Apparently it’s not enough that Utah has turned a blind eye to the 30,000 polygamist families that live here and provide fodder for HBO and the national news on a weekly basis. Nor that we are the second reddest state in the Union. (If we’ve dropped in our ranking, please tell me! I’ll throw a party for the 17 other Democrats in the state.)
Now we’ve got a bunch of half-brained zealots who apparently think Glenn Beck is the new voice of God on earth and radio alike, and they’ve raised an almighty stink over an upcoming back to school speech the President of these United States plans to give to students.
I GOT THIS MESSAGE FROM MY SON’S ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
From: David Stephenson [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, September 03, 2009 4:37 PM
Subject: President Obama Speech
Alpine Elementary School
Thursday, September 3, 2009
As many of you may have heard, President Obama will be giving a Back-to-School Speech on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. It will air live at 10:00 AM mountain time. Alpine Elementary School has had a previous art assembly planned at that time. Therefore, we will provide time for our 4th through 6th graders to view the speech at approximately 11:15 AM after our art assembly.
According to the US Department of Education, “the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.” Further details can be found by going to the following link: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html
Since some parents have indicated that they prefer not to have their child watch the speech, we will provide another educational option for the 4th through 6th grade students back in class during the 15-20 minute speech.
Please send a note to your child’s teacher (4th through 6th grades only) if you prefer that your child work in class on another educational option rather than watching the speech.
On another note, it’s popcorn day tomorrow! Popcorn will be available for $.50 during lunchtime.
Have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend,
David Stephenson, Principal
* * * * * * * * TO WHICH I RESPONDED (WITH CONSIDERABLE RESTRAINT OVER WHAT I WANTED TO SAY…) * * * * * * * **
Dear Principal Stephenson,
Public school is supposed to be an apolitical environment.
Why are you pandering so publicly to a vocal minority? I don’t recall getting a similar note when the school showed content from the previous Administration. (That may have something to do with the fact the previous Administration didn’t pay this level of direct attention to our students and the importance of their actual education.)
This is the democratically elected President of the United States of America we’re talking about.
If a handful of close-minded zealots don’t want their kids to hear from our President—who actually has something to say about the value of a good education—then tell them one by one that they can extract their kids from school during that time. Better yet, tell them that perhaps home schooling is the better option for them if they are afraid of ideas that come from an educated black man who also happens to be the President.
To actively create an alternative plan to appease the anti-Obama parents and then to publish this message so broadly is to encourage and condone the simpleminded stupidity, religious zealotry, sore-loser-itis, and possibly even racism that is at the very heart of the local fury.
You and the whole Alpine School District should be ashamed for sullying your hands with politics in a way that is so thoroughly antithetical to what educators should be willing to take a stand for.
My kids will be attending the President’s speech. And they would have attended if the message were being delivered by a President from another party, or by a President of another race, religion or ideology to my own.
I’ve now just received a similar message from Lone Peak High School, so it is clear that this is a popular movement, perhaps even driven by the school district. If so, feel free to send my disgust along to whoever drove this embarrassing decision.
Gary T. Brown