Dear Governor Herbert,
As you are in the process of selecting some members of the State School Board, I ask that you do not select Leslie Castle for another term, based on two things:
1. She does not know what the U.S. Constitution is about, nor does she value freedom for Utah. She fails to stand up against federal encroachments in Utah’s educational system.
2. She has behaved dishonestly and rudely in her position as school board member toward a teacher –me– who spoke out against Common Core.
Evidence for #1:
On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 9:10 PM, Leslie Castle wrote:
“I have always understood that it is the principle of “equality” not “freedom” that was the guiding principle of our constitution. Beginning with the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact, etc. I have always understood the theme to be equality… Please explain why during my last tour of the Supreme Court in DC they expressed the same sentiment—not freedom but equality. This is something I have never understood in your writings because you continue to reference freedom over equality… your views are a bit right of center and you are campaigning for ideology over substantive core standards…
On Wed, May 2, 2012 at 10:35 PM, Christel S <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
The Constitution is not “right of center,” but is the very the centerpiece of all U.S. laws and remains the protector of its citizens.
If you study it you will see that over and over and over again, liberty is the key term. Even in the very first line, in the Preamble to the Constitution, it says “to secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” It speaks of freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of expression, over and over and over. It delegates checks and balances so that no one arm can threaten the freedom of another, though currently our federal arm is attempting to usurp our state arm in educational and other matters.
A tour guide’s script, of course, has no business being compared to the highest law of the land, our U.S. Constitution.
… “Equality” never shows up at all in the Constitution. The word “equal” does show up, but it comes in the context of equal numbers of votes (not a privilege we get under Common Core) and equal protection under the laws (not something I see happening with the adoption of common core)…
Equality can never be mandated… Inequality –also known as diversity, uniqueness, the power to innovate and to soar beyond that which is mediocre and common– is a good thing.
…I am not “campaigning for ideology over standards.” I am campaigning for meaningful standards… it is meaningless to adopt un-amendable standards that are subject to change. It is meaningless to adopt unpiloted, unproven, “undocumented-to-functionally-improve-student-outcomes” standards, just because someone claimed and never even validated, that they are “rigorous.” Anyone can make claims, but we need evidence before we move forward.
The Common Core Initiative is multi-faceted. Some of us focus on the educational standards; some of us focus on the cost of implementation as taxpayers already maxed out; some of us focus on the intrusions on parental rights via the data collection and the FERPA revisions; some of us focus on the ways in which it is a Constitutionally illegal initiative.
In so many ways, we have put the cart before the horse on adopting the Common Core Initiative. We need to back up, slow down, identify reality, and identify which parts of the Common Core claims can be validated.
I don’t think you can correctly identify what I am doing as campaigning for idealogy. I want tangible answers. I want to know this thing is educationally legitimate, and the jury is still out on that. I want to know this thing is cost-effective, and the cost analysis hasn’t even been started yet in Utah. Other states have done cost analyses and based on that, have rejected it. I want to know this thing is not taking away parental rights over student data via FERPA changes and longitudinal database creation that is now legally perusable by everyone and anyone. I want to know that our state retained its rights under the Constitution so that we can amend anything we adopt.
That’s the truckload of reality that needs to be faced, which doesn’t fit neatly under the label “ideology”.
Evidence for #2 that Leslie Castle has been rude and unprofessional:
When Leslie Castle received the 4-page, well-referenced rebuttal I had written to the State Office of Education’s “fact v. fiction” flier about Common Core, http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/2012/04/ Ms. Castle did not defend the flier nor answer any question I’d raised about that flier being unreferenced or misleading.
Instead, she began a personal attack. She said that I was not to be believed because I was lying about being a teacher. I asked her to check my references but she did not. She spread her lie about me to the whole school board. (see below) She received multiple letters from other people who were teachers where I taught, or parents of a student I’d taught, to rebut her lies. She never apologized for her errors or tried to clean up the damage. The board never reprimanded her in any way.
I will paste one of her emails here; I’m willing to share them all, if anyone wants to read them.
Ms. Castle wrote this to the board and to me:
“…you have been deceptive, because you were caught and because you remain deceptive in this email. You create diversions to mislead others from the truth, as demonstrated by the misleading about your “teaching” experience. You ask me if it matters if you were nothing but a mom. I would ask you the same question. You tell me. If it doesn’t matter, why would you inflate your credentials? Why would you represent yourself as being a “teacher” at Odyssey when in fact, you weren’t? Why would you represent yourself as having “taught” at Odyssey for a year, when in fact, you did not. Nor at Renaissance Academy. You distract from the truth by telling me to call this person or that person to ask if you were the “best” teacher. But really Christel, isn’t it all about hiding the fact that you fibbed about yourself and what your “credentials” were. I don’t think anyone has to be a teacher to be a credible voice in this discussion but I don’t think a person can be openly, continually deceptive and expect to be taken seriously. To make matters even more shameful, you have pounded the State Board and USOE about OUR motives and credentials, all the while pretending and posturing self-righteously in front of audiences and in flurries of emails copied to everyone you think would listen.
In reality, you are the one who is to be mistrusted and doubted. You are the one who is committing mischief and ill-will. You are the one who is self-serving and silly. And, you have the audacity to accuse me or anyone else at USOE or USBE of being less than helpful and constructive. You remain arrogant even in your humiliation.
Shame on you. I would suggest you find another target for your unjustified hostility and shenanigans and stop wasting everyone’s time with your pretext. Notice I have copied this to the State Board and some of the USOE. Leslie Brooks Castle ”
TEACHER AND PARENT DEFENSE OF CHRISTEL SWASEY:
Date: Sun, May 6, 2012 at 8:26 PM
Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER!!!
My name is Audra Call (formerly Audra Adams) and I have worked at Odyssey as a teacher since it began. Christel Swasey, otherwise known as Christel Lane taught 3rd grade with me at Odyssey Charter School. The former principal Nyman Brooks, Nikki Carpenter, Brooke Garrett, and Robyn Merill (who is now at Odyssey) can all verify this fact.
I am very disappointed and quite honestly furious about the way Christel Lane Swasey has been treated by Leslie Castle and others at USOE. Remember the Bill of Rights guarantees free speech. Whether or not people agree with Christel, all should be professional and respectful towards her as she is towards others.
I am so grateful to Christel for the research and her insurmountable sacrifice of time that she has spent in educating teachers and parents about the realities of the Common Core initiative.
I had no idea what was going on behind the scenes until I began reading the research myself. My freedom of choice is of the greatest importance and will always be. I will always be against anything that is unconstitutional and that which takes our rights and freedoms away.
Our founding fathers would be ashamed right now if they were still alive to see what was happening. I hope Leslie Castle gets a severe reprimand for her demeaning words and lies.
From: Karin J
Date: Mon, May 7, 2012 at 9:25 AM
Subject: Christel Lane Swasey is a TEACHER
My name is Karin Jaccard. My children attended Odyssey Charter School for five years. One of my sons had Christel Lane as his third grade teacher. Yes, Christel IS a teacher, and a good one. Since then she remarried, and is now Christel Lane Swasey.
I find it disturbing that members of the STATE school board degrade themselves to such low tactics as trying to defame the reputation of a concerned teacher and citizen. (When you can’t refute the message, attack the messenger?) Ironically, her careful study, logical conclusions, and clear warning message would be no less valid, were she not a teacher.
I believe Utah is at a critical point in it’s history. Ironically, as elected members of the school board, you have the power to free or enslave the citizens and children ( future citizens) of our state. Will you bend to powerful pressure? Will you value the skin you have in the game over the freedom and privacy of those you serve? I hope not.
I hope you find the mental strength to plow through all the information your are presented with. I hope you have the clarity of mind to understand the principles, values and freedoms that are at stake. I pray you have the courage to make correct decisions, regardless of personal consequences.
Governor, as far as I know, none of these letters were answered by any member of the school board. I do not want to fight publicly with Leslie Castle. I feel this little drama takes away from the real issue, which is that federal encroachments have totally taken over Utah’s educational system and freedom, in the guise of raising standards under the Common Core Initiative. Yet I feel I must direct attention to Leslie Castle’s emails because it is now time to make important changes in the state school board membership.
Thank you for your consideration and time.