Author: Stephen Allen

Lessons Learned from the 2019 Douglas County School Board Election

By Elizabeth Wood West 

Franceen Thompson, Andy Jones, and Kory Nelson are three intelligent, involved, and committed Douglas County parents who ran for this year’s Douglas County School Board (DCSB).

Each candidate had compelling reasons for running and solid platforms that detailed how they would make a positive impact, if elected.  They and their supporters worked hard, spread their comprehensive campaign materials all over Douglas County, and engaged voters in vital discussions every chance they got. Unfortunately, none of the three candidates were elected.

Candidate Jones said, “It was so special and important to meet people and canvass in Castle Pines.  Between my advertising in the Castle Pines community in October, waiving at American Academy parents and students twice, hanging out with the “power” crowd at Starbucks, and walking at least six different neighborhoods, I feel like I really made a connection with the people of Castle Pines.  I will be really interested when the final numbers come out and the precinct returns show that I moved the needle in Castle Pines.”

In an attempt to understand what happened in the 2019 DCSB election, take a look back at the 2018 election:  Two Douglas County School District bond issues were passed and new DCSB members were elected.  Many grandiose promises were made, but what has been the outcome?

Some of the promises remain unfulfilled and there is a distinct rift between frustrated parents and the DCSB.  Fast-forward six months later to the tragic STEM School Highlands Ranch shooting in May, which sent a shockwave through our community; not just because of its sheer horror and profound sadness, but because it revealed stunning vulnerabilities and flaws in the school district’s approach to mental health and safety.

With this significant backdrop in mind for 2019’s election, one would expect that many voters would be looking for different leadership for the DCSB.  So why did the other candidates win?

One possible reason is that Douglas County is experiencing unprecedented growth, and we have many new Democrat and unaffiliated voters from Democrat-controlled cities and states moving here, bringing progressive ideology with them.

It will be instructive to examine the Douglas County voter turnout numbers and find out how Democrats, unaffiliated, and Republicans voted.  Another likely reason the other candidates won is because of the support from the Douglas County teachers’ union and the Douglas County Parents political committee.

With the 2019 election over, what lessons can we apply in preparation for the 2020 election?

Here are some suggestions:

First, we should agree on what our mission is – victory in all Republican races!

Second, let us rededicate ourselves to the mission by unifying and setting aside any differences that could hinder our mission.

Third, we should review our strengths and weaknesses, and act on them accordingly.

Fourth, we need to be informed on the issues, candidates, Republican platform, and our founding documents.

Lastly, we need to engage our family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, social media contacts, and others in our spheres of influence with our party’s ideas and solutions.

“The harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.  What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value.  I love the man that can smile in trouble, that can gather strength from distress and grow.” ― Thomas Paine 

Indoctrination vs. Education: The Legacy of American Public Schools

“The philosophy of the classroom in this generation will be the philosophy of politics, government and life in the next.” – Abraham Lincoln

There is a battle raging today upon which the future of America as a free and self-governing republic hinges.  At its center is the struggle of who is responsible for the education and upbringing of children—parents or government.  The answer to this question goes far beyond education and touches all aspects of life. 

Education involves developing knowledgeable, well-rounded Americans who can think critically, process information, make good decisions, support themselves and serve the needs of society.  In other words, real education produces productive members of society.

What passes as government education in America today is nearly the opposite of real education.  We are spending more money and committing more resources to public education than at any time in our history.  We have more federal bureaucrats, technocrats, instructional foundations, and corporate sponsors focused on improving education than ever before. 

Nonetheless, American public school students are doing worse overall in standard core subjects.  Our children remain ignorant concerning our history, are far less literate as readers, and are becoming more math deficient with every passing year.

However, it’s not the fault of the students. Rather, modern public school education is dominated by a statist, leftist agenda to reshape the core beliefs of American students and impose a form of cultural Marxism that precludes free thought, prohibits individual freedom and places democratic processes at risk. 

This deliberate plan confuses, politicizes, sexualizes, and indoctrinates our children into a worldview that contravenes the founding principles of our republic. 

Driving God out of government schools was necessary to this agenda.  The Declaration of Independence affirms that inalienable rights come from the Creator and government exists to protect those God-given rights. 

The Founders did not view this principle as a religious issue but as a “self-evident” truth.  However, under “the wall of separation between church and state,” this self-evident truth was gradually forced out of public schools, in addition to prayer and the Bible.

From a historical perspective, the move towards government control over education in the mid-19th Century was met with initial opposition.  In 1840, a legislative committee in Massachusetts found: “The right to mold the political, moral, and religious opinions of … children is a right exclusively and jealously reserved by our laws to every parent; and for the government to attempt, directly or indirectly, as to these matters, to stand in the parent’s place, is an undertaking of very questionable policy.”

Later, in the early-20th Century, the scope of government control was litigated through our federal courts.  In 1922, Oregon passed a compulsory public schooling law which made it illegal for students to attend nongovernment-run schools. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Oregon law as unconstitutional.

Delivering the opinion of the Court, Justice McReynolds wrote:  “…the Act of 1922 unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control … The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.”

“The child is not the mere creature of the State; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.” 

In Pierce, the Supreme Court acknowledged the important role of parents in the upbringing of their children and demonstrated that government does not have unfettered control over education. 

The problem is that real education is far down the list of priorities for our government co-opted public schools.  The leftist agenda has nothing to do with teaching children how to think and everything to do with teaching them what to think, or to think in politically correct terms according to the leftists’ own predetermined standards. 

For parents who do not agree with this leftist agenda, but are concerned about providing a quality education for their children, they should commit to education reform that builds an education system on a new foundation based on proper reading, proper writing and real knowledge, not indoctrination.

One idea to reform education is to eliminate government-controlled public schools altogether.  That is, transition to one of the many school choice options that put parents back in charge of their children’s education. 

As a fundamental matter, putting government in a position to answer the core educational question—what is most worth a child knowing—is a dangerous proposition and a violation of parents’ right to control the education of their children.

Calling for a mass exodus of children from government schools may be considered a radical proposal by some.  However, many parents are making personal and financial sacrifices to homeschool their children and the movement is growing. 

For other parents, homeschooling or private schools are not realistic financial options.  If government is going to provide education, then parents need to embrace alternative forms of public education, including vouchers and charter schools, to empower students with genuine knowledge and the skills they need to succeed in life.

Other ideas for public education reform include teaching the nation’s founding principles and the meaning of such phrases as “certain inalienable rights” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Further, make the virtues of honesty, respect and fair play a focus of the public school curriculum and recognize students who model these habits of good character.

But the only effective, long-term solution to indoctrination is good teaching.  Good teachers, which includes parents, need to train students in methods of thought, how to properly evaluate an argument, find actual solutions to problems, and determine what is true or false. 

Sooner or later, indoctrination will breakdown.  By contrast, good teaching will sustain our society by fostering the presence of active thought and repairing the walls that deeply divide our country.

The battle over education is about more than just how children should be educated.  If a majority of students in government-controlled public schools in America are sufficiently indoctrinated by the leftist dogma, there is no future in our country for freedom and self-government.  As a result, education may have just become the single most important political issue we face in America today.

On Constitution Day: We the People Still Rule

“To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.” – Calvin Coolidge

On September 17th Americans commemorate the anniversary of the signing of the Constitution of the United States, one of the greatest political documents conceived by the mind of man.

On “Constitution Day,” we will remember the birth of a nation dedicated to the preservation of personal liberty, political freedom, economic opportunity, and the natural rights with which we are all endowed. 

The Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Empowered with the sovereign authority of the people and the consent of the legislatures of the states, it is the source of all government powers, and provides important limitations on government that protect fundamental rights of citizens.

The Constitution creates the structure of our federal government and the rules for its operation consistent with the statement of human liberty proclaimed in Thomas Jefferson’s revolutionary document, the Declaration of Independence. In 1776, as today, the Declaration establishes a new basis of political legitimacy: the sovereignty of “We the People.”

Jefferson said the Declaration was intended to be an expression of the American mind. The rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” are essential to live as free people. These rights are found in eternal “Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God.”

The Declaration provides the philosophical basis for a government that exercises legitimate power by consent of the governed, and it defines the conditions of a free people, whose rights and liberty are derived from their Creator.

The Preamble to the Constitution contains what may be the most important three words in our nation’s history: “We the People.” These three words are often considered the strongest link between the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

The Preamble incorporates the Founders’ vision that the rights and freedoms bestowed by the Constitution belong to all citizens and confirms its purpose to protect the nation’s rights to liberty, justice, and freedom from tyrannical government.

The Constitution limits the power of the government by establishing a system of checks and balances. The first ten amendments to the Constitution, known as the Bill of Rights, and subsequent amendments, either impose restrictions on government interference with certain enumerated rights, or grant new liberties and individual freedoms to each American.

By dispersing power horizontally among the three separate branches of the national government and vertically between the national government and states, the Framers devised a structure of government strong enough to ensure the nation’s future prosperity but without sufficient power to threaten the people’s liberty.

Although it was adopted more than two centuries ago, the Constitution is just as important today because it places the government’s power in the hands of its citizens, setting forth matters decided by the federal government and matters left to the states.

Our Constitution also enshrines the principle that government exists to protect the rights of all Americans, and has no legitimate power to deprive any citizen of their rights without due process of law.

In a country as large as the United States, it is impossible for any government official or agency to know all that is necessary to ensure the safety and happiness of the people. Our Constitution recognizes this certain limitation and guarantees the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and federalism.

The principles of individual liberty and limited government mean that there are certain areas of human activity that belong to individuals which government should leave alone because no just government should have power over those areas or government could not effectively make those decisions.

The principle of federalism says that the people in the states should govern themselves, but our national government should have the power to do things that states could not do on their own like provide a common defense, regulate a national currency, and facilitate commerce between the states.

Over the last several decades, our country has moved away from the founding principles. The ever-expanding federal government is intervening into more and more aspects of our lives and is reducing our personal freedoms in the process.

Government at all levels is engaged in activities that were once left to private individuals and groups, and the federal government is exercising authority over matters that were once the province of state and local governments where there is greater accountability to the public. 

Because of these incursions, our country stands at a dangerous crossroads, the likes of which were feared by our Founders. One road follows the path of liberty set by the Framers of the Constitution and the other one diverges from that path and leads down the road to tyranny.

In our country today, we have a class of dedicated leftist elites committed to destroying the Constitution and building a government so big that eventually “We the People” will be unable to fight back against the loss of freedom.

This group of leftists is made up of politicians who recognize no limits to their power, and their activist allies in the media, Hollywood, the judiciary, and academia, who have been working to undermine our constitutional order.

They welcome a tyranny of elites who govern as they see fit without being checked by what they view as an anachronistic document. This same group of leftists uses identity politics to divide Americans and expand the power of government.

Fortunately, there is a growing movement throughout America to reinvigorate the tree of liberty. There is a revival among American patriots, people who recognize the importance of preserving the Constitution as it was intended, to protect our God-given rights, and to prevent our government from becoming tyrannical.

Ronald Reagan once said: “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and lost it have never known it again.”

Reagan had it right. Intrinsic to the story of our Constitution is the premise that the freedom of a nation can only be secured by citizens with firm conviction who understand their rights and liberties and will actively defend them. The preservation of our freedom is a daily battle, something the Founders understood.

The process of scaling back the size of government and returning it to its proper constitutional restraints will be a long haul. But, since the federal government is supposed to be our servant and not our master, citizens should not shirk from this important endeavor.

On Constitution Day, as American patriots, let us rededicate ourselves to secure the blessings of liberty by working to defend, protect, and preserve our Constitution.

What are the Bill of Rights?

During the Constitutional Convention, as delegates debated adoption of the Constitution, two factions emerged: the Federalists, who advocated for a strong national government, and the Anti-Federalists, who wanted power to remain with state and local governments.

One of the many points of contention between Federalists and Anti-Federalists was the Constitution’s lack of a bill of rights that would place specific restraints on government power.

Federalists argued that the Constitution did not need a bill of rights because the people and the states retained any powers not given to the federal government. Anti-Federalists maintained that a bill of rights was necessary to safeguard individual liberty.

George Mason, a delegate from Virginia, was the first to suggest that a bill of rights preface the Constitution. His motion was rejected by the Convention but the divide between delegates remained.

In 1789, James Madison, the chief architect of the original Constitution, was persuaded by Thomas Jefferson to draft a slate of amendments that would satisfy critics who felt that the Constitution was incomplete without human rights protections.

Madison, who was heavily influenced by George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights, proposed the changes as amendments to the Constitution. The House approved 17 amendments, the Senate approved 12 and the states approved 10. Those first 10 amendments to the Constitution became known as the Bill of Rights.

 

Rights Preserved Under the Bill of Rights:

The First Amendment addresses certain enumerated fundamental rights and freedoms, including speech, religion, assembly and the press. The Second and Third Amendments offer protections against arbitrary military action, including the right to bear arms and that troops will not be quartered in homes during peacetime. The Fourth through Eighth Amendments provide protections against arbitrary police and court action such as no unlawful searches and seizures, the right to a speedy trial and prohibiting cruel or unusual punishments, among others. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments protect states’ rights and unnamed rights of the people. 

When the Bill of Rights first went into effect, it only applied to laws and activities at the federal level. There was no law preventing the states from denying these same rights to their citizens. That changed after the Civil War in 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified. This amendment broadened application of the Bill of Rights to state governments. To this day, both state and federal courts must enforce the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

The story of the Bill of Rights illustrates that our Founders understood that for personal freedoms to be protected the power of the government must be limited.