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Testimony of parent whose son committed suicide [1 of 4] after attending the Ark. Gov.'s School
American Family Association of Arkansas ^ | 1992 | Shelvie Cole

Posted on 09/25/2002 11:51:24 AM PDT by Aquinasfan

Arkansas Governor's School


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

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Government
KEYWORDS: arkansas; catholiclist; clinton; education; governorschool; governorsschool; governorsschools; suicide
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To: Let's Roll
Back in the early seventies, "I'm Okay, You're Okay" was being pushed and promoted to "enlighten" us youth. It sounded very good back then. Now that I am older, I wouldn't want my children to influenced by the no absolutes thnking. What is so sad and unbelievable about these educational elitists is that so many of them are so dysfunctional and they want everyone else to be the same! That way they are self affirmed and have no need to question right and wrong. No need to submit to The Authority that defines right and wrong.
61 posted on 09/26/2002 6:36:48 AM PDT by outinyellowdogcountry
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To: Aquinasfan
If you remember nothing else, remember this: the central reality of the modern leftist movement is that they hate western civilization. They view western man and western culture as a stumbling block on the path to globalist socialism.

Viewed through this lens, these governor's schools' purpose becomes obvious: they are ideological camps for the elite liberals to propagandize children. The purpose of the schools is to remove the children from outside support systems and then essentially brainwash them with the whole hideous circus of political correctness. They learn to doubt everything that they've been taught about their culture, religion, and nation. And into that doubt is placed a combination of radical relativism and socialist dogma.

Notice also the recurring theme from the kids that they now feel "elite" after what they've learned....and that their old friends and family are "simple" and "superficial". One of the ways which the liberals have propagated their philosophy (esp at the Ivy League universities) is to pose their ideology as much more "sophisticated" than the surrounding country. This has a natural appeal to young people....who like to feel that they are "hip" and "on the cutting edge". Now that they've adpoted this worldview, they rise above all others around and are members of the blessed annointed (Hillary has been caught in this stage of lefty development for several decades).

Frankly, the whole description of these schools reminds me of my freshman orientation at Brown. The liberals have this gig down to a science.

62 posted on 09/26/2002 6:49:34 AM PDT by quebecois
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To: wattsmag2; kcvl
NC did not have a 6 week affair, BTW. Nor were participants discouraged from communicating with "outsiders". Plus, it is run by the American Legion.

It does now. Here's the site for the North Carolina Governor's School Summer Program. Here's how they describe Area II and Area III:

Area II

Each student attends another class comprised of students from each of the Area I disciplines. Here students and teachers explore connections between and among these disciplines. As integrative concepts emerge, the class attempts to construct an understanding of contemporary ways of thinking and of the culture that arises from them.

Area III

This third class is also comprised of students from each of the Area I disciplines. Here students attempt to ground what they are learning in their Area I and II classes in their own personal experience. Finally, they apply that understanding to their social worlds.

Sounds like the same program that ran in Arkansas in 1992. Sounds like a job for a good investigative reporter. No one is on to these things.
63 posted on 09/26/2002 6:52:11 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Sloth
More later...

Thanks for your comments so far. More Q's:

What have you heard about the kid who committed suicide?

Had you heard any complaints from parents about their children's behavior after leaving?

64 posted on 09/26/2002 6:59:32 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Sloth
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'.

Whoa. One mind blown.

65 posted on 09/26/2002 7:00:58 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: quebecois
Now that they've adpoted this worldview, they rise above all others around and are members of the blessed annointed (Hillary has been caught in this stage of lefty development for several decades).

I wasn't aware of this angle. I can see how this would be very seductive for high schoolers. I remember how insecure I was at that age and how important positive reinforcement from faculty was to me. It's frightening to remember how utterly naiive I was. There but for the grace of God go I.

66 posted on 09/26/2002 7:06:52 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Aquinasfan; Constitution Day
CD..........disturbing info here. Follow the link to the NC Governors School.

It looks to me like they are choosing the best and brightest for indoctrination, the future leaders of our country.

Everyone reading this should be VERY frightened for the future of our country. I wasn't even aware of the exsistance of this school and I venture to say most people aren't.


67 posted on 09/26/2002 7:25:40 AM PDT by mykdsmom
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To: mykdsmom
I wasn't even aware of the exsistance of this school and I venture to say most people aren't.

I saw the video in '92 but thought that the only Governor's School was in Bill Clinton's Arkansas. Apparently, that school was the tip of the iceberg.

To everyone, please e-mail your friends linking them to this thread calling special attention to post #59. It wouldn't hurt to forward this to any reporters that you might know either. This is ripe for an investigative report.

68 posted on 09/26/2002 7:33:25 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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I hit the motherload, The National Conference of Governor's Schools including a discussion board and board meeting minutes.

Time for some research.

69 posted on 09/26/2002 7:43:51 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Aquinasfan
I went to the Georgia equivalent, GHP, in 1991. It was a competitive program where you picked a "major," took written tests, and went through an interview. Any student with even a slight interest in advanced classes knew about it.

Selected students spent six weeks at Valdosta State. We weren't allowed to bring cars or to ever leave campus except with parents, or on supervised Sunday afternoon trips to a nearby shopping center. I blame these regulations on the liabilities of being in charge of a bunch of high schoolers, not necessarily on some twisted agenda.

Anyway, I spent six weeks learning about math and goofing off in the dorms. My "minor" was music, and the worst mental torture I experienced was our embarrasingly bad music minor concert at the end of the program. All in all, it seemed pretty harmless. We had nothing like what's described in this article as "Area II" or "Area III."

While I can't defend what these instructors have done, this is the sort of situation that well-adjusted teenagers should be able to handle. I know I had a lot of irrational and just plain stupid thoughts as a teenager, and fought with my parents over trivial things, but I guess I placed a lot of emphasis on self-preservation and never really considered suicide. I think these kids were just messed up to begin with and this program opened the floodgates.

70 posted on 09/26/2002 7:47:38 AM PDT by LeftIsSinister
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Here's one workshop listed under Break-Out Sessions for the October 14, 2002 NCOGS annual conference. Mark your calendar!

Personal & Social Dynamics Curriculum

Frank Corley, PSD Coordinator, Missouri Scholars

Academy & other members of MSA faculty and staff "Personal and Social Dynamics" ("PSD") is a curriculum put together by the Missouri Scholars Academy ("MSA") and intended to address a number of key developmental issues that teenagers -- especially ones who are "gifted" -- confront in secondary schools, in families, in communities, and in relationships. The fact that Governor's Schools are "residential" schools, where students are part of virtual families and real communities, and, thanks, in part, to the accepting and tolerant environment established by Governors Schools, become involved in a range of both short-term and long-term relationships -- provides an obvious opportunity to see the immediate contexts of the topics raised in PSD. Key to the success of PSD is the teamwork of a "residential assistant" and a "faculty member" who co-facilitate each portion of the curriculum. This NCoGS session will focus on one typical day from the 2002 MSA PSD curriculum but will also allow audience members to understand the overall curriculum.

It's tough to read between the lines of this educratese, but this sounds rather ominous to me.

"Thanks, in part, to the accepting and tolerant environment established by Governors Schools, [students] become involved in a range of both short-term and long-term relationships -- provid[ing] an obvious opportunity to see the immediate contexts of the topics raised in PSD."

Or, "let's experiment on some kids for fun." Ever wonder why they call these things educational laboratories?

Here's the map of the Department of Education Lab National Network. God help us. Here's the Dept. of Education Lab site.

71 posted on 09/26/2002 8:05:38 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: mykdsmom
CD..........disturbing info here. Follow the link to the NC Governors School.


This is news to me; I haven't thought of Governor's School in years.

In 1987, I was nominated by my art teacher to attend NC Governor's School West at Salem College.
I did not make the cut... this makes me glad.


72 posted on 09/26/2002 8:10:52 AM PDT by Constitution Day
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To: LeftIsSinister
Your nickname tells me you're on to something. This was posted on the National Conference of Governor's Schools discussion board:
Begin to Share

Name: Daniel Hocutt


What kind of resources are programs developing or considering as a response to the tragedies of September 11 and the ongoing fear that anthrax scares are generating? At the Governor's School for Humanities and Visual & Performing Arts at the University of Richmond, some of the Humanities faculty develop a course last year (2001) called "Head to Head and Worlds Apart." The course examined the question, "What happens when cultures collide?" and studied several cultures and movements, including the Taliban, to foster appreciation for the difficult plight many people experience. They were even able to bring in a teen Afghan regugee to meet with the students and share his horrific experiences. How serendipitous and tragic at the same time! I am working to get a copy of their syllabus available online for others to share.

Here is a copy of the course's description.

"What happens when cultures collide? In this course we will consider the ramifications of cultural contact, conflict, and change through the lens of historical perspective and future projection. We will have the opportunity to come face to face with survivors of cultural clashes from such venues as Afghanistan and West Africa. Through field trips and reading we will look far afield at the tragedy of the Holocaust and reflect upon the legacy of cultural divide within our own country.[!] From contemporary headlines we will select, research, and compile case studies to be presented to a Model World Court."

Nothing to see here. Move along.

73 posted on 09/26/2002 8:19:10 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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And a reply to the post: Re: Begin to Share

Name: Chris Campolo


I think a model world court is an excellent idea for GS. I wonder how to set it up so that we do not receive "rulings" which merely reflect prevailing sentiments (anger and patriotism, here, anyway). Any ideas?


74 posted on 09/26/2002 8:37:59 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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Some good news from the NCOGS discussion board:

TN Governor's Schools cancelled

Name: Steve Jones


All seven of the Governor's Schools in TN have been cancelled by our Governor due to the politics of fighting over the creation of a state income tax. Some of these schools have been in existence for 18 years. We are looking at a well over $500 million shortfall in state revenues this year. The arts and education were the first to go. The Governor's Schools were cut by the Governor in a $15 million cut to education. You can find out more by checking out the link on our homepage at Please stay on top of your state politicians to keep this from happening to you.

75 posted on 09/26/2002 8:41:20 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
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To: Axenolith
associates of Pol Pot..

I read this article about a month ago at the encouragement of another Freeper. My first reaction was that it sounded like Pol Pot's regime. Very scary indeed!

76 posted on 09/26/2002 8:57:50 AM PDT by twigs
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To: Eva
Eva, I personally believe that some of this may be going on in the public schools under our very eyes. During an education class I had to take, from very liberal teachers, they mentioned that the curriculum of "gifted" students who are taken from the classroom and bussed out each week are often very secret. When the regular classroom teacher inquired what her "gifted" students were studying, so that she could integrate that material with her lesson plans, she was told that it was secret. Even the teachers are puzzled by this. She says that sometimes the kids will tell her what they learn, but many times they will not (we're talking about 6th graders here who normally would love to talk to their teachers). I had to conclude that they had been instructed not to tell anyone what they were doing. My daughter's once-best friend was in the gifted program and from talking with her, I could tell that she was taught to believe that these students were not only smarter, but altogether better, than other "ordinary" students. She even classified them into "good" and "bad" camps. And she's from a Christian family!

I know no more than what I have just written, but it seems to me that someone in the schools are identifying who they consider the best and brightest and are indoctrinating them quietly behind closed doors. ALL the parents I know whose children are in these classes are delighted. It is a badge of honor for them, as well it should if we could be sure that no nefarious goal was at work. I happen to think otherwise.

77 posted on 09/26/2002 9:10:09 AM PDT by twigs
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To: Nathan Jr.
The problem I have with taking kids to visit a funeral home is that it should be one of the major life-cycle type events that takes place in the context of a family. Death is part of life. Once we remove life-cycle events from the family, we invite the state to own us entirely.
78 posted on 09/26/2002 9:14:07 AM PDT by twigs
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To: Aquinasfan
We went to lectures where we were told, there was no God

I went to a geography class Tuesday night in a local community college and the professor showed us satellite images proving the probable existence of the Biblical Garden of Eden. I nearly fell out of my chair. Not only did he make his argument with scientific evidence, he started it with the presumption that the Bible is real and literal. I've been in and out of schools for a number of years and this is one of the few times I've ever seen this happen. I had to think what a wonderful lesson this was for the young people in there who had probably consistently been told that there is no absolute truth!

79 posted on 09/26/2002 9:24:57 AM PDT by twigs
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To: Aquinasfan
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.

Not an amazing poem, but I LOVE these last few lines.

Unfortunatley, many did not have the strength to put down the weapon of mental destruction and took it to its logical conclusion; death.

80 posted on 09/26/2002 9:37:05 AM PDT by Damocles
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