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Wednesday, November 24, 2004

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blisteredfingers

The Declaration was never banned at Stevens Creek School. It is hanging on the library wall, printed in the 5th grade text book, and taught by every 5th grade teacher.

So how did this urban legend get started? According to the Alliance Defense Fund, it was sloppy reporting. I'll attach their press release below. This press release isn't on their web site, probably because they are too embarrassed. If you call them, they will own it. When the overly evangelical teacher proposed a weird 45 minute lesson that included some handouts, the principal rejected his lesson, not the Declaration. It's a pitty that the ADF didn't make themselves clear when they had the ears of all America on Sean Hannity's prime time show. Instead they waited 3 months and quietly issue the press release below saying ... whoops, you didn't read our fine print.

Despite the ADF's lawyer-speak, the man on the street believed that the principal had removed the Declaration from the school and was X-ing out the word God from all historical documents. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Ironically, the principal is a Presbyterian and a Republican. She has strong feelings about God in the classroom herself.

As for me, I'm glad that the principal protected the kids from this religious nut case. I'll be damned if I'll give public schools the right to teach my children religion. That's my job. Maybe in junior high or high school comparative religion courses are useful, but 5th graders are too young to understand they can disagree with their teacher.

The goal of the ADF isn't "accurate teaching of history" or "excellence in public school education." According to their web site they are a "Christian advocacy" group. Let's just consider their motives.

Even their legal case doesn't hold water. The Cupertino Union School District has filed a Motion to Dismiss. We should hear the ruling on March 28th. In the mean time, you might want to check http://www.stevenscreekparents.org to read the Motion.

--------------------
ALLIANCE DEFENSE FUND STATEMENT
January 27, 2005 ˆ FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT ADF MEDIA RELATIONS: (480) 444-0020

ADF dispels misunderstandings about lawsuit against Cupertino Union School District

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.˜Some media reports have incorrectly characterized the lawsuit filed on behalf of teacher Stephen Williams against the Cupertino Union School District as challenging a complete ban by the school of the Declaration of Independence from the entire school. That characterization is wrong.

The text of our Nov. 23, 2004, news release on this lawsuit clearly stated that Mr. Williams was prohibited from using the Declaration in his classroom despite having sound academic reasons to do so. Additionally, the actual complaint is a public document and is (and has been) available at our Web site at www.alliancedefensefund.org/userdocs/WilliamsvCupertinoComplaint.pdf.

What is at issue in this lawsuit is not the reputation or general quality of education at Stevens Creek Elementary School, where Mr. Williams teaches. It is the question of whether school officials violated the U.S. Constitution when they placed particular limitations upon Mr. Williams ~and only Mr. Williams~ pertaining to the teaching of his class. This is the question that led to informal efforts to resolve the problem and, when those failed, to court.

After the lawsuit was filed, extensive media coverage and a vigorous public debate developed on the issue. Unfortunately, some people expressed themselves in a hateful, angry manner toward the school and others involved in the controversy. ADF deplores such uncivilized behavior on all fronts: such crude behavior by any person does nothing to further reasoned discussion of the fundamental rights at issue.

Cupertino Mom

For those of you who are following the case, the Cupertino Union School District has filed a Motion to Dismiss that will be ruled March 28, 2005.
The ADF has issued a press release in which they back-peddle on their "banning" charge, claiming that they are not responsible for the inaccurate press, which in my opinion, is preposterous. I believe that this press release is given only to reporters that ask for it, and it does not appear on the ADF web site. This ADF press release was reported by both the San Jose Mercury News and the Cupertino Courier, and it is posted at http://www.eriposte.com/philosophy/fundamentalism/stevenscreek.htm.

The parent of Stevens Creek school will continue to work for a complete retraction by the ADF and an apology. Mr. Williams is entitled to his day in court, but the ADF is not entitled to mislead the public and endanger our children.

Cupertino Mom

Open letter to Alliance Defense Fund

January 24,2005

We, The Parents, an organization of parents of students at Stevens Creek Elementary School in Cupertino, California, request that you retract the misstatements about our school contained in your press release dated 11/23/04, still present on your website. Further, we feel that a public apology from your organization for the disruption it has caused our community would be appropriate.

Your press release, which falsely asserts that our school has banned the Declaration of Independence from the classroom, was picked up by Reuters, and quickly spread via internet blogs, talk show radio, and, of course, Fox News. The school’s mailboxes, answering machines and emails were thereafter flooded with well over 3000 hate-filled messages from all over the country and abroad. Security, including sheriff's patrols, was immediately heightened at the school much to the concern and distress of both parents and children.

While you may not have directly contacted the many people who felt compelled to vent their hostility toward our principal and school, we believe your organization is nonetheless responsible. This reaction was the direct consequence of the incendiary headline that can still be found on your webpage, “Declaration of Independence Banned from Classroom.” We therefore ask that you stop exposing our school and our children to more harm by continuing to state what is clearly false on your website. We request a withdrawal of your headline and a public retraction. Surely, in all good conscience, you cannot continue to falsely represent that our school has banned the Declaration of Independence from the classroom.

Your group states on its website that it supports and defends families and family values. Yet, it appears that since 2001 you have targeted schools and therefore the families that make up those schools in order to achieve what we believe is your political agenda. In a recent interview, one of your spokespersons said that you view schools as the “new battleground.” Do you realize that your battleground is where we send our children? Is that the environment in which you want to fight a battle? How does learning take place in a school besieged by hate mail triggered by an incendiary and erroneous headline on your website? We wonder if your supporters realize that your actions may be tearing the very fabric you purport to weave.

We have seen firsthand that truth has been a casualty in this case. But most of all it is disturbing to see how an organization that claims to defend the truth and Christian values spreads false information about our school, its principal and our local school board. These actions can only undermine the public’s trust in your organization, and may cause even some of your supporters to question your actions and your judgment.

It is not our objective to address whether your lawsuit has any merit; that will ultimately be decided by the courts. We would, however, like to point out a few discrepancies between what you have stated on your website and the truth:

1- Our Principal, Patricia Vidmar, and our School District have never banned the Declaration of Independence. It is fully reproduced in the fifth grade history text book that Stephen Williams and all other Stevens Creek fifth grade teachers are obliged to use in their classrooms and is proudly displayed at the library of the school, where it always has been.

2- In the Hannity and Colmes program (12/8/04), you attended with your client, Mr. Williams himself denied your false claim that the Declaration of Independence was banned by our Principal! He called it a “bit of a stretch” and even stated “my kids have read the Declaration.”

3- Our children, contrary to what you have led many to believe, are properly taught not only the Declaration of Independence, but all the other founding documents included in the fifth grade history curriculum. In fact, our Living History program is highly touted as an example to follow for other schools. Through this program, our children re-live the days of the explorers and the Colonial Days. And the highlight of the program is the overnight Revolutionary War Encampment that allows them to learn about the war, medical practices of the day, social customs and food of the period and experience firsthand some of the hardships our patriots experienced.

According to your website, the purpose of your organization is “defending the right to hear and speak the Truth . . . .” Why do you stray from the truth in this case? We urge you now to set the record straight, retract your false assertion regarding the Declaration of Independence and apologize for the harm done to our fine school and its reputation.

Sincerely,

We the parents and over 55 signatures on file.

For more information please see www.StevensCreekParents.org


Liz

The Alliance Defense Fund did a fabulous job of spreading a false story--"Declaration Banned", which will result in hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations.

Too bad the headline was a lie. Too bad for Stevens Creek School and its students, already in a budget crunch.

For the real story, please visit

http://www.stevenscreekparents.org/


"Stevens Creek Elementary has not "banned the Declaration of Independence"

It has been widely and incorrectly reported that the Declaration of Independence has been banned by the principal of Stevens Creek Elementary School, Patricia Vidmar, and the Cupertino Union School District. This started with a press release issued by the Alliance Defense Fund in late November, in connection with a lawsuit being brought by Stephen Williams, a fifth-grade teacher at the school. The assertion has been extensively repeated on the television and in newspapers across the country, and even abroad.

As concerned parents at Stevens Creek, we do not have ready access to the media to correct these misrepresentations. This website is our attempt to set the record straight. Misleading and inflammatory reporting in a number of places has subjected school staff and parents to over 3000 hostile phone calls and emails, many of them profane. As a result, the teachers, staff and principal of Stevens Creek Elementary operate under the protection of the Santa Clara County Sheriff's department.

We, the Parents, a grassroots organization of over a hundred Stevens Creek parents, invite you to browse our site and discover for yourselves the true face of Stevens Creek Elementary."

The language aimed against the principal in particular was frightening.

dan

This is a fight caused by Religious Activists who want to use every historical reference to God as the absolute justification for imposing their extreme agenda into politics and education.

I can't count the times I've heard a "Christian" argue that the mere mention of "Creator" in the Declaration of Independence is proof that the Founding Fathers intended a religious government (to one degree or another).

If what was truly "banned" was an edited document with a religious slant, then this school did the right thing.

2ndOp


The rise of Dominion theology and the "stealth" tactics they use. Don't believe? watch some videos, here it from their mouths, not mine.

It's ok to refer to God, of course it is, but beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.

http://www.theocracywatch.org

Steve

Folks the real story here is “Religious Right lies through their teeth”. Let me explain.

The Declaration was not banned in Cupertino. What was banned was a heavily edited handout with only the religious references in the Declaration – “nature’s God”, “Creator”, and “Divine Providence”. Also other handouts, that put together, show that this teacher was coming to class with an agenda to push – the “Christian Nation” line.

One handout had quotes from famous leaders regarding religion. One of the quotes, from George Washington, is now listed as “unauthenticated” by David Barton, a “Christian Heritage” proponent masquerading as a historian. Barton was the very guy who publicized these quotes in the 1990’s. Also in that handout, Jesus is quoted about the bible. Help me out here, what does that have to do with teaching the ‘religious, economic….etc.’ reasons that our nation was founded for that the teacher claims he was only following the California curriculum guidelines? Further, there is no countervailing opinions – for example, some of the things that Jefferson, Adams, or Paine said that would drive Jerry Falwell over the wall.

Another handout was the supposed “Washington Prayer Journal”. This document was rejected almost 100 years ago by the Smithsonian as not being an authentic Washington artifact – the handwriting did not match, and the spelling was too good. (Washington was a notoriously poor speller).

But what story was promoted by the Alliance Defense Fund and all the right wing radio talk show hosts? “Declaration was banned”. But when you look at it, it is clear the Declaration was NOT banned, and the principal was probably right to review – and reject – these supplemental materials being brought into the classroom.

So, the very people who want to post the Ten Commandments in every classroom violated one of them themselves – from ADF to Rush to Sean and the whole gamut of minor-city pundits : Thou shall not bear false witness, folks.

Megan Echevarria

i think that if this goes on that eventually all historical documents will be banned. then we will have no history. no one will even have a clue about the basis of our country or our government and therefore have no reason to believe in it. if no one believes in it then it will cease to exist, sending our entire country back to square one. i myself am a junior in high school, and i think this is outrageous. i dont even know half of whats going on in our country, but what i do know leave me in awe of how much it took to create a great country like this and how people are manipulating it in a way to tear it dow

Jeff Arp

As a former school board member and district representative to the Missouri State School Board Association, people need to realize that the school board hires the district superintendent, the superintendent hires his staff including principals. If we really want to make sure our students are getting the best education possible, we need to make sure we know who we are electing to our school boards, then holding THEIR feet to the fire when the Superintendent of the District allows principles to persecute teachers for doing their job.

No Oil For Pacifists

I agree that eliminating religion from history is profoundly stupid. Yet, authorizing judicial review of public school decisions would be worse.

If the principal is wrong, he should be fired. That's a job for parents and the school board, not un-elected judges.

http://nooilforpacifists.blogspot.com/2004/11/losing-any-religion.html

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