to south-east Asia and China. The only way to stay competitive is through efficiency, quality and proficiency of the Irish workforce, and that’s what our programme provides,” she says. “Your article could help us keep more jobs in Ireland as you are in a key role to get the politicians and the government to support training – for example, in the USA, the states refund companies a portion of their training costs. You could push the politicians to do this; why aren’t they thinking about the future and the threat of China and supporting training? That’s the real story regarding the economic future for Irish people,” she says, before adding:

“In this enlightened age, when your house is on fire, do you stop to ask the religious affiliations of the firemen before you accept their help? I think not.”

comments: Closed

NOW Magazine ~ Scientology wants city’s kids

December 10, 1998 under Study Technology

Controversial group tries to spruce up its image with its own brand of back-to-basics schooling

by Enzo Di Matteo

Quaint Clarkson, tucked away on the westernmost edge of Mississauga, seems as unlikely a place as any to find L. Ron Hubbard, sci-fi-writer-turned-icon and founder of the much-vilified Church of Scientology.

But here, just past the picket fences and over the train tracks where the old post office used to be, the portrait that graces Hubbard’s opus Dianetics: The Modern Science Of Mental Health — sailor cap, face turned upward, blue sky in the background — hangs in the foyer of the Ability School, depicting the prospect of endless possibilities. Ability is one of four private schools in the country that use Hubbard’s Study Technology, or “study tech,” a back-to-basics method of learning that emphasizes dictionary use and “clearing” the meanings of words.

Books with titles like Learning How To Learn and Study Skills For Life are part of the curricula. But some of the other titles stacked on glass shelves nearby seem to go beyond the three Rs that are the focus here. Among them, Hubbard’s The Way To Happiness and Clear Body Clear Mind.

The titles recall Scientology’s teaching that psychiatry and psychology, “armed to the teeth with tools derived from animal experiment,” are responsible for all that ails the education system and have made the classroom into “a psychological factory for social reform.

I’m here to meet Ability director Maguite Wilkens — my encounter with her, complete with a subtle invitation to lunch later, is alluring — but I’m not sure exactly what to expect.

The group is highly suspicious of the media and rarely allows outsiders a glimpse inside. I’ve read the stories about reporters who’ve written critically about Scientology being harassed, private investigators put on their tail. Accounts spread by former members across the Internet — Scientology’s Vietnam, says one — range from the harrowing to the nearly unimaginable. “A hate campaign,” Scientology calls it.

Nasty episode

There was also that nasty legal episode in 1984 when the group was found to be in possession of stolen documents from Ontario’s attorney general’s office. And it was later hit with a $1.6 million libel judgment for trying to discredit Casey Hill, the Crown attorney who tried the case.

Organization members say that’s all in the past. It seems Scientology is trying to remake its image here, much as it has been doing in the U.S. And, as in the States, it’s also trying to win charitable status.

South of the border, there have also been forays by Scientology into poor, minority neighbourhoods where Hubbard’s learn-to-read study tech is being sold as a way out of a life of crime, teen pregnancy and drugs.

These efforts have raised eyebrows, given some of Hubbard’s pronouncements on race, even as the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) honoured the group with three awards last April. ”

The turnabout — similar forays into minority communities are in the works here — seems a curious one for an organization that’s known more for “helping the able become more able,” as one former Scientologist puts it, and for embracing Hollywood movie stars.

Former members say that what’s behind the minority manoeuvring is marketing and a first step toward indoctrinating new recruits.

Not so, says the organization. Although study tech is identified by Scientology as a religious practice, officials in the group also say it’s nothing more than an approach to learning.


Up and running in minority communities in 26 cities in the U.S. under the umbrella of the Compton, California-based World Literacy Crusade, and with singer/songwriter-turned-Scientologist Isaac Hayes as its international spokesperson, study tech is buying the group influence in black communities in America. In a ceremony largely missed by the media south of the border, the western regional office of the NAACP honoured Hubbard, Hayes and Scientology International president Heber Jentzsch with three of the its most prestigious awards for bringing study tech to African-American communities.

Over the phone from Compton, where the World Literacy Crusade rose from the ashes of the L.A. riots in 92, co-founder and CEO the reverend Alfreddie Johnson is singing the praises of study tech with that familiar Baptist repartie. I can picture him in the smart white suit and carnation he’s wearing in a photo among materials sent by Scientology.

“We have more African-American males in prisons than we have in colleges and universities,” he says. “This is a very serious indictment of our education system. You have no idea how much insanity exists in our community.”

Johnson, who also works as a family counsellor in L.A. county, was introduced to study tech at a seminar when he was running Genesys, a community-based program for problem youth. He says the learn-to-read effort has attracted the support of judges, members of Congress, police officers and other high-profile members of the community, and that 1,500 young people and adults have benefited from its teachings.

“For me, it’s always been an issue of being able to understand words,” Johnson says. “If they can’t understand, they can’t communicate, they can’t have power to be able to control their environment. It sounds like an over-simplification, but it’s actually very simple.”

Johnson speaks the language of the converted, and it comes out during our conversation that he’s “gone on course,” dabbled in Scientology’s teachings and is attracted to its “pure old common sense.” He quotes liberally from Hubbard’s writings, according him prophet status.

“A true messenger brings you solutions,” Johnson says. “If he brings you a religion that brings you emotionalism and causes you not to be responsible, then he is a false prophet. If he brings you information that makes you responsible, then he’s a true prophet, a messenger of god.”

When the conversation turns to study tech as a recruitment tool, Johnson scoffs.

“Absolutely ridiculous,” he says.

He’s caught more off guard, though, when I read him Hubbard’s less well-known pronouncements on race. “From what I’ve seen (of Scientology), it’s just been very positive,” Johnson says. “I wish you would fax me over some of this.”

In the end, however, it’s Johnson who’s doing the faxing. He sends over a three-page letter Sunday night.

“What disturbs me immensely is that there are some media who continue to look for loopholes to sensationalize,” Johnson writes.

The letter goes on to describe a study tech success story of one student “who came to us caught up in gang-banging and a life on the streets” and is now a manager at a Taco Bell. The letter’s carbon-copied to the vice-president of Scientology.

Race case

When Al Buttnor, Scientology’s Toronto director of public affairs, is asked about Hubbard’s pronouncements on race, he answers, “You didn’t know anything about Scientology (during an interview) yesterday,” he says. “I mean, your magazine publishes articles about porn.”


The NAACP is the oldest, largest and most influential civil rights organization in the U.S. Its total membership exceeds 500,000. Awards like the ones given to Hubbard et al. — Hubbard posthumously received the leadership award named after NAACP co-founder W.E.B. DuBois — ordinarily go through the NAACP’s national board.

But that’s not what happened in Scientology’s case. Instead, it was the western regional office in Los Angeles, then headed by Ernestine Peters, that decided to confer the awards. Peters has since gone on to work with the NAACP’s Image Awards. “I don’t know why it’s so interesting to so many people, why L. Ron Hubbard or the Church of Scientology is controversial, because I look at them as just another religious group,” she says.

This past March, however, when Boston Herald reporter Joseph Mallia wrote a stinging five-part series on Scientology’s study tech and its “targets” in disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the NAACP’s Boston head, Leonard Alkins, told the black weekly Bay State Banner that he was under instructions from the NAACP leadership not to attach the NAACP’s name to a Scientology effort to discredit the series as “racist.”

Scientology had earlier approached Alkins about joining a media watchdog group to protest the Herald series. Mallia says the Herald’s offices were picketed and bombarded with angry e-mails and faxes. Alkins, for his part, did not return calls from NOW to both his office and home.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson in the Baltimore head office of NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, referred all questions about the Scientology awards to the NAACP’s western regional office.

There, Peters’ successor, Frank Berry, is distancing himself and the NAACP from the situation.

“It was under the previous administration of the regional office. As a national organization, we normally promote our own programs. I don’t know of any instruction or directive as far as us embracing the World Literacy program or anything else outside of our organization. So that may have been a recognition of the personalities. My personal feeling is personal. I don’t want to get into that.”

Neither, it seems, do other prominent black-led organizations like the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “We have no stance,” says spokesperson Dina Anderson.

Stacey Young was a Scientologist for 15 years in the U.S. before leaving the group in 89. She’s one of four former senior members interviewed for this story.

Young says, “What you have to understand is that Scientology was created in the McCarthy era. That fundamental thinking colours the whole movement. The leadership at this point is not particularly interested in helping underprivileged people.”

Ulterior motive

Young adds, “Some of these people no doubt believe in what they’re doing (but) the motivation of the Scientology leadership is less altruistic. It’s all surveyed. It’s all ‘How are we going to get Scientology into this? How are we going to get Scientology into that?'”


Up here, north of the 49th parallel, Scientology’s study tech forays have been most impressive out west.

The programs started as home schools for children of Scientologists. By the mid-80s, study tech found its way into a junior high school class taught by a Scientologist in Dawson Creek, a vocational rehabilitation program run by the Alberta government and one native community. A Scientology newsletter from the time proclaims, “There is still a lot of territory to capture.”

Today, there are private schools in Vancouver and Edmonton, both of which receive some government funding, another in Montreal and the Ability School near Mississauga. There’s also a small home school operating out of a bungalow in the former East York under the name Education Alive, a community-based program at a boys and girls club in Parkdale, and similar programs planned in Regent Park. An information conference is scheduled for this April in Toronto.

Religious practice

Liz Zahari is a Scientologist and director of Applied Scholastics, the Scientology offshoot that licenses the use of study tech in Canada.

She says there’s “no doubt” the group defines study tech as a religious practice, but that “there’s no religion or religious instruction of any sort” in schools using the technique.

“Many” of the people who run the schools may be Scientologists, but Zahari says the operations are purely “secular.”

She sends NOW glowing handwritten testimonials from young people and adults who’ve been taught using study tech.

Says Zahari, “I’ve seen kids. They change. Their whole faces change because now they know they’re going to be able to control their life and do what they want in life, and that makes all the difference in the world.”

However, the teaching tool, which emphasizes dictionary use and uses phrases like “absence of mass,” “skipped gradient,” and the word “clearing,” to describe what are basically back-to-basics principles, has not played to great reviews in eastern Canada.

Patrick Kakembo, an assistant director of African-Canadian studies with the Nova Scotia department of education, remembers when a black learners advisory group researching alternative education programs was approached in 1995 about study tech by a group calling itself Education Alive.

Kakembo says it was only later that he discovered Eduction Alive’s connection to Scientology. “They were not straightforward about this from the beginning.” Twelve parents were eventually trained in study tech under a government-funded program. The government later decided to discontinue funding, Kakembo says.

Too expensive

The books that tutors and students are required to buy are too expensive, he says, and of “very little value. A page has two words and a diagram.” And the $10 an hour students were charged did not go to the tutors but to Education Alive.

Harvard University literacy professor Victoria Purcell-Gates, who reviewed study tech’s Basic Study Manual, says the merits of study tech are suspect.

“There isn’t anything new. It’s also sort of sketchy. What we know about teaching comprehension skills and study skills is a little more complex.”

Purcell-Gates says the program’s emphasis on use of the dictionary “is probably not the most effective tool for learning word meanings, because dictionary definitions tend to be very decontextualized. Teachers wouldn’t use that as a primary vehicle for teaching vocabulary.”


The mean streets of Compton are a long way from the playground at Ability School, where a dozen children are playing.

And Maguite Wilkens, who has been the perfect picture of chirpiness during the tour this morning, lowers her voice for just a minute. She mentions that the children feel they’re not getting enough recreational time. The moment is gone as quickly as it arrives, and she enthusiastically shows off the room they call “Qual.” It’s here where students are tested to make sure they’ve learned their lessons.

Two kinds of students attend the school, the ambitious “intellectual type,” as Wilkens calls them, and problem children who’ve dropped out of the regular system. The school motto is “Knowledge, Responsibility, Achievement.”

This place is supposed to be about encouraging the individual, much in the vein of Ayn Rand. But all the students wear Catholic-school-style uniforms. Today, it’s casual green track pants and pullovers.

The students seem happy enough, except maybe for the brooding one who’s fingering a copy of National Geographic.

Wilkens demonstrates what the word “integrity” looks like in the physical world by forming it with clay, another practice emphasized at the school. It’s only when Wilkens begins talking about how psychiatry and psychology are ruining the education system and indiscriminately putting kids on Ritalin that the tension level rises.

“These guys are useless. They’re in charge of our psyches and our morals, and society has been declining ever since. They’ve taken over our mental health, for crying out loud. We’ve got more violence, more this and more that, and no one charged, and they don’t like Scientologists going off into prisons and saying, ‘Hey, instead of talking to that psychiatrist, why don’t you sit down with me and we can go over some principles of right and wrong?’

“Do we recruit? No. Are we extra-proud to show off Mr. Hubbard’s study technology? You bet your bottom dollar.”

Out in the foyer, a clutch of children are excitedly chattering. Someone has bought in a flying squirrel for them to see.


The Toronto “org,” as the group’s Yonge Street office is known, is not exactly a hub of activity this morning as public affairs director and reverend Al Buttnor takes me on a guided tour. Signs outside read, “Now recruiting. Apply inside.” Scientology basically teaches that we go through life after life. Negative influences from our past lives keep us from achieving “clear” or pure awareness. “The thing that makes Scientology different,” says Buttnor, “is that there is actually a methodology to achieve that.”

That methodology begins with “auditing” with an E-meter, a spacey-looking contraption — on sale in the Scientology bookstore — attached to two electrically charged cylinders that measure skin responses, much like a lie detector. Buttnor jokes that he’s going to shock the hell out of me, hooks me up and asks me who’s causing the most stress in my life. I tell him my editors. I’m not cooperating. In a nearby room, the “auditing” being done on another subject is more intense. “Invade. Are you suppressing anything?” The subject sits quietly, eyes shut.

Sunlit room

Next is an empty, cordoned-off office left as a shrine to Hubbard, who died in 86. There’s a pen, top off, and paper, written on, lying on the desk as if he’d just stepped out for a moment. The tour ends in a sunlit room upstairs. I can hear intermittent clapping in the next room as Buttnor tells me how he’s found what he’s looking for spiritually.

Earlier, he seemed more interested in asking questions, wanting to know where the story’s going. Those demos that have been going on outside their office on an almost weekly basis seem to be unnerving the group as it seeks charitable status from RevCan. It currently has nonprofit status.

Buttnor wants people to know that there’s another side to Scientology, the one that entertains in seniors homes. But what about the private investigators sent in pursuit of journalists?

“Well, we have set up mechanisms to protect our people,” he says. And the stories about Xenu, the space traveller whom only Scientology higher-ups know about?

“I’m not at that level yet, so…” he says.

He closes by saying he wants to send some info on a source I’ve been talking with. He faxes copies of tickets for drunk driving. A caption on the thank-you note reads, Scientology: Improving Life in a Troubled World.

© Copyright NOW Magazine, Toronto

comments: Closed

St. Petersburg Times ~ New school to use ideas of Scientology’s founder

September 9, 1998 under Study Technology

Some of the study techniques, such as students’ learning at their own pace in multigrade classrooms, are being tried in public schools.


CLEARWATER — A new private school using educational concepts promoted by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard is scheduled to open today downtown.

Clearwater Academy International, at Drew Street and Myrtle Avenue, will have an enrollment of 120 students from pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade, said executive director Pam Chipman.

A new $1.5-million facility now holds the combined enrollment and resources of three smaller schools that merged last year — A to Be School, Jefferson Academy and Renaissance Academy.

A to Be School, the most dominant of the three, started in 1990 with 12 students in a small building on Myrtle Avenue, Chipman said. It later moved to a storefront on Cleveland Street, then to a Franklin Street building owned by the Church of Scientology 7nd finally to a small office building farther east at 814 Franklin St.

In 1994, the school bought the land at Myrtle and Drew for the new school, which took about seven months to construct.

“Each time we’ve had to move, we’ve had more students,” said Chipman, who led a grand opening ceremony Tuesday outside the school’s new reception area.

About 150 people attended the event, including several top officials from the Church of Scientology, Clearwater’s Assistant City Manager Bob Keller, city Public Works Administrator Rich Baier and Nancy Cartwright, one of several celebrities who work to promote Scientology and its causes. Cartwright is the voice of Bart Simpson in the animated television show The Simpsons.

Students at Clearwater Academy progress at their own pace, mostly in classrooms that house two or more grades. For example, Grades 6 through 8 are in a second-floor classroom that will be staffed by two teachers and an assistant. The neighboring class will house Grades 9 through 12.

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 lest they miss the entire 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. To that end, each classroom contains a clay table where students mold shapes that represent concepts they are trying to learn.

Classrooms also contain tables for “practical drills,” where students are drilled on subjects until they understand them 100 percent. There are no letter grades.

Students advance to the next grade after successfully completing a check sheet for that grade. A fifth-grader, for example, might advance to sixth grade in November after completing the required 6,250 words of required reading.

The concept of students advancing at their own pace and learning in multigrade classrooms is known in traditional educational circles as “continuous progress” and is being tried in Pasco County public schools.

“In small schools you’ll find more than one grade level,” said Cathy Wooley-Brown, state charter school coordinator from the University of South Florida. “We have multilevel classes in traditional schools. It’s being touted as an innovative practice. . . . Teachers who are really creative and innovative and know how to meet individual kids’ needs will be really successful.”

The annual tuition at Clearwater Academy is $7,800. School is in session year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each weekday, except for 6 weeks of off time sprinkled throughout each year.

Jeffrey Feldman, a securities trader and Scientologist who moved from New York to Clearwater in 1994, said he first sent his two daughters to other local private schools. The family went through “a nightmare” preparing the younger girl for tests.

“She was able to be ready and get a good grade but wouldn’t know anything about (the subject),” Feldman said. In schools that use Hubbard’s methods, he said, students are taught how to apply what they learn and remember it.

Feldman joined the board of the new school and has become one of its prime benefactors. Today the campus bears his name.

Chipman downplayed the school’s ties to the Church of Scientology, which has its spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. She said some students come from non-Scientology families.

“I don’t pay attention to that,” she said. “We don’t ask” families about their church affiliations.

The school is licensed by Applied Scholastics, which the Church of Scientology lists as one of its “social betterment” programs.

Another local school using Hubbard’s educational ideas is Delphi Academy of Florida at 1831 Drew St. That school has about 200 students, ages 2 to 14.

In addition, the Church of Scientology has a school for the children of staff members. It is known as the Cadet School at the church’s staff residence at 16432 U.S. 19.

© Copyright 1998 St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.

comments: Closed

Education Week ~ Hubbard’s Education Theories Focus on ‘Barriers to Learning’

June 8, 1998 under Study Technology

By Mark Walsh

L. Ron Hubbard, the late science fiction writer and the founder of the Church of Scientology, wrote and lectured prolifically about education and learning skills, his supporters say. He identified three “barriers to learning”:

An “absence of mass” or the lack of the physical object a student is studying, which leads to confusion. Hubbard encouraged learners to use clay to create representations of objects.

Too steep a study “gradient.” Students will become confused if they attempt to master a skill without grasping a necessary previous step.

The “misunderstood word.” Readers should not skip over words they do not comprehend. Instead, they should consult a dictionary to go through a process called “word clearing.”

Word clearing involves not just looking up the word, but also using it in a sentence and understanding any secondary meanings. Students should sometimes work together to define misunderstood words in a form of cooperative learning, according to the theory.

Hubbard’s educational theories form what he called Study Technology. They are the basis for five educational texts that Hubbard-related organizations have submitted to the California Department of Education for approval as supplementary learning materials that could be purchased with public money for use in public school classrooms.

Church of the Mind

In 1950, after years of writing science fiction novels, Hubbard published Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health, which laid the foundation for the Church of Scientology. The book “offered something that was never before available–a workable technology of the mind that could be used to improve anyone’s life,” church President Heber Jentzch says on the church’s World Wide Web site.

The Los Angeles-based church claims more than 8 million adherents worldwide. Many critics argue that its membership figures are inflated.

After years of legal battles, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service granted the church a tax exemption in 1993.

Scientology relies heavily on training and spiritual counseling to help individuals overcome mental obstacles. Hubbard said that humans have spiritual beings called “thetans” that have been reincarnated over thousands of years. But in each reincarnation humans are burdened with “engrams,” or spiritual pain.

The church says that to become free of such engrams and reach a state of “clear,” members must undergo many hours of Dianetics “auditing,” or counseling. The church uses an “E-meter,” similar to a polygraph, to measure changes in the mind.

Critics say the church charges hundreds and even thousands of dollars for auditing sessions and courses in which members study Hubbard’s teachings.

Scientology is especially at odds with modern psychiatry and psychology, whose treatments it views as harmful to the human mind.

“Psychiatry is not a science and has no proven methods to justify the billions of [dollars in] government funds that are poured into it,” a document on the church’s Web site says.

Applied Scholastics International was established in 1972 to advance L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology. Applied Scholastics maintains it is one of several purely secular organizations established to perform humanitarian work around the world in the name of Hubbard.

Affiliated Groups

Other organizations affiliated with the church but engaged in what it says is secular work include Narconon, a drug-rehabilitation effort; Criminon, a prisoner-rehabilitation program; and The Way to Happiness Foundation, which distributes booklets with a “nonreligious moral code” written by Hubbard. According to the church’s Web site, more than 7,000 schools have participated in contests based on the booklet.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR – Oct. 8 and Oct. 22, 1997

comments: Closed

Boston Herald ~ Scientology reaches into schools through Narconon

March 3, 1998 under Other Issues, Study Technology

An organization with ties to the Church of Scientology is recruiting New England schoolchildren for what critics say is an unproven – and possibly dangerous – anti-drug program.

And the group – Narconon Inc. of Everett – is being paid with taxpayer dollars without disclosing its Scientology connections.

Narconon was paid at least $942,853 over an eight-year period for delivering anti-drug lectures at public and parochial schools throughout the region, according to federal income tax documents.

The money came from fees paid by schools and from nearly 100 sponsoring businesses, including BankBoston, Nynex and Polaroid.

The main Narconon lecturer, Scientologist Bobby Wiggins, has taught children as recently as the current school year at Southeast Elementary School in Leominster, under the sponsorship of BankBoston.

He has also lectured at most of Everett’s schools, at Dearborn Middle School in Roxbury, at Marshall Middle School in Lynn, at Maynard High School and dozens of other schools, a Narconon employee told the Herald.

“We do a lot of Catholic schools. We’ve been doing Archbishop Williams for years,” said Narconon employee Jeanne Mack, referring to a Catholic high school in Braintree.

Narconon has also given anti-drug lectures at Arlington, Gloucester and Marshfield high schools and at Swampscott and Lancaster middle schools, according to a Narconon list.

At a lecture at Chelmsford High School attended by the Herald, Wiggins praised the benefits of a detoxification program that involves sauna and vitamin treatments.

But what the Scientologist did not disclose to the Chelmsford teachers, administrators or students is that the $1,200 detoxification regimen is actually a religious program the Church of Scientology calls the Purification Rundown.

In fact, he never mentioned the word “Scientology,” or L. Ron Hubbard’s name during the lectures.

“I took an IQ test before and after, and the score shot up 22 points,” Wiggins said during the Chelmsford drug awareness lecture, referring to the benefits of the Purification Rundown.

“My energy level quadrupled. I could think about 10 times faster,” Wiggins boasted.

But according to health experts, the Scientology detox program is untested and possibly health-threatening.


The method requires vigorous exercise, five hours of saunas, megadoses of up to 5,000 mg of niacin, and doses of cooking oil. This regimen is repeated daily for two or three weeks. Every Scientologist, including young children, must go through this detox procedure as an “introductory service” – a first step in the church’s high-priced teachings, according to church documents and ex-members.

“The idea of sweating out poisons is kind of an old wives’ tale,” said William Jarvis, a professor of public health at Loma Linda University in Southern California. “It’s all pretty hokey.”

Salt and water are the only substances that the Purification Rundown removes from the body, according to a 1990 U.S. Food and Drug Administration report, Jarvis said.

“Narconon’s program is not safe,” the Oklahoma Board of Mental Health said in a 1992 rejection of Chilocco New Life Center, a Scientology residential hospital on an Indian reservation in Newkirk, Okla.

“No scientifically well-controlled studies were found that documented the safety of the Narconon program,” the board said.

Yet Scientology’s founder claimed the sauna regimen can do much more than rid the body of drugs – it can cure radiation sickness.

“Radiation is apparently enormously water-soluble as well as water removable,” Hubbard wrote in an edition of “Clear Body, Clear Mind,” obtained at the Boston Public Library.

Agent Orange and cancer-causing PCBs can also be neutralized through the detox method, Scientologists claim.

“WHAMO! Something miraculous happened! Damned if I didn’t begin to feel better,” wrote one Scientologist in Hubbard’s book, who said he watched a nuclear explosion as a soldier. “There is new hope for radiation victims! I’m the living proof of it!”

Even the Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International in Los Angeles, said in an interview with the Heraldthat the Purification Rundown saved his life by ridding his body of radiation sickness that he contracted from exposure to nuclear testing in Utah when he was a child.

About 100,000 people have done the Purification program, Scientologists claim.

And Kirstie Alley of “Cheers” fame – star of the sitcom “Veronica’s Closet” – is Narconon’s international spokeswoman. A longtime Scientologist, she says the anti-drug program’s Purification Rundown saved her life by helping her kick a cocaine habit.


Top Scientology officials at the church’s nerve center, the Religious Technology Center, deny any connection to Narconon.

“The definitive answer is RTC doesn’t have anything to do with them,” RTC President Warren L. McShane said in a letter to the Herald.

“I’ve checked my files, we have never had a licensing agreement with them or any secular group,” McShane said.

But the RTC clearly states on all Scientology literature that the Purification Rundown is a registered trademark used only with its permission.

Also, L. Ron Hubbard’s name is trademarked by the RTC, and all his books are copyrighted by another key Scientology organization called the L. Ron Hubbard Library. Hubbard’s name and his writings may only be used with permission, according to numerous Scientology publications.

Robert Vaughn Young, a former top Scientology official, said it is common knowledge among top Scientologists that the RTC strictly controls Narconon through licensing agreements.

Also, church documents say the RTC is “protector of the religion” ensuring “purity of application” of Hubbard’s teachings, with an “Inspector General Network” to enforce RTC rules.

A Herald reporter, during a visit to Narconon’s Everett office, saw stacks of L. Ron Hubbard’s book, “Clear Body, Clear Mind,” and many other materials carrying Hubbard’s name.

Also, the Everett office’s top staff – including Wiggins and Narconon Treasurer Susan Birkenshaw, who live at the same Jamaica Plain address – is made up entirely of Scientologists, Mack said.

Further, the church as a whole makes no secret that the Purification Rundown is a first step onto its “Bridge to Total Freedom.” The Purification method is clearly marked on the “Bridge” in a 1994 edition of the church’s introductory textbook “The Scientology Handbook” in the Boston Public Library’s collection.

The textbook chart makes it clear that church members must undergo the Purification Rundown to advance spiritually within Scientology – and the only places to get the Purification Rundown is at the church’s Beacon Street headquarters, Narconon in Everett and at a Scientology-run company called Healthmed of California.


Wiggins teaches drug awareness at about 100 schools a year in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island, and he lectures for teachers’ associations, Mack said.

While Narconon has been active in other school districts – including the Idaho public schools, according to a 1990 article in the journal “The Southern California Psychiatrist” – the New England operation may be its most successful in the U.S., according to Scientology critics.

Both Wiggins and Birkenshaw were paid $16,000 salaries in 1994, according to federal tax records.

The Purification Rundown and the detox treatment costs about $1,200 at the Church of Scientology in Boston, which uses a sauna in the basement of its Beacon Street building near the Charles River.

And a glossy brochure in Narconon’s Everett office offers an intensive, in-patient purification program for $18,500 – including “withdrawal services” – at the Oklahoma hospital.

In Scientology, salesmen like Wiggins are called “Field Service Members,” (FSMs) and are paid a percentage of any courses bought from the church by people they recruit, said Dennis Erlich, a Scientology Church defector.

FSMs are paid a commission of 10-35 percent of what their recruits spend on church training, according to a Dec. 29, 1997, memo written by Commander Sherry Murphy of the Church of Scientology’s Fields Executive International division.

“If he recruits, he gets a 10-15 percent straight sales commission,” said Erlich, who was a top Scientology trainer for 15 years. “He gets the commission on everything that the person purchases from then on, of Scientology auditing and training,” he said.

And Wiggins has a very active history with Narconon – as of 1997 he had lectured before a total of 375,000 people, according to the Church of Scientology.

Schools pay $200 – $300 for short lectures by Wiggins, Mack said.

And for full-day peer leadership programs, that include many hours of Scientology methods, schools pay $750-$1,200, with many of these payments coming from school budgets, Mack said. Peer leaders are taught Scientology methods of communication, study, personality development and “ethics technology.”

Wiggins is promoted as Narconon’s top national speaker in a videotape recently released by Narconon International’s headquarters in Los Angeles. A Narconon Internet site offers the Wiggins video for sale, and Narconon employees use the Internet to recruit new members.

Federal income tax records show Narconon Inc. of Massachusetts earned $715,771 for school lectures from 1989-1994. More recent income tax information could not be obtained. About one-third of that income came directly from public and Catholic schools, and the rest from charitable donors, according to the tax records.

Those donors making recent donations include NYNEX, the Polaroid Foundation and Danvers Savings Bank, Jeanne Mack said. The Thomas Anthony Pappas Charitable Foundation of Belmont gave $10,000 to Narconon in 1991, and $15,000 in 1992, tax records show.

The Pappas Foundation declined to comment, and Polaroid said it could not find a record of corporate grants did not return calls. The Danvers Savings Bank has donated $100 to $250 to Narconon every year since the late 1980s, but had not been aware that the group was linked to the Church of Scientology, a bank official said.

And Narconon did not disclose any Scientology links in its grant applications from Bell Atlantic, formerly Nynex, which gave Narconon a total of $15,000 in 1991, 1996 and 1997, said Bell Atlantic spokesman Jack Hoey.

“There is no reference to the Church of Scientology” in Narconon’s grant applications to Bell Atlantic, Hoey said. However, the church’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, is mentioned several times, he said.

“The fact that there is a religious affiliation doesn’t mean the application wouldn’t be approved,” said Hoey, adding that future grant applications from Narconon will be screened closely.


Although Wiggins has lectured about Scientology’s purification ideas in the Boston Public Schools and across New England, several school officials, including Boston schools Superintendent Thomas Payzant, told the Herald they were unaware that Narconon was connected to the Church of Scientology.

“My standard is that there should be no misrepresentation,” Payzant said.

“I think it’s inappropriate for any religious group, under the guise of some other purpose, to use the public schools as a setting to promote some particular religion,” the superintendent said.

Payzant said he will look into whether Narconon speakers violated school policy by not disclosing links to the Church of Scientology.

Church critics were appalled to learn that Scientologists were being welcomed into New England schools.

“If they’re going into the schools, they’re really messing with the children’s minds,” said Erlich.

Young, the church defector, said he does not object to drug-awareness speakers like Wiggins going into the schools – as long as they tell parents and headmasters that Narconon is connected to the Church of Scientology.

Steve Hassan, a Scientology critic and author of the book “Combatting Cult Mind Control,” said, “I’m very worried that Scientology is infiltrating schools and I think they need to be exposed,”

And Jarvis, the public health professor, was astonished that Scientologists are invited into the classroom.

“Any school administration that would allow a group as ideological as that to come into their schools is irresponsible and naive,” he said.

“They make a big deal about prayer in school, and then they let this religious group in?” said Jarvis.

But Wiggins is a hit with the students.

At Chelmsford High he told his own story – of using, abusing and selling drugs – punctuating his monologue with jokes and making amusing noises with the microphone.

He said he first smoked marijuana at age 11. He did LSD and cocaine. He became a drug dealer. His life was a mess, he said, but he turned it around in 1977 when he turned to Narconon.

“It was great,” Chelmsford student Becky Friedman said after a Narconon lecture.

“I liked it so much I stayed again,” said another student, Valerie Perry.

Scientology critics say 50-75 percent of those who undergo full Narconon training become Scientologists.

But Rev. Jentzsch said only about 6 percent become members. In any case, he said, the church does not recruit children.

“Children can’t become a member of the Church of Scientology unless they have parental permission, and that’s very rare,” Jentzsch said. Most people who join Scientology are 25-35 years old, he said.

But at least one Everett High School student was recruited into the Narconon program, Jeanne Mack said. She declined to name the student, a girl, citing confidentiality concerns, but said the student was expected to learn office skills and Narconon teachings.

Narconon tries to hire and train students from many of the high schools it visits, Mack said.

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Boston Herald ~ Church keys programs to recruit blacks

by Joseph Mallia

The Church of Scientology has targeted black families in Massachusetts with a learn-to-read program that critics say is just a rehash of old methods that leans heavily on the church’s religious teachings.

The learn-to-read program – the World Literacy Crusade – is part of a nationwide effort by the church to entice blacks into Scientology and then convince them to take other, expensive programs, according to critics and former members of the church.

A Herald review has found that Scientologists have:

Targeted a literacy campaign at inner-city Boston programs for minority children, including Red Sox slugger Mo Vaughn’s Youth Development Program, the Roxbury YMCA and the Roxbury Youth Works.

Attracted dozens of middle class and professional black families to Delphi Academy in Milton. This Scientology-run school uses E-Meters – devices akin to lie detectors – on children, according to a former Delphi student.

Taught Scientology methods to ninth-grade teachers at Randolph High School – which has many black students – after persuading headmaster James E. Watson that their techniques work.

Taught Scientology’s study techniques to Boston Public Schools students at Brighton High School through teacher Gerald Mazzarella, who is also a church member.

Created 26 World Literacy Crusade programs – in Boston, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Miami, Memphis, Tenn., and a host of other U.S. cities in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles riots.

Gained the endorsements of prominent local blacks such as Georgette Watson, co-founder of Drop-A-Dime and former anti-drug aide to Gov. William F. Weld.

The teachings

Scientologists say the literacy campaign is nonreligious, and thereforedoesn’t violate laws separating church and state.

But critics say the church plays fast and loose with definitions, calling identical programs “religious” in one context and “secular” in another.

Church documents and books show that Scientology clearly identifies Study Technology as a religious practice. It is taught at the church’s local headquarters on Beacon Street in Boston in the $600 Student Hat program, as a first step into church membership.

This learn-to-read “technology” – or Study Tech as the church calls it – teaches children to distrust their own intelligence and rely passively on what the church teaches, said high-ranking church defector Robert Vaughn Young.

“Study Tech is an extremely dangerous technique,” Young said. “Critical thinking? There is no critical thinking. Criticism is the part that is not allowed,” said Young, who once directed Scientology’s worldwide public relations effort.

The Rev. Heber C. Jentzsch, president of the Church of Scientology International, denied that black children or families are being recruited through the literacy program.

“We’ve found that African-American families are as interested as everyone else in what works . . .. They might not necessarily join the church but the quality of their lives has been improved by it,” he said.

Scientologists say the literacy techniques offer the only way to end gang violence, teen pregnancy and other inner-city problems.

“I think parents are being driven to find answers. They want their kids to be educated, for heaven’s sake. God bless the World Literacy Crusade,” Jentzsch said.

He said Scientology’s study techniques are so effective they raised his own IQ by 34 points, and helped his children read far above their grade levels.

The Herald asked Harvard University literacy expert Victoria Purcell-Gates to assess the World Literacy Crusade’s learn-to-read book, the “Basic Study Manual,” written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.

“This is all `old stuff,’ and has been taught in the schools for at least 30 years (probably more) now,” the Harvard professor wrote in an assessment for the Herald.

“Basically, there is nothing new in this text that is not known by reading/study specialists at a very basic level,” she added. “The only thing really `different’ is that Mr. Hubbard has renamed basic concepts to fit into his overall scheme of things.”

Steve Hassan of Cambridge, a cult deprogrammer, warned that the way Scientologists use the book, in one-on-one tutorials, is a first step toward hypnotic mind control.

And the literacy materials are the same as church scriptures – except the schoolbooks leave out the word “Scientology,” Hassan said.

For example, the “Basic Study Manual” teaches children about the Scientology practice of “disconnecting” – used to separate new recruits from non-Scientologists, including parents. ” `Experts,’ `advisers,’ `friends,’ `families’ . . . indulge in all manner of interpretations and even outright lies to seem wise or expert,” the manual says.

The manual also promotes Scientology’s anti-psychology agenda, linking psychology to German fascism and saying psychotherapists reduce humans to the level of animals.

Scientology spokesman Bernard Percy, however, defended the World Literacy Crusade, saying it has no harmful agenda, and that its study principles can turn a child’s life around. For example, Percy said, the program requires children to look up in a dictionary each and every unfamiliar word – and that becomes a lifelong habit with tremendous benefits.

Scientologists also claim the literacy campaign is not controlled by the Church of Scientology – so they are not breaking the laws prohibiting religion in the schools.

But that is a false claim, because the campaign is funded and directed by the Church of Scientology, Hassan said.

The connections

Although local Scientologists deny that the World Literacy Crusade is directed by the Church of Scientology, anyone who uses L. Ron Hubbard’s name, or his trademarked Study Technology techniques, is strictly controlled by licensing contracts with Scientology groups in Los Angeles, in particular the Religious Technology Center, according to Young and church materials obtained by the Herald.

The World Literacy Crusade’s independence from Scientology is a “fiction,” Young said.

A World Literacy Crusade videotape, viewed by the Herald, clearly states that it has a licensing agreement with RTC – Scientology’s most powerful organization – allowing it to use L. Ron Hubbard’s name.

Also, Scientologists get a 10 percent to 35 percent commission on any church course bought by someone they recruit through the literacy programs, according to Church of Scientology documents dated last month.

Once Scientology attracts a new recruit, its staff applies skillful, high-pressure sales tactics, Hassan said. Members must pay more than $300,000 in “fixed donations” – or barter their full-time labor – to achieve complete salvation.

When the Mo Vaughn group or another agency buys Scientology’s literacy books – which cost about $35 each – most of the money goes to several Scientology organizations in Los Angeles: Bridge Publications, the church’s in-house publisher; Author Services Inc., Scientology’s literary agency; and RTC, which owns the rights to the trademarked name L. Ron Hubbard.

Also, church members sometimes get government funding.

Scientologists got a federal grant for the literacy program in Memphis, former church spokeswoman Kit Finn said.

Federal money was also spent in Boston on Scientology materials, said Gerald Mazzarella, a Scientologist who teaches at Brighton High School. Mazzarella told the Herald he used part of a $5,000 federal grant to buy Scientology textbooks and checklists during the 1980s, which he then used at Brighton High.

Hub beginnings

Boston’s kickoff of Scientology’s literacy program was an April 22, 1995, reception at Roxbury Community College.

The guest of honor was Isaac Hayes, the first black musician ever to win an Academy Award.

The “Shaft” composer impressed a few prominent local blacks – including James E. Watson, the Randolph Junior/Senior High School headmaster.

“It obviously helps kids improve their learning. It seemed to be a positive,” Watson said.

Watson toured Delphi Academy in Milton about three years ago, then asked the school’s headmistress, Ellen Garrison, to begin teaching Study Technology to his ninth-grade teachers at the Randolph school in December.

“It’s at its infancy stage, and what it would cost isn’t clear yet,” the headmaster said at the time. Watson, who has been praised for easing racial tensions in Randolph, recently said there is no longer any connection between the two schools.

The head of a youth program founded by one of Boston’s most-admired black athletes was also interested.

“I think they’re right on when they say illiteracy is a problem that leads to other problems,” said Roosevelt Smith, executive director of the Mo Vaughn Youth Development Program.

“We contracted with the World Literacy Crusade to bring seven kids up to speed,” Smith said. Five of the children, who were 13-16 years old, improved their reading ability using the “Basic Study Manual,” he said.

“Most of the stuff is free. They only asked us to pay for books and materials,” Smith said.

Mo Vaughn himself knew about the Scientologists’ program, but “he hasn’t met with them directly,” Smith said.

But the Scientology religion “is not a part of what we’re doing,” Smith said. “I don’t think the kids even know what Scientology is.”

Roxbury Youth Works, however, allowed World Literacy Crusade workers to tutor teenagers there three years ago, but had second thoughts after learning more about the group’s links to Scientology, said Roxbury Youth Works administrator Dave Wideman.

“We as an organization were a little apprehensive. It seems like they were trying to recruit people,” Wideman said. “The target group was the particular population we serve, predominantly young black men and women.”

But if the Randolph High School literacy program succeeds, Scientologists hope to teach the same “tech” in Boston classrooms, said Finn, the Scientologist.

“That’s definitely the plan,” Finn said. “It’s like Mr. Watson. Somebody has to be bright enough to want it.”

Virtually every top Scientology official is white, according to ex-members and photographs of church leaders. But the new literacy campaign shows Scientology wants to attract blacks and Hispanics, said Priscilla Coates, formerly of the Cult Awareness Network in Los Angeles – an anti-cult group that was bankrupted by Scientology lawsuits and then taken over by the church.

Any non-Scientologist youth who is taught Study Technology is ripe for recruitment, Coates said. “The child has a possibility of becoming a Scientologist,” she said.

Elsewhere in the United States, the World Literacy Crusade has installed its programs at a New York City police athletic league, a Los Angeles probation department, and the Tampa (Fla.) Housing Authority. Other programs are in Washington, D.C., Denver, and throughout California.

In Memphis, Tenn., public officials were angered to learn that the World Literacy Crusade had run a pilot program – with federal grant money – for 75 students in a public school building, without getting a needed permit and without disclosing its ties to Scientology. The church was not allowed to use the school facilities again.

In the inner-city Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton, more than 700 black children, including gang members, participated in the World Literacy Crusade and the program saved their lives by giving them an alternative to street life, Jentzsch said.

“If you know what the statistics are in Compton, (it is) just miraculous,” Jentzsch said. “I’ve seen kids from the Crips and the Bloods sitting there working with other kids to get them educated.”

Study Tech

Larry Campbell brought his daughter to the Scientologists at the Roxbury YMCA because she was having reading problems in a public school outside Boston, which he would not name.

“I brought my daughter here because these guys help,” Campbell said. The father acknowledged that he also enrolled himself in the literacy program, to improve his reading skills.

“This is what the public schools should be doing,” the father said. “It should be attended to not next year but now.”

So for two hours on Tuesday and Thursday nights, and each Saturday morning, Campbell, a deacon at St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Roxbury, brought his elementary school aged daughter to a neon-lit YMCA room furnished with an old sofa, two foldout tables and a stack of plastic chairs.

There, she and other black children were coached in Scientology’s study methods by church members Simaen Skolfield and Cliff Dufresne.

During one session observed by a Herald reporter, neither tutor had a spontaneous conversation with a child, but read from a script.

Dufresne, who dropped out of Boston College Law School to work on the literacy program, helped Doug Walker, a pupil at the William Monroe Trotter Elementary School in Dorchester.

Doug Walker’s mother said the school wanted to solve her son’s problems by giving him medication such as Ritalin, Dufresne said. But, he added, the mother wanted to try drug-free Scientology lessons first.

Meanwhile Skolfield, a bearded British emigre, helped Tanzania Campbell – whose ambition is to be a schoolteacher in Atlantic City, N.J. – with a Study Technology lesson.

Campbell and others at the Roxbury YMCA literacy program were expected to pay nothing at first. “Not yet,” Dufresne said.

But Dufresne hopes his students will, in turn, teach their friends the Scientology techniques. “That’s the whole idea. They learn this and then they circle back and teach somebody else. Because there’s not enough of us,” he said.

Scientology literacy sessions are no longer allowed at the Roxbury YMCA, after officials there learned that the program is associated with the church.

But, an official at Dennison House in Dorchester said Dufresne met with house representatives last year and Dennison House invited World Literacy Crusade workers to come in as tutors. The tutoring has not yet started.


Not about manipulation

It’s appalling that the Herald has chosen to attack the World Literary Crusade, which is helping families and children lead a better life. Your paper has tried to lessen the work that we do by questioning the motives of the staff and volunteers of this program. Good people in many cities, including Boston, have given their time and energy to help others. You make their good work seem like an act of manipulation.

Mr. Mallia did not take the time to really look at the positive results created by these programs; instead he manufactured hidden motives and implied that African-Americans involved in the WLC are being duped. Since 1992, thousands of lives have come through the WLC and literally been saved from the world of street violence and possible death, a success attributable to L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology.

The Rev. Alfreddie Johnson, Founder, World Literacy Crusade, Compton, Calif.

Literacy is power

I first became aware of Delphi Academy and the World Literacy Crusade more than five years ago. I found Delphi to be an excellent school that was dedicated to empowering its students by giving them educational tools that encouraged them to develop good learning habits and to think for themselves. I proudly wear the hat that founder the Rev. Alfreddie Johnson gave me – a symbol of his commitment to provide the freedom and power that comes with access to written word.

The article on Delphi and the WLC has hints of “only whites know what is best for black people.” I am most disturbed that you don’t believe that people have the capacity to think for themselves. These programs are helping young people. We need to support them, not put them down.

Mel King, Boston

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