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.”
“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.
Mr. Stuart Harper
Teacher, Citizen, and Father”