Animal Farm Cleverly Disguised to Promote Marxism

Think your child is insulated from progressive education just because you’re at a charter school? Think again. Read this letter I recently received from a parent.

My son was indoctrinated in Marxist philosophy in his eighth grade English class at his Utah County charter school.

I was delighted when the class was assigned to read the George Orwell classic, Animal Farm, which exposes the evils of Stalinist communism. One day a piece of paper from my son’s backpack caught my eye with the words, “Utopia Project”. Utopia. Communist buzzword. In this group project, based on their reading of Animal Farm, the students were to construct a system of government on an island (social constructivism). The project took a totally objective approach to governmental systems, as though all types of governments are valid and open to consideration. The teacher emphasized the need to be open minded about various types of governments. Based on what my son told me, there was apparently no distinction between governments of tyranny and governments of freedom; worse, there was no instruction or research on governments at all.

The project was filled with leading questions suggesting some of the most radical limits on individual liberty, limits found in communist nations such as:

• Would the government provide equal housing?
• Would the government assign individuals to their jobs?
• Would the government put a limit on the number of children a couple can have?
• Are people “entitled” to entertainment, which could then be provided for free?
• Would the government distribute food in equal “rations”?
• Would people live not as family units, but be housed in government, non-family, group housing?

The students could only be directed toward devising a communist government because the only questions and possibilities involved the ones listed here. These are anathema to liberty-loving Americans and constitutional government as established by our founding fathers. They should not be suggested, even in the form of questions, to 14-year-olds in an English class who have been given no background in civics and history, and have no business setting up a fantasy government. Our founders extensively studied the Greeks, Romans, English law, native American tribal law and other cultures to come up with our constitutional government, which has outshined and outperformed every government known to man. Why even suggest replacing our divinely-established system with communist practices?

Animal Farm is celebrated for its anti-Stalinist revolutionary theme. In true “social constructivist pedagogy” the book was twisted into a piece of propaganda to get the children to have open minds about anti-family, Marxist practices. I was very disturbed that following this project, my son said he now feels it is acceptable and even desirable for the government to place a limit on the number of children that couples can have!

When we objected to the teacher she gave us pat answers and denied that she was trying to imply to the students that there may be a better way to do things than we do here in America. Then just what was she trying to do? Our concerns seemed to go right over her head. She was evasive when I asked her the source of the project. When we contacted the principal, he was very responsive and took swift, strident action to make sure the teacher understood why the project was in error and to make sure she would revise it. This teacher had graduated from the BYU School of Education the previous year.

Obviously, a lot of children in this area are going to say “no” to #3 and “live as families” to #6, but to put the other questions to young children who have no background in issues of tyranny and freedom is crossing the line into indoctrination. Talk with your children about the books they are reading in school. Many of them aren’t allowed to bring their books home. One reason is teachers want to ensure the books are in class the next day, but it’s also to prevent parents from seeing what the children are being taught (or not taught in the case of fuzzy math).

43 Responses to “Animal Farm Cleverly Disguised to Promote Marxism”

  • Mary Mostert:

    This is an example of a trend that began years ago to teach children to make decisions without having the facts they need to MAKE an intelligent decision. It is this kind of instruction that has produced a media that provides opinion instead of facts of an issue. For example, the New York Times announcing with no facts that the murders in Tucson were “caused” by “right wing” talk radio and Sarah Palin.
    Mary Mostert

  • Starting to Wake up:

    I just found out tonight that my 9th grade son is reading ANOTHER book on racial inequality in his English class. This book is about a black boy who gets killed by 2 white policemen. Supposedly, just because they were white and there was an all white jury, the men were set free, getting away with murder. My son said this started the black civil rights movement. I don’t remember learning this in school. True or not, I’ve noticed a few of these racially-themed book assignments that make whites look bad so I asked him if he also studies poetry, diagrams sentences and all those things I did as a 9th grader along with reading a variety of stories and themes. He said, “No mom, the 9th grade English theme is only about Tolerance and Acceptance. That’s the theme for the year.” It must just be an old-fashion idea to actually teach English skills without social justice mixed in. Then he let me know that Obama’s picture is proudly displayed on this teacher’s desk (or wall). Nice to know our kids get to see their teacher’s allegiance each day as they learn social justice. Gee…most people just put a picture of their FAMILY on their desk.

    My daughter’s 6th grade teacher read several books to her class about limiting families to 2 children. If the family had 3 children, the 3rd child was either killed or had to go into hiding. My son told me tonight that he had to read similar stories last year. Since neither the books nor the classwork ever comes home, I had no idea.

  • Caseandpoint10:

    This whole story kind of puzzles me. This project wasn’t replacing America as I understand it, it sounds as if it was creating a hypothetical island and the students were to devise government, this sounds like a reasonable excersize. I’ve been on board with a lot of what you have done here (I’ve even signed the petition) however I am getting concerned about the growing number of ‘boy cried wolf’ stories I find here. Let’s be reasonable and not get carried away on mischaracterizing everyone and their motives. And what’s wrong with a picture of the president being on the wall of a teachers classroom? This was my experience all throughout my education, seeing presidents I liked and disliked displayed throughout the school (so you could know American History). And finally, its not conservative to be evasive about our nations somewhat poor history on black relations.

  • Starting to Wake Up:

    Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s essential to teach about prejudice and tolerance on all angles. America certainly has some bad history (and even some current issues) which should be taught so our children learn from it. My frustration is that the entire year is based on only that popular theme so they are being bombarded with it. I believe that America’s children are being taught that America is evil much more than they are taught that America is great. Given this lesson over and over without balance sets them up to be in favor of social justice and redistribution of wealth. As far as the Presidents, your point is good, but did this same teacher have a single picture of George W. Bush on his desk a couple years ago? Most teachers put up a picture of all the presidents. I’d rather see more balance in an English class instead of just one theme, in this case can be pretty one-sided.

  • Caseandpoint, what’s the purpose of school? Is it to educate or indoctrinate? If it’s to educate, wouldn’t a teacher be presenting students with knowledge and *then* asking them to use it? I would love to see students that have studied both the Constitution and the Communist Manifesto be asked to construct a form of government for an island and have an open discussion about it, along with the teacher being well versed in the Constitution and perhaps the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers lead a discussion on why our country is so much superior to totalitarian governments. However, far too many teachers don’t understand the concept of a republic, let alone how to make this type of exercise a truly educational experience.

    Since these students have essentially no background in governmental issues, the construction of the Constitution, what checks and balances are, why freedom maximizes benefits for everyone in society, and why socialism puts everyone in bondage, it is clearly not educational but indoctrination to ask them some of these questions. If a child is presented with a question like “would the government distribute food in equal rations?” and that child has no background in facts about our Constitution and freedom, how will that child answer? Most are going to reason within themselves, “well, since government is passing out food, everyone should get equal food” and they won’t realize there is a different way. They may not even think about the question of whether or not government should be in the business of passing out food. I don’t think anyone is taught the true history of Thanksgiving anymore and how when everyone got equal food, they all almost starved to death and the great holiday of Thanksgiving came about when the people had unequal food based on what they produced. (link: http://mises.org/daily/336)

    It’s hard to fathom why a 9th grade English class would focus on a theme of “tolerance and acceptance” for the year when they should be diagramming sentences and learning the structure of language. No wonder college professors complain about how stupid kids are that come to them from high schools because they can’t write a sentence let alone a paper. Schools should focus on academics.

  • Jennifer:

    We have had the same experience as the letter-writer. Our children say everyone has their own idea, and there is not right or wrong or better or worse. Debate is very effective in teaching this, and I would say indoctrinating because the students end up believing the idea of no right or wrong. What is the point of discussing or debating, if not to come up with the best idea? Why have students construct this island society? There must be a purpose, not just a fun exercise, and I believe the purpose is to indoctrinate our children into socialism. The purpose of teaching the wrongs of our country, and only that, is so that the students will believe that our country’s system is wrong, and therefore needs to be changed, of course to socialism. Again, there must be a purpose in all that is taught, not just a fun exercise, and I see so many students believing no right or wrong. The problem is that all the teachers come from the same training, and even if they teach at a charter school they are teaching the same principles. That is why the NEA is so adamant that teachers must be certified, which is actually indoctrination. I talk to a niece who is a teacher, and illustrate the socialism in her methods and teachings, and every time I do she pauses and then a light comes on, and she says “Oh, yeah.” Because the teachers, and we, were not taught the principle of our free country, we don’t recognize the errors of socialism. I want my children to first have a solid foundation of our founding, then when they’re older, say in high school, they study socialism, etc, and can see the error and recognize people’s words and actions as based in freedom or socialism.

  • Dougc:

    Who are you fighting Oak? Who is the real enemy?

    If you are angry about something and you are given a loaded machine gun, you’d better have a clear sense of where your target is before you pull the trigger. Shooting wildly at everything that moves with such a powerful weapon is no way to gain positive results.

    Let me provide a few examples. I will respond first to Jennifer:

    When I have taught my own children about the beauty of America and our Constitution, I have *always* had them read the Communist Manifesto. I have *always* asked them to read Animal Farm. Lately, I want them to read Steinbeck’s _In Dubious Battle_ and Sinclair’s _The Jungle_ as well. These books are all designed to teach socialism and marxism, and they’re not thinly disguised either.

    Jennifer says, “The purpose of teaching the wrongs of our country, and only that, is so that the students will believe that our country’s system is wrong, and therefore needs to be changed, of course to socialism.” Rather than deciding that statement is offensive, I will simply state that either I have misunderstood your meaning, or it sounds like something someone would say if they have never read the books I have mentioned, and never realized that our founding fathers studied their enemies in order to be absolutely sure to create a nation where the enemies can be thwarted at every turn. Anyone who studies governments but refuses to study books about socialism is burying their head in the sand. Jennifer, perhaps you have read those books and either I have misunderstood you or we have different approaches to education. There is nothing wrong with that.

    Oak says, “Many of them aren’t allowed to bring their books home. One reason is teachers want to ensure the books are in class the next day, but it’s also to prevent parents from seeing what the children are being taught (or not taught in the case of fuzzy math).” Oak, who did you talk to for the information that a charter school in Utah County is preventing “parents from seeing what the children are being taught”? Is this your own assumption? The article was written as if it were fact. Please reveal your sources. I would also be interested in knowing the school and teacher you are referring to.

    Oak says, “what’s the purpose of school? Is it to educate or indoctrinate? If it’s to educate, wouldn’t a teacher be presenting students with knowledge and *then* asking them to use it? I would love to see students that have studied both the Constitution and the Communist Manifesto be asked to construct a form of government for an island and have an open discussion about it, along with the teacher being well versed in the Constitution and perhaps the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers lead a discussion on why our country is so much superior to totalitarian governments.”

    I’m going to take you up on your offer, Oak. I know a teacher teaching in a charter school in Utah County with those qualifications. If you truly want to “see students that have studied both the Constitution and the Communist Manifesto… ” and you want to see a simulation done about constructing a form of government for an island, etc. Then, I will tell you exactly where and when you can see it. In fact, I know more than one teacher qualified, and at more than one charter school too.

    Oak continues, “However, far too many teachers don’t understand the concept of a republic, let alone how to make this type of exercise a truly educational experience.” You might be right. You love statistics and tables and such, so I’m sure you have the data to back it up. You started with specifics and ended with wide sweep of a generalization. Which teachers, specifically are you talking about who “don’t understand the concept of a republic” ? We’re not talking about ASD anymore, we’re talking about charter schools. Are you sure that the same teachers who are teaching Animal Farm in the classroom do not understand these things? I’m saying that you might be right, but I hope you have more information about it than “A parent told me a story about what their student said at home”

    Oak continues, “Since these students have essentially no background in governmental issues, the construction of the Constitution, what checks and balances are, why freedom maximizes benefits for everyone in society, and why socialism puts everyone in bondage, it is clearly not educational but indoctrination to ask them some of these questions.”

    Which students have “essentially no background in governmental issues… ” etc? I suppose if you tell me which school you are talking about, we can have a better discussion. Since you didn’t say, “If these students have essentially no background… ” then you must have already looked at the curriculum for the school you are talking about to be sure that they have no such background. If you have not, please let us know. You said, “it is clearly not educational but indoctrination”. I think the only way to make absolutely *certain* that it really is clear, then you have probably visited the classroom and seen it with your own eyes. If you are using strong words like “clearly not educational” then I hope you have more than anecdotal evidence passed from teacher to student to parent to you.

    I am going to wrap up my rant (yes, I know this is a rant) here. Oak and I are good friends and I value our friendship a great deal. Yes, I feel this article is over the top and that Oak is attacking one of his greatest allies, not one of his enemies. Oak and I have different ways of fighting the same battle. This is where I admit that I am an elected board member of a charter school in Utah County, one where I know they have recently been reading from Animal Farm. In fact, I will further admit (for full and honest disclosure) that my wife teaches 8th grade at this same charter school and has recently been teaching Animal Farm, Communist Manifesto, and even some of Thomas More’s Utopia. If you think for 1 second that we are involved (even if you think we are naively duped) in promoting or indoctrinating communism, socialism, or marxism, then you have a lot to learn about education and good people who are trying to do just the opposite.

    Education is our life, and we talk about it every day with each other, and our children, friends and neighbors. This is not an exaggeration, and Oak himself knows it to be true. Oak, your goals are good, but sometimes your aim if off (my opinion). You and I have the same goals, but different approaches. At the moment, I am focusing my efforts in doing what I can to help make one great charter school even better. So far, I think I’ve been able to help. Oak, you have always looked at the bigger picture, and you have made a lot of amazing and excellent progress. When you’re up near the top of things, and taking aim, please be sure that your machine gun isn’t hitting your allies on the ground.

    I welcome any and all discussion and criticism. I am far from perfect, but I am glad that I have been able to make positive changes in the last couple years. It’s a slow process (sometimes too slow!) but every effort is worth it.

    Keep up the good work everyone, especially you Oak. You’re amazing. I’ve said it before, and I know I’ll say it again.

  • Anonymous:

    First of all, I would like to commend the parent for being involved in her son’s education and taking action. The reading of “Animal Farm” was viewed as a positive assignment; however, the teacher’s “Utopia Project” was the issue of conflict. “Animal Farm” as stated, is a work of fiction that exposes the realities of communist/Stalinist governments. Yet this teacher – similar to the very theme of the book – turned the book into a propaganda machine. I was very relieved to read that the principal took “swift and strident” action.
    As was stated, our Constitutional form of government is based upon Greek, Roman, English, Native American Tribal law – so to have young children exposed to “Utopian” philosophizing instead of the facts and knowledge and history of this nation is simply the wrong choice for a teacher or educator. Teach the history of our nation and use the book the “Animal Farm” appropriately in the education process.

  • Doug, thanks for the boot to the head. :) I probably would have preferred a quick phone call, but on occasion a verbal boot is probably called for. I’m more than a little sick inside thinking you thought anyone was talking about your wife. I love and appreciate our friendship and if you thought this happened to be at your school because you happen to be reading Animal Farm there, I’m glad to say it’s not your school. This was not even at a charter school inside Alpine School District. I only left in the word “charter” because there is a general feeling (among some parents that have emailed me), perhaps in part created by our efforts a few years ago to promote charter schools that teach Saxon math, that once parents got their children in there they could relax thinking everything was OK. Problems don’t cease just because people change the scenery for their children. You’ve seen some of the other posts I’ve made such as the teacher in Davis district who told students their parents lie to them. I left out the name of the school to let people realize that they need to be aware of their children’s education no matter where they live, no matter what type of school it is.

    This parent who wrote this article had a discussion with her child to see what all was being taught and there was no foundation. I’m quite sure in your wife’s situation this would be different since I know full well that she’s grounded in the Constitution and would lay a proper framework. I can’t imagine you would argue that all the history teachers in the state are properly grounded in the Constitution or what a republic is. No I don’t have the numbers on that, but I think based on what’s happened in many anecdotal stories is pretty good evidence that some educators and administrators are either clueless or even subversive in their promotion of social justice in the classroom. As for students who aren’t allowed to bring home their books, again, I don’t have hard evidence from a teacher actually saying, “we don’t send them home so parents don’t know what we’re teaching,” but there have been a lot of frustrated parents over the years that have emailed me and said to the effect, “I try to stay involved in my child’s education and I had no idea this was happening.” I wasn’t attempting to shoot anyone, let alone wildly. The purpose was to just encourage parents to stay involved no matter where their children are, regular public, charter, private, religious, or military.

  • cea7of9:

    Oak, I would like to know what school that was or if you could have the mother send me an e-mail. I would appreciate it because we are looking into two charter schools for next year and I would not want to erroneously choose this one. Thanks!

  • The point here isn’t one particular school. Things can happen anywhere and in this case the parent went in and the principal took action to correct things. I’d be grateful to have a principal at a school where issues were dealt with because that’s not always the case. If you’re shopping for a charter school, that might be a good place to start with a conversation with the director/principal.

  • Marjohna:

    I was taught using Animal Farm way (and I mean Way) back when I was in school. I was asked to write a paper about it. I correctly comprehended the theme of anti-communism and carefully made my case in the paper. I was surprized and disturbed (I still cared what my teachers thought of me and about my grades at that time) when my teacher denounced my interpretation. I honestly thought at the time that I had it all wrong. It was not until later when I read a preface in a different edition of the book in which biographical information about George Orwell was given, including the fact that he had been a communist and then become disillusioned about it and had written Animal Farm in condemnation. It was then that I realized that, like most of the materials that I was assigned to read in school, the teacher had selected Animal Farm because George Orwell was a communist. I then comprehended her comments in a new light and realized that she believed it condemned capitalism!
    Public schools, charter and otherwise, are Animal Farm and if any teachers want to effectively teach the right form of government, I suggest you live it first.

    As to the teaching of the wrongs of American History, as most have been concerned, my experience is that it is done in order to give the consistently negative impression of Our Nation. There are plenty of examples of people doing the right things that are consistently left out. I recently produced a unit on the Civil War for PRIVATE high school. In the effort to vilify white folk, America, Christianity, etc. and to be divisive, these are just some of the things that are left out of any course of instruction I experienced in public school. Just let me know if you have ever heard of them. Booker T. Washington, his book Up From Slavery (now there is a book worth studying for Tolerance and Acceptance Year) and his school, Tuskegee built on land donated by southern whites, voluntary associations of private citizens who raised money and conducted projects for the benefit of freed slaves called Freedmen Societies, many schools established by churches and philanthropical entities for freed slaves, including Howard University, hundreds of Northern teachers traveling at their own initiative and expense into the south to teach freed slaves how to read using the Bible, the life-long friendship between Taylor Blow (white son of Dred’s former slave owner) and Dred and Harriet Scott (he purchased their freedom when the activist courts failed them) Roswell Field, the lawyer who presented the Dred Scott case to the Supreme Court, the efforts of Pres. Ulysses S. Grant to protect the civil rights of freed slaves in the south, and I dare not leave out, the account of Booker T. Washington of how freed slaves financially cared for their former owners who were left old and destitute after the war, etc.

  • Karin:

    My son participated in an exercise similar to this last year at probably the same school. I/we, however, had a much different experience with it than this parent. The teacher is an excellent teacher. My son and I spoke about the project and I asked him many questions how he thought ‘his government’ would work long term or in the “big picture.” This exercise actually got him more interested and he has since read “1984” “Atlas Shrugged” and “Anthem” all on his own. He has a VERY conservative viewpoint as do I. I felt that the excercise was a lesson in “how to think” not “what to think” Which I FULLY support.

  • Oremmom:

    To the person whose daughter 6th grade teacher read the books about limiting families – For the example you gave, I bet the book was, “Among the Hidden” (first book of the Shadow Children series). If you read the entire series, you’ll find that it’s actually a good case against limiting children. It was very much had an agenda against totalitarianism.

    I spend a lot of time reading current teenage books just so I can know what my teenagers are reading and what kind of books are out there for the teens. Some of them I am pleased with (like the Shadow Children series), others are just plain horrifying. (And I also spend a lot of time reading classics as well, so I can recommend books that will stretch their minds too!)

  • Red-Neck:

    If this assignment is anything like I had to participate in then the students did this after the book was read in which case they already had an idea what kind of Government Communism is and some of the effects of Communism. When the paper says Utopia it probably is using the word literally as in your world or your-topia. If the students are even half informed on politics they’ll know what happens in a Communist society and therefore the Questions are probably not meant to lead students to think communism is a good thing but trying to get students to think about what they’ll have in their Government.

  • Dougc:

    Hey Oak,

    Yeah, I knew the article wasn’t talking about my wife or her teaching, but it could have been. By that I mean a few things. My wife, as a teacher, isn’t perfect either, and occasionally assignments or their meaning/purpose is lost on a few (or more) students. What that student portrays to their parents may not be even 10% of what was really discussed in the classroom. In the case presented in this article, perhaps the parent was right on, especially if the principal felt it necessary to provide “swift, strident action to make sure the teacher understood why the project was in error and to make sure she would revise it.”

    If the teacher, as mentioned by RobinHvidston did turn the book in to a propaganda machine, then she was doing her students a disservice. RobinHvidston is also correct in giving kudos to the parent who wrote to you for being involved in their child’s education.

    Oak says, “I only left in the word “charter” because there is a general feeling (among some parents that have emailed me), perhaps in part created by our efforts a few years ago to promote charter schools that teach Saxon math, that once parents got their children in there they could relax thinking everything was OK.”

    I agree with your concerns, and perhaps I would not have been so defensive if you had come out and said it. I may have misread your opening line of the article, but it sounds much like you’re saying that charter schools are no better than ASD itself.

    You continue, “This parent who wrote this article had a discussion with her child to see what all was being taught and there was no foundation.”

    Kudos again to this parent for being so involved in their child’s education. It sounds like in this situation the proper groundwork was not there because the teacher hadn’t laid the groundwork. In other cases, some students may be sitting in the same discussions and lacking the proper groundwork because they were not paying attention when it was presented.

    You continue, “but I think based on what’s happened in many anecdotal stories is pretty good evidence that some educators and administrators are either clueless or even subversive in their promotion of social justice in the classroom.”

    Do you mean in charter schools, ASD, or Utah teachers in general? Yes, I agree, there is evidence that seems to support it. Not so much with certain charter schools, and hopefully not as much with most charter schools. I only have experience with less than a handful of charter schools, so I really can’t say.

    You say, “The purpose was to just encourage parents to stay involved no matter where their children are, regular public, charter, private, religious, or military. ”

    I am glad to hear it, but my main point (that may have been lost in my ranting) was that even if that idea is clear in your mind, it did not come out that way in my interpretation of your article. The article’s tone seems to condemn all charter schools, and even if it is only condemning one charter school, is it just? For example, cea7of9 asks, “Oak, I would like to know what school that was or if you could have the mother send me an e-mail. I would appreciate it because we are looking into two charter schools for next year and I would not want to erroneously choose this one.” cea7of9 has already condemned that entire charter school (and not just 1 teacher) based on this article. Will another reader condemn the whole charter school movement next?

    Oak says, “I wasn’t attempting to shoot anyone, let alone wildly. ”

    I know that Oak. But what you intended and what has actually happened might not be the same thing. And maybe I am over-reacting. However, I sincerely hope that we don’t move onward with burning great books like Animal Farm, or Utopia. These authors have opened my eyes to the dangers of socialism, and 8th grade is not too early to teach it to our children. Finding enough teachers with grounded principles can be difficult, and that’s where many schools may have fallen short, but that’s my opinion.

  • Thanks Doug. I can appreciate your comments about your wife’s teaching more than you know. I’ve taught for years at church and sometimes you say something that doesn’t come out right and kick yourself when you hear someone say, “so you think XYZ?” and it’s so far off from what you meant you wonder how anyone misinterpreted it. :) Of course, a forum like this can be the same way…

    In looking over my comments before and after the letter, I notice that at the top, I was talking about charter schools (and very briefly at that), and at the bottom I was talking about schools in our area in general. There were some things I should have mentioned as well but being pressed for time didn’t, but you just did such as kudos to the parent and the principal for their involvement and getting things straightened out within the system.

    As for my feelings toward charter schools, I’m a little surprised you thought they were less than very positive in general, and some schools I’m really impressed with (one being Mountainville Academy where our younger children attend). There have been 2 specific instances of things happening at charter schools where people have emailed me the last few years where I became concerned with things, but in general, I think charters are better run because they are a district of 1 school with very high parental involvement. This particular charter school mentioned above, I’m not worried about for the reason that it sounds like the director is responsive and involved with parental concerns.

    Some of the district schools are also well run and score well. Naturally every school runs better with involved parents. I know from what one principal related to me that teachers perform better when they know they are being watched by parents (that’s not just anecdotal either :)).

  • Anonymous:

    If Animal Farm was promoting Marxist Socialism, why was it banned in the Soviet Union? Why is it still banned in China, Cuba, and North Korea? Apparently those Marxist regimes don’t look at the book as friendly to their ideology. I think the project is a great idea in helping students understand what communism is about, not promoting it. We don’t even know how these projects are going to be used in class and the discussions that ensue, yet people seem to easily fill in those wide gaps.

    This reminds me of the communist hysteria of the 1950’s where people were seeing “pinkos” in their sleep. What’s next? These poor teachers are going to be so afraid to say anything about governments or economic systems for fear of being unfairly ostracized on these web sites, that they aren’t going to teach anything about them, including our own American government for fear of saying or doing something wrong. I feel sorry for teachers. Who in their right mind would teach in this kind of nasty environment?

    It is sadly ironic that many who are involved with saveasd or Utah’s Republic are engaging in the same tactics used by the Nazis in Germany or Stalinists in the Soviet Union where teachers and other intellectuals were criticized for not conforming to the party line. Of course, our local intellectuals haven’t been rounded up for incarceration or execution, but there seems to be an effort to ruin the reputations and careers of teachers and schools based on a great deal of conjecture, fear, and hysteria, and personal politics.

  • JM:

    Wow, cea7of9. You don’t get it do you. Oak was only trying to get people to not sit back on the haunches and think they found the safe school to send their kids. Notice it was a new teacher and the principle acted quickly when he found out.

    Oak is just sharing the warning cry to stay alert about school lessons and urging us to actively communicate with our kids.

  • Our “local intellectuals” aren’t being attacked on conjecture, fear, and hysteria. There has been plenty of factual evidence which is plain as day that they have adopted a progressive education agenda. It’s wide out in the open. No need for conjecture. Letters like this from concerned parents only serve as a wake up call for parents to stay involved in their child’s education. Nobody is calling for heads to roll and if you took the time to read all the comments here and articles throughout the site you’d clearly see that. K12 education has a lot of problems, not the least of which is the deliberate dumbing down of America which has been going on for decades through the Department of Education (www.deliberatedumbingdown.com). Look into Project Follow Through if you doubt it.

  • Caseandpoint10:

    Agreed, just making known my concern Oak. Starting to wake up also answered my comments well, I am just a skeptic of getting carried away and taking the eye off the ball. I would love to see a capable teacher (preferrably a civics teacher of some sort) do government simulations, have discussions of what kind of governments are good, Tyranny vs Anarchy discussions, and the fine balance that a Free Republic can bring. Of course I am in that thinking, I don’t want my kid to have a strictly conservative education, they are not prepared to enter the workplace and political arena if they are always babied by everyone. I challenge my kids and teach them correct principals and allow them to govern themselves. I don’t really trust a socialized public school system to really do the job a private system should be doing anyway. I don’t really care if its liberal or conservative, but I do like accuracy, especially from the schools (which is why I totally agree about the use of the word Republic over Democracy). Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud here and I think we could have more momentum if we stopped this mumbo jumbo on stuff like this. Its just not going to resonate with you everyday voter… (and I think we are distracted) Oak, please don’t pretend you are intellectually superior to others, you are the main reason I’m losing interest, not because of what you are always saying but because of the lack of tact and approach with which you say it. I will fight for conservative representation on the board and teach my kids the right way but I won’t get caught up in some of the distracting (and possibly dishonest) witch hunts in the district. No need for McCarthyism…

  • Caseandpoint10:

    Oak, why just a phone call? Open and honest debate. I’m not your enemy either but I am getting more and more concerned with the direction this is going, this article has alarmed me more than any other with where you are leading this group of conservative patriots.

  • I certainly don’t think I’m intellectually superior to others. Now Doug, my good friend that took me to task earlier, is someone who could claim that title even though he wouldn’t. As for my lack of tact, I’m sorry if you think I’m too abrupt, but after 6 years of hearing the nonsense I guess my patience is worn thin. The district never admits fault, they have openly trashed my name in professional meetings, and I’m a little tired of the pat replies like “all the studies show this is the best way to teach” and “just because we follow John Goodlad doesn’t mean we follow *all* of his teachings.” They have no studies and they certainly follow more than Goodlad’s 4 moral dimensions. They teach his seminars and embrace his agenda to the point that we have 4 Goodlad appointed scholars in Utah county. Progressive education is killing America. The lesson I learned during the math fight was no school district will listen to anyone other than their own. If someone brings them direct evidence of the detriment of a program, if their leaders say that person is wrong, even without producing any evidence to the contrary of what has been presented to them, they will believe their own and call the other person a liar.

    Possibly dishonest? Please share your concern.

  • What I wrote was this:
    “Doug, thanks for the boot to the head. :) I probably would have preferred a quick phone call, but on occasion a verbal boot is probably called for.”

    Who wants a detailed written reprimand from a good friend published on a website? You worry me C&P. If I was against open and honest debate this site would have closed comments a long time ago. Why you are alarmed is a real mystery to me. The whole point of this post is to tell parents that no matter where your children attend school you need to stay involved.

  • Woof:

    I have had my children in 4 charter schools here in Utah Valley. I have found that in the 2 charter elementary schools, Noah Webster and Provo Freedom Academy my children are/were being taught out of a very biased anti-american social study curriculum.

    My experience with the 2 charter middle schools, Lincoln Academy and Provo Freedom Academy, and the charter high school, UCAS, curriculum have not been so much with the social studies rather the English programs as has been previously mentioned. I would say that with UCAS some of that comes from its association with UVU and the students getting their Assoc. Degree while also getting their HS diploma.

    As a parent, I have found it increasingly more difficult to trust the elementary and middle school educational facilities we have here because they are unresponsive and reluctant to have parents involved with the actual education of our students. They profess that they want parental involvement but as others have attested that is only if you blindly follow.

    This fall when I brought up the fact that my 5th grader’s Geography/Social Studies book was full of inaccuracies (blatant lies) and an anti-american agenda I was told that was just the way it was because these were fairly new books. This book was used at Noah Webster two years ago as well.

    On another occasion the teacher and principal in a meeting with my husband and I were discussing what was being taught in the classroom and what was being assigned for students to work on. We were told that a teacher is not accountable for what is said in class. We were also told that the teacher has no responsibility for what is assigned and the principal would never require a teacher to give written assignments but the student is accountable for everything. With a system like this, in a school who professes to teach “Freedom”, it is no wonder our country is in as sorry a state as it is.

    I have 6 children ranging in age from 10-27. If you want a education, based on facts and sound academics, in elementary or middle school I would suggest moving out of the state of Utah or home-schooling. Even the liberal state of Colorado had charter schools that offered an education that puts Utah to shame. When we moved here from a rural charter school in Colorado my students were 1-2 grades ahead in their materials.

    I hear many parents say all is well in Utah County. My experience here says “Not so much.”

  • Jared:

    Karin,

    I agree with you 100%. I had the exact same interpretation as you. I’ve attended two very liberal universities and had many liberal teachers in high school, yet I’m about as conservative as a person can be. It’s because I’ve been forced to listen to challenges to my conservative beliefs that I have been able to refine and solidify my positions. Ironically, I’ve been called a socialist on Oak Norton’s other website because I believe it’s been a good thing to have my beliefs and positions questioned. Learning, which includes learning to think for yourself, is the purpose of education.

    But the Oak Norton/Susie Schnell crowd has a different, more radical approach to education. It’s kind of ironic how they believe in socialism when it comes to public education (i.e., they have no problem having the government at the force of a gun tax us to pay for their kids’ public education), but then they have a huge problem with schools even mentioning any social or political theory that is contrary to their conservative beliefs. By extension, Oak and Susie fear the free flow of dialogue. They have deleted several of my comments on both this and their other website. What are they afraid of? If Oak and Susie are so correct, there’s no reason to ever delete my posts. I never use foul language. I never post lies; I simply have a different outlook on what’s going on in the Alpine School District. Oak and Susie, however, fear what I have to say. They are hypocrites; Oak and Susie blow a top whenever the ASD forbids teachers from expressing their views, yet Oak and Susie do the same thing when they delete posts, like mine, that have the potential to get other conservatives to question the Oak-Susie take on what’s going on in the district. This whole movement from Oak and Susie is about power because they won’t let any post stay up more than a few minute that they believe might dissuade others from following them.

  • Jared:

    Oh no! Socialists have taken over the Alpine School District and are teaching our children to apppreciate living in a democracy! Quick, spread the word that these far-left loons are trying to take over the country with their democracy rhetoric (and these are just the quotes I found after spending five minutes on the internet):

    Justice Antonin Scalia (one of the two most conservative members of the Supreme Court): “Harsh criticism, short of unlawful action, is a price our people have traditionally been willing to pay for self-governance. Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.” (Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/25/us/25ballot.html?scp=5&sq=democracy%20scalia&st=cse ) If democracy is such a bad thing, why would super conservative Scalia worry about its demise?

    Glenn Beck (Not a quote, but notice how he uses the word “democracy” rather than “republic” in this chart): http://www.glennbeck.com/content/articles/article/198/37991/

    Sarah Palin: “I hope you will get out there and work hard for the candidates who reflect your values, your priorities, because despite what the pundits want you to think, contested primaries aren’t civil war. They’re democracy at work and that’s beautiful.” (Source: http://archives.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1002/06/cnr.09.html ) I guess Sarah Palin is a big fat ignorant dummy dumb dumb after all.

    **I must credit a friend of mine who forwarded these quotes to me. And note how all the quotes were made within the last year.

  • Jared, it’s really hard to know how to respond to you. It’s obvious you don’t care about the truth because the garbage you post reflects such a wild view of the things that have been posted on this site you’re just all over the place. You’re a name caller. Fear the free flow of dialogue? Show me your dialog? Deleted your posts? That’s silly. Look around at the site and all the negative comments here. If I was afraid of your posts why would I let the other posts stand? Comments here can be flagged by users, especially if they just consider someone a troll which this post clearly shows. I have no problem with someone calling me on the carpet based on something factual, but I think this will be one of your last posts here because this is just a waste of time for me and anyone else to have to read. Your other post was flagged by someone. I’m going to release it because it’s a total softball that shows exactly how you’ve never examined anything I’ve written. You write that I fear what you have to say? Please. Your claims are completely hollow.

  • Thanks for this softball Jared. One of the first posts I ever made when setting up this site quotes Thomas Jefferson calling us a democracy. If you’d take the time to go do some research and understand why people are using the words in the way they are and how they intend those words to be understood, we might have a meaningful discussion. There is a difference between Capital “D” “Democracy” and lower case “d” democracy. One is a form of government which the Framers despised and the other is a process they upheld. None of these people are referring to our form of government as a Democracy. They are talking about the democratic process of voting, something no one on this site has ever been opposed to. I have written about this on numerous occasions to respond to people who don’t take the time to figure this out or read any of the many posts I’ve made on the subject, and then think themselves clever in attacking me on this issue.

    P.S. The chart on Beck’s site was created by “Americas for Prosperity”

  • Anonymous:

    Regardless of who created the chart, Glenn Beck still posted it on his website. I have heard Palin, Beck, Hannity, O’Reilly, etc all use the word Democracy in reference to describing America. Now you are back-peddling and using the capital “D” and lower case “d” to distinguish between the two “democracies”–a far cry from your rhetoric a year ago. Perhaps ASD is using the lower case “d” when referring to democracy. Have you ever considered that or are you still seeing “reds” at every turn? By the way, your choice of a “pink” background with “red” font for your website is rather interesting. I think it may be a secret code for your Marxist leanings. See, I can connect the dots just the same as you.

  • Jared:

    Oak,

    This whole “big D and little D” thing is quite possibly the most intellectually dishonest thing you’ve ever written. I’ve never known how to respond when you make this argument because it’s so absurd. Scalia, Palin, and Beck all used the word “democracy” when they could have used “republic” in reference to the United States. For crying out loud, the Scalia quote comes from a carefully crafted Supreme Court opinion! I think his use of the word “democracy” was quite intentional.

    Now while I agree with you that we are technically a republic, what I disagree on is how you’ve decided to engage in a witch hunt, as one of the previous posts on here worded it. I disagree with the way you villainize every teacher in the district who says anything remotely wavering from your conservative ideology. It’s no wonder the district disregards everything you say, even the few things you say that are true (e.g., investigations math, which needs to go).

    If you have such a huge problem with what your kids are being taught in social studies, do what I do several times a week: have them watch Bill O’Reilly with you. Teach your kids correct principles at home. I don’t expect our socialized public education system to teach my kids how to become conservative activists; when my kids do have intelligent and conservative teachers I simply view it as a bonus.

    Also, Oak, don’t insult yourself and me by saying you’ve never deleted my posts. By saying “I think this will be one of your last posts here because this is just a waste of time for me and anyone else to have to read,” you pretty much prove my point that you are afraid to let stand occasional posts I make on your websites. You asked for proof that you delete my posts, so here are the two most recent that were deleted (I’m glad I started saving these after I discovered you were taking them down):

    ———————–
    DELETED POST #1. Posted on December 20, 2010:
    “Buffy – Posted November 17, 2010 at 7:35 PM – My son came home from his Geography class at AF Jr. High…”

    Considering there are only two geography teachers at AFJH, Buffy’s post narrows down the alleged culprit quite a bit, so she practically did identify him. You continue to lose credibility when you twist the facts, Oak, and you really harm your cause and mine; thanks to you and your few crazy supporters, we now have one more person in this world (Enlightened Thinker) who believes in teacher tenure. Thanks a lot.

    Like I’ve said before, just stick to math. You’ve proven yourself incapable of accomplishing anything noteworthy when it comes to the social studies stuff due to the way you approach everything with hostility. And believe it or not, many very conservative people (like me) prefer our kids be taught by non-conservative-activists. Why? Because we want to see our kids’ worldviews challenged and to see our kids take a stand. It makes for good preparation for their missions and for college. I teach my children correct principles, so I do not fear what will happen when they hear something that isn’t right. I commend Mr. Smith for “promot[ing] civil discourse within [his] classroom and allow[ing] every opinion, fact, or statistic to be aired.” That’s a good thing, not something that you, your supporters, or anyone else should criticize. And now, because you’ve chosen to wage this useless battle against “socialism” and “humanism,” you’ve further discredited everything you do–including your fight against math. Thanks a lot for further entrenching the district’s bad math programs and making it more difficult for me to find a good teacher who teaches real math. My child’s ACT score and college applications appreciate it too.

    ————————
    DELETED POST #2. Posted on January 4, 2011
    Jennifer,

    I’ll respond to your post if you email me at notoaknorton at yahoo dot com. The last couple times I posted on here it was apparently too honest for Oak and Susie, so they deleted my posts. I don’t want to waste my time responding to your post with a post of my own if it’s just going to get deleted. By the way, isn’t it ironic that Oak and Susie deride the ASD administration for threatening teachers to keep quiet about certain things, but then at the same time Oak and Susie censor comments on this website that they disagree with? Hypocrisy at its best. And contrary to what Oak might assert if he actually allows this post to go through, my post that he deleted was 100% the truth.

    Truth fears no question. – Glenn Beck

  • Jared, I really wish you could get the whole picture of what we’ve been saying since the beginning. I don’t know if you just read something occasionally and then formulate a view against it or what, but again, you’re off here. Of course Scalia and many others call us a democracy. The word was intentionally twisted 100 years ago to muddy the water. The same way words today have been hijacked like gay,tolerant, diverse, etc… Please read this page which has been on this site since it began. https://www.utahsrepublic.org/get-educated/5000-year-leap/

    “approach everything with hostility”: how is it hostile to point out the facts? “Truth fears no question” right? Why not then put everything out in the open of the relationship between ASD, BYU’s PSP/MSE/CITES and Goodlad’s NNER? That’s all we’ve done. I’m not out screaming for heads to roll. I’m trying to educate parents who have no idea who Goodlad is, what his philosophy is, why it’s important that we put the word Republic back into the Utah state standards, and keep parents involved in watching what their children are learning. I’m glad you watch O’Reilly with your kids. Not many parents probably do that much. Look again at this post. I’m not calling for heads to roll. I’m saying “parents, even if you’re at a charter school because you were upset at the regular district schools, you can’t just stop watching what’s happening in your children’s classrooms.

    “useless battle against ‘socialism’ and ‘humanism?'” I disagree.

  • Oh, you’ve found me out. Have you decoded the ghostly Founding Father pictures to find the secret swastika and the tie in to Harry Potter books? :)

    Hardly backpedaling. As I said, I posted this particular information about the big and little “d” at the very foundation of this website. (https://www.utahsrepublic.org/get-educated/democracy-and-republic-quotes/) Unless you understand this point it would be impossible to understand why the Founding Fathers both spoke in positive terms about democracy, as well as the most virulent terms about Democracy.

    ASD wasn’t even an issue when I first started this site in mid 2009. It was to get the state to put the word Republic back into the state standards.

    I don’t know how many times I must say this. Maybe I need to make it my signature line since it seems people just never grasp the issue. For years the enculturating sign hung in ASD. We commented that it was wrong but never took any serious action to point it out to the public. However, around the fall of 2009, we discovered it was tied to John Goodlad. Then we investigated his *agenda* which is all about transforming America into a moral relativist nation through the use of the word. The agenda is what we’re fighting and it’s based around the word “democracy.” Goodlad’s own term is the “Agenda for Education in a Democracy.” It’s not about the word though it’s easy for everyone to get stuck on that. There are many posts on this site that relate to this.

  • Susie Schnell:

    Jared,
    Oak doesn’t delete posts. He lets all these rude comments on his site. I’m the one that deleted the two above from SaveASD. We don’t need the SaveASD site looking like the Salt Lake Tribune comment section. People can talk about civility all they want, but unless they practice it, we’d rather not enable rude discourse back and forth like the 2 comments you made above. There are several parents who run that site and we only want to inform, not breed contention.

  • Shirleywarren:

    Caseand point, all I can say is: We use to say the pledge of Allegeance everyday in school. We did not have pictures of the President in our room. You had better start getting conditioned to what is going on, and pull your head out of the sand. You are as complacent as some that don’t know what’s going on. Maybe you should join some of the school board meetings and see what is being passed on to the students. This has been all of our problem we have been to trusting of what is going on. We need to get involved so we do know.

  • Shirleywarren:

    Thanks Oak, I was at the Convention yesterday and boy were my eyes opened. I do want to join with you and attend School Board Meetings etc., I met you at the beginning of the meeting. I was sitting with Gary Wood. Please put me on the list to help.
    Shirley Warren

  • Loni:

    My son had the same experience as the writer above. He is also in a charter school and read a similar book and was given the same assignment with no government background besides the book. He said that the majority of students designed their utopia in different forms of Socialist governments. What else could they do? They had no background for anything else. This was in a 10th grade class.

    Another son, who is in a public Davis County Jr. High, said they just spent 3 weeks on the reality Global Warming and the dangers of man’s contribution to it. To balance that out, they were shown a 10 minute film on how there may be other factors besides humans to blame for this problem. Not only is that not balanced, but either way, it instills the concept that this farce is actually a reality. They also preached about how CO2 is a poison in our air and the greatest cause of global warming. When my son challenged this notion with the logic that CO2 is NOT a poison, that it is a naturally-occurring necessity for plant life to survive, he was told that he was wrong, that it is nothing more than a global warming-causing poison. This is not education; it is brainwashing with lies.

  • Loni:

    It’s no wonder your posts are flagged by readers and deleted. While you make some valid points, you do not engage in enlightened debate; you engage in ad hominem attacks which serve no purpose to the debate, but to irritate those who are actually interested. If you wish to join the debate, or at least prove the points you are trying to make, please do so with evidence for or against the point you are trying to make. In other words, stick to the topic at hand. But to constantly criticize and disrespect the people who are bringing these IMPORTANT topics to light, serves no purpose but to irritate those of us who wish to examine actual evidence.

  • Ira Thurby-Wright:

    Chill out folks! Sometimes the kiddies need to taste something absolutely horrid to realize how refreshing the truth is. If the curriculum, as stated in the original post, is set out without any positive or negative spin, it’s a healthy exercise for the student to walk through the treacherous steps of establishing a socialist “utopia” to realize what a disaster this “Lord of the Flies” “Animal Farm” system of governing results. I was in my eighth grade when I was introduced to the history of the Russian Revolution and went from wondering why we didn’t practice it (Canada might be a tad socialist, but pinkos we ain’t) to being a free-market libertarian. Yes, it’s dangerous to let the kids’ minds wonder, but a risk well worth it because then rather than regurgitate Adam Smith by wrote memorization, they praise freedom and free markets with their convictions. They OWN it!

  • Anonymous:

    Would you have a problem if they spent three weeks about the “farce” of global warming and then show a 10 minute film of how man may contribute to it? That also happens in schools. Are you really about balance or teaching what you personally believe to be true? (You know, the opposite ends of the same stick type of thing).

  • Dougc:

    Oak, Thanks for clarifying your position about charters. I did know it already, so it helps to know that you didn’t have time to put everything that you thought. In the future, I’ll try not to be so defensive right out of the gate. :)

    Jared says,
    “This whole movement from Oak and Susie is about power because they won’t let any post stay up more than a few minute that they believe might dissuade others from following them. ”

    Since you made that comment, and now that you have a better explanation of what has happened, hopefully you have a better understanding. I haven’t yet met Susie, but I can attest to you that Oak certainly does not want any power. He (like myself) would love to see a power shift in education away from the educrats (unelected administrators, officials, and union organizers) and more towards the parents. If that is what you are referring to, then I will add my name to the list and say, “Yes, as a parent, I want more power and control for all parents in public schools.”

    Jared also says,
    “Teach your kids correct principles at home. I don’t expect our socialized public education system to teach my kids how to become conservative activists; when my kids do have intelligent and conservative teachers I simply view it as a bonus.”

    Those are good ideas. If I can further that thought, and how I’d like to sum up my own comments on this thread, I’d say that one of the absolute MOST important things we can teach our children is HOW to think, and not so much WHAT to think.

    Any parent who stays involved in their own child’s education and teaches their children HOW to think really does not need to worry much when a rogue teacher appears and tries to teach about socialism, or whether we should be a republic or democracy. Those concepts, instead, invite lively and useful discussions at home. Doing so is a bottom-up approach that educates your own family. People like Oak who take a top-down approach as well by trying to rid ASD of things they should not be teaching or promoting have my full support. It’s not about power, it’s about using what influence we have to make our communities better.

    One last comment to Jared: You seem to have good ideas and good input. If you tone down your sarcasm, and try not to look so trollish, I’m sure you will have a lot of good ideas to present here. I, for one, would love to read them. Attacking the principles and not the person will go a long way, but I get the feeling that others have told you this before, it’s probably not a new idea for you.

    Oak says:
    “I’m trying to educate parents who have no idea who Goodlad is, what his philosophy is, why it’s important that we put the word Republic back into the Utah state standards, and keep parents involved in watching what their children are learning.”

    And, I agree 100%. Thanks, Oak.

  • Read your history:

    I don’t think this is a ‘boy cried wolf’ story. I think it is indicative of education these days–a basic waste of time. The curriculum for 8th grade is basically to study the constitution and the founding of our nation. This exercise does no such thing. Do any of these children understand what the constitution even says? Do they understand what the word ‘amendment’ means? Do they understand the Bill of Rights and why it was added to the constitution? Do they know who their senators and representatives are? Do they know what the ‘great compromise’ was in the Constitutional Convention. Unfortunately most 8th graders have no idea how to answer any of these questions because they aren’t being taught it. They are doing meaningless exercises that make them think they are educated.

  • Lori:

    It doesn’t sound like Oak is against reading books like “Animal Farm”. I don’t think anyone is saying that. I think he is looking at the 8th grade exercise and the questions asked as ridiculous. The parent stated that there was “no instruction or research on governments before the exercise.” That’s the biggest problem. There is no fundamental understanding of our constitutional republic. 8th graders typically don’t even know what that is.