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When the President needs permission things are broken

September 4th, 2009

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:alpineinfo@alpine.k12.ut.us]
Sent: Thursday, September 03, 2009 4:37 PM
To: alpineinfo
Subject: President Obama Speech

 Alpine Elementary School

School Update

Thursday, September 3, 2009

 Dear Parents,

 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.

Regards,

Gary T. Brown

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  • bikemike

    Gary,

    I just wanted to respond to your post from Dug’s blog and this one. It’s a little after 8 here and i just dropped my stepson off at school here in Indian River County, Fla., where they are NOT going to show The Presidents speech today. Our county is staunch Republican and my wife is a lifelong Democrat and she is livid with this decision. I have no party affiliation and can’t believe this is what our/my country has come to.

    My stepsons dad is a Major in the Army and is stationed in Germany right now. We sent him the info about this and he is extremely upset about this also. There are going to be protest to counter this but i’m afraid it’s too late. The damage/stupidity has been done.

    We were going to pull him out of school today so he could watch the speech live but are now afraid of retribution from the “little republican brats” when they find out what he went home for. Crap, man, this is not the way our country is supposed to be. How do you suppress the President of The United States freedom of speech?

    God we’re furious. Thank you for the vent.
    Great post, Gary
    Thank you.

  • http://suncrestdug.wordpress.com dug

    say it loud and proud brother brown.

  • sugarpotpie

    Bikemike,
    Thanks for your comment and insights from the great state of Florida. Over the last several days I’ve seen that this movement is hardly localized to Utah, but that actually makes me feel worse. Problem with all this is that the people on the extremes of both sides have vacated their rational mind. So even when the speech is over and done with, the extreme right will likely find some pernicious aspect in the speech and feel vindicated that they kept their junior wingnuts out of harms way.

    Hang in.

  • Canadian Roadie

    Found your blog through Dug and am amazed at how involved people are with politics in the US. My Canadian brothers and sisters don’t have a revolutionary new president (prime minister up here) but we don’t generally judge each other based on our politics. It must be very difficult to be a democrat in a red state. Anyway, here’s a link to the president’s speech that was typed out. I was really inspired and I hope the youth of America were too.
    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/09/07/obama.school.speech.pdf

  • sugarpotpie

    Canadian Roadie,
    Thanks for your perspective from the north. And for the link to the actual text of the President’s speech. I agree, it’s inspiring and glad that my three boys all took time to hear it.

  • Tammy

    so impressed with your candor… did you hear back at all from your note to the principals?

  • David

    GTB,

    Didn’t you read the entire message from the Principal? It was POPCORN DAY!!!

    Shame they had to save the best news of that publication to the very end.

    David