Archive for May 2012

Two Truths and a Lie, or, What the Common Core Debate is Really About   2 comments

Have you ever played the game “Two truths and a lie”?  Each person gets a turn to say three statements.  Two of them must be true, and one must be false.  The listeners must try to guess which of the three statements is the lie.

Sometimes I feel like the Utah State Office of Education is playing this game with the state of Utah.  The only problem is, we didn’t know that we were playing that game.  We thought everything they stated was true.  Sadly, no.

In the flier on Common Core that the USOE promotes on their website and sends to each district in Utah, there are so many lies that it’s hard to find a truth.

Think I’m biased?

Here are the items I base this on.  These are documents and statements from people in positions of great power:   Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, National Common Core Validation Committee Members, Top USOE lawyer Carol Lear, Members of the Utah State School Board, the Utah Educator’s Network, and retired Utah Judge Norman Jackson.

1. The Cooperative Agreement between the U.S. Dept of Education and the SBAC, which Utah belongs to.  It’s not biased; it’s a document that anyone can read.  It clearly reveals that Utah has given up her freedoms under Common Core.  Maybe freedom doesn’t matter to you; it matters to me.  This document proves that the USOE’s statement that Common Core comes without federal strings attached, and that it’s a state-led and state-determined initiative, is a lie.

2. The academic reviews of Dr. James Milgram and Dr. Sandra Stotsky, who served on the national Common Core Validation Committee, and both refused to sign off on the adequacy of the standards.   These academic reviews conflict with the USOE’s statement that “most thoughtful people” like Common Core and the USOE’s statement that the standards are rigorous and promote college readiness.

3. Conversations I’ve had with State School Board members and with the top lawyer of the USOE, Carol Lear. These people have made it clear that the idea of being common, or equal, with other states, is more important to them than the idea of maintaining state freedoms like the power to educate as we ourselves see fit, and the power to hold parental authority as more important than federal authority over student privacy, and the power to amend educational standards if our state wants to amend them.  Carol Learaffirmed that there is no amendment clause for the Common Core standards; yet, she saw no value in the “freedom to disagree” with other states.  She did not seem to recognize that being in a cooperative with other states is much different from being cooperative with other states.  She did not see that we sell our liberties one by one, as we buy into the siren call of equality for all.

4.  The network of data gathering and data collection on kids that may or may not have to do with academics rather than surveillance of children and families.  In this network  is the P-20 workforce Utah and many other states have implemented to track children from preschool to age 20.  In this network is the longitudinal database that Utah built with ARRA stimulus money with the purpose of tracking children over time and allowing “all stakeholders” including the federal government to view this data.   In this network, locally, so far, are the Utah Educator’s Network, the Utah Data Alliance, Choice Solutions, and UTRex.

5. Utah Judge Norman Jackson (retired) published a legal analysis of Common Core.  It is noteworthy. It says that Utah is not free under Common Core.

A teacher (who is also a proponent of Common Core) recently said that he had not read the pros and cons of Common Core because he thought it would be biased.  To people like him I can only ask:

Do you think you are unbiased?  I don’t think anyone is un-biased.

It is only a question of which side you listen to, and whether you are discerning enough to even realize which side you listen to.

In Common Core, there is the pro-liberty side and the pro-equality side.

On the equality side, education means an agreed-upon cooperative, a one-size-fits-all system so that it is common to all, convenient to all, and available to all.

On the liberty side, education means being free to choose (but not to mandate) cooperation with other states,  to maintain local power to innovate, to be different, to maintain autonomy and sovereignty, and to leave power with the local entities to change our educational standards as we desire in the future.

When you boil the arguments down, these are what remain.  It’s not really about how educated or ignorant our high school graduates may be.  It’s not really about whether Algebra I should remain in 8th grade or 9th.  It’s not really about whether classical literature should be slashed to make room for info-texts in English classes. It’s not really about how much money we spend or don’t spend on new technologies for testing.  It’s about whether our highest priority ought to be providing educational equality, versus maintaining educational freedom.

–In my (very biased-toward-freedom ) opinion.

Vermont State Board of Education smarter than Utah State Board of Education   Leave a comment

Vermont’s “Bennington Banner” reports that Vermont is fed up with the U.S. Dept. of Education and has turned away from the Obama Administration’s bureaucratic NCLB waiver.

In an April 17 letter … the U.S. Education Department said Vermont’s waiver application lacked “Detail regarding Vermont’s proposed accountability system,” and did not “Ensure significant progress in improving student achievement.”

Since applying for the waiver, Vermont has held a series of time-consuming negotiations as it attempted to create its own system of measurement and accountability that relied less on standardized tests and punitive actions against teachers, administrators and schools.

Throughout those negotiations it became more and more apparent that the U.S Department of Education would not be willing to budge on many of Vermont’s requests, and so when the latest letter arrived in Montpelier asking for more details the State Board of Education decided to cut its losses and move on.

“As the Vermont Department of Education has continued to negotiate for the flexibility that was promised since we started in August, it has become clear that the U.S. Education Department is interested in simply replacing one punitive, prescriptive model of accountability with another,” Vermont Department of Education Spokeswoman Jill Remick said. “We cannot continue to expend energy requesting a detailed accountability system that looks less and less like what we want for Vermont.”

Vermont, we applaud your independence from federal control.  We wish the Utah State Board of Education had the same brains and brawn.

The Snow White Birds: Elder Boyd K. Packer on Education   1 comment

This talk was given in 1995 at BYU by Boyd K. Packer.  Elder Packer titled this talk from a dream  President Brimhall had:

He saw several of the BYU professors standing around a peculiar machine on the campus. When one of them touched a spring a baited fish hook attached to a long thin wire rose rapidly into the air. . . .

Casting his eyes around the sky he [President Brimhall] discovered a flock of snow-white birds circling among the clouds and disporting themselves in the sky, seemingly very happy. Presently one of them, seeing the bait on the hook, darted toward it and grabbed it. Instantly one of the professors on the ground touched a spring in the machine, and the bird was rapidly hauled down to the earth.

On reaching the ground the bird proved to be a BYU student, clad in an ancient Greek costume, and was directed to join a group of other students who had been brought down in a similar manner. Brother Brimhall walked over to them, and noticing that all of them looked very sad, discouraged and downcast, he asked them:

“Why, students, what on earth makes you so sad and downhearted?”

“Alas, we can never fly again!” they replied with a sigh and a sad shake of the head.

Their Greek philosophy had tied them to the earth. They could believe only what they could demonstrate in the laboratory. Their prayers could go no higher than the ceiling. They could see no heaven—no hereafter.7

   This dream moved him to action.  When an exercise in administrative diplomacy suddenly became an issue of faith, President Brimhall acted.  Elder Packed concludes his talk by saying, “The largest block of the tithing funds spent at BYU goes for teaching salaries. We cannot justify spending the widow’s mite on one who will not observe either the letter or the spirit of the contract he or she has signed. Every department chair, every director, every dean and administrator has a sacred obligation to assure that no one under their care will pull the snow-white birds from the sky or cause even one to say, “Alas, we can never fly again!” or to “believe only what could be demonstrated in a laboratory” or to think that “their prayer could go no higher than the ceiling, or to see no heaven—no hereafter.”

Here is the whole talk:

The Snow-White Birds


Boyd K. Packer was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this Annual University Conference address was given on 29 August 1995.

© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Complete volumes of Speeches are available wherever LDS books are sold.

For further information contact: Speeches, 218 University Press Building, Provo, Utah 84602. (801) 422-2299 / E-mail: / Speeches Home Page

I greet you tonight with the blessings and good wishes of the First Presidency of the Church, who serve as the officers of the board of trustees and represent them in this assignment. With the faculty, staff, and administration present, only the students are missing. It is in their interest that I have entitled my message “The Snow-White Birds.”

A few days ago President Lee asked me to substitute for Elder M. Russell Ballard, who is recovering from heart surgery and is doing very well. President Lee urged me to reminisce about my years of association with Brigham Young University.

My preparation, of necessity, has been limited to small blocks of time pried open in an already solid schedule—mostly when you were asleep. I have been shaken by the thought that my presentation this evening might bring you to that same condition!

President Harold B. Lee told me once that inspiration comes easier when you can set foot on the site related to the need for it. With a very sincere desire to be guided in preparing what I should say to you, early Sunday morning, before you were about, I stood in the Maeser Building, and I found that President Lee was right!

In one sense, this is a graduation. President Rex Lee has reported periodically to the public on the condition of his health, most often with Janet at his side. I do not know of anyone else who has shown the wisdom and the courage to do that. The Lees have served faithfully and well. I do not know another first lady of BYU who has shown more devotion. She has sparkled in public and has been an unfailing support to our president in the greater role known only to them. Together they deserve the highest marks. President Lee, never satisfied with less than his best, has earned them now. They both have our commendation and affection.

In one sense, I too am graduating tonight. After 34 years on the board of trustees for BYU, most of it on the executive committee, I have been released.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve will now be rotated on the board. That is as it should be, for the Twelve, under the direction of the First Presidency, are responsible to watch over and “set in order”1the Church in all the world.

Since the future of the Church rests with our youth and since the budget for their education is the second largest of all Church appropriations (the budget for BYU alone is in the hundreds of millions of dollars), you deserve the responsible attention of all of the Twelve. And I am sure you will have that.

It has been said that young men speak of the future because they have no past, and oldmen speak of the past because they have no future. Responding to President Lee’s request, I will act my age and reminisce.

Our first visit to this campus was 48 years ago this month. Donna and I were returning from our honeymoon. Seven years later I walked into the Maeser Building, then the administration building, to an office I was to occupy as chairman of a summer school for all seminary and institute personnel. There were problems, and so we had been called in for some reinforcement, some shaping up.

Our instructor was Elder Harold B. Lee of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He invited guest lecturers. President J. Reuben Clark Jr. came more than once; President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elders Spencer W. Kimball, Mark E. Peterson, Marion G. Romney, LeGrand Richards, Delbert L. Stapley, and Richard L. Evans, President Belle S. Spafford of the Relief Society (one of the greatest women of our time), and others came. For two hours a day, five days a week, for five weeks we were taught at the feet of the apostles. The influence of those days is still evident in our lives and in Church education.

The following year, as a supervisor of seminaries and institutes, I returned to the Maeser Building. I occupied an office there until the administration moved to the newly completed Smoot Building.

In 1958 A. Theodore Tuttle, the other supervisor of seminaries, was called as a member of the First Council of the Seventy.

In October 1961 I was called as an Assistant to the Twelve. One of my first assignments was to the Church Board of Education, the BYU Board of Trustees, and the executive committee.

I can remember Presidents Franklin S. Harris, Howard McDonald, and Acting President Christen Jensen. I have had a close association with Presidents Wilkinson, Oaks, Holland, and Lee.

I remember as well Sunday, January 8, 1956. To understand why that is memorable to me, we must go back to 1910.

George Brimhall, having already served 19 years as president of BYU, determined to establish a recognized teachers college. He had hired three professors: one with a master’s degree from Harvard, one with a doctorate from Cornell, and the other with a doctorate from Chicago. They hoped to transform the college into a full-fledged university. They determined that practicality and religion, which had characterized the school, must now give way to more intellectual and scientific philosophies.

The professors held that “the fundamentals of religion could and must be investigated by extending the [empirical] method into the spiritual realm,” and they “considered evolution to be a basic, spiritual principle through which the divinity in nature expressed itself.”2 The faculty sided with the new professors and the students rallied to them.

Horace Cummings, superintendent of Church schools, became concerned because they were “applying the evolutionary theory and other philosophical hypotheses to principles of the gospel and to the teachings of the Church in such a way as to disturb, if not destroy the faith of the pupils,” and he wrote, “Many stake presidents, some of our leading principals and teachers, and leading men who are friends of our schools have expressed deep anxiety to me about this matter.”3

Superintendent Cummings reported to the board that:

1. The teachers were following the “higher criticism”. . . , treating the Bible as “a collection of myths, folk-lore, dramas, literary productions, history and some inspiration.”

2. They rejected the flood, the confusion of tongues, the miracle of the Red Sea, and the temptation of Christ as real phenomena.

3. They said John the Revelator was not translated but died in the year A.D. 96.

4. “The theory of evolution is treated as a demonstrated law and their applications of it to gospel truths give rise to many curious and conflicting explanations of scripture.”

5. The teachers carried philosophical ideas too far: (1) “They believed sinners should be pitied and enlightened rather than blamed or punished,” (2) and they believed that “we should never agree. God never made two things alike. Only by taking different views of a thing can its real truth be seen.”

6. . . . .

7. The professors taught that “all truths change as we change. Nothing is fixed or reliable.”

8. They also taught that “Visions and revelations are mental suggestions. The objective reality of the presence of the Father and the Son, in Joseph Smith’s first vision, is questioned.”4

Superintendent Cummings concluded his report by saying that the professors “seem to feel that they have a mission to protect the young from the errors of their parents.”5

President Brimhall himself defended the professors—that is, until some students “frankly told him they had quit praying because they learned in school there was no real God to hear them.”6

Shortly thereafter President Brimhall had a dream.

He saw several of the BYU professors standing around a peculiar machine on the campus. When one of them touched a spring a baited fish hook attached to a long thin wire rose rapidly into the air. . . .

Casting his eyes around the sky he [President Brimhall] discovered a flock of snow-white birds circling among the clouds and disporting themselves in the sky, seemingly very happy. Presently one of them, seeing the bait on the hook, darted toward it and grabbed it. Instantly one of the professors on the ground touched a spring in the machine, and the bird was rapidly hauled down to the earth.

On reaching the ground the bird proved to be a BYU student, clad in an ancient Greek costume, and was directed to join a group of other students who had been brought down in a similar manner. Brother Brimhall walked over to them, and noticing that all of them looked very sad, discouraged and downcast, he asked them:

“Why, students, what on earth makes you so sad and downhearted?”

“Alas, we can never fly again!” they replied with a sigh and a sad shake of the head.

Their Greek philosophy had tied them to the earth. They could believe only what they could demonstrate in the laboratory. Their prayers could go no higher than the ceiling. They could see no heaven—no hereafter.7

Now deeply embarrassed by the controversy and caught between opposing factions, President Brimhall at first attempted to be conciliatory. He said, “I have been hoping for a year or two past that harmony could be secured by waiting, but the delays have been fraught with increased danger.”8 When an exercise in administrative diplomacy suddenly became an issue of faith,President Brimhall acted.

And now to Sunday, January 8, 1956. President David O. McKay came to Brigham City to dedicate a chapel built for students of the Intermountain Indian School. I stood next to him to introduce those who came forward to shake his hand.

A very old man, a stranger to me, came forward on the arm of his daughter. He had come some distance to speak to President McKay. It was impossible for me not to hear their conversation. He gave President McKay his name and said that many years ago he had taught at BYU. President McKay said, “Yes, I know who you are.” Tears came as the old man spoke sorrowfully about the burden he had carried for years. President McKay was very tender in consoling him. “I know your heart,” he said. That old man was one of the three professors who had been hired by President Brimhall in 1910.

Let me share with you another experience or two from which I learned valuable lessons.

During our BYU years we lived in Lindon. Early one Christmas Eve I received a telephone call. I told Donna that I must run in to Provo to the office. By doing so, one of our teachers could have a much happier Christmas.

I thought I was alone in the Maeser Building. Not so. President Ernest L. Wilkinson, whose office was at the other end of the hall, walked into President Berrett’s office, then into Brother Tuttle’s office, looked in the storeroom, and then stepped into my office. Without saying a word to me, he looked around my office and walked out. Although I knew him to be absorbed in whatever he did, I shook my head and muttered to myself, “Well, cuss you!”

Shortly thereafter, Vice President Harvey L. Taylor came into the office and made the same tour. Startled to find me at my desk, he asked, “What on earth are you doing here on Christmas Eve?” I explained why I was there. He then told me how much I was appreciated and how grateful he was for one who would go the extra mile. He wished me a merry Christmas and left.

After he was gone, I had generous thoughts about President Wilkinson. If he was smart enough to have a man like Harvey Taylor follow him around, I could put up with his exasperating ways.

Some time later I was summoned to a meeting of the Administrative Council in President Wilkinson’s office. They were discussing the appointment of someone in St. George to recruit the graduates of Dixie Junior College to BYU. I recommended the director of the institute there and said, “To appoint someone else would be misunderstood.”

The others there agreed. But after discussion, President Wilkinson said someone else would be better. I responded, “That’s all right, President, but you are still wrong.”

Suddenly there was dead silence. When President Wilkinson was greatly amused or angry, he had a way of running his tongue around the inside of his cheeks. He stood up and walked around his desk two or three times. I suppose he was trying to get control of himself. Finally he sat down, and Joseph T. Bentley said quietly, “President, Brother Packer is right.”

At that point I was excused from the meeting. That night I told Donna that we would be leaving BYU, and I hoped we could return to Brigham City to teach seminary. Two days later I received a memo from President Wilkinson appointing me to the Administrative Council of Brigham Young University.

During the years I served on that council, I came to appreciate President Wilkinson. He had a profound influence on the university, and the naming of a building, this building, for him is little enough by way of tribute to him.

In 1966 BYU underwent an accrediting evaluation. The evaluation of the College of Religion by two clergymen from differing faiths was thought to offer a fresh insight into the role of religion at BYU.

These two “outsiders” expressed concern over the intellectual climate and the “revelational and authoritarian approach to knowledge.” They recommended that, for the purpose of intellectual ferment and free inquiry at BYU, the university should have one or two atheists on the faculty.

President Wilkinson wrote a response to the accreditation report and asked for corrections. He pointed out that “there were no limitations on teaching about these philosophies, but there were cautions about advocating them!”

Although the chairman of the commission invited a response to President Wilkinson’s letter, none was ever received.

Perhaps the answer came from the 1976 Accreditation Committee. They explained in the introduction of their report:

Institutional evaluation, as practiced by the Commission on Colleges, begins with an institution’s definition of its own nature and purposes; and a declaration of its goals and objectives pursuant upon that definition. The institution is then evaluated, essentially in its own terms, from the point of view of how well it appears to be living up to its own self-definition; and how well its goals and objectives fits that definition, as well as the extent to which they appear to be carried out and achieved in practice.9

That 1976 accreditation report was highly favorable. They found BYU “to be a vibrant and vital institution of genuine university caliber.”10

Perhaps this is enough reminiscing. Yesterday President Lee spoke with keen insight about the future of Brigham Young University, and he did it very well.

Perhaps young men do speak of the future because they have no past, and old men of the past because they have no future. However, there are 15 old men whose very lives are focused on the future. They are called, sustained, and ordained as prophets, seers, and revelators. It is their right to see as seers see; it is their obligation to counsel and to warn.

Immediately ahead is the appointment of a new president of BYU. A search committee has been appointed. Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve has been named chairman of that committee. Members of the committee are Elders M. Russell Ballard and Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Presiding Bishop Merrill Bateman, and President Elaine Jack of the Relief Society.

They are now at work. The appointment of the next president of Brigham Young University is a crucial one. During the next 10 years, 59 percent of the faculty will retire. That comes about because of the enormous growth during the Wilkinson years. Imagine a 60 percent turnover in faculty!

The board has long since charged the administration to refine the hiring process to ensure that those who will come to replace you will be of the same quality of worthiness, spirit, and professional competency as you were at the beginning of your careers.

It is not always possible to give the watch care that you deserve. When things come to us a piece at a time, without an explanation of how they fit together, we may fail to see overall changes that are taking place.

Several years ago, the then president of the Relief Society asked why the name of one of the colleges at BYU was changed. It concerned her. She had watched the establishment of the College of Family Living, a decision that was far ahead of its time. The Joseph F. Smith Family Living Center, one of the largest buildings on campus at the time, was built to house the college. BYU stood unique in all the world in organizing such a college.

Why, she asked, did they change the name of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences? Her concern was that family would be lost to social and to science.The names of the courses were changed, things were shifted about, and their objectives shifted toward the professional and theoretical.

I thought that the Relief Society president asked a very insightful question, and I shared her concern. She was told that, since there was no counterpart in other universities to a college that concentrated on the family, there were academic reasons for the changes.

When researchers are too focused on what is, they may lose sight of what oughtto be. A kitchen then may be regarded as a research lab, and a family as any group of unrelated people who spend the night under the same roof—defined that way because experts in the world convince the government that it is supposed to be that way.

Has something like that happened in the other colleges as well? Is the teaching of religion given a preeminent place, and are those who teach religion full-time recognized for the vital contribution they make to every other discipline? Has there been a drift in the College of Education? Has the responsibility to prepare teachers been divided up and parceled out and lost? Have words such as training, instruction, and valuesbeen brushed aside in favor of loftier theoretical and intellectual considerations? Consider these lines:

Today a professor in a garden relaxing Like Plato of old in the academe shade Spoke out in a manner I never had heard him
And this is one of the things that he said:
Suppose that we state as a tenet of wisdom That knowledge is not for delight of the mind Nor an end in itself, but a packet of treasure To hold and employ for the good of mankind.
A torch or a candle is barren of meaning Except it give light to men as they climb,
And thesis and tomes are but impotent jumble Unless they are tools in the building of time.
We scholars toil on with the zeal of a miner For nuggets and nuggets and one nugget more,
But scholars are needed to study the uses Of all the great mass of data and lore.
And truly our tireless and endless researches Need yoking with man’s daily problems and strife,
For truth and beauty and virtue have value Confirmed by their uses in practical life.[Anonymous]

If students are going to partake of the fruit that is “desirable to make one happy,” yeah, “desirable above all other fruit,”11which Lehi saw in his vision, they had better have their ladder leaning against the right tree. And they had better hold onto the iron rod while they are working their way toward it.

Now, in an absolutely remarkable consensus, leaders in politics, government, law enforcement, medicine, social agencies, and the courts recognize that the breakdown of the family is the most dangerous and frightening development of our time, perhaps in all human history. They are casting around for answers.

There is a desperate need for stable families and teachers who know how to teach values. Were we not better equipped a generation ago to produce them? Have some among us measured themselves against the world and its sophisticated intellectual standard? Have they “cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed”12and let go of the iron rod of Lehi’s vision?

The prophet Jacob spoke of wasting one’s time by following those who, “when they are learned they think they are wise.” “To be learned is good,” he further said, “if they hearken unto the counsels of God.”13

Your faculty committees are now at work on the self-evaluation of the university. We have heard good reports of their progress. Those committees might well look thoughtfully and long and prayerfully at these issues.

Surely you will remember that the board of trustees has directed that in order to contribute to the central mission of the Church, “BYU is a Church-related [and I might say parenthetically totally owned], very large, national, academically selective, teaching-oriented, undergraduate university offering both liberal arts and occupational degrees, with sufficiently strong graduate programs and research work to be a major university, but insufficient sponsored research and academic doctoral programs to be a graduate research institution.”14

Let them honor this direction from the minutes of the board of trustees: “Boards make policy and administrators implement policy.

“Boards must be informed of all proposed changes in basic programs and key personnel in order to achieve better understanding with the administrators.”15

Your committee, indeed all of you, would do well to read carefully Jacob’s parable of the olive vineyard in the Book of Mormon. You might stand, as the Lord of the vineyard did, and weep when he saw that some branches “grew faster than the strength of the roots, taking strength unto themselves.”16 You might ask with him, as we have asked, “What could I have done more in my vineyard? Have I slackened mine hand, that I have not nourished it?”17And yet some branches bring forth bitter fruit. And you might do as the lord of the vineyard did and as Brother Brimhall did. They pruned out those branches that brought forth bitter fruit and grafted in cuttings from the nether most part of the vineyard.

And by so doing, “the Lord of the vineyard had preserved unto himself the natural fruit, which was most precious unto him from the beginning.”18

Now I must speak of the snow-white birds that Brother Brimhall saw in his dream or vision. I say vision because another old man, Lehi, told his son Nephi, “Behold, I have dreamed a dream; or, in other words, I have seen a vision.”19

We have now enrolled in our institutes of religion 198,000 students. We spend approximately $300 a year on each of them. We spend more than $7,500 a year on each student at BYU and over $12,000 per student on the Hawaii campus, all of it from tithing funds.

That inequity worries the Brethren. We are trying to reach out to those in public colleges, as well as to the college-age members who are not, for various reasons, in school. We have invited them to attend classes in the institutes.

General Authorities often speak at firesides in the Marriott Center. Lately we have been broadcasting these messages to the institute students by satellite. Last time I was assigned, I spoke from Seattle. I wanted to show an equal interest in and an equal desire to be close to those who do not attend Church schools.

They need our help, these snow-white birds who now must fly in an atmosphere that grows ever darker with pollution. It is harder now for them to keep their wings from being soiled or their flight feathers from being pulled out.

The troubles that beset President Brimhall were hardly new. Paul told Timothy that, even in that day, they were of ancient origin:

“As Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses,” he told Timothy, “so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.”20

Paul prophesied plainly that those challenges would face us in the last days. They seem to cycle back each generation. They emerged in the early ‘30s. The Brethren called all of the teachers of religion together for a summer school at Aspen Grove. President J. Reuben Clark Jr., speaking for the First Presidency, delivered the landmark address “The Charted Course of the Church in Education” (1938). That address should be read by every one of you every year. It is insightful; it is profound; it is prophetic; it is scripture.

That opposition emerged again in the institutes of religion in the early ‘50s, and the Brethren called the summer session of which I spoke earlier, with Elder Harold B. Lee of the Twelve as our teacher.

We need to be alert today. Although there are too many now in our schools for us to call all of you together, here at BYU much is being done to reaffirm standards. You yourselves have helped refine the credentials for one who will influence these snow-white birds of ours. That standard is temple worthiness, with a recommend in hand for members and a respect for our standards by those who are not.

But that is not all. There must be a feeling and a dedication and a recognition and acceptance of the mission of our Church schools. Those standards will and must be upheld. The largest block of the tithing funds spent at BYU goes for teaching salaries. We cannot justify spending the widow’s mite on one who will not observe either the letter or the spirit of the contract he or she has signed. Every department chair, every director, every dean and administrator has a sacred obligation to assure that no one under their care will pull the snow-white birds from the sky or cause even one to say, “Alas, we can never fly again!” or to “believe only what could be demonstrated in a laboratory” or to think that “their prayer could go no higher than the ceiling, or to see no heaven—no hereafter.”

We expect no more of anyone than that you live up to the contract you have signed. We will accept no less of you. The standards of the accreditation agencies expect no less of us. It is a matter of trust, for we are trustees.

I have said much about teachers. Many of you look after housing and food services or maintain the libraries, the museums, or the sports fields or keep the records, protect law and order and safety, service equipment, keep up the campus, publish materials, manage the finances, and a hundred other things. Without you this institution would come apart in a day. You are absolutely vital to the mission of Brigham Young University.

You obligation to maintain standards is no less, nor will your spiritual rewards fall one bit below those who are more visible in teaching and in administration.

All of you, together with the priesthood and auxiliary leaders from the community who devote themselves to these snow-white birds of ours, are an example, an ensign to the whole Church and to the world. The quality of your scholarship is unsurpassed, your service and dedication a miracle in itself. There is not now, nor has there ever been, anything that can compare with you. Much in the future of the restored Church depends on you. Your greater mission lies ahead.

The prophet Isaiah said:

He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.21

President Brigham Young told Karl G. Maeser: “I want you to remember that you ought not to teach even the alphabet or the multiplication tables without the Spirit of God. That is all. God bless you. Good-bye.”22

Now I would, as one standing among those who hold the keys, do as President Young did, and that is invoke a blessing. I invoke the blessings of the Lord upon you, as teachers, as administrators, as members of the staff, as husbands and wives, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. May you be blessed in all that you do, that the Spirit of the Lord will be in your hearts, and that you will have the inspiration combined with knowledge to make you equal to the challenge of teaching the snow-white birds who come to you to learn how to fly. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.


1. D&C 107:58.

2. Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, vol. 1 (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1975), 415.

3. Years,1:419.

4. Years,1:423.

5. Ibid.

6. Years,1:421.

7. Years,1:421–22.

8. Years,1:430.

9. Years,4:112; emphasis added.

10. Years,4:113.

11. 1 Nephi 8:10, 12.

12. 1 Nephi 8:25.

13. 2 Nephi 9:28-–9; emphasis added.

14. Adopted by Board of Trustees, June 1990; emphasis added.

15. Executive Meeting Minutes, April 27, 1982; emphasis added.

16. Jacob 5:48.

17. Jacob 5:47.

18. Jacob 5:74.

19. 1 Nephi 8:2.

20. 2 Timothy 3:8.

21. Isaiah 40:29-31.

22. Reinhard Maeser, Karl G. Maeser: A Biography by His Son (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University, 1928), 79.

Mitt Romney’s New Research on Education Reform   Leave a comment

This week, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney published an article on Education Reform.  I have been reading it and am disappointed that it never mentions Common Core at all.  Here’s the full document.

The words “common core”  or “Common Core State Standards” are absent from this document.  In other words, Romeny has no comment on whether they are good or bad, either academically or in terms of the sovereignty of states.  Strange, since Common Core is the top program being implemented –almost nationally– right now.

The forward to Romney’s document is written by Jeb Bush, which might explain the lack of comment on Common Core.  Bush does say, “What we do not need are prescriptive top-down mandates emanating from Washington D.C., which are so fashionable among many in the nation’s capital.”  Amen.

Yet, his statement is odd –this is from Jeb Bush, a strong proponent of Common Core. Truly, Common Core is a “prescriptive top-down mandate,” with its rules being handed down to states as if they were laws, by the trade group that copyrighted the standards, the NGA.  I do not know why Jeb Bush is for the Common Core.  Obviously, and unfortunately, Romney trusts Bush.  He let Bush write the forward to Romney’s white paper on education reform.

An Education Week report links to a letter that Mr. Bush sent to a subcommittee slated to discuss of legislation opposing national standards. Mr. Bush urged members to not even talk about it, because apparently, even considering that the Common Core might have dangerous downsides should be avoided, even among people who believe in individualism and liberty.

Most state legislators have no idea what’s going on with national standards:

“Legislators have heard of it, but not a whole lot of states engage legislators in discussion of the common core,” said [John Locke Foundation education analyst Terry] Stoops, who describes himself as a common-core opponent. “Some wanted to know more about it, because state education agencies or state boards of education didn’t give them much information, if any, on the common core.”

If this is accurate, it confirms exactly what I’ve been saying for months: Despite being told that the national standards drive is “state-led,” the people’s representatives have been frozen out of it… it suggests that national-standardizers’ strategy of sneaking standards in is working… The legislators need to be educated on what these standards entail, how they have been left out of the process by their state education boards, and the enormous amount of debt this will cost their state.”

The underlined portion, above, comes from the Missouri Education Watchdog site, and explains why perhaps Mitt Romney does not yet understand what Common Core is all about or have any comment about it.  Let’s all tell him what we think!

Jeb Bush supports Common Core so much that Bush does not even want legislators to debate it.  Why? I want to know.

Romney’s white paper concludes:

“Unfortunately, like a man with a hammer that sees every problem as a nail, President Obama’s policy response to every education challenge has been more federal spending. Increased spending on our K-12 public schools has failed to produce results, and increased spending is already one of higher education’s greatest problems. … he has succeeded only in pushing state budgets closer to the brink and pushing student budgets over it, all while handsomely repaying teachers unions for their political support. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney understands that more spending is the last thing our schools need. As a former governor with one of the most successful education records in the nation, he understands the challenges that states face and the futility of attempting to spend their way out of them.”

So, what’s in Romney’s thirty four page report, between Jeb Bush’s intro and Romney’s conclusion?

  • A Romney Administration will work with Congress to overhaul Title I and IDEA… [Details, please.]
  • To ensure accountability, students using federal funds to attend private schools will be required to participate in the state’s testing system. [This is fine if it’s not a federal or consortium-triangulated, national testing system. But we have no guarantees anymore, now that each state built its inter-facing longitudinal data system.]
  • Mitt Romney will pursue genuine education reform that puts parents and students’ interests ahead of special interests. [Sounds good.]
  • What we need is leadership from state and federal policymakers to free public education from a paralysis that keeps our schools and students from reaching their full potential. [AGREED.]
  • Both parents and taxpayers should have detailed and timely information on school and district spending to ensure accountability for the use of public funds. [AMEN]
  • Romney will pursue genuine reforms that unleash the forces of innovation on our institutions of higher learning, pressing them to improve their education models and forcing them to compete against new entrants with entirely different models.
  • Less regulation, more innovation:  the hallmark of the U.S. economy is its constant ability to innovate, to develop and deliver new products and services, and to offer ever-increasing quality to consumers at an ever-lower cost.
  • A Romney Administration will eliminate unnecessary data collection requirements
  • Parents will have the information they need to hold school administrators accountable and make the right decisions for their children.
  • States will remain in control of implementing reforms.
  • These reforms will transform the teaching profession from one burdened by bureaucracy, focused on certification, and evaluated based on years of service to one that attracts the best and the brightest, builds crucial skills, and rewards effective performance.
  • A Romney Administration will work closely with Congress to strengthen NCLB by reducing federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to provide transparency and accountability. The school interventions required by NCLB will be replaced by a requirement that states provide parents and other citizens far greater transparency about results. In particular, states will be required to provide report cards that evaluate schools and districts on an A through F or similar scale based primarily on their contribution to achievement growth.  [I don’t like this one because I don’t like NCLB].
  • As a result of NCLB, standards, assessments, and data systems are light-years ahead of where they were a decade ago. [Really? Umm…]

KSL publishes biased survey on Common Core   Leave a comment

There was a terribly biased survey on KSL a week ago.  The wording of the questions was terribly misleading and it was clear that the survey maker was pro-Common Core. 

Here is one example of the slanted questions: “Opponents, especially arch-conservatives, who fear Common Core standards will compromise Utah values, threaten local control of education, and impose one-size-fits-all requirements.”  So they are implying that nobody opposes these standards except fearful people and/or extreme conservatives?  Puh- leeease.

The follow up article started like this:

“SALT LAKE CITY — In the latest sign that the  Common Core curriculum debate is winding down, a recent  non-scientific survey of Utah political insiders shows…  most Republicans and almost all Democrats agree with  supporters of the new educational standards for public  schools…”

I really disagree with reporter Ben Woods here.

First of all, in a direct phone survey done by Alisa Ellis of all Republican candidates running in Utah for any office in 2012, it was found that 99% of all candidates were opposed to the Common Core State Standards.

Secondly, the Common Core debate is far from “winding down”. Presidential Candidate Romney just shifted his presidential campaign focus to education. President Obama is beginning to take credit for the implementation of this nationalized education system. Teachers and parents are signing the petition every day at, and nationally, reporters and parents are writing more, not less, about the subject.

And mother bears and teachers like me are increasingly angry that our children are not going to be learning adequately –all because of Common Core and its many lies.

Mother bears do not go back to sleep easily once woken.

Maurice Strong of the U.N. explains sustainable development and environmental reeducation   Leave a comment

Maurice Strong of the U.N. explains sustainable development and environmental reeducation.

Maurice Strong of the U.N. explains sustainable development and environmental reeducation   1 comment

There is nothing wrong with caring for our earth; it is a duty we all have.  The problem with environmental education arises when earth-care becomes too obsessive, and begins to intrude on other vital principles, including national sovereignty, human liberty, the right to own property, the right to have as many children as we like, or well-rounded education.

Just ask landowners in Provo who are being removed from their farms by eminent domain law, because the June Sucker fish has become more important than property rights under environmental agendas in Utah.  Orrin Hatch wrote an op-ed about it, too.   and

I read several interesting articles today about the world “godfather of environmentalism,” Maurice Strong, who may likely be elected the next president of the United Nations.

It’s funny that environmentalism and education and property rights are all networked together because they all avoid this question:  What About Individual Freedom? 

You will never see the concept or word” liberty” or “sovereign” or “freedom” in the U.N.’s World Core Curriculum, for example, found on United Nations websites ( )  — and using words that sound so similar to the words used to promote goals of the new U.S. Common Core.  (There are many connections between Common Core and the U.N.; to make this a short post, I will stick with the most obvious and tangible one– financial. )

Everyone knows Bill Gates and other U.N.-supporting groups have thrown oceans of money to promote both environmental education and Common Core in America.

Gates is a big proponent of global education and gives speeches to the United Nations on the subject. He promotes the U.N. “Milennium Development Goals” and sees eye to eye with the U.N. environmental agenda, and he’s pushing it (and his money) on U.S. education.

This is not good, to have one of the richest men on earth paying for and forming education policies with both our U.S. Dept of Education and with the United Nations and promoting and paying for Common Core, which obviously limits local freedom over education.

But this post is not about Bill Gates.  This one is about Maurice Strong, another U.N. loyalist.  I give you Gates just so you see the network of pro-radical-environmentist, pro-forced-and-standardized-education elites.  Please read on:

(,2933,250789,00.html  and  and )

Maurice Strong is an absolute anti-American, so concerned with the environment that he has become anti-liberty.

He doesn’t want any country to have a Constitution: “It is not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states.” He doesn’t want any person to have property or to eat what they want or use air conditioning at all.  “….high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable.”  These things are against his religion; he belongs to a nature-worshiping religion called Gaia.

Maurice Strong and the U.N.’s radical environmental influence on U.S. policy and textbooks seems to extend to my own children’s schooling, where recycling is not taught one day of the year, but is a repeated theme across topics and school subjects yearlong.  My teenage daughter’s geography textbook quotes the United Nations policies ad nauseum and uses the term “sustainable” or “sustainable development” countless numbers of times.  This concerns me.

I’m going to give you highlights of an article about Maurice Strong, this one by Tom DeWeese, found in full here:

DeWeese writes:

“The assault on world property rights is led by Maurice Strong, the number one force behind UN and US environmental policy… In 1992, Strong told a UN conference…:“It is clear that current lifestyles and consumption patterns of the affluent middle class, involving high meat intake, consumption of large amounts of frozen and convenience foods, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work place air conditioning, and suburban housing are not sustainable.”

…this new term “Sustainable” …[now means] that all of man’s activities on Earth are harmful (and therefore not sustainable)…   man is a cancer on the Earth.  [The environmentalist] goal is to slowly cut back and finally end all development and reduce human habitat to specific areas while the rest of the world is turned into wilderness.

[Gaia, Strong’s religion] is pure nature worship. Maurice Strong is also a director of the Temple of Understanding in New York City, where pagan rituals and earth worship include escorting sheep and cattle to the alter for a blessing. ..

…Today’s environmental agenda has grown way beyond a call for clean air and the recycling of plastic bottles and newspapers. In Maurice Strong’s Gaia-driven world — it’s OK for a beaver to build a dam — but not man. It’s OK for a bear to fish in the lake — but not man. It’s OK for a wolf to eat meat (especially if it’s the farmer’s sheep — but not man. Suffice it to say that no human activity is “Sustainable.”

…Maurice Strong said, “It is not feasible for sovereignty to be exercised unilaterally by individual nation states, however powerful.” That’s the Constitutional sovereignty of the United States he is talking about…

…Now, it is extremist, radical fringe and politically incorrect to suggest that the United Nations is engaged in a drive for one world government. It is well known — according to our president and the news media — that the UN is only interested in promoting world peace and stability…

But it does cause concern when a man, [Maurice Strong] believes that industrialized society is the most vile, evil structure on earth, is placed in charge of an organization, without general election, and that body is able to reap trillions of dollars of income, answerable to no one, with its own army, its own world bank and treaties signed by every nation on earth giving it control over policy and development.

… Maurice Strong today controls the UN’s Business Council for Sustainable Development. It is a hand picked group of 50 of the world’s most powerful business leaders. Among them: Kenneth Derr of Chevron and William Ruckleshous. Both Derr and Ruchelshous now serve on the President’s Council on Sustainable Development.

That environmental policy calls for turning 50% of every American state into wilderness, it will destroy industry and jobs and take away private property rights. And it will tie American sovereignty directly to United National policies. It has nothing to do with preserving clean air and water.

…The biodiversity treaty and UN Heritage Sites are being implemented on American soil right now. And property owners are already suffering as environmental policies are taking their land and their jobs.

There is only one way to fight back. Only one way to stop Maurice Strong’s Drive for power… Get the United States out of the United Nations.”  -Tom DeWeese

So, what do you think of all that?  You can’t  call it a conspiracy because it’s so openly professed.  It’s an agenda that is freely admitted and pushed, and many U.S. leaders– including Obama, of course– are okay with it.

Just to let you know: Salt Lake City is on board with the U.N.’s environmental policies, too:  a board called ICLEI is here. 

 ICLEI is not elected, but the group has a say over local decisions, and it’s directed by the United Nations.

ICLEI of Salt Lake City:

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