Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Willful ignorance and fear about public education PART 2: Senator Buttars' constitutional amendment to give the legislature control over curriculum


Senator Chris Buttars literally believes that public education in Utah has been subverted to promote socialism/communism/anything not in agreement with the political views of Oak Norton. His solution is to make a subtle change in the state constitution. Buttars' SJR 1, proposed amendment to the Utah State Constitution. More after the quotes from the news report on his part at the Eagle Forum convention in Salt Lake City.


"We're in big trouble in our public education system. I didn't realize how much until a month ago when I was asked to chair public education appropriations," said Buttars. "We met and when we got done we were all so terrified we couldn't believe it. This was right under our nose."

Buttars' positition as the chair of the Public Education Committee means he has the power to make this plan a reality.

"Socialists have found that the best way to change a country is not by a revolution," said parent and Eagle Forum panelist Susie Schnell. "Teach children the concepts at a very young age so by the time they're ready to vote they'll vote for the right candidates. Hence, Democratic Socialism."

Panelist Oak Norton refers to Kleon Skousen's 1961 book The Naked Communist.

"In that book he lists 45 goals of the Communists," said Norton. "One of them is to get control of the schools. Soften the curriculum. Put the party line in textbooks."

These party lines, Norton says, are things like global warming, gay rights, and teaching students to question absolutes.

"By accepting that, there's no God because he deals in absolutes," said Buttars. "This is an entire program to bring America down and I want to tell you right now it's well entrenched in Utah."

Schnell and Norton have been on a crusade for over a year, claiming that the Alpine School District in Utah County and BYU are secretly promoting socialism. The viewpoint and the evidence it is based on is stupid. There is no other way to put it.

I think Norton can make legitimate complaints about whether the school board listens like any government body, but the political and religious backing for the socialism charges is stupid and offensive.

Politically, they told the school board that Cleon Skousen's The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America would be acceptable curriculum materials. Skousen was not a true historian and his books are political views poorly supported by history rather than history. (I have read both of those books--well parts of the huge Making of America-- and actually agree with many of Skousen's larger points, but he is not a credible person to me on many levels and I disagree with his pseudo-scholarly method of trying to assign credibility to his views. Using his other book as evidence of the "Communist plot" is not compelling evidence.) I would be the angry parent at the school board meeting if a public school were basing curriculum off of Skousen. It is ironic that the people claiming the schools are pushing political viewpoints are the ones actually attempting to get the schools to teach their political views.

Religiously, teaching students that academically they have must have evidence to back up their claims or to fully evaluate both sides of an issue is not teaching them there is no God. Stuff like this only perpetuates a stereotype of Utah County voters not being critical thinkers. Teaching students the current scientific view of evolution is only beneficial to them, even though that socialist BYU Department of Science supports that teaching. Cleon Skousen has also published more false Mormon doctrine that I am aware of than the BYU School of Education. That doesn't mean supporters of his political views also subscribe to his doctrinal mishaps any more than agreeing with John Goodlad that good public education is crucial to our democracy and Republic means BYU and Alpine District endorse every other view Goodlad has ever held.

I've held off from publishing my strong views on the issue, but now they've convinced the head of the Senate Public Education Appropriations committee of their foolishness. Now all of the schools of the state stand accused of secret socialism. It reminds me of when Senator Dayton claimed the International Baccalaureate program was an "anti-American" U.N. plot based on information from the Eagle Forum and Cherilyn Bacon Eagar (Not a coincidence that Eagar is quoted in the 2nd Alpine District link above claiming the whole curriculum is "leftist"). Both of these non-issues are falsehoods based on political ideology and fear rather than fact.

The Utah State Constitution was written so that the State Board of Education has "general control and supervision" of public education, including curriculum, and NOT the political legislature. Based on anecdotal stories from Norton, Schnell, and I'm sure others, Buttars wants to give all that power to the state legislature, which hates big government intrusion except when they are the ones hypocritically intruding. It's SJR 1, a proposal to add only four words to the state constitution. The best way to get a quick explanation is to watch the two minute video at the top of the post.

Another proposal, not numbered and made public yet so I can link it, is the repeated suggestion to make the State School Board a partisan election with the goal of getting candidates elected only after being vetted by the state Republican convention.

Do I perfectly trust any elected official or body, including the state or local school board? No. Do I trust school boards elected in non-partisan, local elections 1000% over the often willfully misinformed and politically vindictive state legislature? Emphatic yes.

Go online and read the state core curriculum, helpfully divided by subject and grade level. Notice the lack of coded socialism. Then contact your state legislator and speak out against both of these proposals. Contact your local school board about an issue you care about and attend a meeting. Enjoy local, non-partisan government and make any earnest proposal to improve it. Do some research and please don't run to the state legislature to override any local decision you disagree with.



Oak said...

Dear teacher,

What you didn't see in this news clip is when I was talking about softening the curriculum as a communist goal from Cleon (with a C not K) Skousen's book is I had just finished talking about the experience of the tens of thousands of children in Alpine School District who for several years were not taught the times tables, long division, or division by fractions. ASD had shut off higher math to tens of thousands of students and it's no wonder that UVU has a remedial math department where 70% of incoming students need remedial math and can’t do college level math.

Without the benefit of you seeing the hour long presentation, you are jumping through a number of hoops that are incorrect. For example, you say that socialism isn't "coded" in the state standards and yet this 6th grade social studies standard can only be interpreted as promoting a socialist position.

"a. Identify rights considered essential for all humans (e.g. health care, education, safety, freedom from fear, freedom of expression)."

When we pointed this out to legislators a couple months ago, one contacted the state board and got the examples removed. Also in the standards we can find several instances of calling the constitution a “living document” and one asks teachers to explain how judicial review “makes the Constitution a living document.” These are false notions that are positions of the extreme left wing in America.

If you have read even part of the Making of America, I find it hard to believe that you would have an issue with it being used as a textbook. Even California was set to use it as a text in the 70’s until the ACLU stopped it on a technicality. The book was formerly approved for use in Utah as a textbook and the State Superintendent of Education at the time wrote a glowing review of the book which almost exclusively gives long clips of original sources from a wide variety of the Founders of this country to illustrate why they phrased the constitution the way they did. It's an incredible textbook.

As for Goodlad and the involvement of ASD and BYU’s Ed school, it runs a lot deeper than you make out. Both of these entities have been presenting at his conferences for the last couple decades. They adopted constructivist math from Goodlad which is why math is so screwed up down here and even around the whole state.

I do favor partisan school board elections for all the reasons shown at this link:

You are also misquoting anything anyone has ever said by saying we believe all candidates need to be vetted by the state Republican convention. Let candidates be vetted by whatever party they want to affiliate with to reduce the number of candidates down to manageable numbers. We elect delegates in our neighborhoods to go represent us in making decisions. Let them decide who they think the best candidate is and then the public can decide if they approve of the choice their locally elected delegate helped make.

Oh and just a warning, when you post media articles you can’t really trust everything they print. I'm sure you know this, but I just wanted to clarify a couple things the press has printed. Nobody has ever accused ASD and BYU of a “socialist conspiracy.” That was one headline from the Daily Herald looking to sensationalize everything that is going on. Is Goodlad a humanist/socialist/atheist? Yes. Do we think all the teachers are pushing that on our children? No.

The Herald also twice quoted me as saying "the federal government is run by the power of God," when what I actually said was I believe the Constitution is divinely inspired. Just a tad different in meaning, and slightly less damaging to public perception. :)

Oak Norton

P.S. Since you bring up my "political views" let me just post a couple links that represent them.


Jared said...

Oak Norton is absolutely correct on this, as is Senator Buttars, Sue Schnell, and those who support restoring the American (and Utah) Constitutional Republic, and restoring (and even improving) Utah's education standards to (and above) their high water mark, which, needless to say, was decades ago. Utah's taxpayer-funded education system is taking two steps back for every step forward, and the so-called 'progressives' have had their chance. They've failed miserably.

It's time to get back to basics and teach the whole truth, and nothing but truth, rather than allowing the continued insertion of propaganda favoring a discredited, radical leftist, extreme political agenda.

It's time once again for individualism rather than attempts to 'calm the herd.' It's time to get back to the Inspired Constitution of the United States of America, and to restore the ingenious words of the Founding Fathers, rather than failed philosophers of the far left, as the core of Utah's education curriculum.

It's time for math that works, accurate, unrevised history, and the elimination of a social agenda in taxpayer-funded schools!

Ok Norton is a man of integrity, honor, and truth, based upon his work so far. So long as he continues to expose the reasons for Utah's failures in our taxpayer-funded education system, and he promotes common-sense solutions, he speaks for the majority of Utah.

99.9% of the Tea Party movement, which numbers in the tens of thousands here in Utah (and growing every day), support the work of Oak Norton, Sue Schnell, and Senator Buttars (in addition to Senator Buttars' constituents).

It would be wise to avoid childish name-calling. Oak Norton isn't stupid, and even those of us who have been handicapped by attending Utah's taxpayer-funded schools can figure that out. The days of being able to character assassinate conservatives, while being able to avoid sullying your own reputation, are over, whether you realize it yet or not.

The world has changed, thanks to the unmasking of socialism here in America. The cat's out of the bag. We know who they are, how they are doing what they are doing, what motivates them, and how to stop them, and the truth about Utah's education failures is spreading like wildfire. The press doesn't realize it, because they think they're still the gatekeepers. They are not.

It's way past time to clean up the mess the radical left has made of our children and our future!

Buffy said...

Go Oak, Susie and Chris Buttars! We need more accountability. When they add the words, "As provided by statute" (meaning, as provided by law) it will mean that schools boards have to abide by the laws which are already in place.

For example, I am aware of no penalties for our local school's lack of compliance with I.53A-13-109. http://le.utah.gov/UtahCode/chapter.jsp?code=53A

I.53A-13-109. Civic and Character Education -- Definitions -- Legislative finding -- Elements.

1. (a) "Character Education" means reaffirming values and qualities of character which promote an upright and desirable citizenry.

(2) The Legislature recognizes that:
(a) Civic and Character Education are fundamental elements of the public education system's core mission as originally intended and established under Article X of the Utah Constitution;

(3) Through an integrated curriculum, students shall be taught in connection with regular school work:
(a) honesty, integrity, morality, civility, duty, honor, service, and obedience to law;
(b) respect for and an understanding of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of Utah;


(g) other skills, habits, and qualities of character which will promote an upright and desirable citizenry and better prepare students to recognize and accept responsibility for preserving and defending the blessings of liberty inherited from prior generations and secured by the constitution.


53A-13-101.4. Study and posting of American heritage documents.
(1) The Legislature recognizes that a proper understanding of American history and government is essential to good citizenship, and that the public schools are the primary public institutions charged with responsibility for assisting children and youth in gaining that understanding.
(2) (a) The State Board of Education and local school boards shall periodically review school curricula and activities to ensure that EFFECTIVE instruction in American history and government is taking place in the public schools.

UtahTeacher said...

Administrative note: Blogger has never caught my spam before, but it filtered out Buffy's comment along with an actual spam. It took me a while to figure that out and retrieve the comment.

UtahTeacher said...


Thank you for your response. You are engaged everywhere and have been very civil in all of my online interactions with you.

1. The Kleon with K was in the channel 13 quote, not from me.

2. I think many of your beefs with the implantation and content of the Investigations Math program are legitimate. I don’t think the program was as horrific as you do, though I know the hasty implementation and lack of training made the weaknesses of over-relying on the program worse, especially in many individual instances.

I think you know that trying to draw a direct causal link to the UVU remedial math statistics is facetious. What’s the explanation for Provo District, Nebo District, and out-of-state students entering with the same poor skills? There is a major, ill-defined societal issue at the root of our college math and academic rigor problems in general. I personally think this article hits at the truth: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700090568/Parental-leadership-and-our-poverty-of-attention.html
No, I am not “excusing” poor teaching or suggesting we don’t investigate effective math programs. But there is no curricular silver bullet, not even Singapore Math, and definitely not Cleon Skousen, that will drastically raise those UVU statistics or test scores apart from other important factors.

I also think your crusade that started with Investigations colors all of your perceptions and actions in regard to public education.

3. You in your comment and the Eagle Forum define what is a “central” position and what is the “extreme left wing of America” in a way that is myopic in my opinion. I think my personal views would actually come much closer to yours than you think about role of government, and I agree that essential rights standard should have been changed. But your political views are not mainstream, not even in Utah. Northern Utah Valley and the Eagle Forum where you were presenting (I am assuming you are a member…) are ultra-conservative by any measure. I’m not advocating the living document definition as used in all forums nationally, but the debate is definitely not “extreme left” vs. mainstream. Anyone who doesn’t interpret the constitution the way you or Cleon Skousen is not inherently “promoting a socialist position.” The huge percentage of people less to the right on the vast spectrum are not Skousen’s naked communists. That instant assertion—e.g. the comment below yours here—is one reason why I called the reasoning for the public education attacks stupid.

I agree there are large differences—culture wars if you will—ongoing in America and school curriculum is one place that takes collateral damage in the fight. Because some national resource(s) that was used in the compilation of the Utah Core reflected different views on the human rights question and Constitution and some of that language was there, it doesn’t mean it was an organized Socialist effort to get people to vote Democratic. You could easily find parents and teachers just in Salt Lake District who hold equally strong opinions as yours that those statements in the curriculum were accurate. And no, I don’t think recognizing that reality is “extreme left” or turning our kids against God. Another example—I personally think the climate change debate is very difficult to draw conclusions about and people I respect fall strongly on both sides of the debate. Lumping anyone concerned about that as a naked communist, conspiracist, whatever, (this from your summarized quote in the KSTU article about Communists sneaking in the party line of global warming and questioning absolutes) is not good thinking.

UtahTeacher said...

4. Skousen’s book is not “scholarship” in the traditional sense. It was “formerly” approved in Utah and everywhere else for good reason. He puts in large excerpts from original sources that appear to back his assertions. From the first chapter of Making of America with his carefully selected quotes passing for biography of the signers, Skousen presents a false picture of the signers of the Declaration and the Constitution as this united block that all agreed on Skousen’s political views with only a few insignificant quibbles. Read any other book about the founding and there was much more contention and diversity of thought than his whitewashed version portrays. The Founding Fathers were not a uniform body of people that would all agree with today’s Tea Party. Later on, Skousen’s views on “the objective meaning” of the constitution are not objective. His break down of each phrase is unique to his book because much of it is politically charged extrapolation, not objective meaning. The Making of America would much more closely match Skousen’s claim of “the party line” being put into a book than those few lines in the curriculum. I think the book has value and is a great resource for someone reading various histories of the nation on their own, but it is not researched, well-supported scholarship or even close to objective enough to be taught in a public classroom.

5. I think identifying constructivist math as a socialist sneaker that is completely attributable to Goodlad further illustrates a lack of using historical perspective. The debate on how kids and people in general learn goes back thousands of years. The particular debates on how best to educate groups of children in American public schools goes back almost 200 years. Learning facts and formulas by drill vs. learning more deeply by constructing the concepts yourself through more personally directed activities is a legitimate, ongoing educational debate independent of who takes which side. When politics or parties get involved or take sides in this debate, they remain periphery to the real difficulty in answering the questions since individual children differ so much. I think consensus is arriving more and more at a hybrid, but I know others would argue with me about that. One’s views here cannot rationally be extrapolated to political views. Therefore, the real issues about communication, public responsiveness, and implementation of Investigations Math are not credible indicators of socialism. It’s an extreme red herring of a viewpoint.

UtahTeacher said...

6. I personally read the Goodlad book on the four values that is the basis of the Alpine District mission statement and participated in our Associates training in conjunction with BYU. I know you guys are full of bologna on this particular “guilt by association” issue. The book maintains that our democracy (NOT a codeword, just common modern usage of democratic participation in government) depends on a well-educated populace capable of critical thought. If students aren’t brought up critically thinking and engaging (being “enculturated” in these positive values), they won’t be able to effectively evaluate information and make good decisions in the public sphere. Or even worse, they won’t even care about important civic issues. Goodlad does not advocate for specific curriculum or philosophy in the book. This relates back to the article I included above about media raising our kids. I think civic and academic apathy have many similar roots.

I strongly agree with these particular viewpoints of Goodlad. I think the four values are important and an excellent basis for the mission statement of a public school district. This does not mean I have read all of Goodlad’s views on every political subject (I have read some other reminiscences of his supporting his “nurturing pedagogy” viewpoint of being inclusive) or that these particular points he makes are inherently “tainted” if he has more liberal views than me. I do not think you believe everything Cleon Skousen ever wrote about LDS doctrine just because you like The Making of America. Your insistence on claiming that any viewpoint agreed upon by Goodlad is socialist/humanist propaganda is like someone claiming that everyone that agrees with Ronald Reagan’s political philosophy also supports selling weapons to Middle Eastern dictators to fight our political enemies.

7. And though I fully know the media misquotes things and rushes summary, I don’t think you can get away with the backpedal that the paper exaggerated the claims and that “Nobody has ever accused ASD and BYU of a “socialist conspiracy.”” The article we’re discussing details Susan Schnell relating the Alpine District to her parents’ escape from Stalinist Ukraine, her “watching for signs of socialism,” and the Alpine District “pushing a dangerous agenda” by following the “socialist agendas” of “educated elites.” The parents warned that removing the supposed codewords wasn’t enough and that “The district's entire philosophy must change.”

I personally heard you on Howard Stephenson’s radio show last March. You claimed that David O.McKay would be turning over in his grave because of the “counter cultural” teachings at the BYU School of Education. You said that Alpine District is the “frontrunner” of a counter-cultural movement teaching men to “Just give yourselves to the state.” You went on how to say how these supposed Alpine teachings “affect the rising generation.” You said that you asked the district to use The 5,000 Year Leap and The Making of America in curriculum. The article says Stephen Pratt gave them copies of the former and showed a slideshow linking the mission statement to pushing “President Obama’s socialist agenda.”

So I think it’s plain. You and others pushed your political views and accused BYU and Alpine District of conspiring to corrupt children. It seems to me that you’re now trying to soften that a little because anyone who knows an Alpine teacher immediately sees that the socialist agenda claims are hyperbolic.

UtahTeacher said...

As for partisan school board elections, I strongly disagree with you. I agree that the public is under-informed about the candidates, but slapping on the party label doesn’t inform. I think partisan labels mislead and political delegate vetting leads to ideological purity, not higher qualifications. Texas’ history standards do not “teach both sides.” They require students to learn about conservative political organizations of the last few decades.

I am not quoting anyone when I say the purpose of partisan school board elections is to ensure members are vetted by the Republican political conventions. I am clearly stating the true practical result of such a law. Most of your arguments involve the supposed superior vetting done by delegates at GOP conventions and ensuring that school board members have the correct ideology.

Your political views in your link are largely LDS doctrine. I like much of what you say. I do not agree with your conclusions on how to politically apply agency, and I definitely do not agree with the allusion that “unity” will come when everyone else comes around to your interpretation of that doctrine. For my doctrinal/political two cents, read any scripture about secret combinations, and I think they apply more clearly to the major political parties than public education.

Utah parent with children in the public schools said...

Really appreciate the sharing of differing views being expressed here. I think if anyting we should have more discussion on what we are dealing with so that everyone can do their research and decide for themselves and take it to the ballot box. Thank you Oak for doing so much by way of your sounding of the alarm. I have long since been concerned with the direction our schools have been going but couldn't really place a finger on it until recently. I saw the documentary, "AGENDA", and so much of what is presented there is crucial to this debate in my opinion. Think everyone should see it. http://agendadocumentary.com/

Oak said...

OK, late response but I finally had time to write. :)

2. I do know that UVU’s remediation rate isn’t solely from ASD. Weak state standards got raised 2 years ago and that takes years to filter through the system. The same thing happened when CA went from one of the top math states to 2nd lowest in the 90’s. They raised their standards around 2000 and have been crawling up from the bottom. However, the former state superintendent Patti Harrington had Investigations and Connected math reviewed and then pulled from the approved math program lists and yet ASD persists in using them in spite of the fact they have no studies to support that position. You are right that this colors my perception of education because I see blatant disregard for children and prideful digging in of heels and it has been incredibly frustrating. My heart breaks for the parents whose children have no understanding of math by the time they graduate. The other day at work I saw a college freshman working on her math homework and glanced at it. She is in remedial math at SLCC doing homework my 8th grader has already passed. It’s pitiful and I blame the colleges of education and district administrators for pushing constructivism so hard.

3. You need to watch the whole presentation before making conclusions about what I was talking about. I showed how Project Follow Through conclusively showed that Direct Instruction was vastly superior to constructivism and other pedagogies. Our DOE is pushing these programs in spite of knowing they are the least effective style of teaching. I then mentioned what Skousen wrote in his book as goals of the communists including softening our curriculum and then provided the evidence of a KGB defector in the 70’s who testified how they got into our school system as a first priority in order to de-moralize our children so they would accept immorality. By doing so, the KGB knew that an immoral people are unable to accept truth when it is presented before them with great clarity. This would allow them to transform the next generation into being willing to accept socialism. I never mentioned global warming in my presentation (though it has been exposed as a farce and used as a method to control energy and push global government). Here’s the thing I don’t get, and I don’t know if you’re LDS or not, but I am. I believe the revelation in what the LDS church calls the Doctrine and Covenants that says God inspired the Constitution. I believe that document in its original intent to be inspired by God. It’s weird to me that people all over the country that believe that are called right-wing extremists by people who don’t believe that. To me it’s a central position for republican government that preserves the rights of the people. People who try to make it into something more or less seem to be extremists to me.

Oak said...

4. I disagree. Skousen’s book is an invaluable resource. The book takes the constitution line by line and shows extended quotes as to what the discussion was in that day that pertained to that very line of the constitution. It’s not politically charged extrapolation, it’s something that pertains to the exact phrase in the constitution. It is suitable for use in the classroom and was previously approved in Utah and received a letter of recommendation from the state superintendent. It was also approved for use in California and was set to become the official state civics text but the ACLU got it shot down on a technicality that one quote from a Founding Father used a dated term they deemed derogatory.

5. Constructivism isn’t attributable to Goodlad, he’s just a supporter of it. At its core it is socialistic in nature. Constructivism emphasizes group work over individual work, and emphasizes the process instead of the results.

6. You said this about Goodlad’s book you read: “The book maintains that our democracy (NOT a codeword, just common modern usage of democratic participation in government) depends on a well-educated populace capable of critical thought.”

Goodlad has said this concerning democracy:

“A whole new cycle is often put in motion wherein the name of the game is eliminating competition. The human motivation is commonly referred to as greed. What appears then to be a sound economic principle is corrupted by lack of moral principle and compassion for humankind. This abuse discredits capitalism as a potential companion of democracy.”

“The human-induced flaw in the practice of capitalism is, of course, the driving concept of unlimited growth. This puts the economic narrative out of sync with those principles of democracy that stress the good of all and fuels excess claims for growth benefiting everyone.”

Tell me that’s not socialism he’s referring to when he uses the word.

Oak said...

7. A conspiracy by definition is an agreement by 2 or more people to engage in an illegal act. I have never implied or said that. The fact that I think we have so many local people to our state engaged in dumbing down our children is more testament to their lack of critical thinking skills than anything else. For several years I heard our administrators repeat the phrase, “all the studies show this is the best way to teach.” It wasn’t until 2009 I filed a GRAMA to see those studies they claimed they had and they couldn’t produce a single study. They never questioned what they were told from prominent national educators. That’s where the conspiracy to dumb down our children exists. The NEA and NSF and DOE are all on the same page to dumb down our children.

Charlotte Iserbyt left the DOE with boxes of documentary evidence in the 80’s that the DOE was intentionally doing this. She wrote “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” and it is free to download at www.deliberatedumbingdown.com. In it she called John Goodlad America’s “premier change agent” for socialism.

On partisan elections, slapping on a party label helps people who don’t look into candidates to choose someone that is closer to their own views. Yes in Utah that means more republican viewpoints would be selected across the state, but that’s representative of the population. By masking it you are saying that it’s best to hide the political positions of people elected to oversee $3+ billion of the state’s budget and the education of the rising generation. There are many reasons for partisan elections beyond this though.

Texas standards do teach both sides. They include talking about the accomplishments of Hillary Clinton and Phyllis Schlafly. They talk about McCarthy’s hunt, and the Venona papers. I think they also added in about 10-15% more minorities who did tremendous things that we should learn about.

Saying my political views are linked to my religious beliefs seems self-evident. How can one separate their religion from their politics? It’s a belief system. That’s like some Catholic politicians that proclaim they are good faithful members, but then say women have the right to choose an abortion. Or an LDS individual who says they believe where the Doctrine and Covenants that the Constitution was divinely inspired, but times have changed so significantly that we can’t rely on that document and need to look to what the world views is good policy. That’s sort of like Jews saying Moses had something in the 10 commandments but times changed so they aren’t needed any more. Principles are principles.

On secret combinations, we certainly agree they are involved in political parties. However, if you think the NEA isn’t a secret combination and the national PTA that goes along with them, I disagree. The NEA just publicly endorsed Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” book which starts off with a tribute to Lucifer. The NEA is all about power.

Oak said...

Just noticed a couple of my posts are missing which are responses to your comments. I'd appreciate it if you would approve them so people don't just see part of my responses.


UtahTeacher said...


I am really sorry for not having responded yet. Just retrieved your other two posts from the spam. Not sure what the deal is with accepting the middle of three, but canning the other two. I have it set for open comments, but the spam filter is new this year. It did catch one legitimate spam in January.

Anyway, I'll reply more here this week.

Oak said...

No problem. Thanks for retrieving them.

UtahTeacher said...

I apologize again for not being more prompt with my replies. I know it's a pain to go back and remember what we each wrote from my experience just now.

2. Oak, I have heard bad stories from the teacher side about the implementation of Investigations. I know it swung the pendulum too far to finding your own understanding, but your blanket hatred of constructivism is still misplaced in my opinion. I’ll address that more further down. I also have spoken with longtime math teachers about how standards have gone down statewide over time as more mandatory math classes have been imposed. Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry now cover less than they did 20 years ago, which causes huge problems when the students hit pre-calculus. As I mentioned in the post before this one, I’m worried about the chosen implementation of Common Core math. I have found out since I wrote that we are one of only 2 states implementing the math standards in the Math 7, Math 8, Math 9 fashion, eliminating the traditional classes. So we will go through a big change and not even be “common” with any state besides Georgia. Not one of the math teachers at my school supports the change, I know many in the district feel the same way, and it appears to be very top-down. Instead of made-up scary stuff about the core not existing, put a bee in the bonnet of your legislator pals to inquire with the State Board why we are making this drastic change through the “common” core instead of implementing the traditional way the same as 30+ other states.

With all of that, I think your pinning Utah’s performance on Alpine District is too narrow. Was that SLCC student from Alpine District? Does SLCC enroll similar percentages of remedial math students as UVU as I suspect? Do you know what percentage of UVU’s students – and further the percentage of remedial math students – come from Alpine District as opposed to Provo District, Nebo District, other areas of the country, and international students? As I said previously, I think there is a broader societal issue involved.

3. I used the information available to me. Is your presentation available online somewhere to watch? (I’ll discuss direct instruction below.) As above, I think the curriculum has gotten “softer” in at least one instance of math. I also think many things have improved. I believe both of these are the results of American societal forces and not a communist infiltration. I think the morals in the community cause the atmosphere in the local school, not vice versa. The school staff, composed of community members, largely reinforces those values. e.g. There are noticeable differences between Alpine District schools and Salt Lake District schools mirroring the very different communities. The “reform” movement blames the ghettoes on the schools rather than the community. Is the family the biggest influence or not? The global warming comment came from kstu’s summary of your comments about the Communist “party line” infiltrating education: global warming, gay rights, and questioning absolutes. Did they misquote you?

I discussed the “inspired” concept a few months ago on the SUMP blog on a post about Columbus. Columbus, Martin Luther, and the US constitution were inspired. None are infallible or scripture. And even more importantly, most view the Cleon Skousen view of the constitution as political interpretation rather than objective truth. The few D&C verses do not inherently lead to the Bastiat/Skousen, everything-is-unconstitutional-except-the-army-and-police viewpoint.

UtahTeacher said...

4. We’ll have to disagree with this one, but I think the current non-acceptance of Skousen as suitable curriculum material anywhere, even in Utah, lends credence to my argument that his positions are not the American mainstream with those who disagree arrayed on the Socialist left. You did inspire me to recheck The Making of America out from the library a few days ago, but I still haven’t gotten back into it. We could discuss some more specifics if we wanted. And on a related note, what do you think of H. Verlan Andersen?

5. Good clarification I think about the origin of constructivism. Here is another example of where I think your “socialist” claims are too broad. The legitimate, ongoing debate comes from child development and observation of students, not politics. Direct instruction is crucial, but rote learning is not the key for all concepts, for all age groups, all the time. We trail Asia in math scores, but they study our schools for how to better teach creativity. Group work and emphasizing process are often important. As anything in life or the gospel, they can be taken too far, but labeling any cooperative learning process or low-risk environment to experiment with new concepts as “socialistic” is silly. Every little league team, beginning orchestra, and online help forum becomes a socialist plot if you extend that argument.

6. Once again, it seems to me that you’re using “socialism” as this catch-all phrase encompassing every possible moral and political evil. Just because the communist government movement menacing the world in the 60’s combined all aspects of atheism and economic socialism, doesn’t mean most atheists are against private property rights and that all people who find aspects of capitalism inhumane desire the return of the Godless USSR. People have many, sometimes conflicting beliefs and change through time. I have no idea when or where Goodlad wrote what you attribute to him. I do not agree with his claim here, but I also sympathize with his worries for those who get ground up in our economic machinery. I do not believe that philosophy permeates the four principles or the emphases we trained on. It was a bunch of patriotic teachers discussing over dinner how to teach critical thinking as a means to produce involved citizenry.

7. Oak, I heard you say what you said about Alpine District being willing front runners teaching socialistic propaganda and about BYU. I’ve read what Susie Schnell has said, and your influence directly lead to Senator Buttars acting on the belief that “an entire program to bring America down” is “entrenched” in Utah’s schools. I browsed through some comments on some of your blog posts as well where you argued anyone claiming you accused the Alpine District of being socialists is twisting your words. It seems to me that you’re trying to parse words and wiggle out of responsibility for your words in the exact same way you accuse the Alpine District of doing with the motto. I don’t think anyone could read and hear your original comments and not think you were accusing both the Alpine District and BYU School of Education of willfully teaching socialism. The example you return to of the district rushing into a math program without adequate evidence does not equate to socialism. I think you have plenty of grounds to rightfully criticize Alpine’s handling of Investigations Math from beginning to end, but your fixation on the claimed socialism aspect eroded your credibility with anyone who knows a teacher.

UtahTeacher said...

7 ½. I think you saw my post about partisan school board elections with my opinion and links to your article and an opposing opinion. I obviously strongly disagree.

We shouldn’t separate our belief systems and our political views, but we must be extremely careful of false applications of our beliefs in the political arena. I think many political concepts not explicitly taught by the LDS church, and even many which I believe oppose LDS doctrine, are argued as if they were doctrine. I think equating the Skousen view of the constitution as equal to scripture is one of these political extrapolations.

I joined the union after the voucher fight opened my eyes to the sad necessity for the union. Do you have a reference for this endorsement of the book and Lucifer tribute? It sounds a little wacky. I know the local AEA and UEA are not secret combinations. I do not agree with every issue the NEA advocates, but the same divisive social issues affect every single national group in this country, from political parties to retail organizations to CPAC. I think that is reflective of the real cultural divides at present in the country. I think most of us tend to think political advocacy for causes we agree with is "positive grassroots involvement" while advocacy for causes we oppose is a “power grab.” I know I do at times. It seems to me that your NEA power comment falls in the same boat. Did you see my response in my other post that I think your support of many, small districts seems to contradict your current state legislative attempt to supersede local control?

Oak said...

It is a little hard to ping pong over a long period of time but I actually enjoy my conversations with you more than most of the people I “debate” online so take that as a sincere compliment. :) It’s a little tiring on the hands though...
2) In 2007 I succeeded with a number of other people in getting our state standards raised. It was a huge deal and the USOE and others were against it but we prevailed. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce rated our old standards a C, and Fordham Foundation gave them a D. Fordham rated our new standards an A-. It is stunning to me that after all the effort we went through to improve the standards that the new board adopted the common core without so much as public hearings. After the struggle a few years back, now it’s just a given to adopt these standards. I don’t get that.
As for your comment on Math 7-9, I don’t fully understand. My understanding was all states that adopted the standards were going to implement what they will call Math 1, 2, 3... and they will be an integrated approach where there is no discrete year of geometry, etc... but a little of everything as it makes sense and builds on itself. The problem for me with this is only the fuzzy math programs that have no good content really support this currently. I thought this was happening everywhere. What are you saying about us and Georgia being the only 2 to implement in this certain way???
By the way, I have not just pinned problems on ASD. I know the problems are statewide (nationwide) but ASD is the poster child for ed reform since they forcibly removed the times tables and long division from K-6 due to Investigations, and the fact that I live here and am most impacted by what they do. I also know a former legislator who several years back said in a committee meeting he was in an ASD parent meeting when they implemented Investigations and they said, “parents, don’t teach your children the times tables at home or you will mess them up.”
3) I have one presentation online at the moment and I’m working on getting the recent one posted. The older one is from a conference last September and can be viewed here if you want to see it (45 minutes total):
I don’t want to make you want a 45 minute presentation but I’d be curious what your reaction is to it.
On the KSTU comments, I never mentioned global warming in my presentation at the recent Eagle Forum conference which I think is what that news report is about. Nor did I speak about gay rights. Susie Schnell I think may have said something but any time the news pulls out a sound bite from a presentation it’s going to lack context. My comment made me sound odd since I laid ground work for several minutes before making the comment.
4) I don’t think there is a “non-acceptance of Skousen” as suitable curriculum material. His book The Making of America was previously approved for use in Utah but the NCCS that publishes it hasn’t resubmitted it as a text so it’s dropped off the list as do other texts after about 5 years. I have encouraged them to resubmit it.
On H. Verlan Anderson, I was recently given his short book, Many are Called but Few are Chosen, and I have to admit I’m really enjoying the book and the clarity he writes with. I haven’t read any of his other works though. Are you pro or con on him?

Oak said...

5) Online forum help is socialistic? Wait till I tell my friends! ;)
What I’m trying to say is, assume for a minute that a socialist has the opportunity to design an education system. How would he go about it? He would want it to mirror socialism as far as possible and since socialism relies on a dumbed down population, it would include a gradual dumbing down where parents might not notice (ie. Investigations/constructivist style teaching that is very unbalanced). I’ve never said teachers should not use constructivism in the classroom, but as a curriculum that excludes the direct instruction it’s a huge problem.
Dr. Schmid at Harvard said, "A TERC teacher doesn't explain, and a TERC teacher doesn't teach! I don't want to be misunderstood: group learning and discovery learning are parts of the tool chest of every accomplished teacher, but it is folly to turn these techniques into an ideology. If we mathematicians had to re-discover mathematics on our own, we would not get very far! And indeed, TERC does not get very far. By the end of fifth grade, TERC students have fallen roughly two years behind where they should be."
John Goodlad, a prominent national educator has said, "Enlightened social engineering is required to face situations that demand global action now. Education is a long-term solution. ... Parents and the general public must be reached also ... Otherwise, children and youth enrolled in globally oriented programs may find themselves in conflict with values assumed in the home. And then the educational institution frequently comes under scrutiny and must pull back."
6) Socialism is Satan’s plan. Over the course of our lives we have seen society gradually move toward this model because it takes no effort to move in that direction and the education establishment is geared toward moving us in that direction. At the national level this is well documented in Charlotte Iserbyt’s book, “The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America” in which she outlines the federal DOE’s heavy involvement to push us in that direction (www.deliberatedumbingdown.com has it in a free pdf). In this book she calls John Goodlad “America’s premier change agent.” Goodlad’s influence is huge in education and he has a stated agenda. You can see the latest of his agenda items at http://nnerpartnerships.org/ where he’s holding a conference on how to implement social justice in the classroom, and a little further down the gay agenda.

Oak said...

Other) Skousen’s view of the constitution as scripture isn’t just his view. I could pull up several examples from Pres. Benson, McKay, and others, but here’s one I quickly found from J. Reuben Clark in General Conference 1957:
Constitution Is Part of My Religion
Having in mind what the Lord has said about the Constitution and its Framers, that the Constitution should be "established, and should be maintained for the rights and protection of all flesh,"(D&C 101:77) that it was for the protection of the moral agency, free agency, God gave us, that its "principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind,"(D&C 98:5) all of which point to the destiny of the free government our Constitution provides, unless thrown away by the nations - having in mind all this, with its implications, speaking for myself, I declare that the divine sanction thus repeatedly given by the Lord himself to the Constitution of the United States as it came from the hands of the Framers with its coterminous Bill of Rights, makes of the principles of that document an integral part of my religious faith. It is a revelation from the Lord. I believe and reverence its God-inspired provisions. My faith, my knowledge, my testimony of the Restored Gospel, based on the divine principle of continuous revelation, compel me so to believe. Thus has the Lord approved of our political system, an approval, so far as I know, such as he has given to no other political system of any other people in the world since the time of Jesus.
The Constitution, as approved by the Lord, is still the same great vanguard of liberty and freedom in human government that it was the day it was written. No other human system of government, affording equal protection for human life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, has yet been devised or vouchsafed to man. Its great principles are as applicable, efficient, and sufficient to bring today the greatest good to the greatest number, as they were the day the Constitution was signed. Our Constitution and our Government under it, were designed by God as an instrumentality for righteousness through peace, not war.
On the NEA, I have the intro quote and link here:
On your other comment about my support for small districts and state legislative control being contradictions, I didn’t see your post. Wish I had time to read everything I want to and not just feel like I have to respond to so many things. To be brief, I want local control but when we have none and feel that our rights are being abused, then I believe we must appeal to higher powers for protection or intervention if the case may be. This was the situation when I couldn’t get rid of Investigations in spite of thousands of parents hating it. I went to the state board and USOE and Patti Harrington removed it from the approved list. She also reviewed and removed Connected math so neither one can be used as a primary curriculum but only as a supplement. ASD is STILL using both these programs as primary programs and not only as supplements and doing tremendous harm to children.
Phew. My hands are sore and my work day hasn’t even started. :)

Oak said...

Oh, one last comment... There is a small book called the Leipzig Connection that outlines the beginnings of the modern day education movement and how atheist/socialist psychologists took us down this road. The thinking has always been around moral relativism under the assumption that if there is no God, then there is no source of absolute truth, and if there is no absolute truth then we need to embrace relative truth by democratic means. This is what Goodlad is expert at. One other quote from him:
“Educators must resist the quest for certainty. If there were certainty there would be no scientific advancement. So it is with morals and patriotism.”
As Dallin Oaks' recent talk shows, Goodlad's philosophy leads to a loss of religious freedoms.