The Established Religion of Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown


Why the school deserves monthly promotion in Rhode Island’s only statewide daily newspaper isn’t clear, but this month’s Providence Journal profile of Broad Rock Middle School in South Kingstown only makes its transformation into a “nonviolence” school more troubling.  Last month, for example, I suggested that “the cult doesn’t go so far as to claim any real existential foundation for preferring its teachings over any other,” but that may not be the case.  This is from today’s article:

[Fifth grade teacher Robin] Wildman is leading a movement at Broad Rock Middle School, based on the principles of “Kingian Nonviolence,” a philosophy outlined in Martin Luther King Jr.’s book, “Stride Toward Freedom.” After four training sessions, most of the employees at the school are trained in the concept, which was put in full effect in the school in October.

King’s book focuses on six principles, which Wildman broke down in a more digestible way for her audience. In her curriculum, which is used schoolwide, they are: Nonviolence is a way of life for brave people; The Peaceful Community is a goal for the future; attack problems not people; know and do what is right even if it is difficult; avoid hurting the spirit and body of yourself and others; and the universe is on the side of justice.

What — pray tell — does it mean for “the universe” to be “on the side of justice,” and who deciphers the Will of The Universe?  An obvious answer is that Ms. Wildman is one vessel for interpretation of this divine will.  As she says, “I think the universe put this in my lap for a reason.”

The agency and intention of The Universe is a critical point, because the new information in this article, versus last month’s, is that the program isn’t just a practical guide for managing stress and interactions that students and families can follow to the extent that they work for them, individually.  Wildman notes that her school goes farther than other “nonviolence” curricula in teaching students “why they should follow this code of conduct.”  The goal is to become a “peaceful community,” which journalist Jacqueline Tempera describes as a “nirvana” or an “idyllic state” of “harmony.”

What about those who might not fit in with that “idyllic state”?  According to Wildman, nobody is ever “shunned,” but “we might need to re-teach someone a new behavior.”  How that might be applied in a given class, we can only imagine (until somebody goes public with a complaint).

What happens, for example, if somebody in the inclusive classroom circle expresses the belief that that somebody else is wrong to say that Jesus wasn’t the Son of God?  One suspects that the teacher would chastise the Christian for being exclusive and either assert or insinuate that there is no right answer on God, which is to say that the right answer on God is whatever the classroom authority has interpreted from The Universe.  Or what if — during open discussion — a student describes his affection for hunting with his father?  Or any other activity that the teacher, as the local interpreter of the Will of the Universe, finds aesthetically displeasing or politically uncomfortable?

If the people of South Kingstown don’t mind their middle school’s being run under the guidelines of a cult, I, as a resident of a different town, would be disinclined to criticize except for the fact that activists have ensured that my neighbors and I — or any other communities across the entire country — don’t have the right to insist that our local public schools conduct themselves under the assumption that Christianity may very well be correct, or any other answer to the question “why” that attempts to give people some broader explanation than just that the government tells us so.

If that’s not the establishment of a state religion, what is?

  • Rhett Hardwick

    a “nonviolence” school
    Am I missing something, does South Kingston have a “violence” problem? What about those times when violence is actually required?

  • Northern Exposure

    Rhett, you forget that in today’s interpretive (liberal) world, there is violence in spoken and written words, gestures, looks, style of dress, expression of ideas, and any number of other possibilities that are deemed to be violent by those liberals who ordain themselves to be the only ones worthy to make such judgments. Even Doritos television commercials express a hostile feeling by attempting to “humanize the fetus” as NARAL said.

  • GaryM

    God bless the Church of the Carbon Footprint.

    Same nonsense from people who would smash a protest sign over your head if you don’t agree with their point of view.

  • Rhett Hardwick

    “Those who ‘abjure’ violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.” – George Orwell

  • Robin Wildman

    I invite you to have a conversation with me so that you can have accurate information. If your only information comes from one newspaper article, then surely you realize that that one snippet is not going to explain or educate anyone about our school, or the successful work that has been done to help students and staff create a school where differences are celebrated, and where students feel safe and loved.

    • Justin Katz

      The two articles appearing in the paper had enough direct evidence from you that my complaint is valid that the case is pretty clear, unless you were misquoted. I’m always willing to be enlightened, though.