Sunday, December 17, 2006

It started before Donayle Whitmore-Smith

The Turner Report was the first media outlet of any kind to examine State Board of Education appointee Donayle Whitmore-Smith's long record of promoting educational vouchers and her utter contempt for public schools.
It took weeks after my post on the Oct. 26 Turner Report before any of the mainstream media actually took a close look at Ms. Whitmore-Smith's background. After that, the groundswell of opposition (which would likely have occurred anyway) began and it is rapidly reaching a crescendo. My post was made the same day Governor Matt Blunt appointed Ms. Whitmore-Smith. It took 27 days, nearly four weeks, before the St. Louis Post-Dispatch examined Ms. Whitmore's record.
I noted in my post:

Governor Matt Blunt's latest appointment to the Missouri State Board of Education is not only a voucher proponent, but is a sworn enemy of public schools.
Earlier today, the governor appointed Donayle Whitmore-Smith, head of the pro-voucher group Coalition for School Choice to the board. Her leadership role in that organization was not mentioned in the press release from the governor's office.

Since that time, I have had several other posts on Ms. Whitmore-Smith including Dec. 6, when I noted her connections to a who's who in the voucher movement,
and another post on the same day, which detailed a speech given by Ms. Whitmore-Smith in which she claimed that if Martin Luther King were still alive, he would support vouchers.
It didn't take a month for the traditional media outlets to jump on the appointment of Rev. Stanley Archie, a board member of a Kansas City charter school, to the board. Archie, as I noted in the Dec. 15 Turner Report, is "a voucher proponent and former private school teacher and administrator." He also is on the record as supporting "school choice," the euphemism du jour for vouchers.
What has been totally overlooked, by the traditional media and by me, was the number of appointments Gov. Blunt has made to the State Board of Education. Donayle Whitmore-Smith was the second appointment. Rev. Stan Archie is the third.
Unfortunately, no one put the governor's first board appointment, Debi Demien of Wentzville, under the microscope. She was promoted as a former public schoolteacher and director of marketing for Demien Construction. A little bit of digging would have shown that the Southwest Missouri State University graduate is far more than that.
It appears all three of the governor's choices are closely in line with his thinking on vouchers, meaning he most likely has the power to move state education in whatever direction he wishes.
Mrs. Demien was appointed to the board in March. While it was noted that she was involved in the family business, Demien Construction, what wasn't noted is that she is director of marketing for the company's Building God's Way division, which builds churches and Christian schools. Any sort of movement of public money into private schools will obviously benefit Mrs. Demien.
Seven years ago, she wrote a book entitled Stealing America, the National Takeover of the Economy, Education and State Governments, which primarily criticizes the school-to-work programs being used in public schools. She is an outspoken critic of Missouri's A+ program, which allows students involved in the program to receive free schooling at Missouri community colleges.
In 1996, Mrs. Demien was an Alan Keyes delegate to the National Republican Convention. What are Keyes' thoughts on education:

Vouchers will help children and families, just as school choice has benefited those pursuing higher education. The educational benefit of choosing schools for reasons of instructional quality, instead of economic necessity, are obvious. Voucher programs also end the "double taxation" many families face – paying for public schools through their taxes, and yet also paying to send their children to non-public institutions. Parental choice will also increase parental involvement. When parents think that education is the government's business, they tend to leave it to the so-called professional educators. But having chosen a school, and personally directed the dollars that pay for their child's attendance there, more parents will understand that their role in learning should not be passive. The natural motive to evaluate and assist a service we have chosen and purchased provides an important additional impetus for parental involvement. Vouchers will broaden participation in access to quality education. After decades of national fretting about unequal access, sometimes with racial overtones that have nothing to do with education, will we reject this simple solution to the plight of those – particularly in the inner city – who simply do not have access to any but failed, monopolistic public-school systems?

What has also not been mentioned about Mrs. Demien has been her role as president of "Restoring America." The organization's website talks about a war of values being taught in America:

Dr. James Dobson of 'Focus on the Family' has repeatedly stated that we are engaged in "a Civil War of values" in our culture, and the prize is our children.
He wrote - "Children are the prize to the winners of the second great civil war. Those who control what young people are taught and what they experience – what they see, hear, think, and believe – will determine the future course for the nation. Given that influence, the predominant value system of an entire culture can be overhauled in one generation, or certainly in two, by those with unlimited access to children."

Or this quote:

"...this is supposed to be a Constitutional Republic - based entirely upon Christian principles – with no separation of Church and State. Since our very form of government and legal system were formed from, and based on, God's natural law and the Bible, then how can we separate church from State? We cannot. The heart cannot be removed from the body without the death of that body. Unfortunately and to our shame, none of this is being taught in our schools today. We will either educate our children to be the enemies of freedom and independence - as we are currently doing – or, we can educate them in the truths and visions of our Founding Fathers – raising future patriots for America.

The Restoring America site proudly reprints an article entitled "On the sin of sending kids to public schools," which talks about the book The Harsh Truth About Public Schools. The article includes the following passage:

In the book, Shortt documents the pitfalls of public schools, saying the anti-Christian thrust of the governmental school system produces inevitable results: "moral relativism (no fixed standards), academic dumbing down, far-left programs, near absence of discipline and the persistent but pitiable rationalizations offered by government education professionals."

Shortt also urges pastors to read the book so they might "understand why the church can no longer abdicate its historic role in the education of our children."

Says Short: "'The Harsh Truth About Public Schools' makes it clear why no Christian child should be left behind in government schools. Our Christian children are perishing because parents and pastors lack knowledge. The information in this book exposes the 'salt and light' and the 'our schools are different' rationalizations for educating Christian children in pagan schools for the contemptible falsehoods they are.

"Any parent or pastor who genuinely desires to be faithful in the education of Christian children needs to find out what the public schools are actually doing, rather than relying on what they are saying they are doing or on memories of the public schools as they may have existed 10, 20 or 30 years ago."

As for "reforming" the public schools, the article posted so prominently on Mrs. Demien's organization's website offers the following:

But what about reforming the public schools? Isn't that a solution?

Responds Shortt: "Public schools cannot be reformed to provide a Christian education, and the evidence is overwhelming that even conventional secular reforms to reinstate traditional academic and moral standards will continue to fail. But even if you think that we should nevertheless try to reinstate traditional academic and moral standards in the schools, taking your children out is the most effective thing you can do to help the children whose parents have left them behind in the public schools. Only the threat of a collapse of the entire public school system offers even the remotest prospect of positive change. Traditional reform efforts are a waste of time.

According to documents on file with the Missouri Secretary of State's office, Restoring America is owned by Mrs. Demien and Richard Vieth of St. Charles.


Anonymous said...

Not to be obtuse, but you say that Blunt seems to be naming people who are in line with his thinking.

Isn't that one of the perks of being the guy in charge?

Anonymous said...

I never expected him to appoint a democrat. I guess I did have unrealistic expectations, because I expected him to appoint people who had a certain level of knowledge and expertise. He hasn't. And I did expect him to appoint people who were interested in maintaining and improving the public school education system which has been such a benefit for all of us. He hasn't done that either.

I guess at this point, I really don't even expect him to respect Missourians who make less than he does, after all he does have his "perks".

Randy said...

Absolutely, but honesty has to be placed in the equation somewhere. The governor has attempted to disguise each of his three appointments as supportive of public education when, in fact, all three are approaching their new positions with an ax to grind against public education and much to gain by the success of vouchers and tuition tax credits in this state.

Randy said...

The makeup of the board is supposed to be four Democrats and four Republicans, so Governor Blunt did have to appoint a Democrat. His appointment, however, Donayle Whitmore-Smith, is out of line with the thinking of most Democrats in this state with her utter contempt for public education.

Anonymous said...

It looks like he is sincerely trying to destroy the educational system in Missouri. It seems he opposes student college loans without which a lot of people in this state would never get the opportunity to go to college. He appoints hardline nutcases without any real experience to key positions. Simply put, he's an extremist of the worst sort.

I'm grateful my kids and I graduated from college before he got into office. If I still had kids of school age, (unfortunately I do have schoolage grandkids in the state) I really would be looking to move to another state with a more pragmatic governor.

Anonymous said...

Randy, point blank:

Do you think the public school system, as it is right now, is working?

Randy said...

If you are asking me if the public school system is perfect, the answer is no. Is it working? Absolutely. Can it get better? You bet it can, but not if our legislators become enchanted by pie-in-the-sky ideas like vouchers.

Anonymous said...

i personally know the Demien family and you have not done your homework. most of your data is out of date, and it's honestly comical to read...thanks for the laugh...way to go.

Anonymous said...

You said you considered it out of date, not inaccurate.

Fact remains, if Demien was connected with Alan Keyes, that tells me all I really need to know about her.