Friday, September 4, 2009

Beating a Dead Horse Part 1—Just the Facts

I know. Everyone’s talking about it. But let me remind you that sometimes I write here simply because I love to write and feel compelled to put pen to paper…or fingers to keys rather. Today is one of those days. If you’re tired of hearing about the upcoming speech, you may want to turn back now. If you want to know how things are stupidly playing out in the school district where I teach…read on.

Disclaimer: This is my personal blog. I have no interest in reporting identifying information nor information that is not absolutely true. All quotes used in this post are taken from e-mails that arrived in my in-box or on my cell phone. I have no interest in being slanderous and I hope that I am not being unprofessional. I am, however, sharing my opinions about the events that I have personally witnessed. It’s my blog, I can do that, right?

ed_mn_topstory_photo If you haven’t been with me long, you may want to check out this post, one of my favorite posts about one of my favorite days. A little background knowledge may help you understand why after 7 weeks of not being able to write, I cannot let this day end without posting. I may scream if I don’t let the words out.

Before Wednesday afternoon, I had heard nothing of this planned speech. The first time I heard about it was in an e-mail explaining that it had been posted on the district website and that parents had been given the option for their child not to participate. My first thought was “Cool!” I love that President Obama is so tech savvy. I feel very connected to our Commander in Chief. We follow each other on Twitter. He sends me e-mails every few weeks. Yeah, we’re pretty tight. Anyway, immediately following that thought, and as a result of my being so naive, was “Why would parents not let their kids watch it?” And when I quickly realized why (I’m naive, not stupid) I finally asked “Why in the world did the district even present that option?”

Thursday morning, the following e-mail exchange was shared with us by an administrator because “This issue is beginning to bubble up in other schools, so we need to be prepared”:

From a parent: I do not know yours or the districts plan for September 8, 2009. I understand that President Obama is set to address the school children of America. I would like to make it clear that I do not want either of my children present for this event. This is an attempt to indoctrinate our children in his socialist liberal agendas. I do not agree with his politics, and take great issue with the fact that he is going through our kids to reach the parents.

An administrator’s response: Currently, we do not have any plans to view the address. Having elementary students, it is most likely that the speech would not be developmentally appropriate for our students. Should we have requests for children to watch, we will of course, invite families in to view the speech with their child; otherwise, our current plan is to continue our regular schedule.

I immediately shared my feelings with the administrator. I was filled with anger and confusion and on the verge of tears.

Apparently, principals across the district spent the day dealing with parents and making decisions about how to handle the situation. I personally like the way one of the other principals decided to handle it. Along with a letter that started out “We are excited to announce that President Barack Obama has announced…” then explained very clearly what the speech would be about, she added:

It is our understanding that his address is not intended to be partisan in nature, but is an attempt to address the importance of education for a student's future…I feel that it is always important to hear what the leader of our nation has to share with us and I am excited that he has chosen to embrace education by challenging all of our students to succeed in their educational endeavors. I would hope that each child will benefit from this historical experience.

I don’t know her, but I adore her. Really. My school handled it differently. All the chatter I heard throughout the day reflected support for showing the video. In fact, even the kindergarten teachers were excited, once we told them about it. But, to the best of my knowledge, none of the teachers had been given any information about the video or if they could show it or not. However, during the day, we received a message that the following phone blast would be going out to parents in the evening.

On Tuesday, September 8 President Obama will deliver a speech to students across the United States. Our teachers have reviewed information regarding the speech for each team to make the decision that is appropriate for children. Due to scheduling conflicts and child development issues, most of our grade levels have decided not to view the speech. Our 3rd grade team has decided to view the speech. Third grade families have the option of waiving their child's participation in this speech. Those that do not want their child to watch the speech will have another activity with a teacher. Third grade families should contact their child's teacher if they do not want their child to view the speech. We would like to invite families who may be interested in viewing the speech with their child. Families will be able to view the speech with their child in our library.

Hmmm. Really? So now they have to opt IN? And, I would LOVE to take at look at that information regarding the speech. All I could find was this.

If you stuck with me this long, and yes, I know this was incredibly boring, then maybe you’ll come back tomorrow for my reaction and opinion. Oh, I could write all night. Trust me. Emotions are running pretty high. But I do appreciate how long this has already become.

UPDATE: Click here to go directly to Part 2.


Saucy said...

I already vented about this at Jennifer's blog but will reiterate here. I'm Canadian, but I support your President.

I believe that children are not political creatures. A direct address from the President of the United Stats of America at the start of a new school year would prove to be especially motivating for all of the students. What an opportunity missed by so many.

Brightfish said...

Thanks, Saucy! I agree. I'm getting writing to vent myself in Part 2!

Jennifer Juniper said...

After I let everyone have their say, I posted my 2 cents today. I also found the video you asked that one commenter for. Thanks! Jen

Brightfish said...

I saw that and commented! You're so sweet! Thanks! Boy, you sure know how to open a can of worms, don't you? Nah, I like the dialogue because it helps me figure out how I feel. I'm one of those who can listen to anyone on any side and say, "Oh, yeah, I see that." I tend to be TOO open-minded I guess! So I like to sit back, do lots of investigating issues, keep to myself, that kind of thing. Scott and I don't talk politics in public. Here, just about everyone (the natives we've met) naturally assumes you feel just like they do, not even considering that someone could possibly have a different opinion. We don't mind talking with people who have differing views. We like the dialogue. As long as there is an open-mindedness and mutual on your blog!