Saturday, September 26, 2009

Obama's Youth: Indoctrination Started Before Election

Much ado has been made of recently-surfaced videos of school-aged children singing the praises of Barack Hussein Obama (Mm, mm, mm!). Let me assure you, folks, this indoctrination started even before the election, and far before the inauguration.

Until last year, I would have thought nothing like that would happen in my small school district. Our area has, historically, been somewhat conservative, with a general exception made for "west siders" (those relocating to our area from the I-5 or I-405 corridor) and "peace-loving hippies," who have been liberal since the era when it was socially acceptable to use mind-altering chemicals.

Having lived only five years or so on the west side and not being born until 1975, I fall into neither of those groups, and took comfort that the education my children would receive in my area's public schools would be fair, balanced and neutral when it came to politics.

We moved to our current school district in 2005, so we didn't go through a presidential election year until 2008. I grew up in the general area, and recall that political discussion didn't start until high school, and my teachers never publicly supported one candidate over another.

Mistakenly, I assumed not much had changed in my tiny valley.

During the campaign, my fifth-grade daughter participated in a mock-election activity in which students were given "issues" sheets on Obama and McCain that discussed popular, "safe" topics like the environment. No mention, of course, of abortion, policy on Israel or other topics that were discussed routinely in our home. Students were to use the issues materials to defend their choice for candidates in front of the entire class. Children who supported McCain were teased by other children.

My young daughter wrote in her journal to her teacher that she felt the assignment was wrong, because we live in the United States, where we are free to vote for who we think is best, and to have our choice be private. Her remarks did not get her dismissed from the assignment, and when she got in front of the class, she said she supported Obama because she didn't want to get teased. At home, she said that if abortion had been on the issues materials, she would have spoken in favor of McCain, because she feels abortion is wrong, but that the students were instructed to only use the materials provided.

Our oldest daughter played varsity soccer for four years, and at her last home game, the high school's Spanish teacher walked through the stands, handing out "Latinos for Obama" yard signs to students - at a school-sanctioned event.

So when people say that there is no attempt on the president's or the schools' part to indoctrinate my children, I beg to differ.

My sophomore son was the only one who did not participate when his teacher chose to show the president's address to school children. Parents were not notified that the address may be shown and the school district did not provide an advance copy of the suggested teaching materials sent by the Department of Education (co-crafted by the White House). In fact, many parents in our district were only made aware of the "teaching materials" by reading my blog and Facebook posts.

Our area's daily paper reported that "one parent" (presumably me, judging by the time of the article) expressed concern over her children taking part in the planned activities. However, when I called the superintendent of our school, he advised me that at least one other parent had already called to withdraw a student from any planned activities.

Interestingly, our superintendent had not reviewed the suggested materials sent by the Department of Education, as the department sent them directly to school principals, bypassing superintendents. Oversight or calculation?

Our school district, like most, did not provide advance notice of the possible curriculum surrounding the president's speech, deeming it part of a regular curriculum that did not require parental approval.

I beg to differ. When my child will be asked to explain HOW the president inspires him, rather than IF, that's indoctrination. When my child will be asked to answer the question, "Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?" rather than, "Why is education important?" that's indoctrination.

Parents, make a dedicated investment in your children's education. Find out what they are learning in their classrooms. Teach them your own values at home, and give them the self-confidence to hold fast to what they truly believe is right and just, not what will make them popular or get them a good grade.

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