Red Meat Radio Update 7-3-10

Red Meat Radio Republic Update 7-3-10

(I am at the beginning of this audio clip, but at the 13:48 mark, the Teacher of the year from the Utah online charter school is interviewed)

For those of you that didn’t listen to Red Meat Radio this morning, here’s the audio from it. I discussed BYU’s McKay School of Education leaving the Goodlad NNER (National Network for Educational Renewal) organization as well as two other important issues.

Back in March when I presented our petition to the State School Board I received a letter from Lynne Greenwood indicating the state office would be opening up the 8th and 11th grade history standards to ensure the concept of a republic received appropriate treatment in the standards. Since then I have emailed individuals at the state office twice and haven’t heard anything back from them…

Next, a week and a half ago at the legislature’s education interim meeting, a teacher spoke about civics education in Utah and the need to study original sources. He then presented members of the committee with a handout on various quality resources that contain original sources. The state superintendent, Larry Shumway, then got up and was asked if the textbooks used in Utah show respect toward the Founders. He first began by questioning the term “Founders” and how differently the “Founders” thought about the same issues or principles. He told the committee, and he was backed up by a former history teacher on the committee, that the textbooks used in Utah show respect to the Founders. The topic of the Constitution didn’t really come up. He said that though the Making of America is a good book, it is biased to a certain “Founders'” viewpoint and should be used only as a secondary resource.

When I asked a history teacher in Alpine School District if the textbooks in ASD showed respect to our Founding Fathers, he replied:

“They absolutely do not. In fact the only teaching they even get on history is a packet with questions and little pamphlet books to find answers. There is no teaching of history and certainly not of our Founding Fathers or even our great nation.”

We’ve got a lot of work to do. )

10 Responses to “Red Meat Radio Update 7-3-10”

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    This textbook stuff is overblown. First, in ASD they don't even have enough history textbooks for all of the students, so classroom sets have to suffice in most schools, which means they are used very little. Secondly, textbook or no textbook, the question is: Does the teacher give respect to the Founding Fathers? Does the teacher give respect to all founding viewpoints? Textbooks are merely a crutch and a good teacher doesn't rely 100% on textbooks to teach a class. A good teacher will be able to identify biases in textbooks and teach around those biases. Thirdly, when teaching government or civics to eighth grade students, one will quickly find that many of the concepts are still too deep, abstract, and boring, so you have to be careful in teaching 8th grade students stuff that their brains aren't developed enough to understand and then turning them off of politics and history and therefore creating apathetic citizens. It is more important to get the deeper curriculum correct for 11th grade students, and the more importantly, the Government/Civics class require of all high school seniors. Fourthly, the ASD teacher you interviewed certainly can't be speaking for all teachers. If there is “no teaching of history” maybe it is in his/her own classroom, but that isn't the case everywhere in ASD. There are a lot of good teachers who don't use the textbook as a crutch and do a good job of teaching historical concepts and critical thinking. In fact, how would a teacher in one school know what is going on in all the other classrooms of the district? Oak, be careful of stereotyping all the history teachers of ASD because of a statement that is music to your ears.

  • Jennrc3:

    No child is too young to learn to love his/her country. They are all able to learn about our amazing Founding Fathers. Of course different ages can grasp different levels of these topics, but the fact that many people think we have a democracy in this country, and don't know much about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison or John Adams tells us what kind of an education the public schools are giving our children. They can learn about the flag and what it stands for, stories about the brave men who fought for our freedoms, and the reasons other countries have suffered under other forms of governments. And yes, God should be allowed back into our schools, because if we knew about our Founding Fathers, we would know that that is what they wanted. And if we knew the history of education, we would know that as soon as He was eliminated from schools, our scores dropped significantly. I find it sad that our children learn more about Martin Luther King than about our Founders. I don't think it is wrong to learn about King, but should our children know more about him than the men who were inspired by God to give us our great republic and the freedoms we love (including the freedom of speech which helped King succeed? I have also heard teachers refer to Lincoln as being one of our Founding Fathers. We as a society have trusted the government school to educate our children to the point where we don't even know, and can't keep up with what they are learning. This has been going on for years. So what seems to be normal to us, isn't always factual. We have 3 main problems: ignorance, apathy and evil. We have those who are conspiring to endoctrinate our next generation, because they know we can lose our Rebublic in one generation if they can succeed. Why would they do this? Power. We have parents who don't pay attention to all of the materials their children are given or ask questions when an assignment seems incorrect or innappropriate. They trust that the teacher knows what they are doing, and they don't have the time to review all of the materials. I have found materials that are so decreet about teaching incorrect things to my children, that the messages are easy to miss if you are not aware of what is going on in our country. We have teachers who have been taught to teach in ineffective ways because they are told it is the newest, most effective teaching method, so they trustingly follow. An example of this is investigations math. And I have found that it is difficult for parents to teach a teacher or administrator, cause they already know everything. There are some good teachers out there; I believe most of them mean well and try hard. But ignorance can't teach knowledge, and most of the teachers and parents are ignorant of the social and political agenda that is trying to be pushed on us. We have to go way back and find what our Founders did and wanted for this country in order to undo the damage. We have to be humble enough to admit we have been wrong, or lazy, or ignorant and need to learn. The difficult thing about what Oak is addressing is that it makes us realize that if he is right (and he is), we have the responsibility to do something about it, cause he can't do it all alone. And unfortunately people don't want to get off their butts and do something. They want someone else to do it. Or they just deny that anything is going wrong, to justify their apathy. And we are all busy. I don't really have time for this either. We must make the time to do something, for if we all do something, no one will be left to do everthing. I have met Oak and he is not weird or extreme. He is a husband and father who cares about our country…enough to DO something about it, even at the expense of his reputation. Thank you Oak for your bravery to stand up to the school district and others to try to correct these problems, and for your time and hard work. I am also thankful to Susan Schnell for making me aware.

  • Prcannon1:

    Thank you for your updates, Oak. Thank you other supporters for backing him. I am a candidate for a seat on the Davis County School Board. I plan to review the Davis School District curriculum and attitudes. I will watch your progress in ASD with interest as I evaluate Davis. Congratulations on helping BYU make an important change with NNER. Keep up the good work.

  • Jo:

    I suppose that we spend all that money on textbooks and the textbook industry is booming just because. I am all for dumping yet another expensive crutch proping up a bad system. Somehow, amazingly, I was quite able to impart the concepts of correct government to first and second grade students and it was not too deep for them, nor boring. I actually got several written pages out of some of them explaining their understanding. Stop treating them like they are stupid and frivolous.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Why is it that people on this forum continually twist and distort what is being said? Nobody ever said that children can't learn to be patriotic. The Hitler Youth is a good example of teaching children to be nationalistic. The concern I have is when people who have never taught a classroom full of children in their lives start writing core curriculum and thus create standards that can be too abstract for undeveloped minds. I'm sure that the most skilled and adept teacher would have a difficult time teaching federalism/anti-federalism to a classroom full of 2nd graders. Sure you can teach the surface meaning, but deeper understanding and relating it to case studies is a different story. In the younger grades, teaching history is more about simple facts and the “story” of our nation, but in the older grades we need to be mindful of the fact that teaching history is not just facts, but critical thinking, debate, and patterns. While Oak contends that there is a bias being taught in schools (and I agree that there is a bias), we shouldn't be replacing one set of biases with another set of biases. Yes, there are a few teachers who will say things in class that are not factually correct such as Lincoln being a founding father. Of course, most parents and teachers can agree that children can hear things in a way not intended by the parent or teacher. When I was a kid, I used to think that everyone had three kidneys because my elementary teacher told a story of a friend that had three kidneys. She didn't teach anything factually incorrect, it was my interpretation of the story that caused the misunderstanding. For instance, Prcannon1, just congratulated Oak for helping BYU despite BYU's insistence that Oak had nothing to do with it. There are two possibilities here. Either BYU is lying or Prcannon1 is not in full grasp of the facts. This is a good example of differently one can view and interpret a news story, so imagine each child coming home from school with a different angle on the day's lesson. The best teacher in the world can't control the prism from which a child views his/her own world and thus what is taken from the classroom experience. The same goes for adults. For instance, those who support Oak Norton are looking for any little tidbit of anecdotal evidence to grab on to despite the possibility that the anecdotal evidence is not representative of ASD at large.

    I'm not ignorant of Oak's concerns and I agree with those concerns, however, I do not believe that ASD has implemented their motto in the manner in which Oak interprets the motto.

    All Social Studies teachers I know are not teaching that we are an Athenian Democracy. They certainly know the difference between a Republic and a direct Democracy, but once again, the root of this entire problem is in defining “Democracy.” In the 20th century, the general word “Democracy” has evolved in meaning to represent a government where power is “vested in the people.” Since the time our country's founding, there have been all kinds of variations of basic government types, which has led to a generalization of terms that used to have more specific meanings. Even the word “Republic” has come under stress due to countries such as China, Iran, and a myriad of other countries that use the word “Republic” in their official name. The United States can be loosely described as “Democracy” when lumping it into a basket of nations that have an election process where the public can choose all or part of its representatives. The term “Democracy” has bound together those countries with this ideology and in that regard, a teacher is not incorrect in saying that our country is a Democracy. It is also my belief that ASD defines Democracy in this manner and NOT as a pure/direct/Athenian Democracy. There has been no evidence that ASD is teaching our children to disregard our Republic in favor of Athenian Democracy. In fact, that notion is absurd. I do agree with Oak that our teachers also need to be more specific in identifying the exact nature of our government system. While “Republic” is a more specific term, it is also not exact enough because most “democratic” nations have a “Republic” in varying degrees. In the U.S. we can define our “Republic” in various ways. It can be referred to as a Constitutional Republic or Federal Republic while in the U.K. their government can be referred to as a Constitutional Monarchy. Both the U.S. and U.K. have democratic institutions and traditions can both can be loosely described as a “democracy” in that regard. This needs to be taught to our students as well and needs to be taught because if you go around teaching kids that “democracy” is evil, they are going to be confused well into adulthood (like many of Oak's followers) because when they turn on the news or go to a movie or listen to a presidential speech, they are going to hear the word “democracy” over and over and over. For instance a Fox News Poll over the 4th of July weekend read thus: “What Would the Founding Fathers Say About the State of Our Democracy?”

    Oak himself admitted to me on this forum that the word “democracy” has a different meaning than in the day of our founding fathers where a “democracy” literally meant a “direct democracy” or “Athenian Democracy” and that type of government was ineffective and it was mob rule, but from Athenian Democracy was born our Democratic traditions that our Founding Fathers incorporated into our “Constitutional Republic.” Athens did make a positive contribution to our Republic in that our Founding Fathers/Framers were intelligent enough to know the pitfalls of “direct democracy” yet still incorporate some aspects of it to engage the citizens in the government process in a responsible manner, because “GOVERNMENTS are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the GOVERNED. That whenever any form of GOVERNMENT becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the PEOPLE to alter or to abolish it.”

    I hope this little lesson will help some of you who are confused.

  • Lewis, I hope you can take some of your own medicine. You say people are twisting and distorting things and you've done that repeatedly. In this instance, you set up a straw man argument as if anyone on this forum has said we should teach (anti)/federalism to 2nd graders. Everyone here is quite sensible that children have limitations on abstraction, but that makes for great hyperbole to accuse people of things they haven't said.

    Another distortion is that you imply that I believe ASD has implemented their motto in some ill manner. I have repeatedly declared on this site that the manner in which it was adopted may have been quite innocent and that there is no conspiracy at ASD or BYU to transform us into a Godless socialistic society. There might be district-wide ignorance, but there's not a district-wide conspiracy to my knowledge. That's the press' story.

    When I have made such clarifying statements in the past, you have claimed to read between the lines and somehow know my “real” thoughts, but my words and repeated clarifications don't bear that out. Now you seem to claim that as a sole privilege and that others have no ability to read between the lines and see that BYU's “financial” reasons for dropping the NNER couldn't be just an excuse or perhaps a very real pressure from donors to drop the affiliation.

    I am glad that you are acknowledging the concerns I'm sharing. That seems like a big step so I'm grateful we are seeing eye to eye on some things.

    P.S. Related to your 3 kidneys story, for years I believed porcupines could shoot their quills because of something that came up in one of my classes in 4th grade. Overturning that simple thought many years later when presented with facts was very difficult for me. I wanted to continue believing it was true because my teacher had said so (or so I thought). I can quite easily understand how the influence of a teacher with an agenda can shape the life of children forever by indoctrinating them with false theories.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    Oak, the federalism/anti-federalism was an EXAMPLE of an abstract concept because some people on this forum really do believe you can teach a 2nd grader anything as JO described, “Somehow, amazingly, I was quite able to impart the concepts of correct government to first and second grade students and it was not too deep for them, nor boring.” Perhaps 2nd graders would be able to sit through “A More Perfect Union” in its entirety without feeling bored. Children at this age are good at spitting back what they are taught but are not able to critically think about what they are learning. It is like fast and testimony meeting where a little kid gets up and says what they hear from everyone else in the ward. “I know the church is true, I know that Joseph Smith was the prophet, I know that Christ lived.” Yet if you ask the child how they know these things, they usually give you a dumbfounded look. The same with an elementary child. If you ask them whether states should have more power or the federal government, their answer will reflect the teacher's opinion or their parent's opinion, but if you ask them why, they wouldn't have a clue. That is what education is about. Critically thinking, not indoctrination and I see your agenda as just another angle for indoctrination and doesn't necessarily create a strong citizen. A strong citizen doesn't jut have a belief, but they know why they believe the things they do. They are able to think about their thinking. The new Texas standards are just as political as the old ones. The new ideology just supplants another ideology, yet nowhere in the standards are students really compelled to show critical thinking. That is what history is about, not memorizing someone's particular view of the past. I'm actually against all government involvement in education matters. They should be entirely locally controlled and educational standards should reflect the view of the community in which the students reside. The dangers of letting a central government control the political indoctrination of our students is dangerous beyond belief and when I say “central government” I'm referring to state governments as well.

    I'm quite aware that BYU could very well be making a financial “excuse” for dropping their involvement in NNER, but what you might term an excuse, I would term a “lie.” I have a hard time accepting the fact that BYU, a university owned, operated, and directly administered by the LDS church would “lie” or not tell the entire truth. Perhaps I'm too much of a believer in the LDS church and am unable to criticize the church in proxy by criticizing BYU (guilt by association is one of your arguments against Goodlad) as you are able to do. It would be faith-shattering for me if it was proven that BYU didn't tell the truth in regards to their dropping of the NNER program.

    I also remember thinking that porcupines could throw their quills, but that was because my scout leader said so and I worshiped the ground my scout leader walked on yet I don't believe he had an agenda to indoctrinate me with false theories. (Snipe hunting was a different matter.) I agree that a teacher with an agenda can shape the life of a child forever, but so can politicians who assert their agenda and false theories on children. Again, the McCarthy portion of the Texas standards attempts to exonerate McCarthy using an example, the Venona List, as the tool to do so. The list hardly exonerates Sen. McCarthy (only nine names can be cross-matched with McCarthy's list of 159) and the valuable lessons to be learned from this part of history are lost due to a Republican zeal to defend one of their own. Students should learn the facts around history and then analyze various perspectives and points of view rather than be force fed one particular ideology. That is why I'm against government involvement in schools. Politicians always have an agenda. Schools should not be a battle ground between Republicans or Democrats in their struggle for the hearts and minds of future voters, but I'm afraid that is exactly what is happening.

  • Lewis, the fact is, BYU is not “run” by the church. It's run by people at BYU. It's silly to base your testimony on the actions of a few people in a department at BYU and holding them up to the same level as the prophet. That's a surefire way to get disappointed. The Lord knows we have imperfect people within the church, but as a whole the church is true and progressing.

    D&C 1:30 “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth, with which I, the Lord, am well pleased, speaking unto the church collectively and not individually-“

    As for giving ASD enough rope to hang themselves, they did that just fine. They posted a link on their website to a radical who said our founders were “predatory elitists” and gave us a republic but thankfully we were moving toward a democracy. Why would someone ever post such a link if they didn't believe it? It was no accident even though the district PR person said it “just appeared” there when someone was trying to print the page. That's hilarious.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    A link to a link on a website is not the same as teaching children to be Marxist Socialists in the classroom. I sometimes wonder if you wish that would happen.

  • lewisbarnavelt:

    So who are the people at BYU that are running BYU? How about a sitting General Authority for starters. Try as you might, you cannot separate BYU from the church that owns, finances, and operates it. Do you naively believe that the church has no idea what is happening the Education Department at BYU? I'm sure they read the newspapers and know the Goodlad/ASD/BYU controversy through a direct church representative–the President of BYU. Again, I attended BYU in the late 80's and early 90's and the church knew exactly what was happening in each department and with each professor culminating with several firings over professors who came into conflict with church philosophy. If the Education Department's dropping of NNER was not over financial concerns but due to your efforts, who in the church gave the order to nix the NNER relationship? Or do you believe that those faculty members in charge of the McKay School of Education decided this on their own because they saw the light, but then why lie about the reasons for dropping NNER and maintaining their relationship with Goodlad if they “saw the light.” BYU even gave Goodlad an honorary doctorate degree, so he is much liked and appreciated at the school and all such degrees have to be approved by the board of trustees (made up of general authorities and the prophet). If the Church leadership gave the order, then who instructed the Education Department to lie about the reason for dropping NNER and give a “financial” excuse and then go on to say that BYU still maintains a good relationship with John Goodlad? There are more questions that need to be answered as far as the Church's involvement with the decision to drop NNER, but one thing is for certain through experience, the Church absolutely knows what is happening at their school. Even professors need to be interviewed by a general authority to work there and to minimize church involvement in a university that they own and operate is laughable. For example, let's say that someone owned, maintained, and operated a private school that happened to teaching kids to be anti-American, violent extremists. Would the owner be held harmless for what is happening at the school because the faculty were the ones actually teaching the students and running the program while the owner sat in his office 50 miles away, yet had a personal assistant (representative) functioning as president of the private school?

    A link to a link on a website is not the same as teaching children to be Marxist Socialists in the classroom. I do agree that ASD, in its misguided efforts to justify their mission statement and the way they interpret the mission statement, unwittingly posted a web page that contained links to radical web sites. I don't believe that the web link just appeared either, but I do believe that someone at ASD found an article on a web page that corroborated their position and posted the page without checking out the links that were on that page. I do not believe it is a conspiracy of any kind, but just pure and utter stupidity that led to a host of wild accusations. It is almost a comedy of errors (Much Ado About Nothing), but from the sound of your last post, despite your insistence that you believe the ASD board is not engaged in any conspiracy to teach socialism to our students, one gets the feeling that you do believe there is a conspiracy because you believe this website incident exposes ASD for what it truly is; therefore a radical agenda is being pushed by ASD–hence a conspiracy–one that ensnares those heathens running BYU that the LDS church has no control over.

    I still find it very strange that within the most conservative county in the nation, resides the most conservative university in the nation along with one of the most conservative school districts in the nation, yet they are under attack for being bastions of extreme left wing ideologies. This just shows how far to the extreme right people have shifted. In talking to old-timers from Utah County, they tell me this always happens when a Democrat is elected to the White House. The world “socialism” is loosely bandied about to describe every situation that the Republicans don't like in an attempt to revive a “Red Scare” mentality. Like my old BYU Professor used to say when talking about political hysteria, “Jesus, return quick and save us from ourselves.”