Mary Mostert, a constitutional author, sent Alpine School District's board an email yesterday (among others) which she copied me (Oak Norton) on. For those of you that want a quick history lesson and a better understanding of the differences between a Republic and a Democracy, read this. It's excellent.
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To: Alpine School District:
American Fork, Utah
Superintendent Henshaw, and Board Members:
Because I am the author of books on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, recently I was contacted by some residents of the Alpine School district who are concerned about the District’s Mission statement: “Educating all students to ensure the future of our democracy”. (http://www.alpine.k12.ut.us/phpApps/genericPage.php?pdid=2789)
I wrote an e-mail to your public relations people, whose e-mails are listed below the mission statement pointing out that the Alpine School District is not IN a Democracy, but in a Republic which is clearly guaranteed by Article 4 Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”
The Constitution of the State of Utah in Article I, Section 2 says :
“The State of Utah is an inseparable part of the Federal Union and the Constitution of the United States is the supreme law of the Land .”
Article III paragraph 4 of the Utah Constitution, which lists four irrevocable ordinances unique to Utah, states:
“The Legislature shall make laws for the establishment and maintenance of a system of public schools, which shall be open to all the children of the State and be free from sectarian control.”
Sectarian Control not only pertains to control of the schools by any religious sect, but any other sect, i.e. any group, party or faction united by a specific doctrine or under a doctrinal leader. (Utah Constitution: http://le.utah.gov/~code/const/00I01.htm)
From the response I received from Michelle Gray and from other information on your website, it appears that the Alpine School District has violated both the precepts of the U.S. Constitution, and the precepts of the Utah Constitution by implementing sectarian support of a specific doctrine that is contrary to the precepts of a republican form of government guaranteed by the Constitution.
I realize that there are many people today who do not understand the Constitution or the differences between a democracy and a republic. Yet, I note that you yourselves run the Alpine School Board on republican, not democratic, principles. You have school board meetings, policies and decisions that are not democratically decided by all the people in your district. They are decided by you, who are elected representatives of the people living in your district. You appear to want to teach the children a doctrine you don’t practice yourselves.
I recently wrote the two paragraphs below to help some younger people who asked what the difference was between a democracy and a republic. I am somewhat surprised to learn that these differences are not very well understood by those who wrote and adopted your mission statement. Here’s the difference:
The following references are from my 1848 dictionary which explains more clearly than modern dictionaries the differences that the Founding Fathers were debating when they replaced the Articles of Confederation in 1787 because the nation was beginning to slide into anarchy, a common cause in the failure of democratic nations:
A democracy is government by the people; a form of government in which the supreme power is in the hands of the people.
A republic, from the Latin words les publica means “a public affair;” in which the sovereign power is exercised by representatives elected by the people.
In France and Quebec, Canada, Bastille Day is celebrated as “the birth of democracy.” The historic event celebrated on Bastille day is:
In France on July 14, 1789 a mob of 8,800 people stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris built by and a symbol of the Bourbons. The mob freed the prisoners, seized the ammunition stored there, wrecked the building and killed the guards. The “law” and the prison were created by the Bourbon kings that ruled France from 1589 to 1793. The law and the prison were democratically demolished by the people of Paris.
There were no representatives. The people of Paris, having seized supreme power by force, removed the king, guillotined him, and took control of the city. This started the French Revolution, which actually was a civil war in which more than 17,000 men, women and children were seized by factional groups and beheaded.
In America, in 1776, a group of 55 men of the Second Continental Congress, who were elected by the people to represent the 2.5 million people of the 13 colonies, met in Philadelphia and wrote a document that declared the end of the rule of kings that inherited their position of power. Although not all the people in the colonies WANTED independence, they did not reject the document, though eventually many did move to Canada.
In 1777 the Continental Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation as its form of government. There was no judiciary or executive included in the Articles. There was a treasury and the Congress was given the right to decide matters of peace and war and other decisions. By 1787 the weakness and ineffectiveness and democratic lack of unity of the Articles of Confederation led to the new nation starting to slide into anarchy.
To save the country from anarchy, a Constitutional Convention made up of 55 men selected by their State Assemblies, met to write the Constitution. At no point in the founding of this nation was democracy ever part of the process.
I received a brief paragraph from Michelle Gray that didn’t address the issue, but simply re-enforced the confusion of the mission statement. I had written to point out that our nation was not founded as a democracy. In fact, a great deal of effort was put into writing a document that tried to make SURE that the nation never deteriorated to the level of a democracy.
She wrote back, on the same day (February 18) a paragraph I notice has been added on your website:
“The Mission Statement was drafted after meeting with a committee comprised of district administrators and Board of Education members. The mission statement is inclusive of the Moral Dimensions of Teaching (that echo the values of our district in addition to setting the performance standards and directing the implementation of our mission). It was adopted by the full Board of Education in an open board meeting and has been shared with the District Community Council as well as all School Community Councils in the district. It has been met with favorable comments with few exceptions.”
So, I gather you folks are the authors of the statement which proclaims the Alpine School District mission is to train students in your district to ignore both the US Constitution and the State of Utah Constitution? If you really believe so strongly that we need to become a democracy, don’t you think it would be appropriate to allow the parents of the Alpine School District to democratically follow the example of the founding of the French democracy and take direct physical action? Or, perhaps you could open this discussion up based on the current republican form of school board control and allow public discussion and a vote on what the school district’s mission is?
Author: A Hunger for Liberty Leads to the Declaration of Independence and The Threat of Anarchy Leads to the US Constitution
Please contact the Alpine School District on your own to express your concerns over what is being taught to the children in the Alpine School District.
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