Lodi Unified School District

November 7, 2007

Lodi Unified School District
Board Members
Superintendent William Huyett
James Areida Education Support Center
1305 E. Vine Street
Lodi, CA 95240

Re: Teacher Training Day, October 22, 2007

Dear Board Members and Superintendent Huyett:

Eagle Forum of Sacramento stands for the political, social and economic principles upon which our Nation is founded. We attempt to educate and inform citizens of issues that many times will affect the most influential unit of our society, the traditional family.

I have recently corresponded with you regarding the teacher training day you had on October 22, 2007. Some teachers in the Lodi Unified School District were concerned about the racial content of the programs and DVDs that you chose to introduce. In spite of my correspondence, LUSD continued with the programs.

If each of you stays current with news and media, you will know that the University of Delaware recently instituted a program by Dr. Shakti Butler, the same person that provided you with the “Making Whiteness Visible” video that you introduced in Lodi. Amid much public outcry and outrage, the University of Delaware immediately ceased the program. I find it very alarming that LUSD ignored public and employee alarm and instead went forward with this program.

Dr. Butler’s definitions include: “A RACIST: A racist is one who is both privileged and socialized on the basis of race by a white supremacist (racist) system. The term applies to all white people (i.e., people of European descent) living in the United States, regardless of class, gender, religion, culture or sexuality”; “REVERSE RACISM: A term created and used by white people to deny their white privilege”; and “A NON-RACIST: A non term. The term was created by whites to deny responsibility for systemic racism….” (Emphases added.)

The Lodi Unified School District seems terrifyingly unaware that a state and federal sponsored public education institution in the United States does not have the legal right to engage in a program of systematic thought reform. The First Amendment protects the right to freedom of conscience—the right to keep our innermost thoughts free from governmental intrusion. It also protects the right to be free from compelled speech. As the Supreme Court declared in the landmark case of West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943): “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” The Court concluded that “the purpose of the First Amendment to our Constitution” was precisely to protect “from all official control” the domain that was “the sphere of intellect and spirit.” The LUSD’s teacher training education program is an unconscionable and unconstitutional incursion into the private conscience of teachers whose greatest offense is simply choosing the LUSD as a place of employment.

When you have a black principal allowed to get up and rant about how she wakes up knowing she is black and does not have white privilege, and support a video talking about how whites are racists that whites think they are better than blacks, you are promoting racism. When this same black principal makes over $75,000 a year, and drives an expensive luxury sports car, and is talking to white teachers about how she is oppressed because she is black, you are promoting racism. When these same teachers are told that they cannot critique the comments made this day, you are engaging in denial of freedom of speech, and the right to freedom of conscience.

When you allow Kino Carson to go into children’s classrooms and tell them that the Statue of Liberty is a black woman, you are promoting racism. When you bring in “Cycle of Inquiry” where teachers are told to choose low-performing students and the only criteria is that at least one must be black, you are promoting racism and racial profiling. When Odie Douglas and Barbara Johnson are planning to go around talking with various teachers and at meetings, although the content of their speech is not yet known, Eagle Forum of Sacramento concerned that it will be promoting racism.

The legal problems posed by programs such as these are abundant and cut to the core of the most essential rights of a free people. Possible claims include violations of the right to privacy as well as federal and state constitutional claims for having and enforcing an unconstitutional speech code, and for violations of the right to freedom of conscience.

To be clear, however, Eagle Forum of Sacramento is not a litigation organization, and our objection to programs such as these is far more than legalistic. What makes programs like this so offensive is their brazen disregard for autonomy, dignity, and individual conscience, and the sheer contempt it displays for all of the District’s teachers.

As aggressive as organizations like Eagle Forum may seem, at the heart of all concepts relating to freedom of the mind is a recognition of our own limitations—like us, those in power are neither omniscient nor omnipotent, and therefore have no right to dictate to others what their deepest personal beliefs must be. Concerns for free speech and freedom of conscience are rooted in the wisdom of humility and restraint. The teachers’ training day that you had on October 22, which presumes to show teachers the specific ideological assumptions they need in order to be better people, crosses the boundary from education into unconscionably arrogant, invasive, and immoral thought reform. We can conceive of no way in which teacher training programs such as this can be maintained consistent with the ideals of a free society.

We ask for nothing less than the immediate and total dismantling of the all such programs that promote racism and white privilege theory within the District.

Very truly yours,

TERI LAWRENCE
Education Director, Eagle Forum of Sacramento