Giving Obama’s Healthcare the Finger, Literally

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you, here’s the video from the recent incident where the Obama supporter bit off the finger of a gentleman who opposes the Obama healthcare takeover.

State Superintendent Tom Horne: Critical of Worshipful Tone

The Office of Tom Horne, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, has released the following statement regarding President Obama’s speech to students next Tuesday:

HORNE CRITICAL OF WORSHIPFUL TONE EXPECTED OF SCHOOL CHILDREN LISTENING TO OBAMA’S SPEECH
PHOENIX

(Thursday, September 3, 2009) — State School Superintendent Tom Horne has raised questions about a White House effort to have students in schools watch a speech on the web, and react to it according to a curriculum provided by the White House. A copy of the White House communication is attached to this press release.

Horne stated: “An important part of educating students is to teach them to read and listen critically. The White House materials call for a worshipful, rather than critical approach to this speech. For example, the White House communication calls for the students to have “notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on the board),” and for the students to discuss “How will he inspire us,” among other things. There is nothing in these White House materials about approaching the speech critically, or engaging in any critical thinking whatsoever, but only adopting a reverent approach to everything they are being told.”

Horne added: “In general, in keeping with good education practice, students should be taught to read and think critically about statements coming from politicians and historical figures.”

Obama Speech Pre K-6 Guidelines
Obama Speech 7-12 Guidelines

You can also follow the Arizona Department of Education on Facebook and Twitter.

The Federal Classroom 101: To Sir Obama With Love…

Parents are being encouraged by many conservative media and blog outlets to keep children home and not participate in President Obama’s public school classroom address, Tuesday, September 8, 2009.  Parents are also being told by liberal media and blog outlets that this is a traditional concept of a Presidential address to children, and the message is ‘apolitical’. As a social studies teacher who has actively participated in direct addresses from Presidents before, I can attest to this fact- this pending speech is different.  The Department of Education’s distribution of detailed lesson plans is unique.  The Obama Administration sponsoring a contest for children is unusual based on the lesson plan provided. It concerns me more as an infringement of state’s rights and local school district say about curricula.

School districts across the country are debating how to use the material, the address, and ways to inform the public regarding the information.  No one can tell parents what to do or how state school districts can use the materials.  I am awaiting my school district’s decision and I am attending the classroom to hear the process and see the interaction.  I am also going to ask for all materials distributed. I am not keeping my son out of school.

The language of the lesson has already been altered and the speech has been changed (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/09/03/white-house-withdraws-students-help-obama/). There will be no request of students to write or discuss how each child can help President Obama.  BUT,there is still the anticipatory sets and thought provoking, Socratic questioning of “What is President Obama asking of me?” 

Fox News and the Washington Times have each raised questions as to the legality of federally distributed lesson plans to state and local schools; is this truly appropriate?  Having read all of the material provided by the White House on this, I see that the lesson encourages and offers options.  It does not mandate what to do. 

But there is the reality and actual legal stance of authority.  Any teacher or coach must be conscious of being an expert authority.  If any of us TELLS a student to do something, including implied direction, it is an act with an objective.  We are perceived as authoritative figures: student must defer to us or face reprimand.  There in no greater authority in the country of respecting American children than the President of the United States.  What he says or encourages is guidance and will be perceived as a directive.

I submit, this is a very slippery slope.  Curricula that does NOT go through a school board review, with community viewing is odd.  What if Superintendent of Public Instruction for Arizona, Tom Horne, set forth a mandated lesson on capitalism and its benefits (something already in most economic curricula). Or what if Sarah Palin, when Governor,  had offered a mandated curriculum to Alaskan children about how drilling off shore oil could be a good thing?

I am also deeply concerned that the aspect of a contest for children, a video presentation of personal success, will have a great deal of political undertone. One cannot enter a contest of this ilk without feeling a need to pander to the partisan views of this President. If anything, I encourage all conservative families to submit a video of how capitalism is a core value, how we serve the United States Constitution not a person in this country, and how small business is a foundational building block of capitalism. Do not duck and hide, but participate fully and within the parameters.  Just as many “turned themselves in” to the fishy website, I feel we can help clarify how families feel by helping our kids by defining our individual family values. 

Finally, there is the reality of the teaching itself.  It is not appropriate for any teacher to bring in a slanted political view. This was hammered in our heads during my college education classes for social studies training. Yet I do not hear it all today.  Whether a conservative grumbling about Ted Kennedy, or a President of the United States’ subtle encouragement to join state and federally run volunteer forces: It is ALL slanted and bordering on propaganda

So I will go watch and learn. I will also be asking friends to to attend and listen for ANY infringement of local authority, or inappropriate use of the public education system.  If I get any sense that the public classroom and tax dollar is being used for a political hijack of my son’s values and beliefs, there will be a BIG inconvenient truth called a law suit! I have a few thousand friends who will help me file it too.