The screening of the now-infamous "I Pledge" video at Eagle Bay Elementary School in Farmington, Utah, described in this previous post, unleashed a firestorm of controversy along the Wasatch Front. The original KSL story attracted 777 comments, and an accompanying poll of 4,684 respondents showed that 63 percent disapproved of the video being shown to kids. The controversy became so great that the school's principal, Ofelia Wade, felt it necessary to issue an apology for the showing. KSL video embedded below:
Showing the video was actually the brainchild of Jennifer Maxwell, who is Eagle Bay Elementary's PTA President. She first saw the video on the Oprah Winfrey show and thought it would be perfect to introduce the school year's theme of service. She and other PTA members viewed it before making the decision. She said there was no political agenda intended, and is reportedly "brokenhearted" over the backlash.
But Ofelia Wade's apology has not silenced the backlash. A proposed Presidential address by Barack Obama, to be delivered directly to schoolchildren nationwide on September 8th, continues to fan the embers. According to the Deseret News, a number of local parents intend to boycott it by holding their kids out of school on that day. One father, Michael Roloff of Vernal, who has four children in the Uintah School District, says he will pull his kids out of school rather than have them watch the Obama broadcast. "We will go on a picnic and read the Constitution — learn something useful," Roloff said. And this has actually gone national; on his radio program, Glenn Beck heartily endorsed what is now being called a Parentally Approved Skip School (PASS) day. Audio, which was found on Political Buzz Examiner, embedded below:
As a matter of fact, a proposed model absence excuse has been posted on Free Republic for parents to use:
Absence Excuse Suggestion:
To Whom it May Concern:
When it comes to teaching my child about personal responsibility and life goals, I have determined that I am a far better teacher of those objectives than a President who has chosen to surround himself with known anarchists and terrorists.
Therefore, (insert child's name) will be at home on Sept 8th in order not to be corrupted by the propaganda that will be shown in his class room.
School districts are varying their approach to this issue. In Utah, the Granite, Jordan, Salt Lake City and Davis districts are sending letters to principals saying that if they plan to broadcast the speech, they should warn parents and provide alternate activities for students who don't want to watch it. Canyons is sending home letters to parents today along with waivers they can sign if they don't want their children to watch the speech. The Uintah School District plans to leave the decision in the hands of principals and teachers.
So what's so troublesome about Obama's speech? The agenda has actually been posted on the Department of Education website. According to the fact sheet, Obama's 20-minute speech will focus on persisting and succeeding in school. Obama will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. Suggested classroom activities have also been compiled (K-6 HERE, 7-12 HERE)
That doesn't sound very troublesome to me. In fact, that's the type of guidance provided to me by my parents, extended family, teachers, and bishops when I was growing up. It seems like it's more sound advice rather than a "socialist plot".
Here's a more mature way of dealing with Obama's speech. On Free Republic was posted the following: “Instead of keeping the kids at home parents should go to school WITH their children and make sure that the indoctrination doesn’t happen. That is exactly what I will be doing. I’ll sit in my child’s classroom during the address and any discussion and I will be prepared with facts and information to better inform the teacher and students as needed. Why run away when you can meet this head on. I’ll correct all of the misinformation given during the address and I’ll reach more than just my kid, I’ll reach the whole class. Bring it on.”
While not many parents will be in a position to visit their child's classroom because of work obligations, it would only take a few to keep things on the straight and narrow. There is a clear-cut difference between a video filled with trashy Hollywood celebrities engaging in Obama-worship and an actual Presidential speech. Barack Obama will not be speaking to these students as a partisan candidate, but as President of the United States. Do parents lack such confidence in their abilities that they won't risk their kids hearing what Obama has to say? We don't help our kids become effective adults by "airlifting them over the Valley of the Shadow", but by "walking with them through the Valley of the Shadow".