My Op-Ed Response to Brian Jackson

The Deseret News published my response “‘Social Democracy’ a Dangerous Idea” to BYU English Professor Brian Jackson’s op-ed piece of a week and a half ago. Please check it out here:

Here is the text of my response.


In response to Brian Jackson’s op-ed piece (“Political sentiment is far from reason,” June 2), I would like to respond as one of the chief “McCarthyites” he chastises for taking issue with the Alpine School District’s mission statement, “Enculturating the Young into a Social and Political Democracy.”

This is ironic. Jackson, an English professor at BYU, is defending a man (John Goodlad) who redefined the term social democracy and is apparently completely OK with that. Then Jackson ridicules parents who mentioned a definition for “social democracy” from Wikipedia. Perhaps Jackson would like these similar definitions better from Merriam-Webster’s: “(1) a political movement advocating a gradual and peaceful transition from capitalism to socialism by democratic means. (2) a democratic welfare state that incorporates both capitalist and socialist practices.”

What Goodlad openly espouses is that we should vote on not just candidates for office, but as a society we need to vote on knowledge and morals. In his atheistic view there is no God, so we as a people need to determine what truth is and what morals we should subscribe to based on their relative current value to society. This is called moral relativism.

In 1966, Goodlad wrote in the NEA Journal, “The curriculum of the future ‘will be what one might call the humanistic curriculum.’ ” The Humanist Manifesto was written based on the Communist Manifesto, and John Dewey was one of the original signatories. The Manifesto actually declares itself a “religion” that espouses atheism and moral relativism. I wonder if Jackson would be OK if educators were given LDS, Jewish, or Muslim teachings in their professional development training? No? Then why humanism? It’s simply another religion.

In 2001, Goodlad wrote in “Developing Democratic Character in the Young” that “parents do not own their children. They have no ‘natural right’ to control their education fully.”

From “Education for Everyone: Agenda for Education in a Democracy,” Goodlad says, “In the quest for learning, educators must resist the quest for certainty. If there were certainty there would be no scientific advancement. So it is with morals and patriotism.” This is utterly ridiculous. If we have no certainty then how do we measure and confirm “scientific advancement?” If we have no certainty then we have no basis for measurement.

We have a serious case of affinity fraud in Utah where the public so trusts the people in educational positions of power, they don’t take the time and effort to dig into what’s being taught. If you do, and openly declare it, you are castigated by people who support the power and authority of people who have given us gems such as “investigations math,” where for three straight years children were not taught the times tables or long division in Alpine School District (another “gift” from Goodlad the constructivist).

I encourage you to dig a little deeper into Goodlad and awake to the fact that his organizations, the National Network for Educational Renewal in particular, are an affront to all people who believe in moral absolutes and natural rights that come from God. If you search the Web, you’ll find plenty of troubling things like how his NNER is trying to push the homosexual movement into BYU. His organizations are nothing more than “enculturation” centers for educators, lapping up a dangerous and destructive agenda that when fully realized will overthrow constitutional government and public morality. Do I think it is the intent of the people in Alpine School District and the BYU McKay School of Education to do this? No, I’ve never espoused a conspiracy there. I just think they’re willingly ignorant because Goodlad is such a prominent national education figure. He’s dangerous but well-respected.

10 Responses to “My Op-Ed Response to Brian Jackson”

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    If this BYU Professor is so incorrect in his viewpoints, then why hasn't he been chastised, censured, or corrected by BYU or the LDS Church? After all, the Constitution is divinely inspired, so how could the LDS church allow such an anti-constitution, socialist in their midst. In fact, why does the LDS church even allow missionaries into socialist countries if the gospel and socialism are incompatible? Can someone explain this to me. BYU or the LDS church has not to my knowledge ordered the McKay School of Education to drop Goodlad even after all of this blow-up with ASD pushing Goodlad as per their BYU-Public School Partnership. Is BYU wrong? Is the LDS Church wrong?

  • So you're suggesting that any professor that is incorrect in their views *should* be chastised by the school and church authorities? That's a little draconian don't you think?

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    I like how you twist it around. You are still running as fast as you can from the BYU factor in the ASD motto and have answered none of my concerns. I'm saying again that by criticizing ASD, your are also criticizing BYU and therefore the LDS church since the LDS Church/BYU has not pressured the McKay College of Eduction or this professor and scholars to recant or drop their support for Goodlad or the BYU–Public Schools Partnership. If the LDS Church has no problem with Goodlad, then good members of the LDS Church shouldn't have a problem with him either. Believe me, if the LDS Church has a problem with what the College of Education is teaching, they will say so. I attended BYU during the times where several professors were released for their viewpoints (Gayle Houston, Martha Bradley and others). You call it “draconian” but I call it the Lord's University with the LDS Church firmly in charge. Are you saying that you know better than BYU, therefore the LDS Church? That is fine if you are not Mormon, but if you are an active, practicing Mormon, you are stepping close to the line if you haven't crossed it already.

  • Lewis, I used the word draconian because you brought up the idea that if something is happening at BYU that might be contrary to something the church teaches, they're going to 1) be totally aware of it because they watch over everything at the school; 2) make heads roll. When Ezra Taft Benson and others spoke out strongly against Dewey, they didn't fire anyone. In fact, this is kind of funny. I was just going to tell you to do a google search of “BYU John Dewey” and lo-and-behold, Mr. Brian Jackson's bio came up and it appears his PhD dissertation at the University of Arizona was entitled, “John Dewey and Teaching Rhetoric for Civic Engagement.” Here's a link:

    He also wrote an encyclopedia entry in “The Literary Encyclopedia” under the topic “John Dewey” on September 22, 2008.

    And he wrote this one: “Showdown in Superior! Deliberation, John Dewey, and Where the Shoe
    Pinches” in 2006.

    So do you believe he should be sanctioned or let this slide under the notion of academic freedom?

    Lest you think I'm dodging the whole “show me the socialism” evidence, let me point out one aspect separate from the teachers who have argued with students that we are not a republic, for which I have 3 separate parents' testimony.

    My fear here though is that I'm afraid that unless I actually use the words “this teacher told the class that socialism was good and capitalism was evil,” and then provided multiple credible witnesses, I don't think you would be willing to accept it. Socialists don't just open up to a class and say “today we're going to convert you to socialism.” The Marxists tried revolution, the socialists are more evolutionary and taking their time. All the social engineers like Goodlad, Dewey, Mann, etc… were all very patient and they developed programs that would just slowly change people over the course of a generation or two. They weren't going to toss the frog into the boiling water and have it hop out, they have just turned on the heat to slowly boil it to death.

    So with that said, how many people do you know that thought Investigations math was great? That is aside from the administration and some of the teachers. J People naturally revolted.

    What is the premise of constructivism? Why is is promoted by Goodlad and company?

    Constructivism is based on the notion that students should construct their own knowledge and not be *instructed* by a teacher. Is it the opposite of direct instruction methodology. The process is emphasized as more important than the result.

    Here's a quote for you: (,5143,63518…)
    CEDAR HILLS — Students at Cedar Ridge Elementary School can get an incorrect answer on a math problem but still not get the problem totally wrong.
    “It is very important they get the right answer,” Principal Steve Cherrington said. “It is not our belief (it's) as important to get the right answer than to get the process.”

    Do you agree with that? Do you want an engineer building a bridge with that philosophy?

    Part of this philosophy is that there are no absolutes. Sound familiar?

    Goodlad's humanist side teaches there is no God and no absolute truth. Knowledge is constructed and democratic. Group work is heavily emphasized in constructivism to come up with group strategies. The standard algorithms (which actually work) were dismissed and not taught for quite a while in favor of letting children develop their own procedures.

    In essence, by promoting constructivism and destroying the individual effort and achievement and building on established truth in favor of constructing group knowledge and emphasizing the process over the result, Goodlad was promoting socialist/humanist concepts. It's just one vehicle to promote the philosophy without coming out and saying “socialism” which any smart social engineer is going to avoid like the plague…but he will look for ways to promote the concepts.

    Now whether or not you agree with that assessment is up to you. I never realized this till I learned about Goodlad last year. This is an important point because all the education colleges in this state (and really most of the nation) promote constructivism and Goodlad.

    Lewis, from your comments on this site, I'm not really sure if you're what I'd call an honest seeker of the truth, but I think you are. I'm going to ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt as well and realize I'm not on a crusade because I'm mad or seeking revenge or something. I'm really concerned after several years of seeing issues, that there really is something to all of this. You and others continue to believe and post that I'm saying there's a district-wide plot to destroy our system of government and that's false. The Daily Herald started that with erroneous assumptions they made to sensationalize a story. Most of the teachers, and I believe most of the administrators in this district are good honest people seeking to do what's right and preserve our liberty. However, I do believe there are others that are fully invested in Goodlad's philosophy and that to me, is a big problem.

    Last night I attended a lecture from Stephen Pratt, a constitutional scholar who has done extensive research. His topic was “republic vs. democracy” and the differences. Really, he just went through the history of the word republic from the founding of this country and showed how the U.S. government in 1927 said we were a republic and not a democracy, and in 1952 (if I'm remembering dates right) they said we were a democracy and it was a tremendous shift. I would like to invite you to attend one of these lectures that he gives periodically and see if you may change your view of the terms. I see a big difference, especially when it comes to Goodlad, because his definition isn't just “democracy” as in representative government, it's “social democracy” as in the road to socialism and moral relativism where morals and knowledge are voted on.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Thank you for your detailed response. I do understand your concern and I do like to question and dig deep. I'm against investigations mathematics for the exact engineering example that you mentioned. You don't have to convince me of that. I'm not in favor of a constructivist approach to mathematics unless it helps particular students to understand mathematical concepts if they don't get algorithms. I am a product of Saxon math from the 1980's which is unfortunate because I still don't understand the basic concepts of Algebra. I could work a formula if I practiced it long enough, but don't ask me how the formula works or how it was derived. I'm very right-brained and it still is confusing when you mix letters of the alphabet with numbers. In my case, a different mathematical approach might have been useful, so I'm not sure that connections math is entirely bad for some students. Again, as a general rule though, a non-constructivist approach to mathematics is best. I agree with you there.

    Living in Utah can be a very confusing place, especially the numerous hypocrisies that abound within our own state government. For example, most legislators who signed your petition are guilty of moral relativism when they vote on moral issues. Any which way you look at it, there is going to be a fair degree of moral relativism whether done by our elected representatives or the citizen mob. There are always going to be some socialistic aspects to our society. In part that is a natural consequence of becoming more densely packed where we are a forced to live literally next door to each other rather than miles apart like in the 1700's. I certainly do not want to see our country becoming a socialist state, and I certainly don't want our children to be taught that we need to become a pure democracy rather than a republic, but I also don't want my children to be taught they need to follow the Republican Party platform, Democrat Party platform, Libertarians, etc. They need to be taught the similarities and differences between the parties, federalism and anti-federalism, strict or loose constructionists in regard to the U.S. Constitution. They need to know there are different competing philosophies that began since we became a country, but they shouldn't be taught that one is correct and the other is wrong. That is dangerous territory where government then mandates you belong to a particular political persuasion–aka political party. A teacher shouldn't say that capitalism is bad and communism is good, but a good teacher will have the kids identify the good and bad points of capitalism and the good and bad points of communism. Kids need to learn and think after being presented with knowledge. Of course one would hope that kids would come to the conclusion that capitalism has more advantages than communism, but coming to that conclusion on their own is much more powerful than just taking it on faith because the teacher said so or Mom and Dad said so. That is what learning is about. I just don't want kids indoctrinated to be of one particular political party. It is bad enough if an individual teacher does this, but ten times worse if a district does this, and 100 times worse if a government passes standards that require a certain political party platform be taught to kids in schools. In schools, kids should be taught about competing ideologies and the arguments for and against those ideologies. Topics ranging from Abortion to Immigration, from socialism to capitalism, from federalism to anti-federalism, etc should be taught, but not necessarily endorsed by the state. For instance, is it right to teach our students that Republican ideals are correct and Democrat ideals are wrong? The world of teaching social studies in schools is far different than math. I hope that you can see this point. I'm not sure where you stand on it, and I look forward to hearing your response.

  • Susie Schnell:


    Very thoughtful conversation. You have valid points and concerns. Your sentence “The world of teaching social studies in schools is far different than math” stood out to me because of my shock at the ASD's first mission statement page (now removed) that stated the word democracy or democratic 13 times, but academics 0. It said that the #1 thing that teachers need to include as they prepare their curriculum (even math, music and PE) is democracy. Maybe it's just me, but I believe the number one thing math teachers need to concentrate on is math. Studying Goodlad and other social reformers extensively, I've discovered that they truly want to put social engineering before academics in every subject and equalize students. Public school is the one place where children of all different backgrounds come together for a common purpose. This is where social engineering can take place and these reformers state that many times in their education books. Be looking out for a new list of Goodlad quotes on this website. We've attained many of them from Goodlad's books on Education and they will shock you. We've also learned from many parents how this social agenda is being directly taught in the classrooms, unknowingly sometimes, by teachers because of their teacher training. Social democracy is in fact a gradual process and it has been planned as such by early reformers like John Dewey who are keenly aware that the community will fight it so it has to be brought in slowly to be accepted little by little. Why do you think most people think we live in a Democracy?

  • Lewis, I think we are in total agreement. (I hope you were sitting down. Sorry I didn't warn you. :) )

    Some people have accused me of wanting to promote “republican government” because I want to promote a political party. That's nonsense. I happen to be a republican but very upset at the party, mostly at the national level. I firmly believe all sides of an argument should be presented and given debate. Let the Communist Manifesto be read in the classroom, right next to the Humanist Manifesto and the Constitution. Lets get back to the source documents instead of just letting history books, and teachers that don't know the source documents themselves, give us their interpretation about them.

  • bradley:

    I would like to add my 2 cents to this subject. I have had children in the ASD for over a decade now and I was stunned when the new math was instituted a number of years back. My wife and I honestly took it upon ourselves to supliment the schools teaching with our own, emphasizing the basics. As far as BYU faculty supporting Goodlad or not, I can't say, but I do applaud Oaks efforts to expose what could be philosophies that are counterproductive to the moral absolutes we have been working to teach in our home all these years. Bottom line is, there is a right and a wrong and truth based on fact not moral relativism. I for one have been disgusted with, what I feel has been a socialist agenda taught by just about every college or university for many years now. They espouse that those who don't agree with them are not enlightened, and any student that has the guts to stand up and challenge them is vilified. Our universities are becoming a cesspool of socialist dogma distributors and we are paying them good money for it. We as a concerned group need to stand up and shine the light of truth on teachings, organizations, and philosophies such as these.

  • James:

    Certainty in traditions isn't always faith. Look up “tradition” in the scriptures and see all the different ways it's used.
    I doubt most of the people who persecuted Joseph Smith and the early saints could be accused of moral relativism: they believed in what they thought was the truth.
    Mormonism teaches that we come to truth through the Holy Ghost–if teachers do focus on questioning certainties, children can benefit by sorting prayerfully through which things they were certain of are from God and which things are just habit or tradition.

  • James:

    Certainty in traditions isn't always faith. Look up “tradition” in the scriptures and see all the different ways it's used.
    I doubt most of the people who persecuted Joseph Smith and the early saints could be accused of moral relativism: they believed in what they thought was the truth.
    Mormonism teaches that we come to truth through the Holy Ghost–if teachers do focus on questioning certainties, children can benefit by sorting prayerfully through which things they were certain of are from God and which things are just habit or tradition.