I simply cannot sit quietly about this one. I'm a mom, first and foremost, and when politics affect my own child I have to speak up or take action. For those of you who haven't heard, President Obama plans to address all students in the US via webcast on September 8th at a particular time. The Dept of Education has sent all schools a directive, urging them to allow all students, pre-K through 12th, so watch the speech and participate in several in class activities surrounding the speech. The info is here: http://www.ed.gov/teachers/how/lessons/prek-6.pdf
I live in the number one rated school district in the Houston Metro area, Katy ISD. Texas is a red state, but Katy and Houston are extremely diverse, so political opinions vary widely. Parents all over are reacting strongly to this directive. So far Houston ISD, Fort Bend ISD, and several other neighboring districts have sent home permission slips allowing parents to have their children opt out of the speech and surrounding activities. Several of my friends have called their Katy elementary schools asking what will happen, but so far those schools are still waiting for direction from the district, and Katy ISD is silent.
My neighbor, Chuck, whose daughter is in Kindergarten, composed a well-thought email and sent it to school and district officials. I am reposting it here because it reflects my thoughts exactly.
"To whom it may concern:
Good morning. I am emailing to convey my concerns about the President's speech which is scheduled for this Tuesday. I am disturbed by this unprecedented push of a political agenda in our schools, especially from a Presidential administration with an ideology which has proven to be incompatible with the values and beliefs that I strive to demonstrate in my home. I read the published documents on the US Department of Education's website and it just doesn’t add up... The President will be challenging students to succeed in school by working hard, setting educational goals, and taking responsibility for their learning. I can’t imagine why this should take 15-20 minutes. Frankly, I am skeptical of the content and the true purpose of the broadcast. Please do not misunderstand me; overall I agree with the concepts which are listed in the press release. However, ultimately it is up to the parents, not the students, to take responsibility for what our children are learning in our schools. Elementary school children are not equipped to see through hidden political agendas voiced by someone they are (rightly) taught to respect—the President of the United States. That’s why I am writing you today. It is out of that parental responsibility that I want to respectfully request that you allow the students of Kilpatrick Elementary to opt out of this broadcast."
Thanks Chuck. I will be checking with my child's school to see if they will be shown the speech as well. If I were allowed to read the entire transcript of Obama's speech prior to Tuesday, I would not have an issue. This is not about disrespecting our President or our government, this is about what we in the know believe the underlying agenda is...for this President to save his faltering reputation due to the controversy surrounding his healthcare reform agenda.
This video was supposedly shown in public schools...I don't know exactly which ones. The premise is good, but the agenda is decidely liberal, and I have a problem with children being shown this in school. If religion must be kept out of schools, so should politics. They go hand-in-hand. Five year olds simply do not have the capacity to judge material for themselves.
UPDATED: Katy ISD will allow parents to opt out. Read their statement here: http://www.katyisd.org/communications/News/misc/Sept%208.aspx