Evidence Continues to Support Jordan Wooley

Twelve year old  Jordan Wooley was under the impression her teacher wanted her to label God as a myth.  The evidence indicates her impression was most reasonable.   First, let’s recall the uncontested evidence I have provided thus far:

  1. An internet search shows that the lesson Jordan had popularly defines “commonplace assertion” as unfounded belief.  An unfounded belief is a belief having no foundation or basis in fact.  It is perfectly reasonable to expect a 12 year old to thus interpret “commonplace assertion” as myth if the common interpretation was applied.

2. Pay attention to claim #8 on the assignment – “People with glasses are smart.” Keep in mind Jordan had to answer that one too. Now, I think all intelligent, honest people will recognize the intended answer for #8  was supposed to be “commonplace assertion.”  Yet we also know that as a common myth.  In fact, this page calls it a “crazy myth.”  Since everyone agrees the teacher insisted Jordan categorize “There is a God” as a “commonplace assertion,” the teacher was trying to force Jordan to group “There is a God” with another claim that is a crazy myth.  Once again, it is perfectly reasonable to expect a 12 year old to thus interpret “commonplace assertion” as myth.

Now, we have more evidence:

Deanna says her son had the same controversial assignment on the same day, just in an earlier class.

“I asked him what were the instructions for the assignment? He said, ‘well we had to look at these statements and decide if it was fact, opinion, or myth.”

But, the school district claims the word myth was never used by the teacher. As seen on the paper itself, the assignment was to distinguish between fact, opinion, and commonplace assertion. So Deanna asked her son to clarify.

“How did the word myth come into it?” She says she asked her son. “He said we didn’t know what commonplace assertion meant so we asked the teacher. She said the definition of commonplace assertion is myth. So, we referred to it as myth in the class after that.”

That story has the ring of truth to it.  If you think about it, any 12 year old is going to wonder how you define “commonplace assertion.”  In fact, many of us scratched our heads about that category.  And given that examples of commonplace assertions are things like “smart people wear glasses,” I can easily envision the teacher as defining them as myths given the assignment contains the common myth about people wearing glasses.

Anyway, the account continues:

The big difference between her son’s class and Jordan’s class, was that no one challenged the teacher about whether God was a fact or a myth.

“My son said it was not argumentative in their class. He says no one pressed her or argued with her.” But, Deanna said she wanted an explanation on that, too. “I said why not? Why didn’t anyone say anything? And he said, ‘well, I guess because at the beginning of the year she told her class that she has a dark side, and they don’t want to see that side come out.'”

Two other parents told FOX 26 their children also heard the teacher say the same thing at the beginning of the year, intimidating them into not challenging her.

FOX 26 spoke with another parent who said their child was in Jordan’s class that day. That student also told her parents what happened in class was disturbing.

“She was very upset, almost in tears because of the argument with the teacher,” the mother said during an Internet talk show hosted by the Republic Broadcasting Network. “The teacher told all of them it was going to be graded, and if you don’t put what she tells them, then you’re going to get it wrong.”

FOX 26 spoke with both the mother and the father of this child, via phone, but they did not want to be interviewed on camera. FOX 26 knows their identity, but the parents did not want to have their names made public, worried about backlash against their child.

In the end, we’ll probably never know what happened in that classroom.  I strongly suspect it went like this:

The teacher did not try to get the class to deny the existence of God, but did create a climate of confusion where it would be quite reasonable for students to be under that impression.  I think what we have here is a teacher who doesn’t understand critical thinking herself trying to teach critical thinking to others.  She probably found this assignment on the internet and decided to use it for her class.  In teaching it, she confused “fact” for “factual claim” and defined “commonplace assertion” as myth given that claim #8 is a common myth.  When this confusing lesson led to Jordan’s objections, the teacher became defensive and dug in her heels.

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10 Responses to Evidence Continues to Support Jordan Wooley

  1. iblase says:

    would like to get a profile of the teacher now.

  2. Per the principal “It was a teacher created assignment.. my understanding is that it was something that there was other teachers that were involved, or it was a campus created type assignment” … 

  3. Isaac says:

    Well that explains the comic sans and the improper capitalization.

  4. Dhay says:

    Chantel Wooley > Per the principal “It was a teacher created assignment.. my understanding is that it was something that there was other teachers that were involved, or it was a campus created type assignment” …

    Welcome, Chantel, and thanks for contributing. I note, ‘for the record’, that from your linked FaceBook page you appear to be a socially aware Democrat; and that neither you nor your daughter appear to be doctrinaire hyper-religious nutters.

    Like Isaac, I note the Principal’s apparent illiteracy, though I realise it’s not always possible to be fully coherent when thinking on one’s feet.

    My real criticism is that the Principal plainly hadn’t done such basic research as to find out where the assignment came from — I see variants of it all over the internet, though this one looks heavily personalised. In view of the controversy and criticism, he or she should most certainly have done that research and been prepared to answer; it is such an obvious early question; and he should have prepared a clear and accurate answer.

    Instead, he bumbled clueless nothings as his answer.

  5. John says:

    As for the religion of the teacher,there is actually a Chrisitan article stating that the teacher is a Christian and not an atheist:

    http://www.christiantoday.com/article/texas.school.district.backs.teacher.who.asked.her.students.to.deny.god.saying.she.was.just.misunderstood/69368.htm

    This article is brought up by atheists recently to discredit the entire claim that the assignment supported the idea of God being a myth.

    What are your thoughts on this new piece of information?

  6. John says:

    Also,in the above article,it seems we got an answer as to the question as to how common assertion was defined:

    ”Students were allegedly told that the correct answer was “commonplace assertion,” which means a “statement many people assume to be true but which may or may not be true.””

    And it was investigated by the school district.

    So it seems it isn’t from edu-crats,but from a legitimate source that is showing a legitimate investigation into the whole thing.

  7. Dhay says:

    John > What are your thoughts on this new piece of information? … And it was investigated by the school district. So it seems it isn’t from edu-crats,but from a legitimate source that is showing a legitimate investigation into the whole thing.

    Surely the ‘school district’ is not separate from the ‘edu-crats’, but simply the next level up in the chain of officialdom. Especially the Superintendent, which is surely an official and officious salaried post rather than a parent-governor post such as we have in Britain.

    This topic now spans multiple threads, which I advise you to browse and study in order to pull all the threads together.

    Your article and mine each refer to an investigation by the KISD School Board and by Superintendent Alton Frailey. I expect that there was only one investigation and subsequent report, namely the investigation on (so far as I can tell) Wednesday 28 October at which Jordan testified. Your article reports and repeats the original official line of the KISD Board and Superintendent — that there was no use of “myth”, that the assignment was both ungraded and known by the pupils to be ungraded, and that there were no other complaints than Jordan’s. Move along folks, nothing to see here. A lazy reporter’s not delved.

    Your article shows no awareness of the reports by parents that “myth” definitely had been used as a term to clarify “commonplace assertion”; that the school had received multiple complaints; that there was a culture of denial and intimidation and silence.

    The link below contradicts the official line repeatedly and very strongly. I’m not going to quote it because of the sheer volume of it, but I strongly suggest you read and digest what it says.

    http://www.fox26houston.com/news/40914434-story

  8. Michael says:

    This article is brought up by atheists recently to discredit the entire claim that the assignment supported the idea of God being a myth.
    What are your thoughts on this new piece of information?

    First, there isn’t any new information. Yes, there is actually a Chrisitan article stating that the teacher is a Christian. But the Christian article is simply repeating the claim of the school board. As far as I can tell, there is no evidence the teacher was a Christian. Ask the atheists for evidence to support that claim.

    Also, we can move beyond the she said/she said debate because we have a photo of the actual assignment. All sides agree God was supposed to be categorized as “commonplace assertion.” Thus, according to the teacher’s (mistaken) notions of the “correct answers,” the children were told, by an authority figure, to lump God belief with the common myth of people who wear glasses being smart. Yes, the assignment itself was trying to imply that God was a myth. See my points raised in the blog entry.

    Also,in the above article,it seems we got an answer as to the question as to how common assertion was defined:
    ”Students were allegedly told that the correct answer was “commonplace assertion,” which means a “statement many people assume to be true but which may or may not be true.””

    Did the teacher define the term like this? How do you know? Where is the evidence? This version also differs from the one the school board FAQ originally gave – ” According to the teacher and students interviewed, she emphasized to the students that there are different cultures, religions and views. She explained that a commonplace assertion exists when there is room for debate.”

    And it was investigated by the school district.
    So it seems it isn’t from edu-crats,but from a legitimate source that is showing a legitimate investigation into the whole thing.

    According to the school board FAQ:

    On October 26, at the end of the school day, two West Memorial Junior High parents contacted the school’s principal to share their concern over a classroom activity that they felt questioned students’ religious beliefs. The school principal immediately responded to the parents by informing them that she would investigate and meet with the teacher the following morning. At the conclusion of the investigation on October 27…..

    So the “investigation” probably lasted about a couple of hours. How is it intellectually honest to insist this was a “legitimate investigation?”

  9. Dhay says:

    I found the FAQ Michael refers to in Chantel Wooley’s FaceBook timeline, and also a link there to a Covering Katy news report entitled “The Secret Battle Against Gangs In Katy Schools”. Gangs are of course common enough in schools in deprived areas, and a good School Board will cooperate fully in joint School/Police attempts to combat gangs and their ill effects on (among other things) education — the KISD School Board can be commended for that.

    But when Covering Katy broke the story of a gang attack at one of the KISD schools:

    Our story ran on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, and was based on rock solid sources who were willing to speak as long as we protected their identities. Prior to our report, McDonald parents had not been informed of the gang fight, and Katy Independent School District supporters mounted a social media campaign claiming Covering Katy was making up the story. When a news organization is accused of lying, it has only one option, and that is an unrelenting investigation that will leave absolutely no doubt about its integrity and truthfulness. That is exactly what we have done.

    http://coveringkaty.com/2015/11/09/the-secret-battle-against-gangs-in-katy-schools/

    Yes, they denied the story, they lied about it, and they accused the new site of lying about it. Covering Katy then obtained the police report of the incident as evidence of its truthfulness (and the dishonesty of the KISD). It turned out that there was another, worse incident:

    … a coach was attacked and was pressing criminal charges against the student who struck him numerous times. We also recently learned the same student is accused of threatening to kill an assistant principal.

    And the threats were deemed serious in view of gang members posing with firearms.

    http://coveringkaty.com/2015/11/05/death-threat-made-against-mcdonald-jr-asst-principal-following-september-gang-fight/

    The Board also denied the existence of a joint KISD/police/others task force to combat gangs, until forced to fess up:

    Covering Katy made a Freedom of Information Act request for “all documents pertaining to the establishment of a Katy ISD gang task force whether it goes by the name ‘gang task force’ or some other name.” The district responded that it didn’t have any information to provide, but we kept investigating fueled with the knowledge that we’d been accused of lying to the public. We later learned the exact name of the document that would prove Katy ISD was part of a very large multi-agency gang task force. By asking for the exact document, the school district had no choice but to provide us with answers. They were trapped.

    This, I think, gives independent support to the parents’ claims that the KISD School Board had a culture of denial and intimidation and silence. To which I can now add that the Board apparently doesn’t hesitate to lie to protect its public image.

  10. Thanks for covering this.. and yes I do lean towards the democratic side of politics but honestly I’m somewhere in the middle. That shouldn’t have relevance though…

    The word myth was introduced into the classroom when the teacher defined commonplace assertion by playing a Buzzfeed video “Myths you probably believe about your body” in the class. The examples given were defined as commonplace assertion. I feel it conditioned the kids to think that commonplace assertions were ideas that most people believe, but weren’t true. Such as you should wait 30 minutes after you eat before you swim etc. At the end of the video, it asks you to question how many myths you believed were true… follow up with the graded assignment (worth 20 pts on the paper).. “There is a God”. This was distressing to the children who believe in God as they felt that they were being forced to put that God wasn’t real, a myth, a commonplace assertion. I hope this sheds some light. The district admitted it as well.

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