A few days ago, fifth grader Aaron Bencomo spoke to the Arizona Senate, explaining in his own words, using his own experience to express how bad the Common Core is. He quoted the Declaration of Independence. He talked about the pursuit of happiness. He described the “one size does not fit all,” boring, wasteful reviews of last year’s math in this year’s math. He talked about not every child being the same, but being treated as if they were the same, under Common Core. His speech was a beautiful example of how even a little child can be an agent for freedom and truth. Watch from minute 1:20 to 4:05.
Children do have great power.
Aaron is not the first child to speak out powerfully against the Common Core agenda’s destruction of individual freedoms. Teenager Patrick Richardson of Arkansas spoke out. Ethan Young of Tennessee spoke out. Sydney Lane of Connecticut spoke out. Please watch and share these videos if you haven’t already!
Freedom of speech is, of course, closely tied to freedom of religion; both are versions of free exercise of conscience and of free thought.
Inspired by Dallin Oaks’ article in this month’s Ensign Magazine, I reminded my children this week that they are not government employees living under rules that constrain religious speech in a school setting. In other words, children may say, write, report, and share their faith in God freely, including in a public school if they want to.
Elder Dallin Oaks reminded us that freedom of religion is not limited to the inside of a church. He wrote: “…oppose government officials and public policy advocates who suggest that the free exercise of religion is limited to “freedom of worship.” In the United States, for example, the guarantee of “free exercise” protects the right to come out of our private settings, including churches, synagogues, and mosques, to act upon our beliefs, subject only to the legitimate government powers necessary to protect public health, safety, and welfare. Free exercise surely protects religious citizens in acting upon their beliefs in public policy debates...“
I also reminded my children of a well-loved story in the Book of Mormon about the “Army of Helaman.” In the story, adults with histories of evil had made promises not to take up their swords to kill again, but their innocent children were under no such obligation; when attacked by an enemy, the boys took up their swords and defended their own lives and the lives of their families. God preserved those young men, and helped their families, through them. (See Alma 56-58)
I tell my children never to assume they are under the same obligation as their public school teachers are. Children can speak positively about their religion. Children have great freedom of speech. If they feel they want to, they should speak and write about their beliefs, including belief in Constitutional liberty, and belief in God, wherever they are.
Hats off to those who are doing so.