|NUMBER 291||THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS||APRIL 2010|
|Parents 'Awakened' to District Education Agenda|
Susan Schnell's family moved to Utah hoping for a better education and environment for their five children. "I told my children . . . we didn't have to fear indoctrination" in Utah schools like they had experienced in California. A year and a half later, Schnell wasn't so sure.
It all began when Schnell's 6th-grade daughter's history teacher argued with the eleven-year-old that the United States is a democracy rather than a constitutional republic in class. He also told her the book of quotes from the Founding Fathers on her desk was "pure science fiction."
Since her daughter was being taught historical fallacies, and wasn't being challenged in other classes, Schnell decided to homeschool her for the rest of the year. She went to the district office to fill out the paperwork, and was shocked to see a 30-foot mural that read, "Enculturating the Young into a Social and Political Democracy." Schnell wondered why the district's motto emphasized politics instead of educational excellence.
Further investigation led to even more questions. The ASD mission statement is "Educating all students to ensure the future of our democracy." Furthermore, the mission webpage linked to an essay titled, "America: Republic or Democracy?" by radical Green Party activist William P. Meyers of California. Meyers believes the Founding Fathers were "predatory elitists" who started the U.S. as a Republic for their own selfish gain, and that for two centuries people have been working to correct that "dangerous mistake" by transforming the nation to a Socialist Democracy.
Incensed and armed with more research, Schnell fired off an email alerting other parents. "These dangerous ideas are linked to . . . radical socialists who have discovered that the best way to change a nation is to indoctrinate — enculturate — our children and their teachers through 'democracy' training," she wrote.
Schnell, who has a teaching degree, insisted that she does not believe school staff are intentionally trying to corrupt children. "The way I see it is that ASD is the keeper of the well. . . . They might not be the ones poisoning the water, but they have let the poison seep into . . . our schools by adopting false educational ideas which stem from radical progressives."
Schnell eventually teamed up with Oak Norton, a long-time watchdog of the ASD. Norton operates a website, UtahsRepublic.org, and has his own mission to inform and mobilize Utah county parents on local education issues.
And mobilize they did. A petition on the website has more than 700 signers so far, including six state legislators. The petition calls for a change of history textbooks, the modification of several history and government curriculum standards, and a resolution concerning Constitution Day in the schools.
At least 200 parents jammed into several rooms and a hallway at the last school board meeting. ASD board president Debbie Taylor opened with a statement calling the web link a "serious mistake" that does not represent the values of the district. Officials repeatedly said they appreciated the concerns of parents, but continued to defend the district's actions.
Parents were not easily mollified. Schnell was the first to respond to the board. "Our children . . . are being uninformed and misinformed of our great American heritage. We have been načve, too trusting, and too busy to notice. . . . We put our trust in our government leaders, including this school board, and [you] have let us down. . . . If this nation does become 'fundamentally transformed' like so many of our progressive government leaders are trying so hard to accomplish, I do not want to look my children in the eye and tell them I did nothing to save it," she said to sustained applause.
Parents spoke respectfully to the board, but were firm in their insistence on systemic change. "It is not the end of the discussion," said a father who owns a company that maintains websites. He said a socialist web link could not accidentally appear on the district webpage, as officials have claimed, because people are intentional about their website designs. "For me, it is kind of an awakening."
"We hope a new mission statement will focus less on adults and their politics and more on excellence in academics," said a parent who received a standing ovation from the audience. Several others warned district officials that simply removing socialist 'code words' from the district mission statement would not adequately address the issue. Parents found "entire phrases that come from socialism or social democracy" in a hallway brochure about the district, and were adamant that the district's philosophy must change.