Wednesday, September 16, 2009

That's Incredible!

Incredible.

That's what it is when adults play games with the education system - incredible. Oh, don't get me wrong. Adults do it all the time. Standardized test scores. Budgets. Graduation rates. School rankings. All legitimate aspects of the education process. All impacted by both the process and politics of education - and all vulnerable to corruption by adults with less than honorable motives making points with one another at the expense of children's instruction.

I thought I had seen the worst with attempts to rewrite history in an effort to make sure that we 'correctly' made sure that the exploits of only the 'right' historical figures received due attention in Texas schools.

But then came Obama's speech to school children earlier this month. And apoplectic parents with fears vigorously stirred by vitriol by politicians and right wing pundits were urged to keep their children at home. They're children, you see, had to have their innocence protected from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA! Would he talk about health care? Or would he talk about the proper allocation of TARP funds or the bailout of the auto industry?

No one knew!

Our foreign born, un-American President, whose purpose it inject into the veins of democracy the fatal virus of socialism and god-knows-what else, might subliminally lead our children off the dangerous cliff by his, intelligence, his eloquence, his charisma. Because, you know, he has these subversive qualities.

And then - the speech!

"Stay in school", the President said. "Work hard", said he. "You may not like every subject, but that doesn't matter. Do our homework. Respect you teachers. Your country depends on you doing your best, so you can make a significant contribution to your nation and to the world", the President continued. "Obey your parents", he went on. And, what else did he say...?

Oh yeah, "Wash your hands"!

Wow! One more speech like that and this country might fall off the brink into, uh, uh...greatness?

Ever since that speech, birthers, death panelers, tea baggers and every other ideologue has been falling all over themselves painting the president darker and darker. After all if it wasn't this speech, it would have to be another. Then came the Joint Session of Congress health care speech and Joe Wilson and 'you lie' and they had their reprieve. Because up until then, there were more than a few, who were looking pretty...well lets just say, not so good.

But aside from over reactive, if not just over protective children parents, no one looked worse than educators (I'm sorry, the Glen Becks and Rush Limbaughs of the world cannot look worse, although they are trying!). The educators - and really the administrators, were the ones who caved into the political agenda with a torturous logic to explain why an address by THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, could be classified as an intrusion into their periods of instruction. Especially when he was saying, what they themselves would hopefully be telling them all year long.

One such administrator looking particularly, well, lets just say, not so good, is the Superintendent of the Arlington Independent School District. He, was one of those who decided that President Obama's speech wasn't instructive enough to be included in the school day. He allowed children to miss school to hear the speech at a local church, but not in school.

But later on it was discovered that in a week or so, about 600 school children were scheduled to have the school day interrupted to attend the new Cowboy Stadium to hear Roger Staubach, Emmit Smith and George W. and Laura Bush speak to them about 'service learning'.

You got it. THE George W. Bush! The former PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA!

Let's just say there have been, uh, well...complaints.

This is what happens when adults play politics with education. They make choices about the instruction of children that don't make sense.

Now, because of the...complaints...the Superintendent of Arlington Independent School District, is cancelling the field trip to Cowboys Stadium.

That's right, now most of them don't get to hear any PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, tell them to stay in school, do their best and obey their parents and teachers.

Or wash their hands, for that matter!

I've been accused of being somewhat Jurassic when it comes to some of my attitudes toward work and even public education. I just don't think there's anything hard or even complex about showing up to work, doing your job and taking pride in what you do. I also don't believe that its rocket science to expect children to learn at high levels. That exposure to different experiences and diverse cultures is not a bad thing and that parents help them sort their way through these exposures by providing them with the values through which they filter the impact and import of those experiences.

A man named J.J. Pearce was the superintendent of the school district where I received my public education. My principals: Mr. Fields, Mr. Green and Mr. Markham were all not just administrators, they were educators. Only one (Mr. Fields) was African-American. I, don't think that I am romanticizing my memories of them when I say they were tough in both roles.

I have a sneaking suspicion of what they would all say to parents who objected to their children hearing THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES address their children in a public school setting (who at one point would have been none other than Richard M. Nixon).

"The day of the address is a regularly scheduled school day. Your child is expected to be at school. Any absence on that day not accompanied by authorized notification, will be recorded as an unexcused absence."

AND we would have had a chance to hear BOTH PRESIDENTS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. They are both historic, once in a lifetime experiences. They are BOTH educational experiences. They are BOTH opportunities for instruction and inspiration.

Now they are simply both examples of what happen when we allow the political agenda of adults to interfere with the education of our children.

Incredible.

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