You know Common Core is in trouble when it’s defenders put up a website to defend it and then make it anonymous, refuse to identify themselves, and their first post contains not a single positive thing about Common Core but an ad hominem attack on me personally. Hilarious. :)
Evidently I’m some tremendous threat to the establishment since the governor lost at convention to Jonathan Johnson and they know Common Core played a big role in it.
This is the site: https://getcored.wordpress.com/
Check out the banner to their website.
For several months now I have felt an odd transformation happening in my soul. Now I finally know what it is. I have finally completed my ascendancy to become myth and legend. Mortals beware… ;)
The authors of the site start off by mocking a presentation I made in Draper a couple years ago called “Pulling Back the Wizard’s Curtain.” Thank you for helping distribute my message of truth to a wider audience. I fully encourage everyone to watch it to see the culture war we are in.
The anonymous author(s) go on to say:
“Oak is the leader of a rag-tag group of radical extremists called the “Utahns Against Common Core,” a group hell-bent on fighting the Common Core and its devastating influence on helping children learn math and reading.”
Typical attack. Exaggerate and make stuff up to demonize me.
Here’s another straw man argument which isn’t even a shred true. Make up that I called basic math requirements “evil” and show a few basic requirements like multiply and add numbers, and pretend you’ve discredited me. Pathetic. Particularly after how I fought to get the state to raise its math standards which it finally did in 2007.
“Needless to say I was confused by the sentiments in Oak’s video regarding the “evil” behind these basic math requirements. Wasn’t this addition and subtraction we were talking about? How did we get from an educational standard to a conspiracy to indoctrinate our children with dystopian values?”
In fact, the page is so over-the-top, I just have to repost the last half here. I would ask for permission, but the author(s) have chosen to put up their own wizard’s curtain and make the site anonymous. The majestic defenders of Common Core have arrived! (But they’re too embarrassed to identify themselves) Now lets look at their facts against the anti-Common Core movement…
“In the corresponding blog post to this video, Oak gives us the answer to that exact question.
That’s right folks. It’s not about the standards. It’s about one man’s quest to expose the ancient, unholy agenda of the federal government to destroy God and the family, one multiplication problem at a time.
You may laugh. I know I did. But as I read the comments on his videos and on his website, it became less and less amusing. These people weren’t laughing with me. These people were embracing Oak-soaking up his anti-government rhetoric and lauding him as a crusader. Whole masses of terrified parents were flocking to worship at the altar of Oak and receive his rambling instructions. His message of fear had slowly permeated through an unwitting audience, and without resistance had diffused into the hive consciousness. A following had been born.
This wasn’t the first time I had encountered these individuals, however. I had seen them spew their paranoid gospel on social media, and even spoken to some in person. Each shared common traits such as an inability to reason, and a complete disregard for fact. Each interaction I had with them usually ended in a similar fashion: an angry reaction to the realization that the truth they clung so dearly to was fiction, and that their paradigm was one not fixed in reality. But overall, this seemed like a small and innocuous sector of the general population, and I was just as pleased to discontinue the conversation as they were.
But recently, it was my paradigm that was shattered. Last Saturday at the Republican State Convention, for the first time, I witnessed the true nature and scale of the Cult of Oak. Over 2000 of his disciples filed into the crowded Salt Palace to fulfill their destiny. No longer exiled to fringes, these zealots had covertly infiltrated one of the most crucial political gatherings in the State of Utah and they would not be satisfied until a complete victory had been obtained.
This was no longer the rag-tag band of internet trolls I had largely ignored for so long. These people now had power. And although Oak Norton had seemingly brought his followers to the promised land, they now had found a Savior.
Promising to “get Utah out of the Common Core” Jonathon Johnson, this election’s “Libertarian” gubernatorial challenger, pounded his fists on the podium to the deafening adulation of the crowd. Worshipers stood and cheered as he swore to eliminate the evils of higher math and reading standards. As the votes were counted, and the dust settled, it became clear that the madness had reached a tipping point. Fear had won, and what started as one man’s misguided and nonsensical journey to have his way had quickly become a revolution.
And that is why we have decided to fight back. To “pull back the wizard’s curtain” if you will. For too long, this sore has been left to fester in the heart of Utah, and has become infectious; endangering the future of Utah’s schools. To be clear, the education of our children is a non partisan venture; one whose outcomes should not be decided by an elite few who hate public education as much as they do the thought of vaccinating their kids. It’s time to get fringe politics out of our education. It’s time to let math and reading be just that. It’s time to stand up for the Utah Core.”
State Senator Todd Weiler posted this next comment on a Facebook group for GOP state delegates along with a link to the site, making it sound all official and mysterious in an effort to get people to read it. Dang, I hope they do. “Taking on Common Core by seeking to destroy Oak Norton.” Wow, that’s going to overwhelm the public with facts. Coincidentally, Todd shared this anonymous website as breaking news similar to the way he published a document to Facebook from an anonymous source attacking Jonathan Johnson. Some might just call that a pattern of behavior rather than a coincidence.
“Have you seen this? Somebody is taking on the common core conspiracy …” – Todd Weiler
Ha ha ha. Next time try putting bullets in the gun Todd & Co. If that’s the level of attack coming our way, I just have one thing to say.
“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Someone posted a comment on the article asking who the author was since they are hiding behind their anonymity. The response reveals a lot about the arrogance of these semi-anonymous attackers.
Wow, and they call *me* off kilter…
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Mary Shumway, wife of former state superintendent Larry Shumway, confronted me at the UACC booth at the GOP convention last week. I address her in the article previous to this one on the blog. In it I show three screenshots of things she posted to a Facebook group. This is the third. Read the bottom half of this post carefully.
So Mary is going to work with Tami Pyfer, the governor’s education advisor very closely on some things she can do that others can’t because she is retired.
Who were among the first few followers on the site’s Twitter account? Syd Dickson, acting Superintendent of the State of Utah. Diana Suddreth, director of teaching and learning at USOE. Sharon Gallagher-Fishbaugh, president of the UEA. Laney Benedict, Utah PTA. Kara Sherman, Utah and National PTA. Several at USOE, and others who equally despise me. A few names on the list surprised me though as I had thought they were above such things.
(Updated 5/4/16: I originally put Syd as one of the very first tweets but it was Diana, which to me suggests likely insider participation. Syd was one of the first five to follow the account on Twitter though and emailed me asking for a retraction that she tweeted this out and stated “I didn’t retweet the article as I wasn’t comfortable with it.” I asked her if she was really uncomfortable with it, why would she follow the account on Twitter when that was the only post on the site? Her reply back was: “I unfollowed GetCored. If by following you feel I agreed with the approach, I am sending the wrong message. I was truly just keeping my eyes on what they (?) have to say. Just wanted you to know. ” Tami Pyfer has also now denied any involvement. Diana Suddreth has also now denied any involvement with the site. Here’s Diana’s tweet.)
Also, Alyson Williams posted this on Facebook which may implicate Ricky Scott at the USOE:
“Here’s what we know about this anonymous blog. The person set up a matching Twitter account just weeks prior. The first real person to tweet about this blog was Utah State Office of education employee Ricky Scott (science coordinator.) There was also another fake Twitter account set up that day “notGovernorHerbert” that also retweeted A post from Ricky Scott as one of its first real person interactions. Pretty unusual coincidence. Most of the first people to follow the “getcored” Twitter feed (exception Senator Todd Weiler) were USOE employees and people in closely related jobs/roles. For example, the first district teacher to follow the feed was a science coordinator (assumed liaison to Ricky) in Alpine. I worked briefly for a social media analytics startup. The good news for privacy is that Twitter protects individual privacy, even that of bullies using fake identities. The bad news for those wishing to remain truly anonymous is that there’s kind of a web built by the connections as a message spreads and it looks like the USOE, or an employee, is at the center of this one. If they’re not creating this slander, they’re actively promoting it…”
So this “anonymous” involvement may go from the Governor’s cabinet, possibly to the State Superintendent, to the USOE, to the UEA, to the PTA… By golly, that looks like a genuine conspiracy!
For the record, I stand by everything I have ever published. Certainly, over 11 years of time and perhaps a thousand posts online, you should be able to find something I’ve posted that you can contradict and try to prove wrong. Some of the things I posted many years ago I might not even believe anymore because I’m always learning and adjusting to new evidence. I feel blessed having a mind capable of change. For example, at one time I wrote that I favored national standards. Then I saw what that picture looked like as Common Core and the agenda behind it was rolled out and I did a 180 on that point. Perhaps next time the opposition will actually attack an issue instead of a person. But then again, that’s hard when the facts are on our side.
Every single thing I post online I use my name on because I don’t ever want to feel like I’m free to hide behind a wall of anonymity and say something inappropriate to another person. There is so much rudeness in online forums, particularly the newspaper websites. Fake names promote bullying and aggression. I think the fact that their site hides behind a “wizard’s curtain,” while criticizing a talk I gave of that title, speaks volumes about the character of the people behind the website. They must feel pretty threatened from the number of parents who have woken up to the agenda playing out before us.
If the authors of the site actually want to engage in debate they should list some facts and have the discussion. Unlike their website, I allow opposing voices to have their say on this site so we can discuss things. And they do post! And we have discussions! So far these anonymous defenders of Common Core have blocked numerous posts that they are embarrassed about. I would be too if I’d published an article like that and claimed I was defending something by attacking someone. I’d probably lose the respect of everyone that follows this blog. The things I post online are factual, sourced, and not mocking of others. If you want to criticize me, there’s certainly plenty of content they can choose from. My most recent post on Governor Herbert’s involvement with Common Core lists several things they could start with.
Since I know how much these people hate when I involve something religious in my posts, I guess I’ll just close by quoting an LDS Apostle most of them are probably familiar with..
Don’t Wear Masks. Act in Accordance with Your Beliefs – by Quentin L. Cook
“It is common today to hide one’s identity when writing hateful, vitriolic, bigoted communications anonymously online.
Any use of the Internet to bully, destroy a reputation, or place a person in a bad light is reprehensible. What we are seeing in society is that when people wear the mask of anonymity, they are more likely to engage in this kind of conduct, which is so destructive of civil discourse. It also violates the basic principles the Savior taught.”
Amen Elder Cook. Amen.
OK, I didn’t know if I would post this or not at first, but I think in light of what’s going on, I will. Consider this bonus material…
The Sunday before the state GOP convention, Jonathan Johnson’s campaign emailed out an endorsement I gave of the Johnson campaign which included several bullet points from the Herbert article on this website. It was totally fact based with links to source documents.
A couple hours later, still on Sunday, Brian Maxwell, a former campaign director for Governor Herbert, sent out this email to state delegates.
Dear Mr. Johnson,
Please stop emailing delegates like myself on Sunday. Additionally, spreading such nonsense on the Sabbath is doubly frustrating. I felt compelled to take some time from my family to respond to this email. That’s something I would rather not do again.
In the future, try using a more reliable source than Oak Norton. Mr. Norton has been on a multi-year batlle to prove that BYU has been promoting a “socialist crusade” in the Alpine School District.
Candidates for Governor really ought to have more sense than providing a platform for such nonsense. Look through Mr. Orton’s blog here in you don’t believe me.
Jonathan, you need to be better than that. I think I speak for the other members of my precinct when I say that we don’t want our governor wearing a tin-foil hat, or giving an enlarged voice for those who do find them fashionable. As delegates, we deserve an better. An apology is in order.
For those interested in the Utah Core curriculum and the historical background, the State School Board has addressed this extensively. See that information here.
Brian received quite a number of emails calling him a hypocrite, self-righteous, etc…, pointing out that nobody forced him to check his email on the Sabbath, or take time away from his family, and how ironic it was that he would send his email to delegates on the Sabbath as well, disrupting their day. :)
I waited a few days and then sent out this reply to delegates.
Sunday you saw what happens when a Herbert supporter can’t defend the governor against the facts and instead tries to discredit the messenger. I encourage you all to read this article and decide for yourself whether it has any merit and see why Brian Maxwell and the Herbert campaign are so upset. The article links to official government documents and shares the statements of government and other officials which don’t quite paint the picture of local control of education that the Governor has been espousing. It’s hard to discredit source documents. :)
You’ve also probably received a letter or two from the Governor on how he “will not stop fighting against the federal government trying to intervene in Utah classrooms.” At least he admits it’s happening now. Unfortunately, the above article shows his record on this doesn’t match his campaign slogans. Here’s a rebuttal to his full letter by Alyson Williams, point by point, if you’re interested.
I also strongly encourage you all to read the links Brian Maxwell sent out about my efforts (with others) to get BYU’s Education Department and Alpine School District to drop a 25 year association with John Goodlad. Thank you Brian for pointing this out to everyone. Everyone should be aware of what’s happening in our schools. You should take great interest in what your children’s teachers teach them.
What Brian didn’t send out was this link which shows WHY we were battling John Goodlad. BYU was lending their good name to this man’s education network, even hosting his conference one year and sending speakers to his conference on a regular basis. What is the Goodlad agenda? He was pushing to get teachers to use school rooms to create activism toward social justice and the gay agenda. You can see a screenshot of his website advertising this on this post which Brian inadvertently failed to send out (because that might have subverted his intention to dismiss me).
FYI, as a result of our efforts, BYU’s Education Department DID DROP the association. Mission accomplished.
If you have never seen what social justice curriculum looks like, check out this elementary reading and writing curriculum video I posted two years ago with Jared Carman. It’s eye opening what some children are being exposed to.