Escape Common Core

May 26, 2014

Escape Common Core
by Joyce Kinmont

On Conference Saturday mornings, my husband and I attend a private breakfast meeting in Salt Lake to learn about current issues. For the most recent breakfast, I was invited to prepare a short talk on Common Core, which I titled “Escape Common Core.” My goal was to make every word count. I don’t know how well I achieved that goal, but after the presentation I moved the goal post and stopped counting words, references, and comments and ended up with more than 20 pages of information. It is now on the website, linked to the text explaining the video on the front page, center column. There is enough information there to keep folks busy for a while. It’s a Primer for learning three things: a) Our prophets have warned us that the schools are destroying our children, but we haven’t listened, b) the Lord wants us and our children to have a religious education but we haven’t listed, and c) the Church is giving us the pattern for teaching our children.

Here is the talk:

For the written script and notes, please go to our website. The website has two addresses, one that is shorter to type and one that is easier to remember or to tell people over the phone:

LDS Home Educators Assn website: http://www.ldshea.org or
Every Home a School: http://www.everyhomeaschool.org

What Manner of School Ought We to Have?

I was out driving one day and thought to turn my radio on just minutes before an hour break and just in time to hear the last question in an interview with Dr. Raymond Moody who speaks about near-death experiences. The questions was about the people who stayed on the other side for the longest amounts of time, and Dr. Moody said the thing they all talked about was seeing multitudes of people going into beautiful buildings of education.  They were excited about learning. Naturally I thought of the 24 temples in Joseph Smith’s plat plan for the New Jerusalem in Missouri.

What will a school in Zion be like?  Will it be like early American schools?  The Founders envisioned government encouraged education. The Northwest Ordinance, signed into law by George Washington, directed the circumstances under which new states to the west of the original thirteen would be admitted to the union.  The ordinance said, “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”  Land was set aside in the middle of each township for a school.  The schools were built and run locally.  Thomas Jefferson supported taxation.  He said, “Let our countrymen know that the people alone can protect us against these evils [tyranny, oppression, etc.] and that the tax which will be paid for this purpose is not more than the thousandth part of what will be paid to kings, priests and nobles who will rise up among us if we leave the people in ignorance.”

The reason the Founders wanted schools in every community was to protect our liberties.  How much of what is done in school today prepares students to protect their liberties? How much actually destroys “religion, morality, and [true] knowledge”?  Should we, then, restore the early American pattern of schools?  Should schools again be established under state constitutions, without federal involvement?  Should they be overseen and supported by taxation at the local community level rather than at the federal level?  Or might there be an even better way?

The Brigham Young Academy was founded in 1876 in Provo, Utah, 20 years before statehood and the adoption of “free” schools in Utah.  President Brigham Young called Carl Maeser to head the academy and told him not to teach “so much as the alphabet or the multiplications tables without the Spirit of God.”  The story was told by Terry Warner in a BYU Devotional address on November 11, 2008.  Brother Warner also established a permanent exhibit on the BYU campus as a tribute to the Academy and the great men and women who taught there.  The Academy was technically a high school, but I suspect the courses were more challenging and the students more mature in that day before the invention of “teenage.”  (Thanks to the new changes in our church, our teenage culture is changing.)

I first discovered Brother Warner’s Devotional a couple of years after he gave it, and wondered how anyone could watch it and not want such a school for their children.  I watched and read the devotional many times and visited the exhibit at BYU.  Now, three years later, I watched the talk again and it seemed quite different.  I heard things I didn’t remember hearing before and was so stunned by some of it that I downloaded the text again and compared it to the one I had saved in 2011, which was actually entitled “The Education of the Whole Soul.”  (The title is still the same on the print out, but on the BYU website it is listed as “The Lighters of Our Lamps.”).  The words are still the same!  I am amazed.  The only explanation I can see is that our situation has changed in the last year or two with the rapidity we see in Book of Mormon accounts.  Last night I attended a small meeting at which people spoke of having feelings that they need to start a private school.

If you’ve read Brother Warner’s devotional speech before, please read it again. It is very moving and quite sobering.  Whatever we do in education, we want to be on the path to that City of Zion.  Are there clues here about what that path might be.

We will be coming back to this topic soon to look at more schools.

For further study:

The American Founding Fathers, more Jefferson quotes:  http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/quotations-education

Terry Warner, “Lighters of our Lamps,” text, audio, and video
http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1813

Joyce

Common Core: Oozing in Through the Side Door

October 31, 2013

If, by the grace of God, we are able to stop Common Core in state legislatures, it isn’t really going away.  The same people will still be running education in our country, and their goals won’t change.  They may have to take a step back and try some different approaches.  Oh, wait!  They already are using different approaches.  They got caught sneaking in the back door when no one was watching, but they have other gigs going.  Now they are blatantly oozing their way in the side door.  I never thought I’d see a headline with the words “Cradle to Career,” but here we are in Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.  (bolding and comments are mine)

  • Salt Lake City launches cradle to career education initiative
    By Christopher Smart, The Salt Lake Tribune, Oct 23, 2013
    They’re calling it the Capital City Education Collaboration Agreement. [Is there a Capital City in your state? Or do they mean something else since they spelled Capitol incorrectly?]
    Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake City Schools Superintendent McKell Withers joined with officials Wednesday from half a dozen agencies and organizations to begin forming an education framework “to cultivate a college, career and civic-ready environment.”
    This is a symbolic event that binds us to a mission to do more for Salt Lake City kids from the time they are born to the day they enter college,” Withers said.
    The initiative, organized by the National League of Cities, is an outgrowth of the Lumina Foundation program that focuses on education and success. The League of Cities selected Salt Lake City in 2011 to participate. It is one of eight participating U.S. cities, according to League spokeswoman Majorie Cohen.  Among those joining Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake City School District in the initiative are the University of Utah, Salt Lake Community College and the Salt Lake Chamber. One of the group’s goals is to “identify and provide access to education and career pathways for all youth and families,” according to the mayor.
    This is a first of its kind for us to bring private and public sectors [unelected, just like Common Core] together in a commitment to shared goals,” Becker said. “Plans don’t mean anything unless they are embraced by the people involved.”
    Members of the new alliance will meet regularly to establish, among other things, fundraising resources and strategies and develop long-range planning and goal setting, according to the mayor’s office.
  • Getting a jump on life, one Utah preschooler at a time
    The Salt Lake Tribune Oct 24 2013
    Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams and councilmen Sam Granato and Richard Snelgrove received first-hand evidence Thursday of the benefits stemming from a $350,000 county investment in a private/public partnership to boost preschool education.
    At McAdams’ behest, the county council allocated the money to enable an additional 600 disadvantaged children to get into previously full Granite District preschools this fall. The county money is a triggering mechanism that will help the United Way to use $1 million in private funds from Goldman Sachs and the J.B. & M.K. Pritzker Family Foundation to expand preschools.
    (picture heading)  McAdams believes giving more children a better early start on life will help them become meaningful community contributors, decreasing future expenses for the county’s criminal justice and behavioral health systems.

It is true that the financial drain on schools because of low achieving students is enormous.  This may be one of the unsolvable problems of a society in free fall.  If we can’t teach the mothers and improve the families, we can’t stop the problem.  Notice that the next article is out of Washington. Hmmm.

  • Utah selected to host after-school learning summit
    Deseret News  Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013
    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Utah Afterschool Network has been selected by theNational League of Cities as one of five networks nationwide to host a statewide Mayoral Summit on Afterschool and Expanded Learning in 2014.
          Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker will co-host with the network, the Utah League of Cities and Towns, and other partners to bring together city leaders, state agency officials and school and community partners to focus on expanding after-school opportunities for children and youth in the state.
    “Education is the foundation of a sustainable community 

    and paramount to the social and economic viability for all cities in our nation,” Becker said. “It is essential that children have an equitable opportunity for extended learning and enrichment through constructive after-school programming.”
    The network will receive $9,000 in grant funding and strategic planning assistance from the National League of Cities. Additionally, the Utah Afterschool Network will partner with the Utah League of Cities and Towns and mayors to host the summits with the funding support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and The Wallace Foundation.
          More information will be available through the presentation “Municipal Leadership for Afterschool Learning” on Thursday, Sept. 12, at 3 p.m. at theAnnual Utah League of Cities and Towns Convention at the Sheraton Hotel, 150 W. 500 South in Salt Lake City.

This article didn’t mention preschool, but remember that Arne Duncan, Secretary of the Department of Education, wants schools open 6-7 days a week, all day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  He was well into that program as Superintendent of Chicago schools.

What used to be K-12 recently became PK16 which meant preschool through college, and has now become P20W, meaning prenatal into the workforce.  If you need a good Halloween scare, just watch this six minute video out of Oregon.

All this bad news seems fitting for Halloween.  We’ll have some good news next time. Promise. 
Joyce

The Preschool Frenzy

October 31, 2013

We become enamored with men’s theories such as the idea of preschool training outside the home for young children. Not only does this put added pressure on the budget, but it places young children in an environment away from mother’s influence. – Ezra Taft Benson, October 1981

I have watched over the years as preschool has become more and more accepted and expected. I have heard the stress in the voices of young moms trying to find the right preschool, fearing that a wrong choice would harm their child forever. But the wrong choice may have already been made.

Little of what a young child really needs is offered in preschool, especially as preschool is about to become.  The things that matter most are the “inner” things, the things of the heart and the character.  When a mother believes that a professional can do a better job than she can  in the early years, she devalues herself and misunderstands the Plan of Happiness.  Earth life is simply a school for the family. The home is the greenhouse and the respite center and the classroom for our personal, spiritual, biological, social, emotional, and academic development. The right choice for a mother, when circumstances allow, is to engage herself fully in the beautiful, purposeful rearing of her precious children.

Better Late Than Early
Dr. Raymond Moore, a Seventh-day Adventist educator and researcher, and a strong opponent of preschool who soon became a proponent of homeschooling in the earlier days, taught that even an ordinary mother in an ordinary home is the a best teacher for her own children.  He and his wife authored many books about homeschooling, and he was often asked to testify to legislatures and in court cases. His advocacy began with an article in the Reader’s Digest against preschool.  There was so much response that the Digest asked him to write a book.  He wrote two: Better Late Than Early and School Can Wait.  He was mocked by his profession after the first one, so he wrote the second one with the same message, but in education jargon, and it was published by BYU.  Apparently the Church was also opposed to preschool.

Based on solid research, Dr. Moore taught that children were not neurologically ready for formal learning until age 8 or 10 or 12.  He had no concern over the age at which children learned to read because all children are different.  Here is a quote from his book, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook,1988/1994:

  • We have done one of the world’s most extensive research analyses on school readiness in a fruitless search for some justifications, any justification for sendingnormal children away to kindergarten or school at four or five or six or seven.  We’ve found absolutely none!Yet, instead of studying how best to meet our children’s needs, we simply do what everyone else seems to be doing, and often put our little ones out of their homes,their homes, and away from environments that best produce outgoing, healthy, happy, creative children. . . . America is placing its little children in formal settings long before most of them, particularly boys, are ready.
This book is still available on Amazon and Kindle. I highly recommend it.

The Impact of the Earliest Years on Students’ Success
This is a chapter in a book by Clayton M. Christensen, Harvard Professor, author of The Innovator’s Dilemma and other books, and a highly respected church leader.  Search for him on YouTube; you will love him.  The book in which the chapter appears is Disrupting Class, and I highly recommend it although the business parts of it are way over my head.

Brother Christensen writes that “98 percent of education spending occurs after the basic intellectual capacities of children have been mostly determined.”  He quotes the work of Hart and Risley who found that the amazingly simple key is in parents talking to their babies.  They call it “language dancing,” and it is powerfully effective.  He are some quotes from the chapter:

  • [P]arents are engaged face to face with the infant and speak in a fully adult, sophisticated, chatty language–as if the infant were listening, comprehending, and fully responding to the comments.Other scholars have shown that the most powerful factor influencing reading skills is auditory processing skill–the very skill that is honed as infants listen to parents speak to them in sophisticated, adult language.One of the most important findings of the Risley-Hart study was that the level of income, ethnicity, and level of parents’ education had no explanatory power in determining the level of cognitive capacity that the children achieved.  It is all explained by the amount of language dancing, or extra talk, over and above business talk, that the parents engaged in.  It accounted literally for all the variance in outcomes.In other words . . . . some working, poor people talked a lot to their kids and their kids did really well.  Some affluent business people talked very little to their kids and their kids did very poorly. . . . And there is no variance left for race either.  All the variation in outcomes was taken up by the amount of talking, in the family to the babies before age 3.

After studying prekindergarten programs, Brother Christensen wrote, “we have concluded that such programs are an ineffective mechanism for addressing the challenge of better preparing children for school.”

“Of course they are ineffective,” say I.  Children were born to be with their mothers.  Bonding to teacher after teacher causes attachment disorders, but it is considered good socialization if a child is ok with being separated from Mommy.)  Brother Christensen’s suggestion:  “Rather than funding programs that hire people to substitute for parents who aren’t succeeding at preschool talk, quite possibly we might have greater impact if we taught children how to be parents before they become parents.”

I don’t know if Brother Christensen was thinking of a government program here, but someone will be.  Before we do that, let’s look to the home.  Let’s appreciate what God hath done; His hand is in our creation.  He gave babies an assignment to to use their mouths, both for subsistence and for language, beginning in the womb.  He made babies obligate mimickers — what mom does with her mouth baby will try to do.  After that comes the drive and ability to investigate and explore. Then to socialize.  All these Divinely designed “pre-academic” learning activities are facilitated just by daily life within the family and the home and on family outings. The family exists by Divine design.

In preschool, the only life style, profession, or activity being modeled is teaching, and the “world” is only the size of a classroom.  A mom has a much more interesting life, especially when she is aware that her children are learning machines and she is their primary mentor and nurturer.  If there is love and refinement and a learning atmosphere in the family, no one even has to be aware of what they are doing as they prepare the baby’s brain for learning in a way that will be noticed years later.  Love is a powerful force.  No preschool can compete with family.

If government must do something, a “family-is-best” awareness campaign would be helpful; but it’s not likely to happen — there’s no money to be made.  If the government can’t or won’t fix the problem in Babylon, we can at least improve our parental leadership in would-be-Zion and teach truth wherever we can.

Be sure to check out the Hart-Risley website and enjoy their short videos, but remember, this is a program the Lord has already set up in our hearts and brains, so we don’t have to be too clinical about it.  Just be purposeful and pay attention. You are raising your baby and he can walk beside you for a long time to learn from real life.  The Heavens are pleased.

(Someone should do a study about the benefits to babies when their siblings are homeschooled, and the benefits to homeschooling siblings when a baby is in the home.)

Do It Yourself Preschool
If you know someone who just has to have an organized preschool, refer her to the Ensign article  A Do-It-Yourself Nursery School, by Jill Wonnacott Dunford, August 1978.  I wonder how folks in the church office building felt when this plan didn’t take off and become popular with the Mormon moms. Maybe if there had been Pinterest.

This divine service of motherhood can be rendered only by mothers. It may not be passed to others. Nurses cannot do it; public nurseries cannot do it. Hired help cannot do it; kind relatives cannot do it. Only by mother, aided as much as may be by a loving father, brothers and sisters, and other relatives, can the full needed measure of watchful care be given. – President Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, March 1976

If the purpose of your daily employment is simply to get money for a boat or a fancy automobile or some other desirable but unnecessary thing, and in the process you lose the companionship of your children and the opportunity to rear them, you may find that you have lost the substance while grasping at the shadow. – President Gordon B. Hinckley, Oct 1983

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?

A Core of Our Own: With Our Feet Firmly Planted by Joyce Kinmont

August 13, 1013

A Core of Our Own:  With Our Feet Firmly Planted
by Joyce Kinmont

As Latter-day Saints we are engaged in becoming worthy citizens in a Zion society, a society we have to build.  As a part of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, shouldn’t we return to the religious education that was originally understood by Joseph Smith and our early church leaders?

When I wrote a three part article for our website several years ago, I relied on Jack Monnett’s book, Revealed Educational Principles and the Public Schools for understanding and for quotes. I wondered if I dared to use a couple of quotes that included the word “infidelity.” Was the word too strong?  Would people be offended? How was it meant? I decided to use them.  Today I have no question; the word fits.

So let’s visit those quotes again, and some more.

When the legislature passed the Free Education Act of 1890 (and really, “Free” should be written in quotes because it isn’t free; it’s expensive!) President George Q. Cannon wrote in the Juvenile Instructor:

“It will be a great temptation to many people to send their children to the free schools that will now be supported by our taxes, but of what value is learning if it is acquired at the expense of faith.”  – Monnett, p.154

The gospel was not taught in the “free” schools.  The Saints didn’t seem to care.  So President Cannon tried again, in stronger language, in a later issue of the Juvenile Instructor:

There are parents who are very favorable to their children receiving education, but appear to be indifferent as to the character of the teaching which they receive. They do not seem to place any value on their children being taught the principles of their religion. Apparently, therefore, they would as soon their children be taught in schools or colleges where religion is entirely ignored as in an academy taught by Latter-day Saints . . . the Latter-day Saints have forsaken everything for their religion. They have been willing to die for it . . . how persons who have had these feelings concerning religion in their own case can be so careless as to expose their children to infidelity seems a great mystery. -p.161

If Christ is the bridegroom, then unfaithfulness to Him is infidelity.  But the Saints still did not respond.

One frustrated church school principal wrote to Brother Maeser, “We believe the Saints should say today as Israel of old, ‘God hath spoken, let Israel obey and patronize these schools and fill them to overflowing.” –p.155

The Saints heard plenty of counsel, even pleadings, from their leaders.  And the Church did everything possible to reduce tuitions and make obedience easier. But the Saints weren’t willing to make the sacrifices.

Jack points out that their choice was clear.  The Lord’s schools, or man’s.  Follow inspired leaders, or not.  For us the choice is clouded by years of compromise and by our having lived so long in Babylon.

Another friend of mine points out that the very purpose of the state schools was to destroy the Mormon religion.  So why would the Saints fall into that trap?  And why are we still there?

Had those early Saints, some of them the posterity of the pioneers, chosen what seemed at the time to be the hard road, would they have built Zion by now?

Instead they put their church leaders into the same quandary the Utah State School Board found themselves in:  Is it better to have a place at the table than to not have any influence at all?  It seems the School Board used that question as a justification for doing what they wanted to do – receive a “chunk of cash.”  From the taxpayers. (see previous article)  The Church, of course, looked to the Master for answers.  I’m sure there was much sadness.

Jack wrote that enrollment in church schools “peaked at about 10%. . . . Not only was this a sad commentary against the Saints, it was an embarrassment to their leaders. Their enemies, however, were elated.”

Commissioner Jacob Boreman, who had feared that the Mormons would blindly follow their leaders, reported:

These efforts of the Mormon Church are necessarily causing divisions among the membership of the church upon educational matters. This, however, is a healthful sign, as is every act which causes the people to think for themselves. It creates and develops individual independence. The outlook is indeed encouraging. – p.187

Jack wrote:

President Cannon had been one of the chief leaders of the church school movement.  As President Woodruff’s first counselor, he had worked hand and hand with the prophet to bring about a celestial education program that they and all the General Board agreed was a necessary step in creating Zion among the Saints.  When it became clear that church members were more comfortable with an education program “like all the nations,” (1 Sam 8:5) and were not willing to sacrifice or separate themselves from those around them, plans were made to once again work with Latter-day Saint youth in public schools.  It was awkward because the Brethren had been vocal about the differences of public and church education and had pointed out public school weaknesses. Previously, President Cannon had asked the Saints, “of what value is learning if it is acquired at the expense of faith?” He spoke to church educators and observed that “Although infidelity is not directly taught in the public schools, its spirit is fostered by the exclusion of religious education.

“In the summer of 1891, recognizing that a partnership had to be forged in order to continue teaching LDS youth, he said:

“The district schools must be patronized by the Latter-day Saints for many reasons; they are supported, to a large extent, by the taxes of the Latter-day Saints, and it would be well for the children to be trained in those schools at least up to their twelfth year; as it is supposed that this can be done without endangering their faith. Again, we have been accused of being opposed to education and the district school system, and we must not give our traducers the shadow of a foundation on which to rest their charges.” – Monnett, p 192-3

Jack continued:

Necessarily, the foe became the ally.  Competition that had at times been bitter now became friendly.  A new educational direction was given to the Saints. . . . Karl Maeser, who had once labeled public schools “godless,” said in 1898:  “By wise legislation it is provided, that the public schools shall be kept free from partisan politics, sectarian influences, and the inculcation of infidel theories.  These sound restrictions guarantee in some measure at least to the children of our people, a so-called common English education without the bias of sectarianism or the negative tendencies of atheism.” – p.193

In the 1890’s the Church did have a place at the table.  John Taylor was the first Superintendent of Schools.  Many teachers were LDS.  And society was basically moral.  By the 1990’s the Church had little influence.  And today?  Is there any reason to remain in the schools of our enemies?

Now It’s Our Turn
One of the most beautiful talks ever given about becoming Zion is Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s August 2012 CES address, “Israel, Israel, God Is Calling.”  He spoke of the many times when the Lord’s people had to flee:

For more than 4,000 years of covenantal history, this has been the pattern: Flee and seek. Run and settle. Escape Babylon. Build Zion’s protective walls.

Until now. Until tonight. Until this our day.

Our call is to build Zion where we are.

One of the many unique characteristics of our dispensation, this the dispensation of the fullness of times—the last and greatest of all dispensations—is the changing nature of how we establish the kingdom of God on earth. You see, one of the truly exciting things about this dispensation is that it is a time of mighty, accelerated change. And one thing that has changed is that the Church of God will never again flee.

In these last days, in this our dispensation, we would become mature enough to stop running. We would become mature enough to plant our feet and our families and our foundations in every nation, kindred, tongue, and people permanently. Zion would be everywhere—wherever the Church is. And with that change—one of the mighty changes of the last days—we no longer think of Zion as where we are going to live; we think of it as how we are going to live.

How are we going to live?  How are our children going to learn their gospel, their life mission and occupation, their family heritage, and their national heritage, all of which includes reading and writing and every truth about everything on this planet?  Is it time to pick up where the children of the pioneers stepped off the path?  Is it time to walk away from schools that were originally set up in Utah for the purpose of destroying the power of the Mormon church (and on the East Coast for similar reasons, including to make all immigrants “common.”

Do we want to be like Germany, as is the stated goal of the president and was the goal of Horace Mann in early Massachusetts?  Why do we put a bubble around government schools and release them from accountability to Biblical moral standards?  Why do we force our children to go where they aren’t safe and pretend what happens there is good for them — although we wouldn’t allow such things at home?

Elder Holland said:

In the 21st century we cannot flee any longer. We are going to have to fight for laws and circumstances and environments that allow the free exercise of religion and our franchise in it. That is one way we can tolerate being in Babylon but not of it.

Our children were born into our family, but not into a school classroom.  We do not need to “flee” the school system; we just need to stop choosing to send our children there.  If there are attempts to force us to do otherwise, they would be unrighteous dominion and unconstitutional.  

What “laws and circumstances and environments” will allow our children to have a religious education?  Elder Holland didn’t say anything about education, so we have to figure it out for our own families.  Are we willing to fight for our choice of “circumstances”?  I hope we are!

With our feet and our families and our foundation firmly planted!
Joyce

For Further Study:
Israel, Israel, God is Calling, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, CES Broadcast, 2012 Elder Holland didn’t talk about education, but he did talk about Zion behaviors we must learn, so please watch the talk!  
Not Commanded in All Things, Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, Conference Report, April 1965