My Continuing Position on Public Education

It seems that no matter how many times I try to explain something, there are always a few people who feel they are gifted to look beyond what I say or write and that it’s just a cover for what I really believe. I’m not smart enough to live 2 lives that way and have one set of beliefs and values that I hide and keep separate from what I say publicly.

For example, this was recent posted on one candidate website.

[candidate] are you an advocate for traditional public schools?  Oak Norton and associates are anti-public education and pro-private education as indicated by his Powerpoint displayed on his website. You were endorsed by that group.  Does that endorsement mean that you are also against public education?  If so, why should we elect someone who associates with those who are anti-public education or makes bombastic and baseless comments such as Superintendent Henshaw is buddies with Bill Ayers?

Let me explain this one more time for the benefit of my readers. I am not anti-public education, I am anti-federal government involvement in public education (my own children are in a wonderful PUBLIC school). I am against dumbing our children down with weak math and revisionist history. I am anti-John Goodlad involvement in public education. It just so happens that the Alpine School District is tied at the hip with John Goodlad and his literature and teachings are being passed out to our teachers to read from and be taught in professional development. Goodlad is a humanist with dangerous beliefs. He is a socialist and uses his forums to transform America into a socialist state. He is friends with Bill Ayers and Ayers is the keynote speaker at the Goodlad conference this month. Vern Henshaw was on the executive committee of Goodlad’s national organization (NNER) when Bill Ayers was a speaker at another conference. ASD’s Superintendent is fully aware of Goodlad’s positions yet continues to allow his teachings to be disseminated to teachers. To anyone who hasn’t watched the presentation referenced above, here’s a link. Go see for yourself what was presented and you’ll discover a national movement to destroy religious morality, belief in God, and to separate children from their parents. The public education teachers that were present thanked us after the presentation.

This individual continues his post:

My feeling is that anyone who is associated with Oak Norton and subsequently the radical Eagle Forum, and the conspiracy theory-laden John Birch Society should not be serving the children of ASD. I’m also disturbed by the fact that Oak Norton supports the Texas education standards which indoctrinates children to learn about Phylis Schlafly, ultra-conservative movements such as the Eagle Forum, and rewrites history by inaccurately vindicating McCarthyism?  Do you support a core curriculum that makes an attempt to be politically neutral and teach students to evaluate and think for themselves or do you support the right-wing ideological indoctrination of our students as those who endorse you do?

So the attack continues. Lets look at how this person succeeds in labeling the situation by presenting the facts. The individual begins by naming the Eagle Forum and John Birch Society to be radical and shouldn’t be serving the children of ASD. I am a member of neither organization but I believe them to be wonderful groups who spend countless hours promoting freedom issues and support of the constitution. The JBS actually produced the 10 minute video found on this site in the upper right corner which explains the difference between a republic and a democracy. The Eagle Forum was founded by Phillis Schlafly, a woman who stepped forward in the 70’s to stop the feminist movement. Her efforts had a tremendous impact on the entire nation. This individual thinks children will be “indoctrinated” to learn about her contributions, but I disagree. This is what one single Texas history standard actually says about Ms. Schlafly.

Describe the causes, key organizations, and individuals of the conservative resurgence of the 1980s and 1990s, including Phyllis Schlafly, the Contract with America, the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and the National Rifle Association;

If the individual feels this is conservative indoctrination to learn about such individuals and organizations that have had an impact on America, then why does he not decry the other side of the coin when further down the Texas standards later include the contributions of Hillary Clinton?

Evaluate the contributions of significant political and social leaders in the United States such as Andrew Carnegie, Thurgood Marshall, Billy Graham, Barry Goldwater, Sandra Day O’Connor, and Hillary Clinton.

This individual seems to have seen a group he despises and leveled charges. The John Birch society isn’t even mentioned in the standards so it’s further confusing to his point to bring them into his rant.

His last charge that the Texas history standards are rewriting history are amusing when our history books already contain a rewriting of history calling the Framers of our Constitution deists and accusing them of all manner of immorality. His specific charge deals with Senator Joseph McCarthy and the Venona papers. Have you ever heard of the Venona papers? Neither has most of the country because that was removed from our history books as well. I’d never heard of them till this year. Here’s what the Texas standards say:

Describe how Cold War tensions were intensified by the arms race, the space race, McCarthyism, and the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the findings of which were confirmed by the Venona Papers.

This is a completely relevant standard. High schoolers should be taught what happened during the Cold War including the facts about what McCarthy was doing and what was later shown to be correct. Did McCarthy finger some people who were innocent? Possibly so, but to ignore the significant findings of the Venona papers would be the equivalent of indoctrinating our children in the false assumption that there were no Soviet spies and that McCarthy was on a baseless witch hunt. The Venona papers identified 349 persons who had some level of relationship with the Soviet Union, from Alger Hiss and other well known spies, to many whose code names have never been matched up with real individuals.

The Texas history standards are a landmark achievement for presenting history as factual and fair. It removes the prior revisionist history and adds important facts. Significantly more minorities are discussed with their contributions to America. America is repeatedly identified as a constitutional republic (for a change from democracy). And there is a newfound emphasis on the founding documents of our nation. If you haven’t taken a look at them, here’s a link to see for yourself.

http://www.tea.state.tx.us/index2.aspx?id=3643

Here’s one I just noticed that is new to these standards:

Describe U.S. citizens as people from numerous places throughout the world who hold a common bond in standing for certain self-evident truths

I would love to have Utah adopt these standards. What an improvement over the current indoctrination of diversity and multi-culturalism!

19 Responses to “My Continuing Position on Public Education”

  • Marshall:

    Solid arguments Oak. Thanks for all your time and dedication fighting for the morality of education!

  • Bookdad1:

    Sir, well said. May I add one thought? the idea that the critic would like to “ban” certain liturature about certain people and history that he/she names is akin to the barbarous act of book burning that the liberal crowd has so much decried in years past. See how far they’ve come when they can justify the banning of books and knowledge as they can label it some way. Wish we had Joe Mcarthy back to clean out the communists in our government now!

  • cea7of9:

    It’s astounding the time some people spend in being controversial. People who listen to “ranters” as I like to call them, are weak-minded. Oaks has always come off as being very reasonable with a desire to inform people and express his views. However, hecklers, like this person, seem to never be able to substantiate any of their accusations and so they remain only accusations.

    For most thinking people, the hearing “switch” is turned off when they are bombarded with these ranters. Those who simply don’t agree with less federal government involvement in education but who are also “thinkers”, simply and quietly disagree OR methodically express their views in proper settings and with proper substantiations.

    I am one who has agreed, for the most part, with what Oaks has expressed and I am a “thinker”. I will never be swayed by rantings and name calling.

    We all MUST admit when our opinion ceases to be logical and is simply emotional. To have an opinion based on emotion is fine but we need to at least admit it. All who feel it necessary to argue, only do so because they know (subconsciously) that they don’t have a logical leg to stand on!

    Instead of arguing we need to learn to present ideas methodically and logically (which involves doing research) so that we can work together and move forward regardless of our political views. It really can happen! And it should.

  • Oak, this is flattering! Someone took the time to maliciously pick apart your beliefs, all of which are built on true principles, and interpret them through fogged vision.

    Recently I had the privilege of sitting in the office of one of the Utah State Board of Education members (I will not share his name; Oak you should know who I am talking about). What he said shocked me and put me on my heals. He said, and I quote, “Education is a form of socialism”.

    WHAT?!?

    Education is not socialism and misguided board members are buying into this malicious opinion. Education should be based on eternal natural unmoving laws and history as it unfolded (good or bad); not a teachers, or school board members, opinion.

  • Getgungho:

    I applaud what you do Oak, and stand by you and your fight. I do not do this blindly I might add. I do my own research as well and have come to wonder why those who choose to fight so hard agianst your words don’t do the same. I am not saying that it would change their point of view but it would at least give validity to thier arguements. (Maybe)

    I find it frightening that we actually attend parent teacher conferences and see socialism presented to us as parents when we question the actions and procedures of some of the teachers. This is a front line battle and we can not be fence sitters. Keep up the fight we are on your side! Aside from our own research is our personal experiences that give proof in what you are saying. On a side note I would like to share with you in person our experience at parent teacher conference. It

  • Loni:

    I’d like to know the name of the individual board member to whom you’re referring. How else can we remove them from their postition?

  • Jon F:

    It seems as though most of the people do not take the time to really search for what is best for them in the long run and only think of the here and now. “What gives me the most today”. The liberals are using that to build their power. We have to help people like Oak educate the masses or we might as well join their ranks and listen to the ranters. Personally, I would rather be called a radical for standing up to what our country originally stood for. How ironic that they would call all of our founding fathers radicals if they were alive today.

  • Dave Duncan:

    All three of my children graduated from Alpine School District traditional public schools. It would be quite a stretch to say that I am anti-public-school. In fact, since I want the public schools to be even better, I support Oak’s excellent work, in fighting to make the public schools better, and prevent the encroachment of harmful philosophies into our public schools. Oak is the most “PRO” public schools person I know, in that he has been fighting harder than anyone else over the past several years to keep the public schools on the right track: educating our children, rather than indoctrinating them!

  • Loni,

    A couple of things concerned me about the conversation that I had with this board member.

    First, he said that he really didn’t want to be a board member and that it took up to much of his time. He said that basically through a series of events he “fell” into the position and that he did not intend on running for reelection.

    Second, when he made mention that education is a form of socialism he did so in a cautious way; as if he knew that what he was saying he shouldn’t. I have had time to reflect on this and what I come to the conclusion of is that truth is self evident. It requires no explanation, is easily internalized (because we all come from truth and light), and is not something that needs to be mentioned in a cautious manner.

    Rest assured that when someone is mentioning something sheepishly, internally they know it is wrong.

    I doubt…I know, that our Forefathers did not get together and say “Let’s from a Republic but leave within it traces of Socialism, Communism, Humanism and so on.”

  • pleasant girl:

    Kyle,
    I have to agree that public education is “a form of socialism” if you define socialism as taking from everyone to provide a service that not everyone wants or needs. I personally think I should be able to take my personal tax money that goes towards education and be able to spend it the way I want to for my own children. After my kids are through school I will gladly contribute to the public education fund again, even though I think there are better ways to educate children.
    If you define socialism to most teachers, they will not reconsider how children might be educated better, they will defend the public school system to the bitter end and proudly declare themselves a Socialist!

  • Ex Red sympathizer:

    As one who has studied communism and is familiar with the steps the communists have outlined in the Communist Manifesto, I can say that their program has been very successful so far in subverting our country. We need more people like Oak to stand up for truth and our Constitution. Our children are in great danger of being brainwashed by the liberal ideas which are increasingly infesting our schools. Hats off to Oak, and others like him, who are still in possession of their minds, and can still discern truth from error.

  • Lewis B:

    I give up, Oak! You are right and those who question or oppose are wrong. I’m announcing my retirement and will no longer offer comments on the commiseration boards or anywhere else. I’ve realized that they have consumed me like a World War One trench battle; no ground ever seems to be gained. Susan Schnell is probably right in that I’m going to end up having a heart attack by reading this site much longer. I used to find it amusing, but now it has become an obsession and an addiction to negative energy. Reading your post made me realize that fact for the first time. You can rejoice that I will no longer poke and prod, and you can ring church bells in celebration.

    With that said, I don’t personally dislike you, but respect your willingness to be a stand-up guy for what you believe in. I think your group has been too reactionary to problems that have yet to manifest themselves and have viciously demonized good people which is sad (I have also found myself increasingly doing the same). I’m finding that this site is certainly not making me a better person or a compassionate and understanding Mormon. I will leave it at that, and I don’t even care anymore if you have the last word.

    It is time for me to find a renewal and reflect. I will disengage from the political process because of the negative and hateful energy that results. I just don’t want to be that kind of person anymore. I will begin by saying something positive-a rare thing for me on this site. Thanks for taking the time to communicate with your detractors–including me. I appreciate your willingness to allow some free speech on your site. Most people would not allow it. Yes, that is a positive comment just for you, believe it or not.

    Signing off for the last time,

    Lewis

  • Anonymous:

    Secular socialism has crept into every area of our lives these days and is taking over all American institutions, including education. I commend you Oak for leading the charge as conservatives and people of faith join you in fighting for our children. We must all join the fight against this monster that’s taking over our lives, and root out this poison that is lethal to our liberty.

  • Doug Cannon:

    I have worked with Oak for more than 10 years, and all we ever talk about is public education and how to help it get better in Utah. If someone thinks Oak Norton is against public education that is so laughable that I’m not even sure where to being to reason with that kind of argument.

    If Oak Norton was against public education, we would have stopped working together a long, long time ago.

  • Doug Cannon:

    I was pondering the idea about how someone could possibly think that Oak is anti-public school. It occurred to me that many people might equate school and education with the establishment. Oak certainly does complain against the system or the establishment when it seems clear that changes need to be made, I do the same complaining. I can see how some people would think that if a person is complaining against how our tax dollars are spent in a school district then it means that this person is against that school district. Complaining is one thing, but working tirelessly to help provide viable solutions is another, and Oak spends at least as much time finding solutions as he does complaining.

    Oak reminds me that we have only been working together for nearly 8 years, not the “over 10” exaggeration that I said previously. However, during those nearly 8 years Oak and I and many others have definitely been on the tax-payer’s side with trying to hold Alpine School District accountable with the money they receive. Oak has spoken out against math instruction, constructivist ideas, and other nebulous and shaky parts of the large foundation upon which some public school educators base their philosophies of education. This public opposition to the establishment and over-paid top-heavy administration should never be construed to mean that Oak or I or anyone else is anti public school.

    As loud as I can, I cry for more money for public school teachers. I cry for better supplies and materials for principals in all schools. I want more money in education in Utah, but I also want LESS money in the top-heavy administration roles. I do not make these proposals and decisions lightly, but rather after more than a decade of research, planning, discussions, personal experience, helping in the classrooms, etc.

    Good luck Oak, and thanks for all the good times over the last 8 years. I also salute the others like me who are pro-public school, but are also pro-accountability, and want more and better choices for all children that are being educated in Utah.

    Doug Cannon

  • Vincent Celaya:

    I watched the video that was mentioned, and I can see how someone could view Mr. Norton as against public schools. There was a reference for support towards school vouchers and back-pack funding. Support for school vouchers can be construed as support for private schools.

  • Buffysnell:

    Oak, keep the critics coming! People are tuning in.

  • Good luck to you Lewis. Though we disagree on some points, I’m grateful for you keeping me on my toes and what I learned from our dialog. Farewell.

  • Jennrc3:

    Kyle, You should share his name. We need to know who the bad guys are and fire them. Aren’t we the ones who pay his income?