Utah Physics Teacher Stuart Harper Resigns over Common Core

Stuart Harper, physics teacher in St. George, previously wrote an article that was published on this site. Through his own research he had concerns and dared to voice them in a system that doesn’t like unique thought and demands conformity. I can’t tell you how many teachers I’ve received emails from expressing support for our movement and concern that they can’t speak out or risk losing their job. When a teacher tells me their entire department has issues with Common Core, the education system responds calling us liars for saying such a thing. The USOE is heavily and understandably invested in the success of Common Core. They made a major decision to take the entire state of Utah into a path of pilot testing standards that had never been used and had no textbooks written for them. Something so risky based solely on a decision that it COULD POTENTIALLY result in the receipt of federal dollars, should result in the firings of the officers that pushed to adopt the standards before they were written and without any public meetings. These people are still in positions of power at the USOE, and tragically, continue to push for something which is designed to teach our children what to think, not how to think, the same way they demand teachers are treated. Here is Stuart Harpers email and resignation letter. Please pray for Stuart and our teachers who are unable to speak out, being swallowed up in an education beast that consumes 65% of our state budget.

“As rumor of my story has been circulating and has made it back to me in fragmented forms, I want to publicly give my version of the story. My goal is not to paint myself as a victim nor is it to demonize anyone who has been involved in threatening me. Rather, I hope to remind citizens that we have a duty to be informed and involved in the education of the rising generation. I hope to raise awareness of the corruption that is within our school system and how it trickles down to each level through intimidation. I also hope to encourage others to ask questions, fight for local control and stand up for what is truly best for our students and local communities.”

Stuart Harper

Resignation Letter

“January 25, 2014

Be it known that at the conclusion of my contract this year I will resign my post as a public school teacher. I do not do this lightly, but with a heavy heart and with much sorrow. I am leaving an ideal position at a wonderful school, teaching the subject I love. My reasons for leaving and the situation I find myself in are most unfortunate, but I think it beneficial for others to learn of events which have lead to my decision. Understand that I hold no ill will toward any individuals involved. I realize they are merely victims of a corrupt system.

As a citizen I have a responsibility to be involved in civic affairs. As a teacher and father I have an added interest in educational affairs and have a duty to support what I believe is truly best for the parents and students of my community.

After much research I know that the Common Core (CC), the way it has been implemented, and the reforms which have accompanied it are wrong. They are unsound, of poor quality, take power from local government, and further empower federal agencies and policy makers. Most importantly, their enactment was unconstitutional, both in Utah and in the nation. However wrong CC may be, my reasons for resigning are only tangent to this constitutional breech. I was aware of the core before signing on, and though I did not approve of it I gave my word in contract to teach whatever curriculum I was given.

In the summer of 2013 a personal letter I had written stating my concerns with CC was posted on the Utahns Against Common Core website. It was an opinion piece, not a scholarly review. I saw no problem with stating my opinion, it is my right as a citizen, at least so I thought.

A few months later, I was informed that the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) had learned of my published letter and was not happy with my opinions or concerns. Local school authorities were instructed to meet with me and put me back in line. During this meeting with the district representatives I was told that I was shallow, ignorant and emotional in the way I wrote my concerns and that by writing things like this I would create rebellion and insubordination across the district. I was told I can have an opinion with other state’s educational systems but as a teacher in the state of Utah I cannot be concerned with my own state’s educational affairs. I reminded them that my intent was not to promote rebellion, but to simply encourage personal research on the subject and exercise freedom of speech on my off time, as a citizen and father. I was told “Those freedom of speech rights you are probably referring to do not apply.”

I was shocked, but I stood my ground. I made it clear that if I continued to be intimidated into silence that I would resign same day. I told them that I have given my word to teach what they want me to in the classroom and would continue, but I would also continue to use my rights as an American citizen to effect political change. They said I could share my research if I get my facts straight, but even then my job is on the line. When I told them that I would continue to research information from original sources as well as writings from those for and against CC they were confused. They discouraged me from seeking information from anywhere other than the USOE, and accept only their interpretations of the facts. I refused, reminding them that true education comes from educating yourself on all sides.

I was threatened on three separate occasions with professional action all because I stated my opinion. I did not resign at any of the instances where I found myself threatened because I realized that I had given my word that I would teach for the year, and I will not break my word.  However I refuse to remain in an environment that clearly has no respect for the Constitutional right of free speech. I refuse to be a part of the problem.

Over the years the school system has fallen far below what it should be. The public school system is just that – public. It should represent those served by it – We the People. Each level of the system (classroom, school, district and state) fails to remember that its duty is to the people, not to the establishment. We should be representing what is in our students’ and our community’s best interest. Our current system expects acceptance and conformity to its decisions and policies by all of its teachers and administrators. Further, it expects this without questioning or voicing concerns and even goes as far as intimidating and threatening those who have differing opinions. Any society or organization that silences and discourages freedom of speech removes the possibility to express ideas, and without competing ideas we close the door on true education and open the door to tyranny.

The public education system is filled with hundreds upon thousands of good people who want to make a difference, but they are all confined by the way this system has been engineered. There now exists a growing centralized system which extends its control into every classroom and robs each teacher of their freedom. In direct opposition to this centralized overreach, I believe schools should make most decisions on a very local level. Domestic tranquility is ensured by taking care of things in our homes and communities and by having parents, teachers and students work together to create the best situation. We have lost control of the classroom and continue to hand more and more power over to the government. Our current system no longer promotes learning, but rather focuses on training. It teaches what to think, not how to think. It is now a system of hoops for students, teachers, and administrators, and with further national control and regulations of education, these hoops have been set on fire.

I believe that until we can get education to become self-sufficient where it no longer relies on the funding and intimidation from federal and even state levels, until we can bring education back to learning how to think and not being trained for a test, and until we can bring freedom back to the individual teachers, students, and schools, our public system will continue to decay. I hope the system and its people can exercise the self discipline to do this, but where I cannot foresee this happening, my greatest hope for education now resides in home-schools, home-school groups, and in private education.

My hands are tied within this system. But I now know that I can be more productive on the outside. I will continue to promote true and correct educational principles, awareness of civic affairs, and our duty to be involved. I am going to be a part of the solution. Asking questions is the essence of education. All I encourage of others is to ask questions, seek truth and not be afraid to share that truth with other Americans who are willing to listen.

Sincerely,

Mr. Stuart Harper

Teacher, Citizen, and Father”

 

25 thoughts on “Utah Physics Teacher Stuart Harper Resigns over Common Core”

  1. Bravo, Mr. Harper! Very well stated. You are courageous indeed. I admire your strength in standing alone in all those meetings intended to silence you. You are not alone.
    You must be one of the awesome teachers your students will remember all their lives. One who really makes their mark on their young minds.
    It is tragic for them to lose you. But I’m afraid good teachers like you all over the country are leaving the classroom, for the same reasons you are now.
    Please, continue to tell your story and share your ideas!

  2. Wow! Very powerful letter! Keep fighting the good fight Mr. Harper! We appreciate your selfless work for our children!

  3. Wow!! I am from Rigby Idaho & am against common core as well!! This is very troubling & frightening that the very people who profess to be FOR our children are the ones who are actually making things worse for them!! Thank you for standing strong!!!

  4. Stuart Harper is a hero at a time when heros funded by government sources are hard to find. Thank-you Stuart for setting a higher standard for Utah then the current USOE even understands. They have sold our children’s well-being for the promise of federal dollars – shocking!!!!

  5. Mr. Harper, thank you so much for your courage and the example you are to those around you. My daughter, Alyssa, is one of your students and she has so enjoyed being in your class and is so sad you have to leave Hurricane High. Thank you for sharing this powerful message!

  6. Stuart, you and your family have always been an example of good neighbors and responsible citizens. Your admirable integrity and faith to do the honorable when it is inconvenient are among the many reasons I am grateful for your words and am glad to call you friend. You are a wonderful leader and I look forward to supporting you in your quest for solutions to this national oppression.

  7. So thankful to you for your courageous stand. Hope that you and all of us can continue to make significant headway into this fight for the hearts and minds of serious students who deserve a quality education. We do not need an educational institution of the government, by the government and for the government.

  8. Thanks so much for standing up for freedom! Maybe you can continue to teach privately via Skype? I’m living in a remote area with no close private school so will be looking for online options for all my kids. Keep up the good fight!

    1. I will defiantly keep that as an option and I hope to be able to do that in the future. If I do it will be associated with a school I am helping to build in St. George called Providence Academy. Please see our website for more info.

  9. Thank you, Thank you! For standing up for what it right at personal cost, and encouraging others to have the same courage – and bringing light to things that others prefer to remain in darkness.

  10. What blather. You should run for public office, you certainly don’t sound like a physics teacher. Good riddance.

    1. Bob, you certainly don’t sound like a teacher, almost as if you are unable to describe your disagreement on an intellectual level.

  11. Thank you for standing on principle and not backing down. There are not words to express how truly your sacrifice is appreciated on behalf of my children.

  12. Rod,
    If you’re looking for a high level of intellectual debate you are on the wrong website. I teach physics. Like every good physics teacher that I know, I couldn’t care less about CC, PARCC, NCLB, or any other acronym the bureaucrats come up with. The laws of physics trump man-made laws. They can’t be amended by politicians. Stuart Harper’s letter has a whiny, self-righteous tone. He seems to be more concerned with making a political statement than teaching his students the beauty and power of physics. I’m happy to see him leave my profession. If common core drives out others like him, so much the better.

    1. Dear Sir,

      I find nothing whiny about the letter. Many teachers are not being allowed to teach but forced to indoctrinate students or become merely test givers under a supervised government control system. I am proud of all those who speak up. The beauty of physics will too soon be beyond our efforts to share with others if more people do not stand up for the principles our government was founded on.

      Thank you for your time.

  13. Dana,
    I don’t know about the ‘many teachers’ to whom you refer. I was only talking about Stuart Harper. He claims to be a physics teacher who is unable to do his job because the common core restricts his academic freedom. The common core does not address physics. As of this date, standards exist for math and English only. Mr. Harper may not like those, but he certainly can’t claim that they affect his physics classes.

  14. Bob, I am sorry to hear you respond the way you are. I don’t understand why you despise me so, but I feel compelled to answer your accusations for the sake of any who might be still following this post.

    – “What blather. You should run for public office, you certainly don’t sound like a physics teacher.” , “He seems to be more concerned with making a political statement than teaching his students the beauty and power of physics.”
    Well, to this I respond, that you have never had the opportunity to hear me teach physics. :) I come here not to teach physics lessons but to make my stand in the political arena. Of course I am going to come off more political. However I take this more as a complement because some of the greatest physicists, Newton, Faraday, and Benjamin Franklin were all very politically involved.

    – “The laws of physics trump man-made laws.”
    I know that, and I know that nothing can EVER change that. But I do know that the way they are presented or tested can have a huge influence on how they are understood, and I am opposed to anyone trying to use man made laws to interfere with the teacher-student-parent relationship.

    – “Stuart Harper’s letter has a whiny, self-righteous tone.”
    I am sorry I came off that way to you. If it appears that way, I can only attribute it to trying to keep my head above the tide of criticism as a first year public school teacher who happens to have an opinion. I did all I could to keep it professional and to avoid attacking those who have attacked me and my family.

    – “He claims to be a physics teacher who is unable to do his job because the common core restricts his academic freedom….Mr. Harper may not like those, but he certainly can’t claim that they affect his physics classes.”
    For this statement I deliver you a stern rebuke. You are claiming that I have said things that I have not. I have never EVER said that common core restricts my academic freedom. I know that physics is not in the CCSS, (I am keeping an eye on the NGSS but that is another matter) but at the same time physics is mathematically based, and anything that effects math effects physics. I have many times had to teach remedial math in my class because the students did not know it. My academic freedom has not been curtailed, but my students are not as prepared as they should be. Next, you are implying that because I am not a math teacher that I cannot speak out against CCSS. But I have a duty to stand and defend in any way I can, and it doesn’t matter if I am a math teacher or not. I would hope the math teachers in your school would come and defend you if the state ever demanded that you be silent or suffer the consequences. Further, I am not resigning BECAUSE of CC, I am resigning because it is obvious that my state and my district do not uphold the rights of free speech in the political arena by its teachers, and I cannot live the rest of my life in fear that I will be fired for being me.

    – “I’m happy to see him leave my profession.”
    Well here I am happy to disappoint you. I am pleased to announce that I have been hired by, and am helping to build, a NEW PRIVATE k-12 school in St. George called Providence Academy! This is an LDS based learning center built to service the whole family and to be as affordable as possible to every person in the community. I have been specifically hired to teach physics, chemistry, all of the maths from algebra 1 to calculus, and a few other electives as time permits. No Bob, I never resigned from teaching, I could never do that, but I have left the doppelganger of learning, public schools. I am free now to profess my faith through the amazing wonders of creation. I am free to show my students the beauty of nature and nature’s God. For the first time in my professional life, I am truly free, and it is an amazing feeling.

    I invite everyone to come and check out our school. We are opening September 2nd and it will be great. A little rough perhaps as we refine things over the first year or two, but it will be great. Our website is http://www.providence.academy

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