One member's letter to the NUSD board including attachment about relevance of America's Heritage
Note: This 7/18/02 letter (below) was sent to the NUSD Board as just one individual's efforts. However, after the Aug. 6, 2002 Board Meeting which finalized the Aug. 20 vote, it was clear that such individual efforts had failed to delay the vote, etc. until more folks could review/comment on these matters. So, a grassroots group, which first met in late July and is now named Novato Parents & Family Coalition (NPFC), began to circulate a petition on Aug. 8, 2002. This letter's author is part of NPFC (though, per common practice, his views are not necessarily those of NPFC). Visit the NPFC website at www.NovatoParents.org (to view the petition, this letter, etc.). Our e-mail address is npfc@NovatoParents.org. We welcome your comments, questions and involvement.
Also see our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the petition.
President Millerick, Novato Unified School District (NUSD) Board:
In the last two months, I’ve attended your meetings because we will have a new
10th grader at Novato High School this year and because we recently
became aware of the ongoing, highly controversial matters involving sexual
orientation, etc. As you may
recall, I’ve had an opportunity to talk with each of you before or after one
of the meetings, and I sincerely appreciate your taking time to do that.
To date, it’s my understanding that no district wide letters have been sent to
notify, and to solicit input from, all parents/families about these
controversial issues. Therefore,
despite TV coverage of the board meetings, some other media attention, and work
by various established school groups (e.g., site leadership teams, curriculum
committee, diversity advisory, etc.), many parents/families apparently have
little or no knowledge about, and/or have had little or no opportunity to
view/comment on the specific, extensive, and controversial materials presently
scheduled for a board vote on August 20, 2002.
Given that posture, it seems prudence might dictate delaying the August 20th vote until all parents and families have been afforded a reasonable opportunity to view/comment on these materials. If that (or something else like it) does not occur, only those now aware of, and those who become aware of, the potential impact of these issues will have no other viable choice but to address the Board during the limited public comment periods on August 20th. No doubt such a scenario will engender “more heat than light” and provide you with little, if any, new information about these “battleground” issues.
Better yet, why not abandon completely the idea of using any divisive materials
(e.g., “That’s A Family” video)? There
are many other age-appropriate, non-divisive materials available to help address
issues of respect, etc. So,
there’s no reason whatsoever to be on the “cutting edge of controversy,”
especially when such controversy does not assist our schools to fulfill their
fundamental role of helping our children attain the highest level of academic
proficiency possible. Here in
California and throughout America, our public education system does not seem to
be keeping pace with our peers in other developed nations. One way to help reverse or reduce that trend is simply to
honor and comply with all parents’ rights to educate their children at home on
controversial social matters by eliminating, as much as possible, classroom time
spent on such matters. To that end,
please reconsider (as your deliberations seemed to suggest might happen)
adopting Trustee McAlpin’s recently proposed board policy of “neutrality,”
or one like it.
Lastly, I have
attached some comments that I hope will give you a fresh perspective on the
importance of the rights, virtues and morals upon which our Nation was founded.
I look forward to talking with you again soon.
to each Board Trustee
NUSD Superintendent; NUSD Assistant Superintendents
America's Heritage of Rights, Virtues, and Morals
Whatever else might be said about the tragedies of Sep. 11th, 2001, one thing is for sure --- they brought a new focus on what life and our country are all about. Examples abound of people putting their lives at risk for the sake of others, and in fact giving their lives to preserve and defend our freedoms and citizens.
Something of our Nation's great past struck a chord throughout the land … so much so, for example, that hundreds of elected officials sang God Bless America from the Capitol steps. Despite recent decades of Founding Father bashing, it seems quite clear that their example of risking their lives for what they held dear was again, during and after Sep. 11th, being played out for all of us to see.
Our Founding Fathers were not perfect … like all of us, they had their flaws and failures. But the foundation they gave us has no match in history. And that incredible history alone, not their imperfections, is the true measure of their message. In fact, no mortal man's or woman's life, no matter how noble, can truly be used to validate or to discredit the principles upon which their lives were based. Such principles transcend our experience. Like stars, we chart our course by them, though we have yet to reach them. Our enduring principles alone then --- preserved most fundamentally and at the risk of their own lives in the Declaration of Independence --- and not our founders imperfections, are the true measure of our great history. Furthermore, though countless others less noble throughout recent and past history have distorted or perverted such principles to try to justify in vain the sins of slavery, segregation, and slaughter (during the Crusades or other similar world tragedies), we can never allow such distortions or perversions to call into question the abiding truth of the genuine principles themselves. The messenger --- no matter how noble or ignoble --- can never be confused with the message.
With that background, I'm asking, really pleading with you --- despite my imperfections and those of our founders --- please ponder very carefully the critical crossroads our Nation and hence our schools are facing. If we are to prosper and endure, our Nation's principles can never be sacrificed on the altar of public opinion --- and that's especially true for opinions that don't reflect mainstream America. No one's opinion, or experience, can ever establish or disestablish truth. Not mine, not yours, not anyone's. Two plus two does equal four. Stealing is wrong --- notwithstanding questions like "what is truth" or declarations that "there are no absolutes." And history bears out that any Nation that ignores such truths does so at its own peril. Since our children are our future, our public schools cannot and should not at the very least become a forum to promote controversial matters that undercut our Nation's history. So today, I'm not even asking that our schools again embrace or promote our Nation's enduring principles (though no telling what good things would happen by added emphasis on the wisdom and lives of our greatest leaders … most notably, perhaps, Abraham Lincoln). Instead, I'm just asking today that you not approve any controversial/divisive materials, presentations, etc., so that academic excellence can be the true focus of all of us involved with our children's education.
And when, as student maturity so allows, controversial matters are the subject of some limited classroom time, then please also ensure that such presentations/materials: (1) are even-handed and limited to essential content only; and (2) never embrace or endorse a particular view unless all sides of that issue are fully presented and respected. Those approaches would keep the focus on academic excellence in the core curriculum, while also upholding both our Nation's true heritage of free speech/equal access and our fundamental, parental rights concerning the education of our children.
Most respectfully submitted … Carl Mosebach (7/18/02)