Acorn spin piece on Mike Smith Conejo education speech

By George Miller

 

Years ago, the T.O Acorn used to be a nice supermarket flyer stuffed with press releases, local events and local interest stuff and dropped on most driveways, gratis. Now it seems to have pretensions of turning into a Progressive MSM monster. Their treatment of the Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) book issue is a bellwether. They have persisted in portraying board members, activists and the public who want some sanity restored to the book selections used by the district as censors, religious nuts, bluenoses and fringe. They conflate “censorship” with parental control, which is explicitly reinforced in state education code.
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11-30-17 Acorn article on Mike Smith Conejo education speech. source: Acorn (Fair use declared)

So, when The Conjeo Valley Republican Women Federated (CVRWF) invited CVUSD Board Member Sandee Everett and Conservative activist Mike Smith to speak on it, the Acorn pounced (see article: https://www.toacorn.com/articles/guest-speaker-causes-stir-in-school-district/ ). They showed up at the meeting and ignored Smith’s demands to surrender recording devices.  Before that, Everett had bowed out, because she didn’t want to be associated with an attack on the District, preferring to promote it while improving it. She distanced herself a little bit from Smith.
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During his presentation, Mike offered up some red meat sound bites for the mostly very Conservative audience.  Examples from the Acorn article:
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  • Smith put up a picture from the Nov. 14 school board meeting and, with a pointer, went person by person and identified who he said were the “good guys.” He labeled everyone else as opposition.
  • He said the teachers union and Democrats, whom he referred to as “Hitler-ian National Socialists,” have indoctrinated students into supporting the state education system.
  • “This state, at this time, is basically Francisco Franco-era Spain minus the military dictatorship,” he said. “Not that authoritarian but not that free, either.”
  • Smith also put up pictures of minors who attend school in CVUSD and were present at the Nov. 14 meeting, including those who spoke and held protest signs outside the meeting. He said their opposition to trustee Sandee Everett’s policy was evidence of their mistreatment by adults. “This is child abuse. Look how young this child is,” he said. “Clearly, she’s been brainwashed.”
  • He also said that since Superintendent Mark McLaughlin has been made permanent, he expected the videos of the Nov. 7 and 14 board meetings would disappear from the district’s website.
 While Smith does not completely deny saying these, he says some were ripped out of context in a way that changed their meeting and other important stuff was simply omitted. In other words, it was designed to reflect unfavorably on him. He sent us the following exceptions to the Acorn article on Friday night (December 1) indicating claimed misquoting:

I have to correct 2 false statements (by Dawn Megil-Thuna), as are quoted in your article from hers:

“• He said the teachers union and Democrats, whom he referred to as Hitler-ian National Socialists,”

Should read:

“• He said the teachers unions and Indivisible Conejo, whom he referred to as Hitler-ian National Socialists,”

And

“• He also said that since Superintendent Mark McLaughlin has been made permanent, he expected the videos of the Nov. 7 and 14 board meetings would disappear from the website.”

Should read:

“• He also said that since Superintendent Mark McLaughlin has been made permanent, he has no reasonable assurance that the Nov. 7 and 14 board meeting videos would remain on the website.”

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Analysis
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Just for fun and education, let’s look at some of Mike’s above statements:
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.Smith put up a picture from the Nov. 14 school board meeting and, with a pointer, went person by person and identified who he said were the “good guys.” He labeled everyone else as opposition.
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He says the picture was of one section of the room, with a small enclave of pro-policy people completely surrounded by folks they had identified as opponents, by their behavior and words.’
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“He said the teachers union and Democrats, whom he referred to as “Hitler-ian National Socialists,” have indoctrinated students into supporting the state education system.”
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The Acorn would probably have you believe that he was talking about jackboots and concentration camps, But, Smith was referring to the Reich’s control over education and messaging at an early age. They believed that if they got to the children early, they could indoctrinate them for life, more than offsetting parental, church and other societal influences. We believe that has become the de facto objective of the public school system. So, a bit of a dramatic overstatement, but some truth to it.
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“Smith also put up pictures of minors who attend school in CVUSD and were present at the Nov. 14 meeting, including those who spoke and held protest signs outside the meeting. He said their opposition to trustee Sandee Everett’s policy was evidence of their mistreatment by adults.”
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We saw kids outside the CVUSD board meeting who looked as young as three playing with toys and holding, or adjacent to, very political attack signs against the board members and supporters favoring the new policy. Hard to believe that they authored these or even understood them. They were exploited as stage props. Then we saw kids of junior high or high school age holding signs or spouting slogans of only one viewpoint and summarily rejecting any other thoughts presented. Is that “mistreatment?” We don’t think so, but it is a mild form of brainwashing to push a single, unbalanced viewpoint upon young minds. Some might say that is mistreatment. It flies in the face of ethical education principles, which should be designed to make people think independently. Policy opponents, including the Acorn, persist in conflating censorship with parental choice. The parents are the customer of the school district. While they are not usually experts in education, they have every right to evaluate the results and to block materials deemed harmful to their kids. Anyone at a public meeting is fair game for photos and sound bites. 
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“This state, at this time, is basically Francisco Franco-era Spain minus the military dictatorship,” he said. “Not that authoritarian but not that free, either.”
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Considering legislation being passed, court rulings and school practices, this is not entirely incorrect, but contains some hyperbole.
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When one speaks at a public meeting, one should always have in back of one’s mind: “how would this look in tomorrow’s LA Times or NY Times,” both extreme examples of highly biased MSM gone wild. Well, the Acorn is headed in that direction. 
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Article author Dawn Megli-Thuna appears to be a left-wing activist, based on her Twitter feed, much of which is written/published contemporaneously during her reporting gigs. You’ll have to scroll down to  a controversial event/issue to see our point. Try that school board meeting). Unfortunately, she has apparently not mastered how to write an objective news article. Either that, or the Acorn is not willing to, or capable of, properly classifying such work as editorials or opinion columns. While this article contains a lot of facts, it doesn’t have the other side. They will use the excuse that Smith did not accede to their demands for an immediate interview at the close of his speech, as members and public attendees wanted to speak with him first. He told the reporter that he was happy to be interviewed, but after this. She declined. Also, she could have interviewed a lot of other people.
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The Acorn also went out of its way to associate Smith with the District 44 assembly candidacy of Daniel Chavez. Jr.  Chavez says did not participate in the event or endorse it in any way. He told us that he didn’t agree with everything said and that Smith is entitled to his own views, but these are not campaign statements.
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Meeting organizer Betsy Speicher came out looking very reasonable, although opposition partisans might disagree. Smith and Speicher both believe in private over public education. Why should that be inimical to the district’s interest? Reputedly, 26% of the district’s kids already don’t go to public school. Smith says it should be higher. How is that harming the school district? Is/should its mission be to monopolize all K-12 education under its rule? Isn’t it advantageous to have diverse alternatives and to reduce the load on public funding to finance education?

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George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.


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3 Responses to Acorn spin piece on Mike Smith Conejo education speech

  1. Charles Muller December 1, 2017 at 4:56 pm

    Thank you for exposing the strong bias of the Acorn. Yes,. it really isn’t a newspaper or even just a “supermarket flyer” :-). It’s a leftwing rag. Shame on you, Kyle Jorrey.

    Reply
    • Ron Paul December 2, 2017 at 1:04 pm

      Pick one opinion, preferably your own. Is it a paper with a “strong bias” or is it a “leftwing rag”? SMH.

      Reply
  2. William Hicks December 1, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Where the Acorn fails in their article is that the folks that are most active are unelected people that are either teachers in the audience or “committee members” made up of teachers/professor’s. Whereas those that are in favor of parental rights are just now getting aware of how an unelected committee is like the tail wagging the dog.

    Reply

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