Quote of the Day

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Honest history posted

George Wythe has posted what appears to be an honest history of the organization, as well as a revocation of past "life experience" degrees: http://news.gw.edu/?p=393

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Folks, I am moving on. I think this blog has served its purpose.

All the best.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


George Wythe has closed its "The Jefferson Degree™ doctoral program" to new applicants (ht: Bipolar Attorney).

Recipients of this degree hold themselves up as having a doctorate in constitutional law. However, the latest person to get this "Doctorate in Constitutional Law" wrote (I assume it was written) a dissertation on 19th-century literature, with a focus on The Scarlet Letter.

I don't quite see the connection between Hawthorne and constitutional law. But then again, we're talking about George Wythe College here.

From the GW newsletter:

The Statesman: What was the purpose and focus of your dissertation?

Dr. Elizabeth Smailes:
My dissertation focuses on symbolism as an independent literary theory. While reading classics I came to realize that each author has an intention for their book and there are certain books (many of them written in the 19th century), in which the author’s intention is communicated through symbol. Without this knowledge the reader is missing 90% of what some authors are trying to say. Once I recognized this, it was my role as a statesman to help readers bridge this gap in understanding. My dissertation focuses on teaching the art of reading symbolically and gives the reader a symbolic study of The Scarlet Letter, which I propose is the mother of all symbolic novels. After completing this guided exercise you will read differently.

Dr. Elizabeth Smailes received her Doctorate of Philosophy, Constitutional Law, also known as the “Thomas Jefferson Degree,” at the Commencement Ceremonies in October. She is currently the mentor of a lucky group of GW Freshmen, whom she is guiding through great books such as Tolstoy’s Resurrection, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay’s The Federalist, and Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Dr. Smailes’ students love her energy and her ability to help them see their individual strengths and weaknesses. They especially enjoy the debates and intense discussions that the class engages in as she challenges preconceived perceptions and paradigms. She resides in Cedar City, Utah with her husband Joe.

Found the dissertation!

Seriously, knowledge of Scarlet Letter symbolism should be a litmus test for any future SCOTUS nominee. We certainly can't have anyone sitting on the bench without a thorough knowledge of this vital niche of constitutional law. I'm sure both sides of the aisle will agree. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011


Editorial Note: The Deseret News recently changed how archived articles are accessed.

As a result, some of the news article links in the left column were not working.

These links have been updated and should now be working properly.


Monday, January 31, 2011


I just got a copy of The 5000 Year Leap and put it at the head of my reading queue. So, review to follow!

I am curious why he is referred to as Dr. Skousen in the accolades. As far as I can tell, the highest degree he attained was a J.D. from George Washington University. By the way, he clearly overcame this accredited education to accomplish many things. :)

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


NOTE: The following is a cross-post from the comment section of the "Why I Don't Do TJED" blog. The comment was posted yesterday by someone who says they recently graduated from George Wythe.

As I was never home-schooled and was not introduced to LDS culture prior to college, I like to think that I have a unique viewpoint from other readers and posters on this blog.

I recently graduated from George Wythe, a promoter of TJE. It's the sad truth that they've made some horrendous errors in judgment (finances being only one and the others being already listed in your blog) but it's also truth[sic] that I enjoyed my time there and learned a lot.

Is all that I learned immediately practical for making a living in today's world? Heck no! I knew that before I applied. I had decided that I'd rather try a college focused on classics and discussion rather than a 'normal' college which would only give an exaggeration of high school.

It all depends on what we want and expect. If I'd been looking for a career in the sciences, my time and money likely would have been wasted. Philosophy (the basic[sic] of the college) is great to think about and consider, but it's never been practical.

No-one in my family expected the college, or TJE in general, to be the final word of authority. How can we completely rely on other fallible people and their very new theories and ideas? Take what works and leave what doesn't based on your own personal experience. That's what I learned from my grandfather, an intelligent man who never had more than a 6th grade education.

Perhaps part of this problem is the advertising; it's more philosophy in general than only Thomas Jefferson's (likely) education.

Also, it's not for everybody and they shouldn't say it is. Some people like and want/need that kind of education, others would hate it. Some people need and want a vo-tech and nothing more. We as a society and world need those kinds of people too.

Maybe TJE would work out better if issues such as have been addressed here would be addressed by proponents of that education style. I'll be in front of the line to admit they're elitist and loathe (like other normal humans) to admit being in error.

[whyidontdotjed.blogspot.com] is a good blog. You make good points, good arguments and good sense. Thanks for being polite and reasonable about your opinion.

Photo: George Wythe University

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Groft appears to be owning up to his actions: he pleaded guilty (ht to the anon poster at 12:47). See Spectrum article here. UPDATE: Tribune article here.

Groft's statement: "The road that led me to this point started with smaller offenses that seemed benign but gradually pulled me further and further into a pit of addiction and despair. Although I continually prayed for forgiveness and experienced bouts of fortitude and upright behavior, the cycle of addiction and darkness visited me again and again and engulfed me more and more."

This appears to stem from some sort of sexual addiction.

If anyone out there is struggling with addiction, the LDS Church has a solid program for addiction recovery. You can find more details here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


According to The Spectrum, an Andrew Groft of Enoch, Utah was arrested for solicitation on December 10th, 2010. Article here. (UPDATE: Salt Lake Tribune article here, Deseret News here.)

I don't know if this is the same Andrew Groft associated with GWU, but if it is, the reason I am posting this is to illustrate that these are normal, fallible men behind TJEd and GWU.

For any of you out there that have put your faith in men, rather than a sound philosophy (I'm talking about education here, not religion), this might be a cathartic soul-searching moment. Question whether that faith is properly placed.

Here is the booking photo:

Let me be absolutely clear. When we lean on others for conviction that the principles of a cause are correct, we put ourselves at risk: if those people fail us, our faith fails with them.

Much better to gain one's own conviction.

This incident can be an inflection point for TJEd and GWU adherents. Do you really know the philosophy is sound, or have you been leaning on others for your conviction?

I encourage any TJEd adherent willing to question assumptions to read the eight excellent posts by a homeschool dad at whyidontdotjed.blogspot.com.

Fellow parents, you've got one shot at raising your kids; be just as sure as you can that you are leading them down the right path. And I'm not talking about an emotional surety; I'm talking about an intellectual understanding that the principles of this movement are sound.

I submit that they are not.

Use this moment to re-examine for yourselves, and have the courage to make any--and I mean any--necessary course corrections.

GWU appears to be breaking off into its own direction, independent of TJEd. If that is truly the case, I applaud the GW Foundation board for making sound course corrections. I have said several times that, with a proper foundation and disciplined execution, the school can turn into a strong force for good.

If the school acknowledges the shortcomings of the past (via an honest, written history) and divorces itself from those shortcomings (disavowing all life experience degrees would be an excellent start), the sky is the limit.

Dr. Schulthies (yes, he has an accredited doctorate so I'll actually refer to him as such) released the following statement last night:

"Andrew Groft has not been associated with George Wythe University for several months. His employment terminated on June 15, 2010 and his association as a trustee ended on August 19, 2010 along with all related duties. As an institution, we do not oversee or monitor the behavior of former employees, trustees or other previous associates. We are shocked and saddened by the charges recently filed against Mr. Groft and we extend our deepest sympathy to his wife and children at this difficult time."

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Comment Moderation

I have extended non-moderated commenting to posts as old as 60 days.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GW Trustees: Repudiate Life Experience Degrees

Okay, I'm going to come out and ask for it. I call on the trustees of the George Wythe Foundation to publicly repudiate the "degrees" awarded in the past for "life experience."

As has been noted in the comment sections, these "degrees" are having real consequences for real people in the real world.

I'm talking about degrees like the "doctorate"* awarded to Ann Blake Tracy** (see here) for self-publishing a book on anti-depressants that the Deseret News pointed out "contains spelling and punctuation errors and incomplete sentences." Tracy took this degree and attempted to serve as an expert witness for the defense in a child rape trial in Arkansas. Luckily, her testimony was thrown out. (David Eric WOOD v. STATE of Arkansas, Opinion delivered September 5, 2001)

How many similar cases are there that we just haven't heard about, concerning this individual or some other recipient of a George Wythe "life experience" degree?

Therefore, as the board seeks to legitimize this school, a crucial step in that process will be to stand up and divorce itself from the seamy practices of the past.

Publish an honest history. And repudiate these "degrees."

*According to this website, a "Doctorate in Health Sciences with the emphasis on Psychology"

**According to Tracy, "the Ph.D. was awarded for 'lifetime experience,' specifically for the writing of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? which she says she has been told is the equivalent of, or 'far beyond,' a dissertation." (Source:
Deseret News, "Depressed over Prozac", Sunday, Aug. 22, 2004)

UPDATE: According to Tracy's website, "Since 1992 she has testified as an expert witness in Prozac and other SSRI related court cases around the world." So it wasn't just that one case after all. Real consequences people.

UPDATE: Following is a list (with links) to degrees no longer granted by George Wythe. These may or may not have been awarded for life experience. But given the broad range of "majors," they certainly beg the question.

(On some of these you'll have to search for the term "wythe" to find the referenced statement.)

* B.A. in Finance

* B.A. in Biblical Studies

* M.A. in Youth and Family Counseling

* Ph.D. in Family Counseling

* Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies

* Ph.D. in International Business

* Ph.D. in Education

* Ph.D. in Health Sciences with emphasis on Psychology

* Ph.D. in Biblical Studies (previously at http://greatvoicesofdestiny.net/; now taken down)

* Ph.D. in Musicology (previously at http://greatvoicesofdestiny.net/; now taken down)

Here is a video of "Dr." Tracy:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Ethics Emphasis

In an encouraging move, George Wythe has announced it will begin infusing ethics training into its courses.

"'We’ve actually had a lot of discussion about the principles of ethics on the board over the last year,' said Curriculum Committee Chair Vicki Jo Anderson."


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Great Comment

The following comment was posted at whyidontdotjed.blogspot.com, a blog maintained by a homeschooling father:

Thank you for this blog! I was involved with TJEd from 2003 - 2006. It's VERY popular where I am, although most people I've spoken to feel quite lost on how to actually *do* it (despite the seminars, books, and articles they have purchased). Trying to do TJEd with my family was a very frustrating and unproductive experience. I nearly quit homeschooling because of TJEd! I know an alarming number of TJEd families whose older children attend schools rather than continuing to homeschool until graduation because the children were not getting what they needed at home. If TJEd works as an educational philosophy, I'm concerned as to why so many older TJEd children end up back at school or have gaping holes in their education (math, anyone?).

I am still upset over the lost years (and money!) we spent trying to make TJEd work. I know several other families who abandoned TJEd because it didn't work for them, either. I didn't read this blog until about six months ago (years after I stopped doing TJEd). Most of what you say here is spot on with the reasons I left TJEd. In some ways TJEd feels like a religion. I felt like I was renouncing a faith when I switched to something else (which really concerns me as I look back). I felt weird about telling anyone that we were doing *gasp* structured time and content, math textbooks, and history programs, etc. I got over the sense of failure and guilt left over from eschewing TJEd principles because my children and I were FINALLY loving to learn! My husband and I chose homeschooling because we want our children to love learning *and* have a solid foundation in academics. TJEd was supremely unsuited to help our family come anywhere near those goals. I'm glad we realized this before it was too late. I hope this blog prevents other families from wasted time and money as well.

Reading The Well-Trained Mind in late 2006 was like a breath of fresh air. It very clearly outlined *how* to give a classical education to my children. We have tweaked The Well-Trained Mind to suit our family. The authors, in fact, encourage this. They give more information and suggestions than anyone can really use because that allows parents to tailor the program to meet the needs of their family. I greatly appreciate having "too much" in TWTM rather than the too little included in TJEd's publications. With TJEd I always felt lost and my children were begging for more structure. I have met the DeMilles and many others at George Wythe and I have attended many lectures as well as their annual conferences (“forums”). They are nice people, even though I have misgivings about their methodology and business practices. My family's education has greatly improved since we stopped doing TJEd in late 2006 and started following TWTM in early 2007.

The Well-Trained Mind's approach to chronological history, reading the classics (love the book lists for each grade/time period), and studying Latin are things my family especially enjoys. Jessie Wise homschooled her children decades ago. Susan Wise Bauer (Jessie's daughter and co-author) currently homeschools her children (I think her oldest has graduated). Susan has a PhD from the College of William and Mary (2nd oldest university in the country), where she has taught writing and literature since 1994. My kids and I love her history program (The Story of the World). I think Susan Wise Bauer is great and her methodology is sound. She *also* happens to have excellent, legitimate credentials as well as real-life experience both as a homeschooled student and homeschooling mother. I hope other parents do more research than I did when I first started homeschooling and that they find an approach that actually works to educate their children. :-)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Skousen Redux

Cleon Skousen is in the news again.

There is a debate of his The 5,000 Year Leap and its influence on the Tea Party movement in The Arizona Republic:

The "against" article: Distorted book is bad history, poses its own tyranny

The "for" article: Visionary helped people see truth of nation's origins

(Incidentally, have you ever noticed that everyone seems to know a Skousen? At least in the Intermountain West. Lots of male progeny I suppose...)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monticello College

Shanon Brooks is forging ahead with the Monticello campus alone: he has built a website touting the great Monticelo College:


ht: R.C.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Dr. Shane Schulthies has been named the fourth president of George Wythe in four years. Schulthies is the first president with a real, accredited doctorate.

See here.

Andrew Groft will serve as the "Business and Government Affairs Liaison" liaison going forward.

In other news, it appears GWU has taken this blog's questions to heart and instituted a formal conflict-of-interest policy, eliminated life experience credit, and made improvements to its curriculum.

Good job, GWU board. These are good and sorely-needed moves. You have addressed many of my concerns.

Once I see an honest history of the institution available at www.gw.edu, I will be very tempted to delete this blog.

UPDATE: Broken links fixed.