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.
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.
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?