Skip to comments.Testimony of parent whose son committed suicide [1 of 4] after attending the Ark. Gov.'s School
Posted on 09/25/2002 11:51:24 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
Arkansas Governor's School
TESTIMONY NUMBER ONE
Testimony of parent whose son committed suicide after attending AGS.
Given before Joint Interim Education Committee
(One of four known former AGS students who committed suicide)
My name is Shelvie Cole. I have much to say, and I will talk as quickly as I can. I think once I get started you will understand why I have a lot to say. The first thing I would like to say is I am not a religious zealot. I do not belong to the religious right, and I am not conservative in my beliefs. The reason I am saying this is because anytime anyone seems to have a negative comment toward the Governor's School, they are automatically categorized into one of those groups, somehow negating their comments.
I am speaking to you today as a professional and as parent. As a professional, I am a trained school psychologist. I have worked over twenty years in the field of education and mental health. As a parent, my youngest son, Brandon, attended Governor's School in the summer of 1990. In September of 1991 Brandon committed suicide. I find it very significant that it was three years ago today that Brandon committed suicide.
I had no idea the impact that Governor's School had on Brandon until I read his log after his death. I knew that he had begun to change; but then when I began reading his log, I understood some of the things that had gone on within Brandon that were the result of some of his experiences at Governor's School. I am not going to be \giving you a second hand information today. I am going to let Brandon talk for himself because I am going to read directly from his diary that he kept while he was in Governor's School.
One of my concerns about Governor's School is the way it is set up. I understood or I thought when Brandon attended - he was a very talented student - A/B student, well grounded, played on the tennis team, president of his computer club. He did not have emotional problems. He was the ideal son. By the way, my oldest son, Hank, is here with me for moral support.
When he was selected as a musical student, I understood or thought he would go and spend the majority of his time studying music, being exposed to composers, having experiences with other outstanding music instructors, and spending a lot of time with students who had similar likes. Some of that did occur.
During the six weeks of Governor's School the students are really encouraged to disassociate themselves from the outside world. That in itself has its effect on students. A friend of mine who was in the Marine Corps said that it reminded him of boot camp when they separate young men from their parents and their friends so that they can get them thinking in a military way.
Brandon's words: "We truly have been plucked out of our world. We live in the Governor's School world. I saw a newspaper the other day and realized how no outside events were talked about here. I don't think I will be able to leave after this is over. Let me warn you I am changing inside. I hope you will still like me as I am, but I am learning a new outlook on life and reality. Everyday activities are so trivial now to us here. I feel sorry for people who aren't here. The outside world is so blind toward world events."
A letter to a friend said, "I think I saw your grandparents at the Human Development Centers Fireworks Show. We actually got to go out in public and go over there. Missy, [who is his friend] and I saw a friend there and stopped to talk to her. Someone from Governor's School saw us and told us, 'you are not to socialize with anyone while you're here.' Can you believe that?"
His final entry in the log says, Governor's School helped me to separate myself from most of the people around me. This absence of being who I was known for gave me a chance to look inside of my real self. After I came back from the break, my friends and I could tell that we had suddenly been transformed into free thinkers. I was no longer worried about who was having the next party or who was going out with whom. I feel like I've awakened from a fourteen year sleep."
These are my words: There's a false sense of security in Brandon's statement because when he completed Governor's School he doubted friendships and support he had had most of his life. And he questioned values and relationships that in the past had been extremely important to him. But most of all he began to question himself. He was told so many times at Governor's School that he was going to change during his time spent thee that he felt that if he didn't change he would fail to be a part of what was expected of participants.
After these students have severed the links with their lifetime friends and family, they are sent back i8nto the real world with no follow up and means of support to help them as they continue their quest to discover who they are after this change.
Even though the Governor's School is under the umbrella of the Department of Education, no one in the department seems to be responsible for overseeing the curriculum of seems to have any say as to what materials are used while they are there.
Bruce Haggard, a biology professor at Hendrix College, is the director of Governor's School. When my husband and I discussed our concerns two years ago, we questioned why it is necessary to have articles included in the students' text, The Tree Book like the one on "The Morality of Homosexuality". Dr. Haggard acted as if he was unaware of such an article, but we found out later that the article has been and continues to be a part of the curriculum.
Then there's Areas II and III , and I think that's what you are going to hear today, what most of the parents are concerned about.
This is how Brandon described the Governor's School experience. He said, "We have Area I class twice a day. This class is for what you were accepted in. Then everyone has Area II and III. Area II is where they try to get you to state something you believe in and then they rip you apart until you don't agree with yourself anymore.
"Then everyone has Area III. Here everyone cries and tells sad stories about themselves. Here everything you deal with is so deep. They encourage us to open up and say anything. In Area III one girl stood up and told the instructor to f--- off. The instructor just smiled and said, ' Why do you feel that way?' Can you believe that?"
Another letter he wrote said that, "We have Area II class where the object is to state something you believe in, and they reverse the way we feel totally. In Area III everyone listens to your problems; we've realized that life is not real, life is just a dream. Things like chairs and tables, numbers, trees, World War II, etc., die not or do not exist. Here they want you to relax and question the meaning of life."
He wrote this letter to a friend while in Governor's School. He said, "Robin, (who was his best friend since first grade) came and visited me on visitor's day last week. It was good to see her but everything she talked about was so trivial. We learn her things like the fact that we may not really be here. Do we have a soul? Do we create reality or does reality create us? Governor's School has really changed me."
"Area II is where you argue whether or not you are really here, why we're here and things like that. Then in Area II and III, we find out who we really are inside. Everyone cries and spills their guts to our group."
This is me talking. These classes are being taught like philosophy classes and psychotherapy groups. In my opinion the staff members who lead these discussions are not qualified to deal with such issues. If they were employed by our public school, they would not be allowed to conduct classes such as these because they lack the appropriate training to do so.
For instance, I met with Area II and Area III faculty a summer ago to discuss suicidal tendencies of Gifted and Talented students. The faculty was made up of two college level language teachers, an assistant junior high principal, a freelance songwriter, and English teacher, and a Presbyterian minister and a high school Gifted and Talented teacher. If we are going to continue to have these types of discussions as part of the curriculum, I feel the least that we can assure parents is that those who would lead the discussions would have the credentials to indicate that they have the training and the expertise to do so. The same credentials and requirements that we adhere to in the public schools should be the same standards at Governor's School.
If Governor's School continues, which I hope it does, and if it continues to be supported by taxpayers' dollars, then every taxpayer in the state should feel reassured that if their child attends Governor's School they have the same safeguards regarding curriculum and credentials of the faculty as they would in the public school district. If this is not the case, then Governor's School should receive its funding from another source and not be under the umbrella of the Department of Education.
I would like to close by reading you the first entry into Brandon's log, and then I will read one that was written three weeks later. This is the first one: "Moms are the best people around, and my mom is the best mom on earth. As a child she cuddled me and showed me the way like a guardian angel watching my moves, supporting me through times of confusion and lifting me off the floor of desperation. My mom is great!"
Three weeks later, three weeks later this is what Brandon wrote, "My mom is so closed minded I feel like we will have a standoff soon over issues. She doesn't see people for who they are, only for the way they act."
I had to ask myself what could happen during a young person's life during three short weeks to make such a drastic change in his attitude toward a parent, and I think it is a question you need to ask yourselves today. Thank you.
[This parent stated in another interview on video that she had not even seen her son during those three weeks.]
End of Testimony
"Winding my way through time and space, my senses are tantalized by a place of both intellectual stimulation and constant fun. I shudder in disbelief, but immediately realize the implications of being able to take part in this blissful experience. Namely, in one month, I must leave this place forever and go back to the monotony of everyday life... Of what am I speaking? Surprised that not all know of this utopia, I pause before giving my answer. "The Governor's School for Prospective Teachers," I answer in a daze..." So, when I say classes, I don't mean how to diagram a sentence. Let's pretend that truth does not exist beyond being a meaningless word which humans use to express themselves. Some agree with this statement, others disagree completely, and still another group believes that there is a middle ground to be found in this disscusion. Where do you stand? Would you like to find out? If so, or even if you don't think you'd care, you will almost definitely find yourself enjoying the class by Dr. Whitaker over that "stupid" book you have to read on your summer vacation called Ishmael.What's Ishmael about? From Amazon.com:
Over several days, the ape, Ishmael, as gruff as his Greek model, drags the man into a new understanding of humanity's place in the world. In a nutshell, Ishmael argues that humanity has evolved two ways of living: There are the ``Leavers,'' or hunter-gatherers (e.g., Bushmen), who live in harmony with the rest of life; and there are the ``Takers'' (our civilization), who arose with the agricultural revolution, aim to conquer the rest of life, and are destroying it in the process.
Knock me over with a feather.
Student #2: "The sessions are wonderful.We discussed everything from educational government funding to adjusting to your multi-cultural classroom."
Student #3: :"From our psychotherapy session on the second night to limboing to "Shake Senora" on the third story balcony to starting a waterfight by drenching Nathan, I can honestly say this has been the best experience of my life... The faculty and staff here have been my parents away from home. I loved our heated discussions so much...I wish to personally thank each and every one of you. Advice to future GSPT students: don't listen to everyone else; Ishmael and Savage Inequalities are actually very fine books...please read them! (Especially if you don't want to face the wrath of Dr. Dan!)
Student #4: "We learned so many things, not so much about teaching, although we learned alot about that too, as about life in general."
Student #5: "This month, however, was not like regular school (Bleech!). We explored just about every facet of the educational field. Our minds are chock full of the words learning styles (Are you concrete sequential?), concept attainment, and closure."
Brainwash me, please!
(ONE STAR) Great Book for self-loathing Caucasians, August 6, 2002
Reviewer: cpccpc from Fair Haven, NJ United States Do you believe Western Civilization is the root of all evil? Do you believe Human beings are nothing but a virus on the face of Mother Earth? Do you hate Caucasians or wish you weren't one? Do you believe that the world would be a better place without people? Then this book is for you!
Bill Clinton is influenced by the EVIL Hillary because he is a woman chasing COWARD who wouldn't stand up to the WANT TO BE DICTATOR!!! PLEASE DON'T EVER GIVE HER THE CHANCE TO ACHIEVE HER ULTIMATE GOAL!!!
My first question is: Were prayers allowed?
Child, child, people are the way they act, not the way they intend or think. But of course once you've been programmed to see everything as relative and forbidden to judge anything or anyone etc. People like the Clintons require that mindset in their followers - otherwise they would have been busted years ago.
How many times have you heard Rush say, "liberals judge people by their beliefs, not by what they do"? I didn't appreciate how right he was. To be "virtuous" in their world you have to hold the correct PC dogmas. Then it's OK to get high and screw around. No heavy lifting. It's a good deal if you're shallow, lazy and conscienceless.
Where are you? We've got questions.
You might want to ask him about it.
POEM BY AGS STUDENT
The following poem was written by a AGS student, but not one of those who committed suicide.
You brought us here to teach us, You said you could enrich our minds.
We came because we felt so honored, You picked us for our talent.
We came to class most faithfully, to learn and experience your vast wisdom.
We took down notes on what you said, and our minds absorbed all we could be,
But then we saw what we had gathered, and wondered how that this could be,
for established facts were proven wrong, and nothing twice was ever the same.
We went to class and were asked to stand, for our chairs, you said, did not exist.
You also said, "Stop your breathing, and prove to us you are not dead."
We went to class and stood in place, you asked us why we should be happy.
You said common sense showed we should be crying,
and our facade of happiness was only a weakness.
We went to public showings of things, that would be better off staying in private.
Death Jihads and single murders, discussion of these was heartily endorsed.
We went to lectures where we were told, there was no God and all was right.
Whatever you wanted, it was good, be it death jihads or single murder.
We also were told about our rights, and how we should defend them.
Allow the white robed and hooded figures to march,
while others denied these rights, cringe in fear.
We were told this and so much more, and many of us believed you.
And those of us who disagreed, unto us was rendered scorn and shame.
You brought us here to lie to us, You thought that you could crush our minds.
We came because we were so blind, So trusting and so naive.
But now you see, I have won, I've beaten you at your own game.
I know the gun I hold at my head is real, and I have the strength to put it down.
Those who will not allow themselves to be transformed, will be destroyed rather than risk that child will become a leader for the opposition
This is why I homeschool. I will shield my kids from the mental manipulators until I judge they are strong enough to recognise when someone is attempting mind-control techniques on them, and deal with the attempted controller appropriately
Here's the Virginia site. It's run by the Virginia Department of Education.
On one of my previous posts a parent mentions that the seed money (three years) for these programs came from the Carnegie Foundation. This makes sense because the testimonials here ranging from 1983-1996 describe a similar format ("no absolutes," "we are the elite," "no one will understand this," PC curriculum). It seems that the Department of Ed takes over the operation after the seed money runs out.
So how are these schools funded today? Do they have a line item in the education budget? When were they first authorized? Was legislation put forward in various states in the same year? I'd like to know.
The number two reason why we homeschool. #1 is to learn the faith.
If parents knew what the educrats have in mind for their children many more people would be homeschooling. My kids will only enter a government school over my dead body.
Well, I don't know of anyone trying to pray out loud during one of the class periods... certainly it wasn't openly prohibited, and it probably would have been allowed if it wasn't disruptive, but anyone doing it probably would have been subject to ridicule from classmates. We did do 'meditation' in Area III once.
However, let me blow your mind by mentioning that in Area II, our class was at one point instructed to repeatedly chant the word 'F**k'.