BYU drops controversial education program
Three months after local parents accused Brigham Young University of advancing socialism in local schools, BYU has axed the program in question but kept ties to its controversial founder.
In April, a group of parents said both university officials and Alpine School District were participating in “a deliberate course of action to subvert the moral fabric of a society with the goal to eliminate the worship of deity and replace it with the worship of man.” Both the university and the district, they claimed, were either wittingly or unwittingly part of a nationwide socialist movement led by an educator named John Goodlad.
After learning of BYU’s decision to drop the so-called NNER program founded by Goodlad, Oak Norton, who is one of the most outspoken critics of Alpine School District, said BYU’s action “vindicates everything we have been doing.”
Not so, said BYU in a statement to the Daily Herald. The program was dropped because of financial constraints, and BYU continues to have a relationship with John Goodlad.
“The David O. McKay School of Education at BYU, like most colleges of education in the country, has memberships in several local, regional, national and international professional associations,” said Richard Young, dean of the David O. McKay School of Education at BYU.
“One of the national association memberships that we have had is with the National Network for Educational Renewal. Even though we have benefitted greatly from our membership in NNER, we have considered all of our association memberships in light of the commitment of resources involved, including financial resources for membership fees, travel costs and the time commitment of personnel. Such resources are required by each of the NNER members.
“Our membership in NNER was not just a BYU membership, but it involved the five school districts within the BYU-Public School Partnership. Each of the five school districts in that partnership also has major resource constraints and thus the decision to discontinue our membership will save resources for the districts. Currently we believe we are capable of maintaining a strong public school partnership even without formal membership in NNER. We will continue to maintain our friendship and collegial relationship with Dr. John Goodlad, one of the founders of NNER. We also anticipate that we will continue to have professional interactions with many other professional colleagues, who happen to be at universities that are part of NNER” and other groups.
BYU has also discontinued membership in two other national associations in order to save money, school officials said.
Norton sees a different motive for BYU’s action.
“I knew once we shined the light on John Goodlad that those in the McKay School of Education would see that Goodlad doesn’t share our community standards and would take action to separate themselves from him. I would hope the partnership districts will follow suit and that Alpine’s board and administration will recognize what [Alpine board member and Norton supporter] Tim Osborn has been trying to tell them for years about [Goodlad]. It’s time Goodlad’s constructivist math and social democracy nonsense was buried.”
Norton called on the school district to follow BYU’s lead and “move to abandon Goodlad’s constructivism math pedagogy and democracy theme in light of BYU’s action. It would be nice to put them [the district] in a tough spot to have to acknowledge that BYU saw the light and now they should follow suit or look really bad. It would also be nice to get them on record stating how they will try and un-‘enculturate’ teachers so they know not to follow Goodlad’s philosophies. It might be fun to ask them why they didn’t look into the issue earlier since Tim Osborn has been trying to tell them this for a long time.”
Norton sees BYU and Alpine School District as part of a national conspiracy working to carefully teach the nation’s children to believe that the United States government is based on the power of people, rather than the power of God. This effort, Norton has said, is guided by “the motives of those who are trying to change our language and remove the notion that we are a republic with natural rights bestowed upon us by God.”
Far from divorcing themselves from Goodlad, BYU provided the Daily Herald with a summary of Goodlad’s achievements.
“John I. Goodlad is professor emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as Dean of the Graduate School of Education,” BYU said in the statement. “He is also a professor emeritus with the University of Washington. His lifelong dedication to the study of schooling and teacher preparation began in a one-room schoolhouse and progressed through roles as principal, researcher, educator of teachers, author, scholar, and internationally recognized leader in the field of education. Dr. Goodlad has been an active participant in education at all levels and a productive researcher and prolific author. He has authored or co-authored more than 35 books, written more that 100 chapters and papers printed in other books, and published more than 200 articles in professional journals.
“His research studies on schooling (“A Study of Schooling in the United States”) and on the preparation of educators (“Study of the Education of Educators”) are still considered the most comprehensive studies of this type and are widely cited. He is past president of the American Educational Research Association and of the Institute for Educational Inquiry. Goodlad has received twenty honorary degrees from universities including an honorary doctorate from Brigham Young University.
“Goodlad has led a major initiative involving school-university partnerships in an effort to achieve the simultaneous renewal of the processes by which educators are prepared and how schooling is conducted. He has been a thoughtful leader in the process of change and in drawing connections between the purposes of our public schools and the maintenance and improvement of our democratic republic way of life.”
• Caleb Warnock can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 592-3136.