Fireworks at Springboro Ohio School Board Meeting

I wasn’t at the Springboro School Board meeting, but I talked to someone who was and I am following several twitter accounts to get a sense of the fireworks that took place. Local news reporters were there and I will provide more information as I find it.
According to the person I spoke with and a tweet (see below), one speaker unfurled a Confederate flag in defense of the League of the South.

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According to witnesses, the flag waver was Sonny Thomas, tea party leader in Springboro. Thomas also runs the twitter account for the Ohio branch of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white nationalist organization.
Preliminary news coverage from WDTN.
Witness to the Confederate flag waver.
Prior post on Institute on the Constitution and the League of the South.
Dayton Daily News Story is posted at the Springboro parents Facebook page.
Huffington Post picked up the Confederate flag waving story here. The fact that Sonny Thomas showed up to support the IOTC course seems to validate the problems with the course in the first place. From Thomas’ point of view, attacking the course is akin to attacking the League of the South.

Institute on the Constitution Founder Michael Peroutka on Southern Secession and His Course on the Constitution

Last week, the Springboro School Board canceled two controversial summer courses on the Constitution. Both courses were offered to the public as a way to evaluate them for possible use in the schools. However, because of concerns expressed by the public, the courses were canceled. In light of what I have learned about the courses, I commend the school board for their action.
In my write up of the situation I focused on the 12 week course offered by the Institute on the Constitution. The IOTC is an educational project of the law offices of Peroutka and Peroutka, based in Pasadena, MD. To me, a disturbing aspect of the IOTC course is the connection of IOTC founder Michael Peroutka to the League of the South. The League of the South is a neo-Confederacy organization which promotes Southern nationalism. They seek to create a political climate that supports the secession of Southern states from the rest of the country in order to form a nation which protects “the Anglo-Celtic core population (i.e., white) and culture of the historic South.” One inspiration for the League is the 1858 pro-slavery, pro-secession organization League of United Southerners.
Beyond the obvious problems with the League’s mission, I wondered why the IOTC would offer a course in the Constitution if the real aim is to separate from the nation and form a new Constitution based on the Bible. However, after watching Michael Peroutka speak at the 2012 League of the South annual conference, I got a better sense of the purpose of the course. Reform or restoration is not in view. Watch:

Here is the transcript of his remarks (after the break): Continue reading “Institute on the Constitution Founder Michael Peroutka on Southern Secession and His Course on the Constitution”

What's Right with Common Core?

The latest educational initiative to rile up some social conservatives is Common Core educational standards. At Glenn Beck’s Man in the Moon this past weekend,  Michelle Malkin bashed Common Core as being “a progressive education scheme.” Her objective is to halt the implementation of the standards, according to the Blaze. David Barton was already on record as opposing Common Core. Some of the conceptions and misconceptions are displayed in this video.
Listening to Malkin and Barton, one might think that conservatives are unified in their opposition to Common Core. Not so. In this post, I want to list several links to articles by conservatives who favor the implementation of Common Core.
Common Core a conservative win for Oklahoma – This op-ed by Chester Finn and Michael Petrilli of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a right-of-center education policy think tank lay out their conservative reasons for supporting Common Core. Both authors are also affiliated with the Hoover Institution.
The Good News of Common Core – An article from Christianity Today which addresses misconceptions of those opposed to the standards. The article was written by Karen Swallow Prior, a professor at Liberty University.
Mike Huckabee – Huckabee sets the record straight about the source of the standards and praises the idea that there is some benchmark for what students should know throughout their school years.  According to Malkin, conservatives like Huckabee have “sold out” to progressives. Really?
The Truth about Common Core – In National Review Online, conservative scholars Kathleen Porter-McGee and Sol Stern take apart misconceptions about Common Core.
Escaping Ourselves – Former CT editor, David Neff, sees the Common Core standards as aiding common understandings of important historical texts.
Frequently Asked Questions about Common Core – Clarifies that the program is not a federal initiative but was developed by the National Governors Association along with school officials around the nation. Other misconceptions are addressed here.
Most of the criticisms of the Common Core standards I have seen make me wonder if the critics have read them. Given that the standards were developed by Governors and school officials, the worries over federal intrusion seem more related to opposition to the current president than the standards themselves.
There is nothing new about standards for students. Thomas Jefferson and his fellow Visitors of the University of Virginia provided a general outline about what students should know before entering university level. Jefferson hoped Virginia would develop a public education system to help prepare students in this manner:

To give every citizen the information he needs for the transaction of his own business;
To enable him to calculate for himself, and to express and preserve his ideas, his contracts, and accounts, in writing;
To improve, by reading, his morals and faculties;
To understand his duties to his neighbors and country, and to discharge with competence the functions confided to him by either;
To know his rights; to exercize with order and justice those he retains; to choose with discretion the fiduciary of those he delegates; and to notice their conduct with diligence, with candor, and judgment;
And, in general, to observe with intelligence and faithfulness all the social relations under which he shall be placed.
To instruct the mass of our citizens in these, their rights, interests and duties, as men and citizens, being then the objects of education in the primary schools, whether private or public, in them should be taught reading, writing and numerical arithmetic, the elements of mensuration, (useful in so many callings,) and the outlines of geography and history. (From Rockfish Gap Report (Report of the Commissioners Appointed to Fix the Site of the University of Virginia, 1818, p. 4). 

 

Springboro School District Cancels Controversial Constitution Classes

Last evening, the Springboro School Board canceled two Constitution classes which had drawn protests from parents, teachers and students.  Notice of the board action was posted on a Facebook site called Springboro United for Responsible Education.
According to WHIO, school board member Jim Rigano issued a statement saying in part, “We felt that having the community participate with evaluating these courses would be an excellent opportunity for schools and community to work together. Instead, the courses have received some criticism from the community, which we take very seriously.”
Some Springboro citizens had sent an open letter to the school board and created a petition at Change.org.
Yesterday, I reported here on Institute on the Constitution’s ties to white supremacist group League of the South.
While the cancellation is a step in the right direction, I am confident that parents and community groups will continue to press for answers to questions about why the IOTC was considered a viable resource.
Below is the entire press release:

Springboro Community City Schools News Release 
For Immediate Release
July 3, 2013
CONSTITUTION COURSES CANCELLED
SPRINGBORO- Springboro Community Schools has cancelled two community education courses on the U.S. Constitution originally scheduled for this summer.
“We felt that having the community participate with evaluating these courses would be an excellent opportunity for schools and community to work together.  Instead, the courses have received some criticism from the
community, which we take very seriously,” said Jim Rigano, Board of Education Vice President.  “We wanted to allow time for additional review to fully investigate community concerns.”
The two courses were a 12-week course by the Institute on the Constitution scheduled to run from July 9 through September 24, and a one day seminar by the National Center for Constitutional Studies.
Anyone currently registered for the 12-week course by the Institute on the Constitution should contact instructor Ricki Pepin at 937-322-3149 for a refund or other information. Those who registered for the seminar with the National Center for Constitutional Studies through Springboro Schools will receive a refund.

This is now on the district website.

Springboro School District to Allow Course in Constitution Featuring David Barton

Speaking of David Barton and the Constitution, I learned yesterday that the Springboro School District plans to offer a summer course on the Constitution taught in part by Barton via video.
Here is the brochure advertising the course:

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John Eidsmoe was Michelle Bachmann’s mentor* at Oral Roberts University and Ricki Pepin runs something called the Institute on the Constitution. Pepin’s website leaves no doubt about the type of course being offered.  She says she provides “educational opportunities for learning about your American and Christian heritage.”  Here course is different from other courses, which just teach the Constitution.  Her course teaches kids how to think biblically.

GROUP CLASS DISTINCTIVES – Why are we different from other Constitution courses?
Restoration begins with education.  The root meaning of the word “education” is to “pour in and draw out.”  We pour information and knowledge in, but unless we understand and know how to practically apply it (draw it out), true education has not occurred.  Educated activism, therefore, is the key to restoration of America to her principled roots.  For this reason, our Constitution course teaches you how to USE this document, not just learn its contents.
Other Constitution classes – Hillsdale College, National Center for Constitutional Studies, Heritage Foundation – are good entry level classes to learn the basics of the Constitution, to set the foundation.  But, when we build a house, the foundation is just the beginning.  If we build no house on top of it, the foundation is unused and will never fulfill its intended purpose – to provide a home and shelter for a family.  Likewise, if we are to restore Constitutional law to this country, we DO have to lay the foundation, but then we have to BUILD upon it until we learn to USE it for its intended purpose – to protect and defend individual’s right to life, liberty and property.
The IOTC class is a 12-week course on the Constitution, with three important distinctions from other Constitution classes:
First distinction – We begin with history.  It has been said that history is to a nation what memory is to a person.  If a person has amnesia, they are living in absolute confusion.  They don’t know who they are, where they came from, what they believe in, what’s important to them, what their hopes and dreams are for the future.   The same confusion reigns in a nation where citizens don’t know their history.  It’s where we are today as a nation, lost and confused, not knowing where we came from, or where we’re going or what vehicle to use to get there.  Our Constitution classes will show you.  We teach the history of law and government as it originated from God as recorded in the Bible. Going forward, we trace the progression of this foundation through Columbus, the Pilgrims, our founding fathers and we study their belief systems.  As students learn these foundations, they begin to see our nation’s history as part of who they are.  They begin to see it as their HERITAGE, their inheritance.  It’s truth.  It’s powerful.  It’s motivating.  It gives individuals a sense of their purpose and destiny as Americans.
Second distinction – We teach how to USE the Constitution.  After laying the historical foundation, we do teach the Constitution, but we don’t just teach about it.  We relate its principles to current events during class discussions.  There is much interaction and many, many opportunities given for application of what the students are learning. Because of the first distinction – their knowledge of their heritage and ownership of this nation – many, many of our graduates get very involved in their local communities.  Some of them are running for offices we didn’t even know existed before like Precinct Committee Chairmen.  Others are attending various city, county, state board meetings, and offering Constitutional solutions to the problems discussed at these meetings, not just venting another opinion.  Still others are starting up citizen action groups to hold their elected officials accountable.
Third distinction – We teach students HOW TO THINK.  While teaching the Constitution, we help the students turn on their brains.  We show them how to reason through current events from a Biblical and principled foundation, so they will not be deceived by the media or anyone else. How do we do this?  By introducing them to the Principle Approach to education (the method used by our Founding Fathers).  Defining our terms from Noah Webster’s original 1828 Dictionary, asking leading questions, using primary source documents, what the founders themselves wrote, not what somebody wrote about them.  This method of learning is incredibly thought-provoking and exposes principles and truths that are then applied to our modern-day government situations.
Won’t you join us in this movement of educated activism?  – The Constitution cannot defend itself.  We the people must do it.  No matter who we elect, educated patriots must hold our leaders at every level of government accountable to the Constitution.  We can’t do that if we don’t know what it says.  Join me and other IOTC graduates in the cause of preserving our God-given liberty and restoring our Constitutional Republic.   If you don’t, who will?

When the state of Ohio passed a law requiring schools to teach about the founding documents, I wondered if the stage was being set for the introduction of Barton’s materials into the classroom.  These summer courses are supposed to be evaluated for use in the school system to help meet the requirements of the law. There is another one day course apparently written by Cleon Skousen (one of Glenn Beck’s favorites) which will also be evaluated.
It is clear from the promo material and the teacher’s website that the course establishes one particular religious view under the guise of the public school. Furthermore, as regular readers know, the accuracy of the content is questionable given Barton’s video sequences used to reinforce the Christian nationalist teaching.
*Eidsmoe says he deplores racism but has spoken to white supremacist groups. See this article for more…