Blatant Political Indoctrination in 4th Grade Utah Classroom

politicalpartiesI am protecting the identity of the teacher and school this happened at for the time being in an effort to allow for additional information to hopefully come to light, but I want you to know that this was overheard by an individual who was passing a 4th grade Utah classroom last week. This person is willing to speak with a legislator about this to confirm his/her identity and testify this was very clearly stated. If this is happening in one classroom in this state, you can bet it’s happening in more.

I personally heard a teacher (or most likely, a substitute) saying “The Democratic Party passes laws that are for the common man. The Republican Party passes laws that are for corporations. WE are the common man.” She said this loud and clear, three times in a row, as though she were drilling it into the students’ heads.

I want to ask each of you to immediately consider filing for school board positions in your local races, and run to be a delegate in your caucus meetings. You can file for school board at your county seat AND MUST DO SO BY THIS THURSDAY OR YOU WILL BE TOO LATE. Some seats don’t even have candidates and many candidates are running unopposed at this point (come on Orem…). Please get out and file for office.

In leaving this school unidentified, I also hope that each of you will have a conversation about this with your child and learn what’s happening behind your back in the schools.

Public education has served as a check on the power of parents, and this is another powerful reason for maintaining it.”- John Goodlad, Developing Democratic Character in the Young, pg. 165 (Mr. Goodlad is a nationally prominent educator and has been BYU’s Department of Education consultant since 1983 and is well loved by professors in that department. It’s unknown if they share this view with Mr. Goodlad, but reading what Goodlad write about, and seeing what is going on in schools, should encourage a lot of you to consider homeschooling.)

I also received this email from a reading aide who gave permission to post her name with this. Too many people have fixated on the Common Core standards being indoctrinating in some way. That’s a red herring that we have never espoused. The standards are public, weak, and a convenient strawman for proponents of Common Core to accuse us of having as our focal point. It will always be things that aren’t immediately accessible to the public that push the troubling things, such as this reading aide notes.

“It was part of our SAGE training that our school put on. They were sample questions and I found them to be inappropriate for the grade level they were intended (3rd). Also in my reading endorsement class we were asked to read an article and write a 3-5 paragraph argumentative/persuasive essay for or against the article. We had to include facts out of the article that supported our position. This was a sample of part of the writing test that will be given to 5th grade and up. We asked the teacher how a student was to successfully argue against it without having an article to read showing the opposing side. She said that wasn’t the intent of the test and we had to teach our kids to read informative texts and pull facts from it regardless of how they may feel about what they are reading. I was stunned. The more I look into this the more I am convinced it has nothing to do with critical thinking and all to do with indoctrinating our children.” – Michelle Klaas Boulter, (Reading Aide at George Washington Academy in Saint George)

Last, here’s an email I received last night. This is pure behavioral testing of children. It has nothing to do with getting an education and everything to do with creating a profile of children. In fact, some of the questions could violate Utah law but most parents would never know this. If you didn’t watch the video on this page (, please do so and you’ll understand why this is so critical.

“I’m wondering what you know about a certain test that my kids who are in a virtual charter school (Mountain Heights Academy) were required to take at the beginning of this year. It’s called the Engage Test.  I don’t think there could be a more ABSURD assignment, ever….. I sat with my son, 8th grade, as he began the test and had to witness till the end.  The questions were like, “True or False– I feel anger when others say rude things about me.”  Followed by “When people put me down in front of others I feel: (multiple choice)”.  “True or False– I try my best when I feel support from my parents.” “My teachers are able to help me when I have a question:  All the time, most of the time, sometimes, once in a while, never (choose).”  THIS WENT ON FOR 120 QUESTIONS. Insane.  My son and I were aghast as page after page kept coming and we couldn’t skip to the end, nor could we skip any questions or it would say “enter field”.

At the time, I didn’t know better than to just do the assignment, but now I would just simply ignore it and let the lesson go undone.  Before he did it, we kept getting automated phone called saying it wasn’t done, so I guess it was a big deal to them. If I hadn’t sat down with him, I wouldn’t have known about it.  I wonder how many other parents just don’t know what’s being assigned?

All that being said, let me share with you a letter from former State Superintendent Patti Harrington which she sent to all House members when HB 223 and 228 were up for votes. Bolding below is Ms. Harrington’s. Red text is mine.

Good morning House Representatives –

Thank you for passing HB223 School Board Elections (J. Nielson) last night!  Utahns deserve to vote directly on the candidates for the State Board – those who set policy for the schools that serve their most precious possessions – their children.  We appreciate legislators who have brought this issue to light during the 2014 Session.

The House may hear today HB228 Utah State Board of Education Elections and Reporting Amendments (B. Greene).  Respecting (as we do) both sponsors, may we offer some reasons from discussions with your local school board members on why State Board elections should remain non-partisan and open?

  • The State Board of Education is a independent board, independent from both the legislative and executive branch, although vitally involved in both.  The State Board is Constitutionally protected in its independence.  Partisan races for seats on the Board may easily erode some of the Board’s independence.
  • Today’s use of internet and social media allows state board candidates to reach nearly all voters in all areas of the state and at reasonable cost; a political party doesn’t have to do that for them or fund their campaigns. 
  • Politics may create instability in schools in terms of changing policies, altered resources, shifting regulations, etc.  Schools operate best when children feel stability and are provided with excellent resources and quality teachers, none of whom have to worry about certain political candidates in the next election who may alter programs or shift resources.
  • Teachers try hard to keep politics out of the classroom, (except as it relates to approved Social Studies core standards).  If the State Board becomes partisan and members take political positions affecting schools, the likelihood of politics being discussed in schools, unfortunately, increases. Let’s leave discussions of political persuasion to parents/guardians in the home, and, for the older student, let’s leave it on the public square, not in the setting of public education.   Students grow to trust and often love their school teachers; let’s not put them at odds with the politics of their homes from increased political influence on schools.
  • Children do not come to school as Republicans or Democrats; neither should their policy leaders.

Thank you for considering this in your work today!  And thank you for all you do to support public education!

Dr. Patti Harrington

Executive Director

Utah School Superintendents Association

Dear Ms. Harrington, you may want to re-evaluate your statements based on what’s really happening in Utah classrooms.

Your five points have issues as well.

1) The state board doesn’t have constitutionally protected independence. By saying such you are demonstrating you don’t understand what “general control and supervision” means in the Utah constitution. It doesn’t create a 4th branch of government which the other 3 can’t touch.

2) Really? You think the internet provides clear and accurate information to voters? Who among the public takes the time to look up who is running for state school board? School board races are the least watched and most critical races in the state. School boards affect the rising generation and the public is totally in the dark about who is running. Not 1 in 100 voters looks up their state school board candidate’s website, and none of those websites indicate the depth of information that should be known about a candidate. They’re full of safe, politically correct statements. The only way to understand a candidate is to grill that person. The public is completely underserved by not having partisan elections where the political philosophy of a candidate is known so that people know how that person will act. Political parties don’t have to fund people’s campaigns and that’s not what partisan elections are about. You should run to become a delegate and see the amount of work that goes into vetting candidates for office. That’s what it’s about. It isn’t just “how Republican” or “Democrat” you are. People ask about qualifications for positions such as involvement in education, understanding their background, what motivated them to run, and many other things that will never be stated on a billboard or yard sign.

3) Prove this. Where have partisan elections created instability in school district boards? If you elected 7 Democrats to a school district, or 7 Republicans, which set is going to shut down the schools? To infer they will is fearmongering. Texas moved to partisan elections a while back and their children aren’t dealing with massive instability in schools. What happened in Texas was conservatives on the state board brought balance to what was being taught in schools. They didn’t gut liberals out of schools. They just made sure BOTH SIDES OF AN ISSUE WERE PRESENTED. (see Michelle’s story above for why this is important)

4) Please refer to the first story at the top of this page. Here’s another story about youth being indoctrinated that communism isn’t that bad. I’ve had plenty more like it over the years. It’s taking place precisely because teachers are of all political persuasions and if they sense they can shape their students, it’s pretty natural to make them question… Then prove the rest of your assertion. Texas has had partisan elections since the 90’s. They aren’t sending political party recruiters into schools to change students beliefs. Not like what just got exposed in Utah above… How many more classrooms is this happening in without the knowledge of parents?

5) You cannot separate personal politics from public action. Partisan elections aren’t to polarize the board by identifying who belongs to what party, but by letting hundreds or thousands of delegates make the best decision they can for the public at large, and then letting the public choose between more clearly defined alternatives who have all been vetted by a smaller number of locally elected representatives, we get the best possible candidates. There is no better system than informed people making a decision for the public at large. That’s a political form called a Republic which we pledge allegiance to and you swore an oath to the Constitution to defend and uphold. Non-partisan elections do not fit that form of government so well. They are more akin to Democracy where people are more easily swayed by big money campaigns.

It’s clearly time for partisan elections in Utah. We need to let the cream rise to the top, and not have a committee of the governor’s appointees filter out candidates based on their views such as asking people, “what do you think of Common Core” and then eliminating them from consideration if they say anything less than how wonderful it is.

6 thoughts on “Blatant Political Indoctrination in 4th Grade Utah Classroom”

  1. Oak, I don’t know if I agree with you not sharing which school and teacher made the comment. As a parent, I deserve to “know” what someone might be teaching my children. As a traveling parent, I don’t have the capacity to run for the school board…but this is an immediate threat to my child’s education. Please don’t “hide” someone actions that affects and shapes our children minds.

    1. Dale, I understand, but there are several reasons not to do it.
      1) If I do, an internal investigation will not succeed because the specific school and district will circle the wagons and not get to the source.
      2) If it’s happening at one school, it’s happening at many. Not stating the school or district forces parents to be vigilant while if I said it happened at XYZ school, other parents will relax.
      3) It’s unknown if this teacher came up with this on his/her own or was just blindly following some curriculum material. I want to know which it is.

  2. I specifically remember sitting in my 9th grade class about 20 years ago. I vividly remember the moment “I decided I was a democrat.” The teacher asked us to stand up if we loved everyone, including the poor. He then asked us if we thought everyone should be free and have choice. If the answer was yes, we were to stay standing up. He asked us several repeated questions about being compassionate towards all people. Then he told us everyone who’d stood up is a democrat. I thought it was a good thing at the time. It wasn’t until I was 18 and researched the candidates when voting that I learned I was not a democrat. This indoctrinating didn’t just begin happening. It has just gotten worse.

  3. Oak,
    If I had kids in public school today I would be home schooling. The progressives are winning. I finished high school 1959, no indoctrination, taught how to think, not what. The indoctrination by teacher must stop. I think the big culprit is the education department in college where students must buy into social justice & leftie PC thinking or they will never earn a credential.

  4. This might be part of a scripted curriculum. If so, the teacher would have been required to say it and there might have been a monitor in the classroom to enforce it. For more on scripted curricula, see Hiding in Plain Sight by Ken Bowers, pp. 81-83.

    “The aim of public education is not to spread enlightenment at all; it is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States, whatever pretensions of politicians, pedagogues other such mountebanks, and that is its aim everywhere else…. Their purpose, in brief, is to make docile and patriotic citizens, to pile up majorities, and to make John Doe and Richard Doe as nearly alike, in their everyday reactions and ways of thinking, as possible.” – H. L. Mencken

  5. I have never mentioned this since the incident. It was nearly 15 years ago, and I’d almost forgotten about it until I read this email from Oak. Teachers CAN’T post their names or they will be harassed until reasons to dismiss them are found. So understand that I have NOTHING to lose in writing, since I’m retired and can UNLEASH my fury with administrators and what is happening in our schools.
    Before I decided to teach full time or received my endorsement in another subject, I decided to use my certification to substitute. I was at a school district I loved subbing in: Murray School District. It was their Junior High School, which name I cannot think of right now. I was helping a Special Education student go to class and was given specific instructions to take notes for him. The teacher was a history teacher, and I sat beside the student trying to take notes. First – the teacher walked over and told the student she expected HIM to take notes the best he could, and not to rely on mine. So I stepped back at first to see if my instructions were mistaken, but the student really could not keep up with the teacher’s lecture. The lecture turned to politics. The teacher seemed unfettered that another adult was in the room, and it was the WRONG adult to have there that day. She started lambasting Governor Bangerter as a very poor governor, and talking about the waste of his time in office. I immediately perked up. I knew this man very well, had played for his dinners with several senators, he was my Sunday School teacher, and I had gone to church with him. He was no longer governor, and pretty much a retired man at this point. She went on talking democratic principles as though nobody else had those principles. I was SO OFFENDED, knowing this was NOT allowed in our schools (or was it?!?) that I walked out of the room and to the secretary to tell her I could not help the student in that room because of the teacher, and that this teacher was going against policy in talking politics in class. (In teacher training we learn this fact, but in reality…I found out that day that that teachers get by with this….)
    I was told it was fine for me to stay out of that class – it was a one day deal for me as a sub, so nobody seemed to care. Plus – I was the only witness unless another child stood up to tell what the teacher said. I never heard any more about this, so I can’t say for sure nothing was done. What do you think the consequences should be for teachers doing this? A little talk from the principal? She may have had other talents in teaching that nullify dismissing her? Why was I so repulsed by this I had to walk out? I have to tell you – I would have reported someone saying how GOOD governor Bangerter had done over a Democratic governor (Utah has had both Republican and Democratic governors….) also. Politics in the classroom are wrong, either way. Indoctrinating is wrong, either way. Parents are losing control, and way back in 1976 when I had my first child, I already knew this and chose, OFF AND ON, to home school them. I wasn’t strong enough to stick to this, so I found money to put them in a private school WAY BACK THEN – just from teaching in the public school and seeing that the standards were not as high as I wanted for my children. When they DID finally go to public school, they all excelled, got A’s so I must not have been as bad as I was WORRIED I was. There are STRONG Home Schooling organizations now to support parents. I would suggest to ANYONE to try if you have education at all and are opposed to what is being taught in the schools. THere is SO MUCH support out there, and you can have your children BACK. It was glorious having my children at my feet and not sending them for so many hours of the day to the schools. They need your love, may not be ready for what is going to happen to them, in the classroom and on the playground. Last week, a little Kindergartener I know well came home hurt and crying to her mother because ALREADY in kindergarten, she was called stupid and ugly, all in one day. Teachers can’t control this, but certainly need to be made aware of it to stop bullying right from the first day of school. Parents rarely KNOW how many times this happens at school. They can soothe and help a child if they TELL them what happened. In many cases, my children didn’t tell me until long after the hurt sunk in and they felt less than what they were. Are your children telling YOU, or are they so innocent they don’t know what’s happening or what to do about it? I bet not one child went home from that Murray Jr. High that day and said anything to parents. They don’t know better. They trust and believe their teachers. Check it out in your own home. I’d like to hear on here what you came up with from the mouths of your own children.

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