Monthly Archives: September 2013

Stan Ellsworth – American Ride – The Gettysburg Address – Common Core Update – Columbus

September 21-27, 2013
Stan Ellsworth, American Ride, and The Gettysburg Address

I love Stan Ellsworth’s American Ride program on KBYUtv, but I’d never had any indication that anyone else knew about the program, not even the homeschoolers. I was surprised when Stan was announced as the speaker for the September 17 Constitution Day Celebration in Layton, Utah.  Stan is a “biker” and the American Ride episodes I’ve seen were filmed in the East, so I never suspected that KBYU produced the program or that Stan actually lives in Draper, Utah. (He is originally from the South).  A former football player, a coach, a history teacher, and a film maker, Stan is a hero figure to kids, and he is certainly loved by the hundreds of people who let their enthusiasm for him be known last Tuesday night (Sept 17).

Stan had visited a school in Southern Utah that morning.  He taught the students about the Gettysburg Address and challenged them to memorize it for the 150th anniversary of its delivery on November 15. I waited at the end of a very long line after the program to ask the homeschoolers’ question: how did he teach the Gettysburg address?  He reached in his pocket and pulled out a 4×6 card with the Gettysburg Address on one side and the website address www.gettyready.org on the other.

This morning, after being out of town for three days, I was catching up on email, and I found that Utah Policy, which posts daily newspaper headlines, had posted an essay by Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, titled “Honoring the Gettysburg Address.”  What!  Is everybody reading it?  Yes.  Lt. Governor Bell challenged everybody – families, service organizations, teachers, students, and civic leaders – to dig in, and he pointed us to the GettyReady website for resources, saying “The GettyReady challenge is this: Learn it. Understand its deep meaning. Learn to love the essential American republican principles which it so elegantly restates. Teach it to those around you.”

Then I remembered –  Stan had mentioned that the Governor had flown him up from his school presentation in Southern Utah that morning.  Maybe Lt. Gov. Bell had hosted the event and the plane ride.

Next I found this long headline (without caps) from the Deseret News:  Do you know all 272 words of the Gettysburg Address?  Utah students kick off memorization challenge.  Again, the GettyReady website was referenced.  The site was put up by public school entities, lawyers, KBYUtv, and others.  Many resources are given, including American Ride. I don’t know how reliable they all are.  Then a friend reminded me that the schools will be teaching the Progressive version of Lincoln.  Of course!  The Gettysburg Address is part of Common Core curriculum!  I remember seeing David Coleman on a video saying something like, “I just wrote a curriculum for the Gettysburg Address.  It takes at least three days and should take six.”  Then he went on to talk about Martin Luther Kings letter from Birmingham Jail, which he thought should take 10 days.  I’ve never found the curriculum itself, but I did see a video of one of Coleman’s employees teaching teachers how to present the Gettysburg lesson.  She only went over the first lesson of the three, and all she did was talk about the vocabulary.  I kept thinking, “Is this all?  What a waste!”

Note:  This newsletter was originally finished by Saturday night, and all I had to do was reread it in the morning and push the button. — but my computer locked up.  On Monday I went into a “stop the presses” mode and thought I needed to studying more and I needed to find the Gettysburg lesson. So now new paragraphs are mixed in.

I found the Exemplar (lesson plan) for the Common Core Gettysburg Address, to download.  There are some good ideas in it but I did see some problems.  First, I wouldn’t want my children/students to rewrite the address; I would want them to understand it as it is written and come to love the beauty of the words.  Secondly, and most important, I disagree completely with the closing point that there could be debate over whether America’s founding was at the time of the Declaration or the Constitution, and that Gettysburg changed America from “the United States are” to “the United States is.” meaning that the “nation preceded the states, in time and importance…”  or that the federal government trumps the states.  That notion destroys the concept of Federalism, or States’ Rights.  It is completely, totally wrong.

If you read this Exemplar and see anything else that is troublesome, please share your comments.

Because the children in Utah public schools, and probably in other states as well, will be studying this Common Core lesson and being told a fundamental mistruth, I suggest that you go to David Barton’s website, Wallbuilder’s.com, and download the mp3 of “God in the Constitution.”  It will cost just $4.95, and you will see that the two documents are tied together and how the Constitution was grounded in Biblical teachings.  Knowing this will also make next year’s reading of the Old Testament more meaningful.

November 19th marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.  Learn it.  Understand it.  Teach it.  In Utah, students will be reciting the Gettysburg Address all over the state, and what will they be learning?  Be prepared to teach truth where you can.  And enjoy Stan Ellsworth’s American Ride episodes on the Civil War on KBYUtv.

Common Core Update:  Disagreement in the Districts  
The  R- 6 A School District in East Newton, Missouri has passed a resolution to stop Common Core, stating that it is “designed to manipulate states and facilitate unconstitutional federal overreach to standardize and control the education of our children for the purposes of workforce planning.”  Can a District opt out?  No. This was just a Resolution; the contractual documents were signed on the state level.  But hooray for the local district anyway!  They are caught in the middle.  Their teachers are unhappy.  The parents are unhappy.  If the students aren’t unhappy yet, they soon will be.  This is where the real turmoil is going to be, and this is not the first local district to speak out.

On the opposite extreme, there was the man near Baltimore who dared to ask a question during the school board Common Core presentation.  He was removed from the room by a security guard, then arrested and charged with 2nd degree assault.  Another citizen happened to video it, and the video went viral.  The Rutherford lawyer said on Glenn Beck’s show that he would love to represent the dad.  I don’t know if the city was listening, but the charges were dropped; however, the city made it known that they “had cause,” a move meant to scare anyone else from speaking out.

I will say that when a frustrated person stands up and talks over people in a meeting, he has to expect something to happen next.  Maybe we need to be careful how we handle such meetings. Maybe there are smarter ways to do these things. Maybe we need to attend in groups, working together. My suggestion would be: 1) record everything on video.  “Think evidence” my lawyer friend says.  2)  Ask that the presenters state the rules of the meeting and the times (how long the presentation will be, how much time will be given to answering questions, what time the building will close, etc.)  Ask beforehand and get the answer in writing if possible.  In Baltimore the man was accused of not following the rules of the meeting.  I’m sure the board laid the rules out beforehand. I’ve been to such meetings and I’ve seen the strategy.  In this care the board made a presentation, took written questions, then played a video, and then answered selected questions. They do get to make the rules; you get to vote them out of office.  3) Sit patiently through their skewed, drawn out presentation.  Record it.  4) Then have someone scan the questions as people turn them in so you will have a record of what was asked.  5) Sit patiently through their video.  Record it if they don’t stop you.  Don’t fight it; it’s probably online anyway.  I assume that in Baltimore they were sorting out the questions while the video was playing.  6) Sit patiently through the answering of the questions. Record everything.  6) Then go home and put it all out on social media — the boring presentation, the questions that weren’t answered, etc.  7) Call another meeting and walk the streets giving people a good piece of literature and inviting them to watch the video of the last meeting and then to come to your group’s meeting. We need to be firm, professional, and kind.  These people are also being threatened by someone above them.

And now, as I was proof reading for a final time, comes one more school district superintendent this one from Idaho  God bless him.

Columbus Day
A man much maligned in public schools is Christopher Columbus.  If you search the Church website you will find quite a few good references to him, enough to assign out some to each family member.  And there is a good book, Christopher Columbus, a Latter-day Saint Perspective, by Church educator Arnold Garr, written from the viewpoint that Columbus “was not just a skilled, courageous sailor but was also a chosen instrument in the hands of God.”  The book is out of print, but it is available on Amazon Kindle and there are several used copies available.  Be sure to investigate the temple endowments that President WIlford Woodruff administered vicariously to many eminent men and women in the St. George temple.  Four men were made high priests:  Washington, Franklin, Wesley, and Columbus.

Happy homeschooling,
Joyce
and now I’m leaving again, for a week, again without internet!

PS  After listening to one of Larry Arnn’s addresses again (I think it was The Founders’ Key), I read Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address and noticed something very interesting.  Dr. Arnn had said that the only way to change government is through elections, which gives us time to think before we act.  He knows Lincoln well.  I read the First Inaugural, and Lincoln said:

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.
My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject.

That is certainly the intended way, but I think Lincoln also mentioned another way to stop presidential mischief: defunding.  Here is what he said:

Doing this [preserving the Union] I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

Our U.S. House of Representatives voted to defund Obamacare.  Senator Mike Lee and Representative Ted Cruz led the fight, and they are both really good men who have spent their whole lives, from childhood, studying and loving our Constitution (as did Rand Paul).  Their legislation defunded only Obamacare; all other government funding would have continued. Getting the bill through the Senate was not possible, but at least they didsomething and they got the attention of the American people.  Or at least some of them.  The hours of testimony Senator Cruz gave explaining why Obamacare is bad were not covered by the mainstream news outlets.  Here is a clip from TheBlaze.com that will give you an idea of Senator Cruz’s character.

And if you are confused about what is going on, here is Senator Lee’s explanation.

Will our Union “constitutionally defend and maintain itself”?  Isn’t it the same issue today — the balancing of power between the states and the feds.  Did Lincoln get it right?  Will we?

Constitution Day | Common Core Update

Celebrating Constitution Day in 1987

FIRST PRESIDENCY MESSAGE
Our Dear Brothers and Sisters:
On September 17, 1987, we commemorate the two-hundredth birthday of the signing of the United States Constitution. The group of inspired men assembled for that convention produced the document that the Prophet Joseph Smith referred to as “a glorious standard” and “a heavenly banner.” In commemoration of this important event, we are providing this booklet, which contains three family home evening lessons, activity ideas, and a copy of the Constitution. We encourage you to prepare and teach each lesson prayerfully so that family members may feel the divine significance of the Constitution in their minds and hearts.
Faithfully, your brethren,
The First Presidency
President Ezra Taft Benson.
President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor
President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor

I still have my copy of that booklet, as do other patriot people.  It has been posted on a website and I believe President Monson would be pleased if we were to use it.

Celebrating Constitution Day in 2013

My friend, Kathy Smith, has been putting on a community celebration of Constitution Day for several years.  This year she has Stan Ellsworth coming to speak in Layton UT (Tues, Sept 15) and I’m excited to go.  Few of our readers live near Layton UT,  but everyone can watch Stan’s program, American Ride, on KBYUtv. Stan is a biker who takes you on field trips to historic places and tells the stories.  He is a great story-teller.  There are 52 episodes of American Ride on KBYUtv.  From the Constitution Day Celebration website:  “Stan takes viewers to where American history happened and brings history to life.  Stan is a gifted speaker and believes deeply in America’s past and future.  ‘I’m concerned that a lot of kids don’t remember who we are.  I just want to be a voice reminding us of our greatness.'”

Celebrating Constitution Day with Hillsdale College

After watching a video mentioned in our next article, I discovered the Hillsdale College is a national treasure  Their YouTube page has enough videos to keep us learning for a long time.  For Constitution Day I recommend President Larry Arnn’s address, The Founders’ Key.


Common Core Update:  State/National Common Core

School administrators insist on calling the new National standards “State” or “state led.”  Not true.  As implementation progresses, the intent is to substitute choice and individuality with control and sameness.  Decisions are made on the federal level, not be parents, teachers, or local administrators.  The scope is “P-20” (preschool through college). States and local districts conform or they are punished with the loss of federal funding.

It is interesting that Satan’s victory over agency in education seems almost certain now, just when various means of school choice (vouchers, charters, on-lines, private, homeschooling) have also been winning great victories. We are certainly involved in a last-days war, and at risk are our children’s futures and our religious liberty. Parents and students must take a stand. We are in God’s army, or not. We are for Constitutional principles, or not. We are willing to pay the price, or not. No victory will be won without sacrifice.

The following video is the testimony of Hillsdale College Professor Terrence Moore given before the Indiana State Legislature in August 2013. Dr. Moore explains, among other important things, that Common Core will change over the years.

The next video is an interview with Robert Scott, the former Texas Commissioner of Education, who turned down Common Core because of the loss of local control and the high costs involved.

Should you want to share these videos with your legislators, both can also be found on the What Is Common Core blog, here and here.


The Foundation of American Public Education

Why did our Founders encourage public schools?  What is the purpose of public schools? Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn tells us about Thomas Jefferson, the Northwest Ordinance, and what the Founders had in mind in an address titled 
The American Founders on Civic Education
.


I am finally getting the website updated!LDSHEA.org  It feels so good to have conquered a few of my technical challenges there, but I still have a long way to go, which includes moving Common Core to it’s own page, getting information on the left sidebar, and making some videos on math, English, and homeschooling.  I’d appreciate any suggestions you have for improving the site.
Happy Constitution Day!
Joyce

Common Core: David Barton and Guests, the Glenn Beck Show

September 2, 2013

Common Core Update: David Barton and Guests, the Glenn Beck Show

On Friday, Aug 23rd, David Barton hosted the Glenn Beck show. His guests were about forty citizens and legislators from various states who had been in Texas for two days strategizing on how best to stop Common Core. The show was excellent and should be seen all over. A clip of David Coleman, who is writing the Common Core curriculum, is spooky. He was talking to a group of tech people and is saying that their data collecting is what won the presidential election. No wonder they are so excited about data mining — it’s as much about elections as it is about controlling education and the workforce. Please share this program with your friends.

The link is http://youtu.be/JyCPC3S7Sy0

Common Core: Pornographic Reading Assignment, The Bluest Eye

September 2, 2013

Common Core Update: Pornographic Reading Assignment, The Bluest Eye

Promoters of Common Core keep telling us that students will be reading The Constitution and the Gettysburg Address. We worry, of course, what the class discussion will be. And what else will students be reading?

Public schools have long assigned inappropriate books for student reading. The Bluest Eye has been on high school reading lists for some time, having been endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. Common Core continues to want students to read this book, which the author says is intended to cause reader to identify as a “co-conspirator” with the pedophile. I have read excerpts, and I suggest you avoid that exercise if you can. Certainly no young, unmarried person should be exposed to such pornography.

Students in the Alpine UT district were given a list of books to be read over the summer, which included The Bluest Eye, and some students did read it. What sadness I feel for those students.

Here are some links if you want to know more:

Fox Channel 13TV interviewed a mother from Lehi UT who discovered The Bluest Eye on her school’s book list. Also interview was Eagle Forum President, Gayle Ruzicka who told it like it is, Then a university professional made ridiculous statements. Why would a book like this be held up as a standard? What parent wants to send a child to a school where pornography illustrates proper reading complexity? What teacher wants to go looking for more porn to share with students? Except for some excellent teachers, many of whom are retiring because of Common Core, can we trust anyone in education? http://fox13now.com/2013/08/30/parents-upset-over-books-placement-on-high-schools-suggested-reading-list/

Alpine District School Board Member, Wendy Hart, mentions the The Bluest Eye in an excellent blog post about how testing drives curriculum — over which parents and teachers have no control under Common Core. She says the known motto in education is “a student attains ‘higher-order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong.” Hard to argue with that. How sad that a whole private school class was forced to read the book because it was on the test. When are people going to stand up and say No! http://wendy4asd.blogspot.com/2013/08/no-man-can-serve-two-masters-school.html

This story out of Park City about a different unacceptable book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, indicates incompetence, carelessness, and a casual attitude on the part of the district. “District leaders said they could have prevented the reaction, but parents should have contacted teachers immediately because there were other reading options.” Prevented the reaction! How about preventing immoral books from being on the reading list. The Superintendent said “. . . they [parents] just didn’t know about it. . .(the alternate books) were stated verbally but in the paperwork they weren’t there, so we’ve learned.” They’ve learned what? To make sure parents know about all the pornographic books being promoted by the school and talked about by the students?
http://www.ksl.com/?sid=26616162&nid=148&s_cid=rss-extlink

Here’s a guest editorial with an opposing view and a couple of good comments after that tell us more about the book. The editorial shows us why religious people need religious schools. http://www.parkrecord.com/letters-to-the-editor/ci_23957568/guest-editorial?source=most_emailed

More dark books, from New Jersey
http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2011/08/23/school-reading-list-featured-books-on-lesbian-sex-gay-orgy/

And as always, Christel Swaysey, our best informed expert, has written the state school board and blogged about The Bluest Eye. Most likely Christel’s blog is what alerted the mother who was interviewed by Channel 13.
http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2013/08/26/a-sickening-turn-of-events-common-core-approved-pornography-may-or-may-not-be-on-this-years-standardized-test/

The state school board member wrote back to Christel: “This is not a book or text that would be likely be approved by schools in Utah.” Here is a link to the Lehi High School 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th Grade Reading Lists on which the book was listed. None of the links are working now.
http://lehienglish.weebly.com/reading-lists.html

To read the graphic clips from The Bluest Eye (if you must) and some comments from professionals, go to Politichicks:
http://politichicks.tv/column/warning-graphic-common-core-approved-child-pornography/

Why is it that homeschoolers find so many good books to read and the professionals can’t? Why don’t more families walk away?

Let’s give a Prophet, President John Taylor, the last word:

And what is Zion? The pure in heart. We want to organize in such a way, and advocate and maintain such correct principles, that they will become the admiration of all honest men, who will flee that they can be protected and find safety and an asylum in Zion. What of that? Are we going to follow them then? No, no, no, we are not. Are we going to be governed by their notions? No, we are not. Are we going to mix up with their Babylonish ideas? No, we are not . . . . our moral and social ideas are very different, and while I accord to them all the civil liberties that any reasonable men should want, I do not wish to be governed by his standard of morality, nor do I wish him to teach my children. Why? Simply because I do not wish them perverted. No Gentile or reasonable man would find fault with me for that. He does not want me to teach his children my faith. All right, he can keep them away, and I want to keep mine from his influences. Why? Because we are associated with things that are eternal in their consequences. We are aiming at the celestial glory. – Journal of Discourses, quoted in Preparing & Protecting the Saints in the Last Day, compiled by Arlene Kay Butler, p.60

Technology and the Culture of Learning

September 2, 2013
Technology and the Culture of Learning

Recently in a Relief Society lesson we got onto the subject of technology.  Several sisters commented about people playing games on their phones in the midst of family gatherings.  One sister said she and her husband were on a dinner date and realized they were each immersed in their own technology while waiting to be served.  Another said her children were very unhappy when she required them to put away their devices while on a family vacation.  She put an audio book into the cd player and they complained again, but eventually they began to enjoy the book and would ask to hear it.

I thought about that a bit, realizing that the cd player is also technology.  In that rare situation the technology was under parental control, and by their action the parents changed the family culture, at least for a time, and blessed the children’s lives.

Then I remembered something from Elder Richard G. Scott’s April 2013 Conference message, which I had listened to that morning. He said:

  • You live in a world where technological advances occur at an astounding pace. It is difficult for many of my generation to keep up with the possibilities. Depending on how technology is used, these advances can be a blessing or a deterrent. Technology, when understood and used for righteous purposes, need not be a threat but rather an enhancement to spiritual communication.

Then the light went on: It’s not the technology, it’s the use of the technology!

Technology is similar to guns. Both are tools. Both operate at the touch of a finger, one more easily so than the other. Guns don’t jump up and shoot; they lie motionless until a human puts them to use either to kill or to protect.  Or to obtain food.  Or for recreation.  Taking guns from responsible people leaves the community without the benefits that the Lord and our Founding Fathers intended us to have, and that government’s job is to protect.

Likewise, technology lies motionless until it is put in a human hand. People often use technology to “kill” themselves and others, but responsible people use it bless lives.  Taking technology away leaves us without its benefits.

And just what are those benefits?  I submit that the Lord’s purpose in giving us these technological devices are to enhance our ability to learn and to communicate. I think He’s fine with a little bit of recreational use.  Here is more from Elder Scott:

  • For example, many of us have a personal electronic device that fits into our pocket. We are seldom without its company; we may refer to it many times a day. Unfortunately, these devices can be a source of filth and wasted time. But, used with discipline, this technology can be a tool of protection from the worst of society. Who could have imagined not very many years ago that the full standard works and years of general conference messages would fit into your pocket? Just having them in your pocket will not protect you, but studying, pondering, and listening to them during quiet moments of each day will enhance communication through the Spirit.

    Be wise in how you embrace technology. Mark important scriptures on your device and refer back to them frequently. If you young people would review a verse of scripture as often as some of you send text messages, you could soon have hundreds of passages of scripture memorized. Those passages would prove to be a powerful source of inspiration and guidance by the Holy Ghost in times of need.
Why is it that we don’t use our technology as Elder Scott suggests?  Many do, but I really think that most people simply haven’t thought of their devices as learning tools.  They play games because they have no conception of or connection to being lifetime learners. Can we do better?  Can we teach our children the correct use of technology?  Only if we as parents first develop a love of learning and the habit of using our devices as learning tools.

I did it right once, not too long ago.  I had been offered a good deal on a tablet, so I bought it and set up some expectations about how I would use it.  Soon a granddaughter came over for a short time while she was waiting for her parents.  She saw my tablet and asked to play a game.  Knowing that she was a horse lover, I asked if she had ever seen the Lipizzan horses.  She hadn’t heard of them, so we spent a delightful half hour on YouTube watching those beautiful animals working together in the arena. That time spent helped us each develop a tiny bit of our personal culture of lifetime learning.

Newborns and toddlers are curious, questioning learning machines, but somewhere along the line, usually in upper elementary school, that desire to learn is often lost and the questions stop.  Sometimes it seems the more schooling a person has the less likely he is to ever pick up a book just because he is hungry for knowledge.  I wonder if too much acted-upon, high pressure studying loaded on students over too many years leaves them with little experience in the joyful, unhurried, self-directed experience of learning with the Holy Ghost.

Once we reclaim our love of lifetime learning and we develop the habit of using technology as a learning tool as part of our personal culture, then we can work at building a family culture of lifetime learning.  Maybe we can make changes in the “architecture” of our home, arranging tables and books and wall hangings to invite learning.  Maybe we can upgrade our family dinner conversations, our tv viewing, and our Facebook postings.

For our children, the technology may require a “limited use permit” and an understanding of the word covenant as we teach them correct principles and help them practice governing themselves.  Our loving Father expects us to use His great gift of technology wisely to help us become more fit for the Zion society we are to be building.

So if bad things are happening, don’t blame the technology.  Blame the cultures — personal, family, community, school, political, etc.  Fix the ones we can and withdraw from the ones we can live without.

Surprise!  After failing to get this newsletter sent out on Saturday, I discovered today that the Church has made a request regarding the 2014 curriculum materials:

  • Before ordering, consider the following questions to help you avoid ordering more printed copies than needed:
    How many printed copies of each item does your unit already have available?
    How many teachers and members use digital versions of materials rather than printed copies?