Last week, an 8th grade class in St. George began the day with this excerpt on the board………. Kudos to the student who took these photos and shared them with her mom! Please note this is not Common Core, just the secular humanism religion that is allowed in our public schools.
Getting ready for the Agency-Based Education conference this weekend has been a big job and made it harder to send out updates but there is a ton that has been happening. If you are not on the UACC Facebook Group, all of these have been posted there in the last week or so. Join now if you want up to date information about what’s happening. This post will need to last you for the next week or so, so just keep returning here and read the next item. The critical ones have a * next to them.
*Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE/Common Core Tests Break Basic Codes of Test Ethics (Why SAGE testing is not only harmful but violates ethical standards)
*Gates Is at It Again: The Common Core-Centered “Collaborative for Student Success” (I never thought I’d say this… Thank goodness for the Huffington Post. This article lays it all bare. Read it, share it.)
*Leaked Letter: Utah Teachers’ Evaluations (Pay) Will Depend On Common Core Test Scores in 2015 (Hello and welcome to Common Core’s enforcement mechanism)
*VP of College Board’s AP U. S. History Course Discredited (Gotta love a good takedown)
*Video: NJ Symposium to Stop Common Core: Drs. Stotsky, Tienken, Pesta, Williams, Borelli and Borelli (from a recent conference, watch some great videos here)
States Listen as Parents Give Rampant Testing an F (about standardized testing in Florida)
DOJ grants $63 million for social justice school discipline promoted by Bill Ayers (shocking, I know)
Be “That Parent” (this one will motivate you)
Your children deserve better than this, first-grade teachers tell parents (stop high-stakes testing on little kids)
What missing class in Kindergarten means for high school (There are a variety of reasons children miss school. However, ending compulsory education laws would do more to ensure children were enticed to school, rather than enforcement mechanisms and social programs to make sure children don’t miss.)
This is a must read op-ed. Then please send it to your legislators, and state and local school board members. Ask local schools and district boards to stop all use of the SAGE test in your schools except as required by state law. Ask the state board and lawmakers to completely scrap the use of this test and eliminate it from the state. It is child abuse.
You can find your legislator here: http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp
Find your local school board members on your district website.
Charter school people should contact their charter schools and tell them to drop the test or you will homeschool or put your child in a school that respects your authority over your child’s education.
Read the op-ed by teacher Debbie Nichols here:
Unbelievably, more teachers in Alpine School District continue to violate Utah election law and Alpine School District policies (See previous 1, previous 2). At this point, who knows how many schools this is happening in. Highland City Council member Rod Mann posted the below emails which he obtained, to Facebook over the weekend. He gave me permission to reprint his letter which was sent to the Lt. Gov., Utah county clerk, and ASD Superintendent Vern Henshaw. His letters are below these letters from a fourth grade teacher at Meadow elementary showing clear violations of the law. It seems clear that the principal and other administrators must also support these actions as she wrote the names on the faculty lounge whiteboard for everyone to see. Further, after sending out an email to the rest of the school on the 21st, she continued to send emails on the 28th and 30th. The failure of the principal to stop this action shows she was complicit with the actions of this teacher.
The Lt. Governor’s office, 800-995-VOTE, write him at: http://www.utah.gov/ltgovernor/contact/, email@example.com
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes: (801) 366-0260
Utah County Attorney Jeff Buhman: 801-851-8026
Utah County Clerk Bryan Thompson: firstname.lastname@example.org
ASD Superintendent Vern Henshaw: email@example.com
and ask your ASD board member how such violations of election law and district policy are handled.
Seems to me that this is an institutionalized method for electing rubber stamps to the board. There is only one solution. Enforce the law, and enact partisan school board elections so that locally elected representatives can vet candidates for inclusion on the ballot and not let the establishment run the campaigns of selected candidates using taxpayer dollars.
Please help get out the vote for Wendy Hart, Chris Jolley, and Maynard Olsen tomorrow. They will represent the public interest.
Rod Mann’s post from Facebook, used with permission.
I am sorry to say that today I saw copies of 3 additional emails that violate ASD policy and state election law. Here is the email I just send to Superintendent Henshaw with copies to the the Lt. Governor and the County Clerk along with pictures of the emails.
“Superintendent Henshaw, Lt. Governor Cox, and County Clerk Thompson
Last week I sent you the note below regarding information that was brought up at the recent school ASD board meeting. Today I am sorry that I became aware of 3 additional emails (see attached files) that were sent out from Alpine District Email addresses to recipients using an Alpine District Email distribution list. They promote a specific set of candidates, an inferred set of candidates, helped to organize a campaign event for a specific candidate and indicated that specific candidate names were posted on a white board in the faculty lounge of a school. I am pretty sure that these are all violations of ASD policy and I am guessing that they are also violations of state election law. You’ll notice that most the content of one of the emails is from the AEA. The problem with this one is that a school employee used an ASD email account to forward this information using an ASD Distribution List.
As I said in the email below I have a separate concern if you first hear of such violations from people outside the district. This would indicate that teachers and staff are either 1) ignorant of district policy and state election laws, or 2) are afraid of directly reporting violations, and/or 3) are willfully violating district policy and election law to ensure that the “right” outcome occurs.
It would appear that you have a serious problem with campaign policy and law in the district. I would hope that these get fixed. Please be aware that regardless of the outcome of the election I will use my best efforts to ensure that legislative policies are enacted that will serve as a more effective deterrent than the current code allows.
I would hope that in the meantime that the district would be more rigorous in informing teachers and staff about ASD policy and state election law and then find a means to deter future violations. I would also hope that the county and state would look into what appears a systemic problem with government resources being used to influence election results. Also, I believe there is a good chance that a hostile work environment exists for those teachers who do not agree with the AEA.
—— Original Message ——
From: “Rod Mann” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: 10/28/2014 10:27:23 PM
Subject: Campaign emails using Alpine District Resources
Hello Superintend Henshaw,
I attended the board meeting this evening and just want to share with you my point of view on the emails. The board is clearly divided on some issues and that is not bad. Healthy discussion generally creates better solutions. Reading the recent email from board vice president JoDee Sundberg to district personnel (I’m assuming it was to all principals) and Keith Conley’s (principal of Geneva Elementary School) email indicating to staff and teachers who they should support as well as recounting a teacher/staff meeting where he distributed campaign information, shows the strong personal animus that is being propagated throughout district personnel. This is not healthy discussion.
The emails support a viewpoint that the district has its own agenda and uses tax payer resources to ensure that candidates who support that agenda are elected. I would expect you to be very concerned if the first you heard of the email was through the Internet/Facebook. This would mean that no recipient of either Mrs. Sundberg’s or Mr. Conley’s email and no one who attended the meeting Mr. Conley references had the courage to share this information with you as a violation of district policy and/or state election law. How sad it would be if someone who might have considered reporting this was dissuaded from doing so out of fear of potential repercussions (after all the board vice-president seemingly encouraged the behavior).
The principal not only encouraged his staff and teachers to violate policy, he also broke trust with the community he serves by using his time at work and district resources, paid for by all tax payers, to actively work against some of them — in other words he used the resources of government to try and impose his personal (and Mrs. Sundberg’s) will on those he serves. I understand that the Lt. Governor has spoken with you and that an apology to those Mr. Conley sent the email to will be forth coming. The seems insufficient. If an apology will be written, it should be a public apology to all those whose trust he violated and whose funds he misused. I can’t help but wonder if this is the first time this happened. Is an apology enough to prevent it from happening again? I’m not sure. If I was willing to violate district policy and/or state law to accomplish a mission and I knew that if caught I would simply have to apologize, I doubt I would be deterred from acting.
That a board member would abuse her authority and encourage district personnel to violate district policy and the law is also disturbing. Were I on the board this certainly have diminished my trust in her and might affect my willingness to engage with her. Do you really want a board where open hostility reigns and trust is absent. I don’t envy your challenge.
I would encourage you to not just let this blow over, but to take active and public steps to ensure that there are strong incentives in place to discourage this kind of behavior going forward. That will go a long way to restoring trust.
A quick note on another matter. A city attorney attends all council meetings and most work sessions in Highland (I imagine that most other cities do the same). This allows all council members to directly ask questions and receive an immediate response. I find this practice to be of great value. I would recommend the same for the school board. That would eliminate any perception that the administration is blocking certain board members from obtain legal opinions on matters pertinent to the board.
Highland City resident and city council member
Dear Mr. Petrilli:
It is near impossible to catch my breath between your compulsory admonishments on “embracing the core.” I continue to read them and I continue to reject them. Your reasoning is unsound and, frankly, I simply disagree with you. So, I have a question for you Mr. Petrilli.
What if I just don’t want my children to be taught under the Common Core State Standards or any aka there of, period?
I do not understand this game of tug-of-war over my children. In polite society, Mr. Petrilli, when a mother says “No, thank you” on behalf of her child, she means “No, thank you.” It is not code for “verbally abuse me until I lay my child at the altar of Thy-Will-of-Bill-Gates-Be-Done.”
My mind ponders at length the accomplishments of Bill Gates. He is an excellent example of the American dream. Bill Gates capitalized on American freedom to live as he pleased; to learn in a way that fit him; to create and build for himself and his family. The irony that Bill Gates is now using his amassed millions to usurp that same freedom from American families and to pigeon-hole the nation’s children into a standardized learning that suits him is grotesque and unjustifiable.
I had the privilege this past week to meet some of the national moms standing against this federal rush for our children. I looked long and hard at each of them because I was looking for something specific. What I found was a group of moms: funny, wise, sharp, thoughtful, sincere, caring, focused, genuine, and much more. I didn’t find what I was looking for though. I didn’t find any bullies.
The mothers in this fight are not the bullies – white, suburban or otherwise. What we are is the last line of defense, in some cases, the only line of defense for our children. I’m afraid our silence has been mistaken for complacency. Maybe we were quiet when we should have spoken. That’s on us. But we are speaking now. We tried polite. We tried firm. We tried loud. When we are not being ignored we are being labeled.
If the pushers could stop the diversion tactics for just five minutes they would be able to recognize the point of failure immediately. The “architects” did not start with the children in mind, whereas, mothers always begin with their children in mind. The writers begin with job placement – moms begin with giving life. The writers think assessment – moms think development. The writers think corporate boardroom – moms think sandbox. Life is an unfolding of an individual’s soul and spirit – it is not a race of the mindless clones to the factory time clock.
Here is my admonishment to you Mr. Petrilli – I love my children and Bill Gates will run out of money before I ever run out of love for my children.
Orem High School Principal Mike Browning sent this email out to faculty on Tuesday, which looks very appropriate.
From: Mike Browning_ohs <email@example.com>
Date: Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 3:31 PM
Subject: Politics and Public Education
To: OHSFaculty <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Just a quick reminder that as we enter the election window, ASD employees are encouraged to study the issues and involve themselves in the political process. Since questions occasionally arise regarding appropriate political involvement by school employees, the following reminders may be helpful:
- Engaging in political activities during contract time or at school functions by district employees or school parent councils is not appropriate.
- Employees may engage in political activity as private citizens as long as the activity does not involve the use of public funds (equipment, Internet connections, and supplies).
- Political information should not be displayed or distributed via schools.
Great work on a successful first term of the school year! Have a good week,
The problem is, Mr. Browning is a hypocrite.
I spoke with a teacher last night who informs me that at the faculty meeting at the beginning of October, Mr. Browning told the faculty that he is very involved in politics and that he had a meet the candidate event at his home and one of the candidates is critical in some regard to some issues in Alpine School District (it was unclear if Chris Jolley had actually been invited to this event). He then pulled out a card (pictured at the left) and proceeded to say how great the Alpine School District is and what it gives to the communities.
This teacher explained to me, “Mr. Browning said, here we have PLCs, collaboration, and such, and encouraged us to have the cards in our wallet and when people were critical of the Alpine School District show them that we support the district and what it does for us and for our communities. While Mr. Browning’s speech wasn’t “technically” a political speech his words were almost, exactly the same as what was said by Mr. Conley in his now infamous very political email sent to his faculty. It is very evident that both of these principals got their information from the same sources, mainly the administrators in the district. I came away from that faculty meeting knowing full well where Alpine District’s wants were concerning this upcoming election. It’s very evident that the district is on a public relations push to show just how much good the district is doing and that major changes are not needed. This is a way, non-political of course, to show where they stand concerning the upcoming elections. The cards, the words to the principals, which are trickling down to the teachers, all show that the district administration is very concerned about the possible change of direction if John Burton and JoDee Sundberg are voted out.”
Here’s some more information that came out after yesterday’s post. It appears current Board President and former long time Alpine School District administrator John Burton may have his own set of problems to deal with. Rick Armknecht posted this in the comments section.
Sadly, the emails shown here may include violations of law on the part of a great many public servants.
Look at the “To” section of the principal’s email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, John.Burton@UVU.edu, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
ALL of these recipients were put on notice of the principal’s illegal campaigning as of last Friday (the 24th) morning (assuming that they read their emails every 2 hours or so during work hours). What did they do about it? Looks like one became a “whistle blower.” But what about the others? IF they read the email sent to them and IF they knew (or reasonably SHOULD HAVE KNOWN) about the illegality of the email AND if their position would imply that they DO something to stop the illegal conduct but they failed to take any action (yes, I know — a string of “ifs” there), then there is a violation of Utah law:
- 76-8-101. Definitions
For the purposes of this chapter:
. . .
(5) (a) “Public servant” means any officer or employee of the state or any political subdivision of the state, including judges, legislators, consultants, and persons otherwise performing a governmental function.
- 76-8-201. Official misconduct – Unauthorized acts or failure of duty A public servant is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if, with an intent to benefit himself or another or to harm another, he knowingly commits an unauthorized act which purports to be an act of his office, or knowingly refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or clearly inherent in the nature of his office.
So: What did John Burton know and when did he know it?
It seems to me that ASD has a pattern of doing what they want without any fear of repercussion. The ends (them maintaining power at all costs) justifies the means (violations of ethics and the law, particularly in the case of Ms. Sundberg and Principal Conley). Will there be enforcement of the law? It’s doubtful unless people rise up and say the law matters.
If Mr. Burton is OK with knowing this is going on under his watch as a publicly elected school board member and having been a long time administrator at ASD, he should resign his position and withdraw from the ballot. Nobody knows election ethics more than school administrators and the fact that this is knowingly allowed and even encouraged by inaction is a big problem.
State School Board Candidate Joel Wright in District 9 posted these shocking screenshots to Facebook exposing a pretty clear cut case of unethical engagement by ASD board member JoDee Sundberg and a principal who in turn appears to have violated election laws to support JoDee’s campaign.
What you can read below is a textbook case of how the entrenched establishment works. They elect someone like JoDee Sundberg or John Burton who do anything the district asks of them, and then to get re-elected, turn to the establishment to protect them. They are a massive political party that citizens have an extremely difficult time defeating. What you are about to read is yet another major reason for partisan school board elections in Utah so that citizens have an opportunity to run for school board and be vetted by a smaller number of elected delegates who can dig into a candidate and ignore the sound bites and get to the heart of issues.
Read the fear that fills these emails. They are in full panic mode. The game plan never changes…total fearmongering against those who think independently and challenge the status quo. Look at the nonsense that Wendy Hart’s opponent has published about her, causing Wendy to write a full rebuttal (particularly troubling after she had the nerve to walk out before the debate last week).
Start with JoDee Sundberg’s letter below as she pleads for help to school employees on their school email accounts, endangering numerous ASD employees and unethically asking them to engage their subordinates. Then Principal Keith Conley responds trying to rally the troops using his school email account and engages in extreme statements and instructs his subordinates how to vote. No facts, just fear. The sky is falling if they don’t retain their power.
State law prohibits the activities of the principal. ASD’s policies have also been violated and both JoDee Sundberg (16 years on the board – can’t feign ignorance) and Principal Conley know it.
From ASD’s own policy manual:
Rules and Regulations No. 4100 (http://policy.alpinedistrict.org/policy/4100_Internet-Wide_Area_Network_Acceptable_Use_Rule)
“1.1.3 Internet services provided by the school district are not intended for personal, political or private use. Employees have no expectation of privacy associated with the use of the Internet.”
“1.2.1 While on paid leave, certified employees may not engage in political activity including:
18.104.22.168 Actively campaigning for candidates for public office in partisan and nonpartisan elections.
22.214.171.124 Fundraising for political organizations, political parties, or candidates.”
What’s the punishment for doing so when not on leave?
Take Action – Read below and then call/write
1) Now please call the Lt. Governor’s office since Lt. Gov. Cox is in charge of elections violations. If he fails to take immediate action and waits till after the election, it will embolden the establishment that they are a law unto themselves and can get away with anything. They already have this attitude. This seems like a pretty clear violation of the law and involves a superior pressuring subordinates to take action, and using public taxpayer equipment and resources to campaign for a specific candidate.
Call Lt. Gov. Cox at: 800-995-VOTE
Write him at: http://www.utah.gov/ltgovernor/contact/
2) Then call Governor Herbert and make sure he steps up and enforces the law. The Governor cannot simply brush this off. Tell him to support partisan elections. His office can be reached at 801-538-1000.
3) Finally, if you’re able, attend Alpine School District’s board meeting Tuesday night at Westfield Elementary (380 S. Long Drive, Alpine, Utah) at 6:00 PM. You must sign up prior to the meeting starting to make public comment so be a few minutes early if you’d like to ask how ASD handles infractions of their policies particularly when a school board member and principal are involved.
Here’s the stunning exchange. Summary follows:
What do you think? Is JoDee’s email ethical? Would you vote for her? Here’s a quick bullet list of a sitting board member communicating with ASD principals whose livelihood can be affected by board decisions.
- I need your teachers’ help
- I need them to walk neighborhoods and campaign for me
- They need to share a message about how wonderful the schools are because of my efforts because my opponent will destroy it all if he’s elected
- Also I need our other service personnel and administrators to help
- If our teachers won’t help, I NEED TO KNOW and my campaign is sunk
- My opponent will dismantle ASD because he’s an extremist while I am completely objective and normal
- I am visiting SCHOOL COMMUNITY COUNCILS (another election law violation for SCC’s that don’t give equal time to all opponents)
- I need the teachers to vote and take 5 people with them
- I know I’m begging you but I need your help
- I need your money and John Burton needs your money
- After a meeting where Wendy Hart had the nerve to bring up state laws she’d researched about clubs engaged in sexual topics, we barely passed the motion to support the gay/straight alliance club, and if I’m not re-elected things will get much worse
No summary of Principal Conley’s letter is needed. Unfortunately, this principal has crossed the line.
Please everyone, get out the vote for Maynard Olsen in Orem, Wendy Hart in Alpine, Highland, and Cedar Hills, and Chris Jolly in American Fork.
This comment was posted to Facebook by Jared Carman and I wanted to make sure it got wider notice so it’s here for your information. Jared serves on the Utah instructional materials committee and so he receives significant amounts of books throughout the year to review.
How Common Core Is Creating a Generation of
(What I learned reviewing over 500 Common Core books from all the major publishers)
LEARNING 101: Kids learn what they practice.
In a typical Common Core practice item, children as young as 6 and 7 are given two “opinion” passages to read, usually on a social issue of some kind. The passages are short. The children are directed to read the passages, form “their own” opinion, based on one of the passages (an inherently biased exercise, but that’s a separate issue), then ADVOCATE for their opinion in writing, using information from the opinion pieces as supporting evidence. Net, net: Read little to no actual information, then form your own opinion, supported another person’s opinion.
Consider the following:
– The word “opinion” or “argument” is mentioned 38 times in the 110 Common Core writing standards.
– Under Common Core, opinion-forming practice and testing is required for EVERY student in every grade, even Kindergarten.
– “Opinion writing” testing is a central feature of the SAGE/Common Core tests.
What do you get when you combine low-info opinion practice, with messages (from the “informational texts”) to organize, resist, influence, strike, stand up, sit in, and vote, vote, vote…and you do this regularly for thirteen years?
An entire generation of highly-opinionated, less-informed voters.
Alyson Williams, one of the parent reviewers of SAGE tests, made this comment in the same thread:
That is the SAGE writing assessment. I saw no other format… the student must read several excerpts, and argue in writing one point of view or the other citing directly from the provided passages to support her argument. While many parents were concerned about the content (recall the examples last year of books vs. video games) I am concerned that even with neutral content the repetition of this kind of writing practice over and over for years, especially when it is computer graded by a technically limited rubric, is not a very valuable exercise to great writing (or thinking) rather conditioning a test-taking skill at best. Worse, however is that it seems likely to result in a generation of people who are not independently seeking truth and employing classical logic or analytical thinking, but willing to form opinions without in-depth knowledge or greater context but on the carefully edited ideas served up in the digest form of popular media.
Warning for all you non-religious types… I’m about to exercise my first amendment right and share my secular and religious thoughts based on my personal beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and quote a couple scriptures and LDS church authorities below in support of my beliefs. Naturally all of this article is my own opinion and I’m not speaking for the church. Just in case anyone might get confused about that… ;)
Periodically someone asks me a question like this: “how does this ________ nonsense get into our children’s schools?” Lately I’ve had that blank filled in with social justice. It seems to have gained an unfortunate sympathetic ear among people because they think it’s about helping the poor, when it reality it does just the opposite. There’s a load of articles on the web about how various Common Core players and organizations have come together to promote social justice through the curriculum and assessments they have developed. This article will not focus on those elements, but on the misguided concept of social justice.
A couple weeks ago, someone sent me a link to an article from BYU’s Frontier magazine which is an online magazine for alumni of their college of physical and mathematical sciences.
In the Fall 2014 issue on page 18, you’ll find an article entitled “Solving social injustice one math problem at a time.” The article is about Dr. Kate Johnson in BYU’s Math Education department and her background and experiences which lead her now to entwine social justice into her math teaching.
As if it isn’t hard enough for children to do word problems on new concepts, lets add social justice into the mix so they can feel the plight of the poor and downtrodden and learn about how evil capitalism is.
Now some parents might want this type of class for their child. They might say, yes, I want my college child well rounded by wrestling with these issues in math class instead of laser focusing on the theories and functions of math so that when they go to teach little children, they can help them understand how the rich are evil and the poor are oppressed. Love live the Communist Manifesto!
News flash: This style of teaching isn’t going to improve math education, nor will it fix social injustices. Social justice is the gospel of envy, not Christ’s gospel of love.
It is abundantly true that the scriptures teach us to take care of the poor. However, in each instance, the Lord is commanding people to take care of the poor as a matter of free will, using our agency in an individual charitable endeavor.
Lets get started.
Here are relevant quotes from the Frontier article about Dr. Johnson (emphasis mine):
“Through struggling with how to handle the hard questions her students raised about the world, Johnson realized that math could help them sort through the many differing points of view. The way this is done is through typical math tasks, like a story problem, but the subject of that story problem would be sharing wages in a sweatshop rather than sharing crayons in a classroom.
“The ultimate goal of teaching math for social justice is to help kids better understand the world around them in conjunction with math,” Johnson said. “Students are going to talk about those issues whether or not we give them math as a tool to do so, and so to me, we should be giving them math as a tool to think and talk about those issues so they can see the utility of math and so they can make stronger arguments.”
“I’m interested in teachers’ identities, as it pertains to mathematics teachers, particularly in the context of teaching math for social justice,” Johnson said. “So basically that’s like teaching math in contexts that help bring to light social issues in addition to teaching key math principles. If that’s the way you are going to teach math, then how does your race, gender, class, or awareness of your privilege play a role in the way you teach about those topics? Basically, when you state it broadly, I’m interested in how who we are shapes what we do as teachers.”
“I realized that teachers are learners too, in part because I got student teachers and I just started to become interested in the kinds of things they needed to know in order to be productive math teachers,” Johnson said.
“I wanted to broaden my impact,” Johnson said. “When I was a high school teacher, I used to say that I was teaching the world one deaf student at a time, and then when I went back to school to be a teacher educator, I said teaching the world a little more than one kid at a time. Because if you impact one teacher, it will impact more children that way, and teaching math through social justice to those teachers will bring about greater social change.”
This article in Frontier is all about this particular teacher and I’m not publishing this to get her in trouble because she certainly isn’t by any means the only teacher educator doing this. I just felt compelled to expose what is happening in our schools of education where teachers are taught and ultimately comes to your children’s classrooms. Many of the educators in BYU’s Education and Math Education departments embrace John Goodlad, Bill Ayers, and Linda Darling-Hammond’s left-wing philosophy on social justice. They have attended workshops, joined their organizations, read their books, and even presented at their conferences. I believe the year was 2006 when BYU even hosted Goodlad’s NNER conference. Here’s an ad from just a few years ago for Goodlad’s conference to teach teachers how to implement social justice and the GLBT agenda in your children’s classrooms.
Social Justice 101
So what is social justice? I found this awesome 5 minute video online that explains this concept really well. I particularly loved the statement by the U.N. that if you believe truth and justice are concepts independent of their agenda, you are essentially an enemy of social justice. Truth is so overrated…
I periodically engage in discussions online with people who espouse that it is the government’s responsibility to take care of the poor and that the government is well within its rights to do this. But they fail to remember one core principle of our government which is that it was established by the people, for the people, and of the people. When the people created the government, we delegated to government the ability to do certain things we have a right to do ourselves in order to make those things more efficient. I have a right to defend myself and my property so we created a sheriff and the military to protect those things on a larger scale so I can focus on other things. On the other hand, I don’t have a right to go to my neighbor’s home and take $500 from him and give that money to someone else I know is needy, so I can’t get government to do that for me and keep my hands clean of robbery. Frederick Bastiat called this “legal plunder” in his classic work, “The Law,” when people use government to do things to others that they can’t legally do themselves.
These people further claim that the scriptures and Christ’s teachings justify redistributing the wealth. But what did Jesus teach?
Did Jesus go to the Romans and ask them to exact a tax on the rich to help the poor? No.
Did he go to the Sanhedrin and ask them to do likewise? No.
He told the rich young man to go sell *what HE had* and give it to the poor.
He watched the widow cast in her 2 mites and announced that she had given more than all the rich yet didn’t mention how evil the rich were for not caring for her needs.
Did he organize a redistribution effort among his church? No. He taught compassion, charity, and to put away our jealousy and envy.
The gospel is one of individual responsibility with individual mandates to care for the poor. We have no right to force someone to salvation by making them take care of the poor and in so doing, create just the opposite effect within the breast of those whose compassion we need.
What does our progressive taxation system do? We say if you make X amount of income, you pay 15% taxes. If you make up to Y, then you pay 28%. And so on up the ladder. The more you make the larger the percentage you pay. What does that do to a person who makes more money?
- It can destroy their ability to be very charitable.
- It makes them feel like they are already giving more for social programs and they don’t need to do more individually.
- It destroys the entire holy principle of charity because those with wealth don’t have the opportunity to *give* someone money. It’s taken from them and they never see the needy people it helps, thus causing them to not have their hearts moved with compassion on the plight of the poor. Social justice ROBS the rich of this critical enrichment activity.
What was the Lord’s plan? 10% whether you’re rich or poor? A fascinating contrast, don’t you think?
The very people who want to have the wealthy to have compassion upon the poor have erected a system that prevents it from being possible. They have created a system of hatred where the rich feel taken advantage of. Where did this progressive taxation idea come from? The father of modern-day envy, Karl Marx, a co-author of the Communist Manifesto. This document is the exact opposite of the God-inspired U.S. Constitution. Only in an atmosphere of liberty, can the gospel of Jesus Christ thrive. Personal choices are paramount to the gospel plan. When some seek to overthrow that plan by focusing on social justice instead of God’s justice, and enact man-made systems of charity instead of God’s perfect system of charity, they mingle the philosophies of man with God’s perfect plan of salvation for his children and corrupt society through vanity.
Think about this…some people are born into wealth and some into poverty. It is a social injustice, but it is not injustice on the part of our divine creator who has a perfect plan for each of his children. His plan is to exalt his children and bring them back into his presence. In some instances, that necessitates trials of wealth, and for others trials of poverty. Each individual is born into this world with their own unique challenges to deal with but it is their own personal plan of salvation that God crafted for them. Under no circumstance does the wisdom of man exceed the wisdom of God. We should stop trying to serve the Lord in the devil’s way. Only the gospel of Christ can provide the spiritual salvation God’s children need.
In the April 2010 General Conference of the LDS church, Elder Todd Christofferson said it well.
“In a complete reversal from a century ago, many today would dispute with Alma about the seriousness of immorality. Others would argue that it’s all relative or that God’s love is permissive. If there is a God, they say, He excuses all sins and misdeeds because of His love for us—there is no need for repentance. Or at most, a simple confession will do. They have imagined a Jesus who wants people to work for social justice but who makes no demands upon their personal life and behavior.”
If I may offer an interpretation of what he’s saying… The people had turned to wickedness but they thought that a collective salvation under the gift of God’s incredible mercy for his children would save all of them regardless of their personal choices. They made up a false Christ by imagining a God that makes no demands on our *personal* lives, yet they weren’t forced to comply with heaven’s mandates.
In the April 2013 conference, Elder Christofferson gave another great talk which included much about temporal redemption for the poor. In this talk he pointed out that sometimes when needs are more widespread, larger organizations may need to be involved when needs exceed the ability of individuals to personally take care of the problems.
“Some forms of temporal redemption come by collaborative effort. It is one of the reasons the Savior created a church. Being organized in quorums and auxiliaries and in stakes, wards, and branches, we can not only teach and encourage each other in the gospel, but we can also bring to bear people and resources to deal with the exigencies of life. People acting alone or in ad hoc groups cannot always provide means on a scale needed to address larger challenges. As followers of Jesus Christ we are a community of Saints organized to help redeem the needs of our fellow Saints and as many others as we can reach across the globe.”
Does the church exact a tax on its members to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor? No. The church teaches doctrine and invites people to participate in a gospel plan that helps the rich meet the needs of the poor. He concludes with this powerful statement.
“As disciples of Jesus Christ, we ought to do all we can to redeem others from suffering and burdens. Even so, our greatest redemptive service will be to lead them to Christ. Without His Redemption from death and from sin, we have only a gospel of social justice. That may provide some help and reconciliation in the present, but it has no power to draw down from heaven perfect justice and infinite mercy. Ultimate redemption is in Jesus Christ and in Him alone.”
In my own words, we have an individual mandate to help the poor, but if our own personal efforts to help the poor don’t actually bring them to Christ and redemption through his atonement, then the gospel is only a gospel of social justice which may give someone temporary assistance with their temporal needs, but does nothing to provide the ultimate redemption we all need.
In the recent October 2014 General Conference, Elder Jeffrey Holland gave a great talk on taking care of the poor as well. He pointed out that when Mary anointed Jesus’ head with the expensive spikenard and Judas complained that it could have been sold and distributed to the poor, Jesus rebuked him and said, “Why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work…She hath done what she could.”
Judas’ envy had got the better of him and he wanted that wealth taken from Mary and given to someone else. Perhaps he was jealous that he hadn’t saved his own money in the way Mary had done. Regardless of Judas’ personal motive, Jesus obviously knew that Mary’s choices were her own and she was choosing to do good in the best way she saw fit. Judas had no right to complain or to force Mary to sell her goods and give to the poor. As mentioned above, Jesus never told the government or the church to take from the members to give to the poor. He invites us individually to participate in the work of temporal and spiritual salvation.
Elder Holland goes on to clearly point out the individual mandate we have:
“Now, lest I be accused of proposing quixotic global social programs or of endorsing panhandling as a growth industry, I reassure you that my reverence for principles of industry, thrift, self-reliance, and ambition is as strong as that of any man or woman alive. We are always expected to help ourselves before we seek help from others. Furthermore, I don’t know exactly how each of you should fulfill your obligation to those who do not or cannot always help themselves. But I know that God knows, and He will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.”
Over and over again we are reminded that helping the poor must come from a personal desire to do so and not from someone elses compassion with other people’s property.
We also have this clear explanation in modern day revelation. From the Doctrine & Covenants, section 104 we read:
15 And it is my purpose to provide for my saints, for all things are mine.
16 But it must needs be done in mine own way; and behold this is the way that I, the Lord, have decreed to provide for my saints, that the poor shall be exalted, in that the rich are made low.
17 For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
18 Therefore, if any man shall take of the abundance which I have made, and impart not his portion, according to the law of my gospel, unto the poor and the needy, he shall, with the wicked, lift up his eyes in hell, being in torment.
The plan and the choice are clear. God wants the rich to take care of the poor to exalt the poor and humble the rich. But he wants it done by the use of agency. We don’t have any right to erect a system of force that destroys the agency of man. In so doing, we destroy God’s plan. God has a punishment prepared for the rich who do not turn their hearts to the poor when the Lord presses upon them to be compassionate. When government takes from the rich to provide for the poor, it is in essence proposing to guarantee God’s rewards upon the rich for so giving, yet no godly characteristic is formed in the heart of the rich because they aren’t the ones giving.
What should teachers at BYU be focusing on? In my opinion, they should be focusing on building faith in Christ in their students. When people come to Christ, they live His gospel and keep his commandments. The wealthy do help the poor and the people become of one mind and one heart. You can’t force that, but pure doctrine changes hearts.
If you want poor kids to excel and get better jobs, and overcome their life circumstances, teach them real math and stop distracting them. They need to compete in this world with those who may have had more advantages due to their wealth. If you are under the illusion this isn’t possible, watch “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” It’s free on Netflix.
To teach the poor to look upon their situation as a plight may in fact lead them away from Christ as they question why a “fair” God has put them in their challenging circumstances. By gifting them envy instead of encouragement, we indoctrinate them in the doctrines of the devil. Instead we should teach all to have faith in Christ, solely. Social justice is faith in government that they will take enough from the rich to give to you to meet your needs. That is not the gospel.
Professors and teachers, do not suppose that you know better than the parents who have sent their children to you. Do not suppose that because you have those children in your care that you have permission to do anything contrary to grounding them in truth and building faith. Teaching is a sacred duty and where it is not a faith building, joyous experience in embracing truth, it is not of God.
In Doctrine & Covenants 105:5 we read, “And Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself”
What is that law? The law of consecration, which is a choice to participate in. You cannot prepare people for life in a celestial realm by forcing them to do good and contribute to the causes you deem just through government intervention.
If an all-powerful God who could easily right the wrongs of society and compel men to provide for others, doesn’t interfere with our choice and agency here on earth because of Celestial laws, what gives anyone else the right to do what God Himself rejects, and impose on mankind compulsory systems of tyranny all in the name of brotherly love? We should probably stop second guessing God and start trying to mimic him.