By Douglas V. Gibbs
Brynn Williams is a six year old girl that, as a part of her assignment on December 18, 2013, was giving a presentation in her first grade class at Temecula’s Helen Hunt Jackson Elementary School regarding an important tradition of her family’s. She brought the Star of Bethlehem they place on the top of their Christmas Tree as a prop. Before she could finish her presentation, according to Brynn, she was stopped by the teacher and was told she can’t talk about the Bible in School. Then, allegedly, the teacher went on to tell the class about why we can’t talk about the Bible in school.
“Religious Expression in Public Schools,” guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Education, offers the following guidance about religious expression in student assignments: “Students may express their beliefs about religion in the form of homework, artwork, or other written and oral assignments free of discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Such home and classroom work should be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance, and against other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school.”
Last Tuesday, along with half-a-dozen folks from my Constitution Class in Temecula, my Constitution Association in Menifee, and my local support-base, I attended the Temecula Unified School District School Board Meeting to voice my concerns over the classroom episode, after the news of it recently made national headlines. This followed a support rally at the school, in the afternoon as school let out, a week or so before. At the prior school board meeting one of my students attended the meeting and gave a lesson regarding freedom of speech, and freedom of religion, in America. During that meeting it was indicated that the teacher, and the principal, denied the situation occurred as the child reported, stating she was allowed to complete her presentation. However, that same principal had emailed the Temecula Patch, “…the principal purportedly suggested to Gina that the teacher did not ‘stop’ Brynn’s presentation, rather the class ran out of time.”
In October 2013 the same school district had an incident at Margarita Middle School when a student chose to read the Bible for a class assignment that instructed the student to read a non-fiction work for 30 minutes. When the seventh-grader told the teacher he had read the Book of Genesis, the teacher allegedly told him the Bible did not qualify as non-fiction.
My plan was to follow up on the school board meeting presentation by one of my students two weeks earlier. I read the guidelines provided above, and finished with a recitation of John 3:16, of which Brynn was getting ready to recite when she was told to sit down. We also made signs with the Bible Verse on them, in case the board told us to stop repeating the words of Jesus Christ. The plan was that if the board told us to stop verbalizing John 3:16 in class, we would then hold the signs up for the remainder of the meeting.
The room was packed with students from various schools, mainly in order to get credit from their civics class, and members of a football team to receive recognition for their athletic and academic achievements. A pair of folks from my Constitution Class were also there to give a presentation on A.B. 1266, the Bathroom Bill, which will allow boys who claim they sexually identify as a girl to use the girl’s bathrooms and gym locker room.
In addition to the presentations by myself, and others from my group, a parent not associated with us verbalized his disgust regarding the Brynn Williams situation, and another parent gave a presentation on her concerns regarding “Common Core.”
At the halfway point of the meeting, the students were released, and the room emptied out. I had already given my presentation, and was hanging around to hear John’s A.B. 1266 speech. It was then that the horror of reality struck me. The board had been passing various recommendations, many of which were sinister in nature. The future of our children’s education, and this nation, is an important part of what goes on in these meetings, and my little group outnumbered the parents in attendance.
Where were all of the parents? I get it, we are busy, we go to work, we have to make dinner, or whatever, but this is the future of our children, and less than a half-dozen parents showed up for the school board meeting?
Understand, this is not a small school district.
I live in Murrieta, the city next door. Temecula and Murrieta grew together out of what used to be called, Rancho California, California. The populations of each city tops over one hundred thousand, and combined with the unincorporated areas surrounding them, but within their sphere of influence, the immediate Temecula Valley population is over a quarter million people. Mind you, this does not take into account the population of any other city in the area, like Menifee, or Wildomar. Great Oak High School, the newest of Temecula’s trio of public high schools (there are actually five, if you count the alternative and continuation high school campuses), is anticipating a freshman class in September of over 900 students, to give you an idea of the large number of students in the Temecula Unified School District, overall. Both Temecula, and Murrieta, educate a lot of kids from a huge number of families.
Yet, five parents were in attendance.
The situation surrounding Brynn Williams is nothing new, as I indicated with the mention of the October happening at Margarita Middle School. We have seen these things happen before, but they are becoming more frequent, and more pointed, with each passing year. When my daughter was told to tuck her necklace, with a crucifix on it, behind her shirt so as not to offend any other student, seven years ago, I was appalled, and wasted no time getting down to that campus. The office staff knew me and my wife. They were nervous whenever they saw me coming. They quaked in fear when they saw my wife coming. On that particular instance, both of us made an appearance.
The teacher had no remorse for her actions, and when I pointed out her hypocrisy in the form of a statue of Buddha on her desk, and a flower and rainbow accented peace symbol on her bulletin board, her response was that those were allowed because they weren’t only religious. People appreciated those symbols for their secular worth, as well. But in the case of my daughters necklace, a Christian Cross is always considered to be a religious symbol, and therefore, must be banned.
Last Wednesday Night, after my visit to the school board meeting the night before, I had a meeting with a couple teachers, and they told me it all comes down to fear. Not fear of Sacramento, or Washington, but fear of lawsuits. All it takes is one angry atheist and it could cost the school district dearly.
Leftist, secularist activists are controlling our schools through fear, forcing them to act in a certain way by merely threatening a lawsuit if the school dares to step out of line. The Christian foundation of this nation is all but forgotten because of this bullying tactic by the Left, and the fact that those that oppose these radicals are too afraid to stand up and fight against it.
And as all of this madness is going on, and the leftists are assaulting our children through fear and scare tactics, five parents are showing up at the school board meetings.
What we stand for as Americans means nothing if we don’t fight for it. Our determination to get things turned around, and return this nation to its constitutional and moral foundation, is meaningless if we are not at least showing up at these important functions. They are walking all over us not because they are winning the fight, but because we aren’t fighting back. That is how it is happening in the schools, in our city councils, State governments, and in Washington. They are doing what they want, and we are standing around complaining about it without doing a single, damn thing.
Moaning and groaning about something is not a strategy.
Have you been to your local board meetings? How about your city council meetings? Do you even know the names of your city council members?
How can we turn America around, if we can’t even get control of our communities? How can we win this if we aren’t even willing to show up, much less fight the good fight?
The Founding Fathers were problem solvers, and activists. They expected us to be the same.
– Political Pistachio Conservative News and Commentary
A Teacher’s Guide to Religion in the Public Schools – Freedom Forum
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