Initiative sponsor responds to legislator's question, "Should schools teach 'creator'?
by Monte Benham
The "Teach US & WA State Constitution" Initiative results from taxation without representation. The House Education Committee Chairman (and former history teacher) Rep Dave Quall refused to allow a vote on HB1194. This bill (and now an initiative) will require "schools to teach the relationship of the Declaration of Independence to state and federal constitutions." He is quoted in the Tacoma News Tribune as saying: "If their motive is to promote documents that acknowledge a supreme being or a god, I'm not comfortable taking that position." (See the Tacoma News Tribune article pasted at the end of this email.)
Rep Quall does not want children to see that the Declaration of Independence (which refers to a Creator) provided an outline for our State Constitution (which refers to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe as the source of our Liberties.)
The United States of America is the only nation in the world, which
is founded upon an idea that "all men are created equal."
England, France and Germany, for instance, are founded upon an ethnic
affiliation. No other country in the history of the world has been
founded, as America, solely upon the idea of freedom. We must teach
this idea to our children or the USA will not long endure. This initiative
will require schools to teach and test our children on the relationship
of the Declaration of Independence to the state and federal constitutions.
The initiative was filed with the Secretary of State on March 13. A ballot title should be issued by April 3. This means the initiative will be ready for distribution by April 7. We will have until December 31 to collect 197,734 signatures.
Your financial contribution is urgently REQUIRED to make this schedule. Please sit down right now and make a generous donation $25, $50, $100, $200, $500, $1000. Make your check payable to "Friends of the Constitution." Give until it feels good. We require MUCH MORE than your moral support. Your money is absolutely REQUIRED and it is needed NOW.
Story referenced above follows:
Should schools teach 'creator'?
Monte Benham, a former sidekick of Tim Eyman, is gearing up for his own initiative campaign to force schools to teach that Washington citizens derive their civil liberties and rights from a supreme being.
Benham, a Tri-Cities retiree, said he's taking the initiative route because a House committee took no action this week on a bill that would have imposed that requirement on schools.
"I'm not asking for prayer in schools," he said. "I'm just asking them to teach the founding documents."
House Bill 1194 died in the House Education Committee on Wednesday
when its chairman, Rep. Dave Quall (D-Mount Vernon), did not schedule
it for a vote. Wednesday was the deadline for legislative policy committees
to approve bills.
Benham's initiative, patterned after HB 1194, would require public and private schools to teach and publicly display the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the Washington Constitution. Benham said he specifically wants students to be taught the phrases "endowed by our creator" and "grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties."
The first appears in the Declaration of Independence; the latter comes from the preamble to the state constitution.
Benham said students should be taught the heritage and meaning of those phrases.
Replied Quall: "If their motive is to promote documents that acknowledge a supreme being or a god, I'm not comfortable taking that position."
Spokesmen for the state school superintendent and the Washington Education Association, the 76,000-member school employees union, said schools already are required to teach national and state history.
"The bill is redundant and unnecessary," WEA spokesman Rich Wood said. "It's not appropriate to have a bill dictate exactly how any subject is taught. If there are issues about how (those documents) are being taught in a local school district, then they could take it to their local school board."
Benham said a recent U.S. appellate court ruling that said students don't have to recite the words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance gives impetus to his planned initiative.
Benham said Friends of the Constitution, a group he co-founded, will wait to see if the Legislature takes any action on the measure. If it doesn't, his group will begin collecting signatures on an initiative to the Legislature.
That means he would have until the end of the year to collect 197,734 signatures to force lawmakers to take another look at the proposal in 2004. If the Legislature did not act on it next year, it would be placed on the November 2004 ballot.
Benham was the driving force in Eastern Washington for Permanent Offense, the group that succeeded in getting Initiatives 695, 722 and 747 on the ballot. Those three measures, for which Eyman was chief spokesman, either cut taxes or limited tax increases.
I-747, which limits property tax increases, is still on the books, but the other two measures were found unconstitutional.
It was Benham's idea for the historical document initiative that was largely responsible for him and Eyman parting company. Benham said he couldn't persuade Eyman to promote the initiative.
Eyman said he and his current father-and-son partners, Jack and Mike Fagan of Spokane, want to keep their focus on tax and spending issues.
Benham said he still has the mailing list of some 30,000 Permanent Offense supporters and contributors that he helped build. He plans to tap into that group for support on his latest venture.
HB 1194, filed by Rep. Jerome Delvin (R-Richland) at Benham's request, would have made the study of the Washington and U.S. constitutions a prerequisite to graduation from public and private high schools. It also would have defined "study" to include a specific list of documents that students must read - George Washington's first inaugural address and his farewell address, and Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address and his Gettysburg address.
Moreover, students would be required to memorize the preamble to
the state constitution and be tested on the meaning of the words,
"tyrant, despotism, providence, consanguinity, rectitude, endowed,
unalienable, created equal, tranquility, posterity, ordain, blessings,
licentiousness and law of nature."
"They're teaching the mechanics of government but not the foundation of government," he said. "They're not teaching about where our rights come from. They don't talk about the moral base of our government."
"And those rights come from the supreme ruler of the universe, the creator," he said.
(Published 12:30AM, March 8th, 2003)
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