September 25 2009
What Are We Teaching at Public Schools?
Carrie L. Lukas
Drudge, and now much of the blogosphere, has linked to this video showing little kids at a public school being taught a song in praise of our dear President. Conservatives are rightly outraged -- this is America, after all, and our government-run public schools aren't supposed to be used for political purposes.
Of course, as we all know, they often are: teachers tend to be liberal and things like "climate change" slip into the curriculum as psuedo-science, and social studies programs are used to drill in lessons that support the idea of growing government as a good thing.
This is another example of why we need school choice. It's almost inevitable that politics seeps into lesson plans which is why parents should have some say over where their kids go to school and what kind of messages they hear. It's strange that liberals, who get so incensed over the idea of abstinance education or creationism being included in schools, don't get it that this is the inevitable problem with having government in charge of such decisions and one-size-fits-all public schools.
But back to the pro-Obama song video. It is amazing how coverage of this focuses on conservative reaction to the event, and not on the blatantly obvious fact that this was wildly inappropriate. Take this story at "CBS News." The reporter included the basic facts, the song was taught at a public school and continued:
The video was posted at the conservative Drudge Report and reported by Fox, prompting hundreds of comments from readers such as this one: "These thugs need to be shut down! This is absurde [sic] that this is happening today in our schools. People need to rise up and crush this socializing and indoctrination of our kids."
So hundreds of comments have been posted, and the reporter decided to choose one poorly written, over-the-top example to include in his five paragraph story. The reporter also mentions how some conservatives protested when President Obama was to speak to public school students, mentioning, as a side note, that there had also been a lesson plan encouraging students to think about how to help President Obama, which was scraped.
Yet that shouldn't be an after thought -- that was the central reason conservatives questioned the President making that speech. Conservatives weren't crazy to think that the White House was viewing the speech to students as a political opportunity. The Administration explicitly tried to link the speech to enlisting kids to help their cause. And now we see with the latest NEA scandal, that indeed the White House was working with the National Endowment for Arts to encourage artists to support the Administration policy efforts. Of course, that wasn't a condition of or related to getting a grant, the NEA insists.
But come on. Seriously. The appearance of this kind of misuse of the public infrastructure is supposed to be a big deal. And it becomes tiresome to say this (as I know Rush Limbaugh often does), but imagine, just imagine, if the Bush Administration had tried anything like this. If Bush's NEA had been asking for support of Social Security reform or had been designing lesson plans to ask students how they can help Bush's agenda, there would have been relentless headlines in the Washington Post and the New York Times. And that would have been just. Government isn't supposed to work like this. Not in America at least.