Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Parents Should Form Study Groups Rather Than Have Their Children Participate in National Indoctrination Day


I have no problem with a President of the United States addressing school children, even in the classroom. But when the Department of Education formulates a lesson plan asking teachers to glorify the Office of the President and calls for students to read books about presidents “and Barack Obama,” the line is crossed between a nonpartisan speech and partisan political indoctrination.

An address by any president has an impact on a child. Those who grew up in the late 1980s anywhere in the western world likely remember hearing the words of Ronald Reagan. As a nine year old child, I remember hearing his speech on judicial activism and his summation that judges should uphold the law, not invent it. Those words had an affect on me and on my generation, albeit a mooted one, as most 30-35 year olds have yet to understand conservative philosophy.

The difference was that we chose to watch those political speeches or newsclips on our own time and hopefully under the supervision of parents. Subjecting all children to a speech in which presidents play up their agenda issues absent parental input is a problem. The Obama speech does touch on such issues and teacher guidance will likely highlight these points. This, however, would admittedly be inconclusive were it not for the lesson plan put forward by the Department of Education.

The lesson plan, which calls for teachers to glorify the Office of the President minutes prior to the President’s speech, is a subjective form of indoctrination that should be shunned. The same ultra liberals who think that the speech and the accompanying Obamacentric lesson plan are good ideas would have rightly been mortified had President George W. Bush announced a speech to the nation’s students on the day before a vote on Medicare Part D and further ordered the Department of Education to draw up lesson plans asking for students to be taught “what it takes to become president” and read books on presidents “and about George W. Bush” moments before the speech. If that had ever happened, their outrage would be justified. Yet that’s exactly what the current administration has done with this misguided “lesson plan.”

Do they not realize that the next Republican president will likely be pushed to do the same? Does anyone believe that this is healthy on any level?

Democrats should recognize the harm in this just as Republicans do. Central to our citizen based government is that we do not have a ruler - rather, citizens elect a president to lead them for a specific duration of time. Use of phrases like “Obama will begin to rule” by advisors such as Valerie Jarrett prior to the inauguration were problematic. Today’s glorification of the current office holder is just plain ridiculous and shameful.

In light of this, many have called for parents to take their children out of school for the day, but I do not believe in additional days off.

What I propose instead is that parents form study groups for their child’s class and invite all other students to participate. Failing that, parents should spend the day helping their children with necessary academic work. At the very least, parents who work should leave a study schedule for children to complete at home so that the day is spent learning, not merely taking off from school.

It is truly a shame that the White House has so politicized the address with a partisan lesson plan aimed to glorify Barack Obama and further a cult of personality from which little good can emerge. Parents should rightly avoid the process.

But what is shocking is that while a statewide solution is easy, no one in the nation has seen fit to propose one.

Florida (and any other state) can and should prohibit public school administrators and any other public school employee from engaging in subjective comments before or after the speech, including those outlined in the outrageous lesson plan provided by the US Department of Education. The course outline is suggestive and the Department of Education is actually prohibited by law from enforcing any specific type of material, so issuing a state decree that schools are prohibited from entering any suggestive comments prior to or after the address is a simple matter that any state can legislate.

Which bears the question: Why has no state done so and why is my campaign the first to propose this?

On another note, I’ve heard a lot of calls from numerous candidates essentially asking parents to let their kids skip school. None have advocated for organized study groups that will help children further their education or master the 3 Rs.

Well if my campaign is the only one to put forward a sound proposal, then that’s exactly what we’ll do.

Lastly, this is not an isolated issue. Our schools must be nonpartisan. This was true when schools canceled class to watch the inauguration of President Obama, while the second inauguration of President Bush was met with deafening silence in the halls of academia. (His first inaugural was on a Saturday, but there’s no reason to believe that schools would have aired that one had this not been the case). This is true when students are berated by staff for not supporting the candidate of their choice and this is especially true when school employees wear partisan political pins on school premises.

Most Republican and Democratic voters alike want to achieve a better standard of living for all, even if elitist Democratic politicians don’t. We argue only over how to get there. It’s important that schools allow parents and students to lead that debate without rigid or dogmatic interference. And when the federal Department of Education sees fit to thrust itself into the debate, such a move must be opposed by all citizens across the board.

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