Monthly Archives: July 2014

Utah Governor Reconsidering Common Core

July 21, 2014

Utah Governor Reconsidering Common Core!

Miraculously, on Thursday Governor Herbert called a press conference to announce a reexamination of Common Core. He has asked the Attorney General’s office for a legal investigation of federal involvement, and he has set up parent and professional committees to work on other aspects.  That afternoon the Governor appeared on the weekly radio program of Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka.  To hear exactly what he is proposing, go to the archive list here, then scroll down to on Gayle Ruzicka, then to 2014 0717 Gayle, Gov. Herbert & Scott.mp3. If you stay for the second hour you will hear Constitutional Scholar Scott Bradley explain that the founders purposely left education in the hands of the states. The Federal government was given no Constitutional role in education.  This will be time well spent.

If you have extra time and really want to read articles about the governor’s announcement, see the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune.  To see Gayle maligned in the online publications, see Utah Policy.  For a short, sane national overview, see Breitbart.  Gayle is the heroine on many Utah issues — and she is the most hated woman in the state.  Go to the Utah Eagle Forum website and read the principles for which the organization stands; they are right on the front page!  What is there to complain about? In other states, check the national Eagle Forum website to find your state organization.

Attend the July 22 Live Broadcast –TOMORROW!
Many small miracles have led to this opportunity for Utah to remove its children from Common Core. One of those little miracles is the timing of the governor’s announcement right before the We Will Not Conform strategy event, a live broadcast from Glenn Beck’s Dallas studio to 650 theaters throughout the nation tomorrow evening, July 22.  Michelle Malcom and David Barton will also be speaking.  Ten Utahns, including Gayle Ruzicka, Utah State Representative Brian Greene, Davis School District Board member Peter Cannon, and several grassroots activists, including Alisa Ellis & Whitne Strain will be in the Dallas audience.  The rest of Utah will be in our local theaters where new technology is being used to make this event interactive. Take your phone or tablet in case you decide to tweet or text.

Wherever you live, please, please attend. We need a mass turnout at all 650 movie theaters and especially at the ten Utah theaters where the news will be reporting the size of the audience, so we need a show of strength.  I’m sure activists in other states are saying the same. Go here to find the movie theater nearest you .  If the Lord is providing an escape for us, it will not be handed to us on a silver platter; we will have to do the work!

Self-Education Distruptively Innovates College

Disruptive Innovation is a theory developed by Clayton Christensen, about which he has written many books.  We have talked about him before, and I have been studying the subject again in relation to Common Core and college.  I will report on this in a few weeks.  In the meantime, Oliver DeMille has sent out a TEDex talk given by a father in Hong Kong who speaks of homeschooling his children and gives some advice on college.  This is a delightful presentation. See it on Oliver’s post here.

Stay connected; great things are coming,


John Adams on Education and Independence Day

July 16, 2014
I’ve talked long and loud about studying our American Heritage.  There is a reason for that, and I’ll get to it below, but first a few items I left out of Saturday’s post.In that most recent post I mentioned the book, The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, which is available for $9.20 or fee here, here, or here, but I forgot to mention that the book also contains a section explaining the grievances against the king that are listed in the Declaration, something I haven’t seen elsewhere. Although the circumstances are different, those grievances are not unlike the things we deal with today. Tyrants are tyrants. Two quotes I had intended to include will further explain my thoughts about fireworks.  After Independency was passed on July 2, John Adams wrote to Abigail:
“The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”  – John Adams July 3, 1776
The Declaration was quickly printed and copies delivered to newspapers throughout the land, and it was read on many public squares.  It was also sent, probably on the fastest horse, to George Washington in New York where British ships had blockaded the harbor. Washington had been waiting for this announcement and ordered the Declaration to be read to his troops.  Here are his orders:

Head Quarters, New York, July 9, 1776.
The Hon. The Continental Congress, impelled by the dictates of duty, policy and necessity, having been pleased to dissolve the Connection which subsisted between this Country, and Great Britain, and to declare the United Colonies of North America, free and independent States: The several brigades are to be drawn up this evening on their respective Parades, at Six OClock, when the declaration of Congress, shewing the grounds and reasons of this measure, is to be read with an audible voice.
The General hopes this important Event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer, and soldier, to act with Fidelity and Courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his Country depends (under God) solely on the success of our arms: And that he is now in the service of a State, possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit, and advance him to the highest Honors of a free Country.

You can see why the occasion of “our deliverance from tyranny,” which came only after much toil and bloodshed, would be followed with celebrations. For Americans today to engage in the celebrations with little thought, knowledge, or participation in the cause of liberty, is somehow sad. What enemy hath done this to our country?

In Utah we have fireworks again on the 24th of July, the day the pioneers entered the Salt Lake valley.  On that day I like to revisit President Boyd K. Packer’s talk, “The Test,” October 2008.  It amazes me that no ward or stake, to my knowledge, has sought to recognize or recreate that pioneer celebration of our American heritage.  Also sad.

What John Adams Said
Now, for the other John Adams quote which will lead us to where I believe homeschool will be going next, finally!  While I was still in the Independence Day Mode on Monday, I watched a few YouTube video scenes from the HBO production of John Adams.  I have never knowingly watched anything on HBO (remembering them from the early cable tv battles), but the clips I saw were fine.  Then I found a wonderful Library of Congress interview with David McCullough.  I had listened to his book on CD, then I bought a copy of the book but never could find a particular quote in it. This was such an amazing interview, but I wanted Mr. McCullogh to open up my computer screen and tell me where in his book he put the quote I need.  I was surprised when he actually picked up a copy of his book that was on the table and read from it!  (That gave me a clue to where in the book I should look.)  Meanwhile, here it is, in the biographer’s own voice, right from the transcript that is linked to the page.  (You can watch or listen to the interview as you follow the transcript, my favorite way to enjoy a talk).  Historian David McCullogh:

. . . I wanted to just read this because I think it’s one of the most potent things ever said by an American.  It’s — it was written for his family.  It wasn’t written for a public address or anything.  It’s very short.  He said, “I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.  My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children” — and you notice he shifts from his sons to children.  So, he’s bringing women in, “to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”  Now, that’s the upward climb for him.  Not so that they’ll get rich, or they’ll get powerful, or they’ll be celebrities.  It’s the rise of a cultivated, civilized, civilization that he foresees.  And it all comes out of what you do at the beginning, building this foundation, creating this country.

In our case, I believe it is critical that we and our children study our American Heritage so we, and they, can restore liberty, so their children can study Vikings and Pyramids if they choose. In other words, I don’t believe we have the luxury of spending years of homeschooling in ancient history, as most curriculum programs are set up to do. We have to continue the upward climb in the midst of our own war.  Our window of opportunity may be brief.

Our church programs are leading the way, but what wonderful friends we have.  Mr. McCullough shares some excellent advice about studying history, far away from government schooling philosophies.  Thank you, sir.  This is our first “teacher training” lesson for the summer.

I was excited to hear that McCullough is writing a book on aviation, spanning the Wright Brothers through Charles Lindbergh.  What a great “text” for our young men!  It won’t be out until the Spring of 2015, so they have a school year to get their basic American Heritage learned and then a summer to spend in the sky!


Coming next:
1. A lot more information about that upward educational climb is coming. We have two books to suggest, so save a few pennies.
2. You’ve heard that the AP History test has been aligned to Common Core.  Don’t panic yet.  A disruptive innovation is coming.

Independence Day: Have you celebrated it yet?

July 12, 2014
In recent years I have celebrated America’s Birthday by watching the movie 1776.  I watch it alone, in the early morning or when everyone else is at the fireworks.  Much of the language is objectionable.  My dvd (the 1972 G-rated version) has been edited to remove the inappropriate use of the Lord’s name, although there are still some other inappropriate things that have prevented me from inviting my family to watch it.  (The later version in which footage originally cut has been restored is rated PG and is longer.  It may be the only one available.)The characters are often incorrectly portrayed, of course, but the inaccuracies move me to study a little bit every year to get to know our Founders. This year I found a particularly good book (hiding in plain sight on my bookshelf) that tells the story of the Declaration and gives the biographies of the signers.  It is a reprint of an 1848 publication entitled The Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, by Benson Lossing, republished by David Barton at Wallbuilders.  I strongly recommend the book.The portrayals of John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin are what I love most about the movie; however, although far less literary license taken with them, what is taken may be much more egregious.  For instance, at one point shortly before the final vote we have this conversation, which appears on the 3-minute trailer:Dickinson: …why do you refer to King George as a tyrant?
Jefferson:  Because he is a tyrant.
Dickinson:  I remind you, Mr. Jefferson, that this “tyrant” is still your King.
Jefferson:  When a king becomes a tyrant he thereby breaks the contract binding his subjects to him.
Dickinson:  How so?
Jefferson:  By taking away their rights.
Dickinson: Rights that came from him in the first place.
Jefferson:  All except one – the right to be free comes from nature.

This conversation appears on the 3 minute trailer.

What does “comes from nature” mean?  The actual line in the Declaration is, “the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” Apparently the writers wanted to leave God out of the story except when using His name as a pejorative.

What did the words “nature and nature’s God” mean to the Founders?  William Blackstone (1723-1780) explained:

  • As man depends absolutely upon his Maker for everything, it is necessary that he should in all points conform to his Maker’s will. This will of his Maker is called the law of nature. . . . This law of nature, being coeval [coexistent] with mankind and dictated by God Himself is, of course, superior in obligation to any other. It is binding over all the globe, in all countries, and at all times; no human laws are of any validity if contrary to this. . . . The doctrines thus delivered we call the revealed or divine law and they are to be found only in the Holy Scriptures [i.e., the “laws of nature’s God”]. . . . Upon these two foundations, the law of nature and the law of revelation, depend all human laws; that is to say, no human laws should be suffered [permitted] to contradict these.
When I went on Amazon today I discovered over 600 reviews of 1776.  I only read a few pages, but I found that many people watch this movie on the Forth of July.  I had thought I was the only one!  I also learned that nearly everyone in my small sample who commented was moved by the movie, most accepted it as a true representation, and only one mentioned that it was not necessarily accurate.  No wonder our country is so confused.  Storytelling is powerful, and this story is especially so.  Because I know that the Founders were inspired, religious men, I hadn’t realized that other people might not.This year I did attend the fireworks because we had family visiting from out of state.  A few days later Glenn Beck commented that he and others of his staff and audience had felt differently this year watching fireworks; something was missing.  His comments made me think about what I have felt in rcent years, and I can now put my own feelings into words:  After so many generations of false teaching of American history in our homes and schools, I don’t think most people know what we should be celebrating.  Maybe some are celebrating fireworks and possibly a vague idea of “free,” but not the Declaration of 1776 and all that goes with it.  How can we celebrate what we don’t know?  If we were to light candles on a decorated cake to celebrate the birthday of someone we’ve never met and isn’t present, would it be soul-satisfying?  Candles are fun, cake tastes good, but having nothing to connect us to a reason for the celebration makes the event shallow.Have you celebrated Independence Day yet?  If you watched the fireworks and came away feeling empty, or if you want to celebrate again, may I suggest that you watch President Hinckley’s 1997 Freedom Festival presentation, made available by Zion Tube, my favorite video resource.And then may I suggest that we all commit to learning our nation’s founding documents, history, and principles.  This is not just something nice to do; it is imperative if we want to save our country.  And it’s not just for homeschoolers; it’s for all Americans. We should teach our neighbors.  The time is short.

Someday we may have the privilege of meeting our nation’s founding patriots, and it might please them if we knew them accurately and appreciated their contributions.  We surely need their help now.

Celebrating the 4th of July should be a rich spiritual experience.  I don’t know whether 1776 should be part of your celebration, but try this closing scene, with my apologies for any bad words.