Quote of the Day

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review of A Thomas Jefferson Education

Following is a review from amazon.com posted by a critic of TJEd:

Diploma DeMille, October 19, 2005 
Reviewer: Richard Stout (Wilmington, DE)

I read an advance copy of A THOMAS JEFFERSON EDUCATION a few years ago and was far from impressed. I was, however, impressed, by the chutzpah of the author, Oliver Van DeMille. While the book pays lip service to virtue and high academic standards, it is written by a man who claims an "earned" Juris Doctor degree from an "institution" that turns out to be a non-accredited diploma mill that had five teachers--only one of whom actually had a college degree. The founder of Lasalle University of Louisiana (DeMille's "law school") was sent to prison after the FBI closed his mail-order operation. Hardly the type of legal training Thomas Jefferson received from his mentor. George Wythe. 

That's not the author's only suspect "earned" degree. Before bestowing a bachelor's degree upon himself, DeMille received a mail-order master's degree in political science and a PhD in education from the now-defunct (according to the Florida Department of Education) Coral Ridge Baptist University (CRBU) in Jacksonville, Florida. CRBU was a non-accredited "religious" school with an exempt status, which means the only real requirement placed on the school by the state of Florida was that the degrees they conferred, by law, had to have a religious qualifier in the degree title (for example, "PhD in Christian Education"). According to the Florida DOE, this has always been a legal requirement for exempt schools. Therefore, the non-degrees DeMille claims to have received from CRBU would appear to be illegal. Perhaps DeMille, a Mormon, actually has a master's degree in "Baptist Political Science." 

Since CRBU offered degrees online, it seems only fair to let its former web site speak to the quality of education CRBU actually offered. Here is how this "university" introduced itself: 

"Coral Ridge Baptist University The university is sanctioned by the State of Florida, and have extended campuses in America & in four foreign countries. The university, like universities; such as, Harvard, Yale, and numerous other institutions of higher learning, are pleased to offer these degrees online (distant learning)." 

One would think a place of "higher learning" would have mastered subject-verb agreement, but not DeMille's first alma mater: "The university . . . have extended campuses. . . ." and "The university . . . are pleased. . . ." It would also appear CRBU was a little shaky on comma and semi-colon usage. For the record, Harvard and Yale have never offered online degrees, and the accepted term is "distance" learning, not "distant" learning. 

This sentence is from a CRBU graduate level course, "Hispanic Churches and Missions": "More people than any other singular language in the world use the Spanish language worldwide." Even substituting the correct word "single" for "singular" wouldn't help this messy, semiliterate sentence. "More people" cannot be a "singular language" as the sentence states, and using "in the world" and "worldwide" is redundant. The sentence should simply read: "More people worldwide use Spanish than any other language." 

The very next sentence reads, "Spanish food, culture and heritage is one of the most intriguing anywhere on the planet . . . ." Unless we're talking about the Holy Trinity, I don't think three things can be one--again, a subject-verb agreement problem. The sentence should begin, "Spanish food, culture, and heritage are among the most intriguing . . . ." 

It should be painfully obvious that mail-order degrees from a college whose own writing standards wouldn't surpass a rigorous elementary school's are not remotely similar to a Thomas Jefferson education. 

Such degrees certainly shouldn't qualify one to found a college, but that's just what DeMille did. His George Wythe College (GWC) in Cedar City, Utah opened as a branch of Coral Ridge Baptist University in the early '90s. Around that same time, DeMille purchased his phony Juris Doctor degree, which, along with his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Coral Ridge Baptist University, apparently qualified him to be GWC's "Professor of Law and Politics." Founding GWC also enabled DeMille to round out his education by giving himself a bachelor's degree from his own college. 

And finally, after his non-accredited degrees with illegal titles, honorary law degree from a "distant learning" institution that had no law school, phony J.D. degree, and non-accredited bachelor's degree from the college he founded, Mr. DeMille actually earned an accredited degree from Brigham Young University. But even then he hasn't been able to keep from exaggerating that degree. He claims a bachelor's degree in "International Relations and Aerospace Studies." Mr. DeMille does not have a degree in "Aerospace Studies"; that was his minor at BYU. 

So the question would seem to be: Is a man who claims a handful of degrees that turn out to be either illegal (according to Florida law), phony (according to the FBI), non-accredited (according to public record), or exaggerated (according to BYU) qualified to teach you about virtue or educating your children? The answer should be obvious no matter how many founding fathers DeMille invokes.

9 comments:

J.L.L said...

You know, I hadn't really thought of it that way, but it's true that DeMille has a master's degree in "Baptist Political Science." I'm not sure I place too much stock in "Baptist Political Science."

Anonymous said...

That was quite the read. Perhaps the local Monticello paper, www.sjrnews.com should do a multipart series on Oliver DeMille, a Giant of San Juan County.

Anonymous said...

Dr. DeMille does NOT have a degree in "Baptist Political Science." Please go read his bio. Anyway why the slam against Baptists? Are they not Christians, and are they not educated? That was (I think it is called) a "cheap shot." That was very rude. I teach children respect for others and honesty. Sometimes these discussions become too heated, and in this case too rude. Now I am having to explain "why Baptists are bad people" to children, and don't enjoy this. I teach leadership, truth, kindness, talking things out. I am sorry, but that was uncalled for. Baptists helped shape this country's history, and we need to respect them.

Anonymous said...

Well there's an awful lot of assumptions in that last comment. Not every Christian believes Baptism is adherent to Christianity; a person does not have to be educated to be Christian; not everyone who reached adulthood is automatically educated; Baptists do get granted any claim to 'shaping' this country's history just because they were along for the ride; and every group in this country gets respect the same way: they earn it.

As for this particular no-effort Baptist-educated Mormon: he's going to get ridiculed, probably along with the solipsistic and ignorant organization that pawned off degrees like they're community bulletins.

Anonymous said...

Um, I think you need to re-word your title for this particular blog entry to "A Review of Oliver DeMille's Choices of Education" because there is nothing in the actual blog post about the book, A Thomas Jefferson Education.

Anonymous said...

I would have to agree with what was stated directly above. You have expressed very clearly that Oliver DeMille's education is unorthodox if not questionable but you still have to deal with the educational philosophy he is espousing in the book. As a matter of fact I think one of his primary indictments against the current "conveyor belt" system is that it produces uneducated individuals despite the stamp of an accredited diploma. I would be interested to hear critical discussions of the ideas in the book rather than simple ad hominem.

The Real George Wythe said...

Anon, as stated at the top of the post, this is a review of A Thomas Jefferson Education that was posted on Amazon.com. Hence the title.

If you want a good discussion of DeMille's book and homeschooling methods, go to whyidontdotjed.blogspot.com.

Lambchopsuey said...

Please be aware that Oliver DeMille and Shanon Brooks have invalid academic credentials and thus are improperly appropriating the title of "Dr.", which neither of them has earned. This usage is misleading at best. The Board of Trustees of George Wythe University no longer refers to either of them as "Dr." Both were forced to resign from George Wythe University for mismanagement and financial malfeasance. The position of "Chancellor," which DeMille had created for himself so as to move Brooks into the President position, has been eliminated. In a serious breach of ethics, DeMille awarded doctorates to individuals who completed no coursework at George Wythe College, while misrepresenting his own academic background, which included at least one bought doctorate from a diploma mill. This is all a matter of public record; here is a statement released by the George Wythe University Board of Trustees with the details: http://news.gw.edu/?p=393

Brooks received his academic credentials from George Wythe College (now University) during his employ there, while he was teaching classes to other students. George Wythe College was never accredited, and George Wythe University remains unaccredited. George Wythe University is seeking accreditation for its undergraduate program; if secured, this accreditation will only be valid for its BA degrees, and will not be retroactively applied to previous degrees distributed by George Wythe College or George Wythe University. Because of DeMille's and Brooks' financial mismanagement, George Wythe University was hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and on the brink of closure by the time their misdeeds were discovered. Legal charges may be filed against Shanon Brooks in the future over his egregious misconduct and misuse of funds. The Utah Division of Consumer Protection stipulated, in fact, that, as part of GWU's licensing requirements, Shanon Brooks must be permanently banished from any position at GWU that handles funds - the GWU Board of Trustees signed off on this requirement without reservation. Brooks' claimed 'PhD in Constitutional Law' is from George Wythe College; it is not a law degree, though it deceptively sounds like one. Because of this confusion, GWU has renamed the degree "Constitutional Studies." Brooks continues to misrepresent himself as "Dr." and cites his misleadingly-named "PhD in Constitutional Law" on the Monticello College website, but I have not been able to find his curriculum vitae (cv), which is a document that is normally posted publicly by higher education professionals at reputable institutions of higher learning to show the dates and locations where they completed their degree(s).

These are the same people responsible for creating "Thomas Jefferson Education" (TJEd), the "Face to Face With Greatness" seminars, and all the other money-making ventures marketed to the Christian homeschool community.

Caveat emptor.

Lambchopsuey said...

Quote of the day: "DeMille DOES take the extreme positions. He doesn't, for example say, 'It's about them, but it's also about you.' He says, 'It's about you, NOT them.' He doesn't say, 'Think carefully about what you require your kids to do and work hard at inspiring them as well.' He says, 'Inspire NOT require.'
Alison Moore Smith, August 2009"

I know. But in a "Face To Face With Greatness" seminar, I asked "Dr" Shanon Brooks what to do if your children don't dive right into several-hours-a-day of "Love of Learning." He said that, if they aren't voluntarily spending X hours in something that passes for learning, such as reading from approved texts, you should force them to do housework. When I said my children showed no interest in these books, he said, "You must have the cleanest house in town!"

Punish the children until they do what you want, in other words. These people are despicable.