November 24, 2004

Declaration of Independence banned in California school

Cupertino, California school teacher Steven Williams has been barred from showing his fifth grade students the Declaration of Independance and other historic American documents, simply because they contain references to God.

Since May, Williams has been required to submit lesson plans and teaching materials to the principal of Stevens Creek Elementary School, Patricia Vidmar, for approval.

Monday, Williams filed a discrimination suit in US District Court in San Jose, claiming he had been singled out for censorship because he is a Christian.

"It's a fact of American history that our founders were religious men, and to hide this fact from young fifth-graders in the name of political correctness is outrageous and shameful," said Williams' attorney, Terry Thompson.

"Williams wants to teach his students the true history of our country," he said. "There is nothing in the Establishment Clause (of the U.S. Constitution) that prohibits a teacher from showing students the Declaration of Independence."

Williams asserts in the lawsuit that since May he has been required to submit all of his lesson plans and supplemental handouts to Vidmar for approval, and that the principal will not permit him to use any that contain references to God or Christianity.

Among the materials she has rejected, according to Williams, are excerpts from the Declaration of Independence, George Washington's journal, John Adams' diary, Samuel Adams' "The Rights of the Colonists" and William Penn's "The Frame of Government of Pennsylvania."

"He hands out a lot of material and perhaps 5 to 10 percent refers to God and Christianity because that's what the founders wrote," said Thompson, a lawyer for the Alliance Defense Fund, which advocates for religious freedom. "The principal seems to be systematically censoring material that refers to Christianity and it is pure discrimination."

This needs to stop. Teaching historical documents and about those who created those documents has no business being watered down to satisfy someone's notion of political correctness. And to have the very audacity to eliminate the Declaration of Independance from a school curriculum is unconscionable.

I'm proud of this nation, and proud to be an American. All three of my children are taught about what those documents are and what they mean, and should mean to each and every person in this country. And I defy any educator --and I come from a family of educators who agree with me-- to try to tell me otherwise.

On checking the website for Stevens Creek Elementary, I found that the site is down this evening. Whether that was due to the interest from around the nation, or due to some action by the school or the Cupertino Unified School District is not known at this point.

John Bambenek has graciously supplied us with the contact information for the school and school district:

Stevens Creek School
10300 Ainsworth Drive
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 245-3312

Patricia Vidmar, Principal
(408) 245-3312 x 110
Fax (408) 245-7484

Part of the Cupertino Union School District:
10301 Vista Drive
Cupertino, CA 95014
(408) 252-3000

William E. Bragg, Superintendent

I'm sure they are tired of all the calls, faxes and e-mails, but this is one case where, quite frankly, I don't give a damn.

Have at it, true believers!

Posted by mhking at November 24, 2004 09:49 PM

And so it goes when we entrust our children to the dregs of educated society. The old saying that, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach" finds some purchase here. Teachers have the lowest SAT scores of any other college degree group and it would follow that they are as one with the brainstems who populate Sociology, Anthropology, and other social science fields of study. Give those same libtards power and position and they will abuse it every time.

The above isn't a condemnation of EVERY teacher, but those who are teachers know the relative intelligence of the broad category (no insult to broads intended).

Posted by: skh at November 25, 2004 12:12 PM

Declaration of Independence ban at public school said bogus: Teacher reportedly forced pupils to listen to Christian dogma
Filed under: General— site admin @ 10:24 pm Email This
Declaration Of Independence banned!

The seemingly preposterous headline made major waves on the conservative Drudge Report and Fox News network Wednesday, joining Reuters and the Associated Press, in a misleading story that exhibited serious reportorial negligence, RAW STORY has learned.

The story, which reports that a California teacher has been banned from giving students documents from American history that refer to God, including the Declaration of Independence, is said a product of right-wing spin.

In fact, Cupertino public school principal Patricia Vidmar banned documents relating to God because the teacher had been forcing students to listen to what some felt was Christian propaganda, a media watchdog site reports. According to the site, the school had told him to stop but he did not comply, at which point the principal required that he submit his lesson plans to her in advance.

The teacher, Steven Williams, sued for discrimination and is now being represented by a conservative Christian legal group, Alliance Defense Fund.

Alliance Defense Fund boasts of other legal “successes,” including the right of Boy Scouts to refuse gays from ascending to leadership positions.

According to People for the American Way, a watchdog group, ADF was founded by 30 Christian ministries to serve as a counterbalance to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The organization defends the right of Christians to “share the gospel” in workplaces and public schools, asserting that efforts to curb such speech at work and schools are “anti-Christian.”

None of the major news agencies reporting on the story included quotations from the school or the principal, stating that a spokesman had referred them to a staff attorney. The articles suggest they did little research beyond the statements provided by William’s attorneys.

Reuters included scant information about the group who sued on Williams behalf, saying only that the group advocates “religious freedom.”

A media watch site, Seeing the Forest, first caught the story Wednesday evening.

“The school did not ‘ban the Declaration of Independence’ – that is just a lie,” Editor Dave Johnson, who is a fellow at the Commonweal Institute, wrote. “This story is like when you hear that a man was ‘arrested for praying’ and you find out he was kneeling in the middle of a busy intersection at rush hour and refused to move.”

California’s Education Code does allow “references to religion or references to or the use of religious literature … when such references or uses do not constitute instruction in religious principles … and when such references or uses are incidental to or illustrative of matters properly included in the course of study,” as William’s lawyers have pointed out.

It does not, however, allow for forced religious dogma in public schools.

****Do some research before you accept some story fed to you by Fox News and the mainstream SENSATIONALIST (not liberal) media******

Posted by: Scurvy at November 29, 2004 01:00 AM

You know, Scurvy, that the same charges you levy against "right-wing" media could also be levied against the tin-foil-wearing Indymedia-types of sources you mention (and even more-so).

My source is Reuters -- part of the "mainstream" media. They have not retracted said story. In addition, in another entry here, I have linked directly to the court papers in question.

No one is "lying," as you imply -- Mr. Williams has been prohibited from using the Declaration and other documents in his teaching. And contrary to your bleatings, that is just plain wrong, no matter how you spin it.

Posted by: Michael at November 29, 2004 06:44 AM

Folks, please remember the "source" for this story is the plaintiff's attorney; hardly an impartial witness. In fact, he is ethically bound to represent his client "zealously". I suggest that before anyone passes judgment we wait and see what the response from the School's attorney is.

Better yet, why not provide both sides with "due process of law" and wait for the case to be argued and decided in court (including any appeals)? I know it's great fun to sound off without waiting for little things like evidence, facts, and truth, but it's neither responsible, nor wise.

Posted by: Etaoin Shrdlu at December 1, 2004 01:34 AM

Let's get one thing straight - it was not the Declaration that was banned, it was the teacher's
heavily edited excerpts of the religious references that was banned.

Further, some of the material banned was bogus to begin with. One item was the "Washington Prayer Journal", which the Smithsonian has rejected as not being a true Washington artifact based on handwriting from known samples of the time and the fact the spelling was too good. (Washington was a notoriously poor speller)

One of the quotes is also bogus.

Clearly, the teacher came with an agenda of pushing a "Christian Nation" view, and got the media to hyperventilate the religious right by lying about what this was really all about. Aren't these the same people who want to put the Ten Commandments in the classroom? And now they violate one - "Thou shall not bear false witness"

Posted by: Steve at December 9, 2004 07:38 PM

As a parent at Stevens Creek School, Cupertino, CA, the school accused of banning the Declaration of Independence, I am shocked with the misrepresentations of our community school that have put our children and school staff at risk. Since the lawsuit Williams v Patricia Vidmar hit the media before Thanksgiving, the school has received over 3000 angry calls and emails from all over the country, many of which were extremely threatening, combative, profane, and decidedly unchristian in tone. Our shell-shocked school secretary now sends all out-of state calls to the recorder. Two sheriffs patrol the campus daily.

Our parents are uniting to correct the mis-information about our school. If you are interested in the truth, please see our website, At Stevens Creek, my daughter was taught the usual California curriculum, with the complete Declaration of Independence and religious context of our forefathers. We say “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. The Good News club and Boy Scouts meet after school on campus. Our school is bristling with holiday decorations of every variety.

The Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona-based Christian advocacy group, has already tried this case in the media. I believe that our school was the unlucky target of its pre-existing political agenda. How can the message of our tiny community school compete with that of a slick group of attorneys with their $15 million budget?

We implore you to write responsibly about our situation. While you debate lofty issues, our children are at risk. This surely can't be your goal. By the time this lawsuit is resolved in favor of Mrs. Vidmar, it will no longer be a front-page story. The ADF, however, will have collected another truck load of donations from the mis-informed.

Posted by: Jean Marie at January 19, 2005 08:20 PM

For those of you who are following the case, the School District has filed a Motion to Dismiss that will be ruled March 28, 2005.

The ADF has issued a press release in which they back-peddle on their "banning" charge, claiming that they are not responsible for the inaccurate press, which in my opinion, is preposterous. I believe that this press release is given only to reporters that ask for it, and it does not appear on the ADF web site. This ADF press release was reported by both the San Jose Mercury News and the Cupertino Courier, and it is posted at

The parents of Stevens Creek School will continue to work for a full retraction and an apology from the ADF. Mr. Williams may be entitled to his day in court, but the ADF is not entitled to mislead the public and endanger our children.

Posted by: Cupertino Mom at February 6, 2005 01:45 PM
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