I tend to shy away from commenting on things happening in my own town because, as a journalist, I’m not supposed to have a public opinion. However, an issue has recently erupted that I cannot ignore on this blog or otherwise.
Several parents in the school district I regularly report on for the newspaper are up in arms today, but it’s not because of banned books or inappropriate teacher relations or even student misbehavior. Rather, it’s because the school district made a decision to air a national address from President Barack Obama this upcoming Tuesday; a speech that plans to discuss student achievement, working hard, staying in school and the student’s responsibility for his or her own learning.
He’s not ranting about health care or the war in Iraq. He’s not challenging children to think about adult problems such as unemployment or the economic crisis. He’s talking about education, something that daily affects every child in the nation. Yet some parents have complained to the school district about its decision to broadcast this national address for all students in grades three through 12.
And because of those few parents, the district has decided to allow all parents to choose whether or not their children watch the President’s remarks.
Now, let me start by saying I understand the school district’s cooperation with these parents in providing that option since so many parents seem perturbed about this broadcast. It’s the parents – the ones across the country who are furious about this school presidential address – I have an issue with.
While I have little to no idea why these parents have so uproariously refused to allow their children to watch Obama’s statements, I can only assume that it’s ignorance causing and creating their judgment. Perhaps these parents voted for John McCain in November and remain bitter that their candidate lost the election. Or maybe it’s because this is still the south and despite all hopes for equality, a rift – to some extent – remains between blacks and whites when it comes to personal perception. Or it could even be that these particular parents have something against Obama’s religion. But whatever the reason – and I assume it’s the first – this is a man discussing education and its importance, and yet ignorance prevails to the point where these innocent children miss out.
This is the President of the United States and regardless of someone’s personal opinions regarding his political party, his race, his religion, etc., we as a country need to come together and support him as our leader. That office commands respect. How many of us, after all, weren’t proponents of George W. Bush, but would have never in our wildest dreams thought of disregarding his position as commander in chief so callously? It’s one thing to catch a bit of flack from your critics for whatever reason. It’s quite another to defiantly challenge the president’s authority and standing in this nation.
And to make matters worse, the same kind of complacent ignorance is being taught to their children through these actions. As a person whose political opinions greatly differ those of my parents, being allowed to formulate my own stance without the pressure and coercion of my parents truly helped shape who I am as an adult. Imagine all these kids, forced to sit in another room as the majority of their fellow students watch this address. How much are they losing by this seclusion, by this blatant disregard for our president’s statements concerning education? These kids aren’t being taught to think for themselves; they’re being taught to mimic their parents and follow in the same footsteps as those before them.
It’s disheartening, to say the least.
I feel sorry for these children who won’t get to listen to their president this Tuesday. I truly do. And I’m equally appalled by their parents actions regarding this particular address. It’s a complete shame that ignorance has triumphed and caused a certain course of action by the school district to handle these individuals’ views on something as simple as a speech on education.
I vow this very moment to never, ever be this kind of parent. My future children deserve better.
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