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Cupertino Parents Speak Out About The Distortions About Their School and The Declaration Of Independence

Reported by Ellen - January 31, 2005

Readers may recall the Take Back America episode of Hannity & Colmes which served as a rally for the religious right in its lawsuit against the Cupertino, California public school system that purportedly banned the Declaration of Independence because it mentioned God. A few days ago, we received the following email from "CupertinoMom" asking the Alliance Defense Fund, the group that filed suit against the school, to retract its misstatements about the case and apologize to the school and its students for the disruption and hostility caused by the incendiary headline on its web page and in its press release.

Open letter to Alliance Defense Fund

We, The Parents, an organization of parents of students at Stevens Creek Elementary School in Cupertino, California, request that you retract the misstatements about our school contained in your press release dated 11/23/04, still present on your website. Further, we feel that a public apology from your organization for the disruption it has caused our community would be appropriate.

Your press release, which falsely asserts that our school has banned the Declaration of Independence from the classroom, was picked up by Reuters, and quickly spread via internet blogs, talk show radio, and, of course, Fox News. The school's mailboxes, answering machines and emails were thereafter flooded with well over 3000 hate-filled messages from all over the country and abroad. Security, including sheriff's patrols, was immediately heightened at the school much to the concern and distress of both parents and children.

While you may not have directly contacted the many people who felt compelled to vent their hostility toward our principal and school, we believe your organization is nonetheless responsible. This reaction was the direct consequence of the incendiary headline that can still be found on your webpage, "Declaration of Independence Banned from Classroom." We therefore ask that you stop exposing our school and our children to more harm by continuing to state what is clearly false on your website. We request a withdrawal of your headline and a public retraction. Surely, in all good conscience, you cannot continue to falsely represent that our school has banned the Declaration of Independence from the classroom.

Your group states on its website that it supports and defends families and family values. Yet, it appears that since 2001 you have targeted schools and therefore the families that make up those schools in order to achieve what we believe is your political agenda. In a recent interview, one of your spokespersons said that you view schools as the "new battleground." Do you realize that your battleground is where we send our children? Is that the environment in which you want to fight a battle? How does learning take place in a school besieged by hate mail triggered by an incendiary and erroneous headline on your website? We wonder if your supporters realize that your actions may be tearing the very fabric you purport to weave.

We have seen firsthand that truth has been a casualty in this case. But most of all it is disturbing to see how an organization that claims to defend the truth and Christian values spreads false information about our school, its principal and our local school board. These actions can only undermine the public's trust in your organization, and may cause even some of your supporters to question your actions and your judgment.

It is not our objective to address whether your lawsuit has any merit; that will ultimately be decided by the courts. We would, however, like to point out a few discrepancies between what you have stated on your website and the truth:

1- Our Principal, Patricia Vidmar, and our School District have never banned the Declaration of Independence. It is fully reproduced in the fifth grade history text book that Stephen Williams and all other Stevens Creek fifth grade teachers are obliged to use in their classrooms and is proudly displayed at the library of the school, where it always has been.

2- In the Hannity and Colmes program (12/8/04), you attended with your client, Mr. Williams himself denied your false claim that the Declaration of Independence was banned by our Principal! He called it a "bit of a stretch" and even stated "my kids have read the Declaration."

3- Our children, contrary to what you have led many to believe, are properly taught not only the Declaration of Independence, but all the other founding documents included in the fifth grade history curriculum. In fact, our Living History program is highly touted as an example to follow for other schools. Through this program, our children re-live the days of the explorers and the Colonial Days. And the highlight of the program is the overnight Revolutionary War Encampment that allows them to learn about the war, medical practices of the day, social customs and food of the period and experience firsthand some of the hardships our patriots experienced.

According to your website, the purpose of your organization is "defending the right to hear and speak the Truth . . . ." Why do you stray from the truth in this case? We urge you now to set the record straight, retract your false assertion regarding the Declaration of Independence and apologize for the harm done to our fine school and its reputation.

Sincerely,

We the parents and over 55 signatures on file.
For more information please see www.StevensCreekParents.org

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