Things That Make My Blood Boil

Img119 Jonah's superintendent wouldn't show the president's national address to students today. Apparently, he thinks that parents are stupid enough to buy his lame excuses about schedule conflicts and all that. The kids watched the inauguration without any difficulties. It's clear that he was worried that the president might sway the young minds with his talk of socialized medicine and other commie ideas, because he made sure to note that the president's speech would be edited before it was shown at some appropriate date (never).

44 thoughts on “Things That Make My Blood Boil

  1. “It’s clear that he was worried that the president might sway the young minds with his talk of socialized medicine and other commie ideas, because he made sure to note that the president’s speech would be edited before it was shown at some appropriate date…”
    Have you checked the sup’s voter registration? Odds are he’s a fellow Democrat, just a chicken-livered one. That’s a good thing for you, really–it shows that he’s easy to push around with a few strategic phone calls.
    I just asked C what she remembered from Obama’s speech (they saw it at school). What she remembered was the bit about Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript being rejected 12 times before she finally found a publisher.

  2. I’m guessing that more people with a manuscript rejected 12 times, get rejected 13 times than get published. Not that I plan on telling that to children.

  3. Our super also declined to allow teachers to show the speech. I sent her an angry e-mail on Thursday and then another Monday after the text was released asking her to reconsider. She didn’t.
    My blood has been boiling, too.

  4. We haven’t started school yet, thus avoiding the “issue.” I think this is bizarre, especially if the text was already released.

  5. Maybe the superintendent was afraid that Scott Ott was right: “A draft copy of President Barack Obama’s planned September 8 address to America’s public school children, tells students that “If you want to grow up to be like me, you should beg your parents to put you in private school, right now.””

  6. I just talked to the principal. She said that the superintendent chose not to show it, because a bunch of Republican parents called him up and yelled. The school is going to show it to the kids on Friday, but the Republican parents are removing their kids from the classroom. Insane.

  7. I’ve been fighting with the local Glenn-Beckians on a discussion board for my town about this. What I want to know is how many parents have to call in order for the Superintendent to act. I need to know what that tipping point for future reference so I can get anything *I* want just by getting the right number of people to scream.
    I also am considering attending the next School Committee meeting and asking for a complete list of all planned speakers at the school. I need to ensure that their political views match my own before I allow them to speak to my children.
    These superintendents seem to have acted without thinking about the implications of their actions.

  8. Amelia watched it, since she’s 2 and really politically aware. We can say “Who’s the president?” “Obama” and then “Who’s the V.P.?” “Bi’en.”
    After yesterday, though, we’ve adjusted our typical questions with “who’s a godless commie whose life experiences are worthless drivel, full of dangerous propaganda, and generally not worthy of respect?” “Obama.” She’ll do great in Jonah’s school, Laura.

  9. I need to know what that tipping point for future reference so I can get anything *I* want just by getting the right number of people to scream.
    It depends on what you are screaming for. Not doing something is generally less work than doing something, so it takes fewer screamers.

  10. “Not doing something is generally less work than doing something, so it takes fewer screamers.”
    That’s right. And note what a happy balance Laura’s school achieved: the parents that want their kids to skip the speech can be happy, and the parents that want their kids to listen can be happy, too. Win-win. I’m not sure what the problem is here.
    Think about what kind of society would make listening to a presidential speech mandatory, and count your blessings.

  11. Full disclosure: With one excpetion, I have never once watched more than two minutes of any politician’s speech in my entire life. The exception was Clinton’s speech accepting the nomination in 1993. I was trapped with mom and dad in a hotel and dad insisted.

  12. Wendy,
    Is that an argument for, or against? Because it’s usually been an argument against doing things like organized prayer that those who disagree with can opt out of (since it potentially creates an uncomfortable situation for the abstainer).

  13. Prayer/religious observance is different from a speech by the democratically elected leader of our country. As members of a democracy, we all share the same president. Students do not share the same religion.
    MH, that’s interesting! I like to use politicians’ speeches for analysis of rhetorical appeals. The 2004 DNC and RNC were especially interesting. Schwarzenegger used an appeal to ethos; Giuliani seemed to use a logos appeal but was really 9/11 plus verb (pathos appeal). Obama was about 99% pathos appeal.

  14. I guess I was trying to say that it is pointless whether you have the kids listen or not. Back when I was doing political science, I did some content analysis of leaders’ speech, but never their speeches per se. Unscripted responses to interviewer questions and the like were preferred. I do read about speeches after they are done. Much quicker.
    (This morning I just had my strongest ever affective response to an education issue. My view, “I don’t care how big of a hurry you are in, you are not double-parking so that you block one entire lane of a very narrow street when everybody is trying to get their kid in and I’m trying to get to work. You’re right at the corner, you ass.” I didn’t give a speech, though I did honking and gesture as vividly as I dared in a crowd of kids and parents.)

  15. “Prayer/religious observance is different from a speech by the democratically elected leader of our country. As members of a democracy, we all share the same president. Students do not share the same religion.”
    So if a majority democratically voted for religious observance in school, we should do that? And furthermore, if some of the families wanted to opt out, we shouldn’t let them?
    The public schools aren’t a suicide pact or the Hotel California. If parents exercise their judgment and decide that it is not in the best interests of their children to participant in some activity, there has to be some flexibility on the part of the public school administration. Surely you can see this is in everybody’s interest if the school administration pays attention to parental concerns, even if those concerns are unfounded. What’s the worst thing that will happen to the kids? They miss a speech. Big deal. It’s far more damaging for children to learn to expect that the powers that be are going to run rough-shod over their families.

  16. It’s far more damaging for children to learn to expect that the powers that be are going to run rough-shod over their families.
    For us, the rough-shod-running is coming from the IRS (we sent you a reply, twice) and the FDIC (when your bank goes under, your deposits are security, not your sanity).

  17. “So if a majority democratically voted for religious observance in school, we should do that?”
    That has nothing to do with what I said. We all have the same president. We do not all have the same religion. The constitution says we all have the same president. It also says we all have the right to follow different religions.
    “And furthermore, if some of the families wanted to opt out, we shouldn’t let them?”
    Sure they can. I am also thinking I will have my gifted, high-performing children opt out of MCAS (state-wide testing).

  18. Wendy, just out of curiosity, is that the type of test that is used to make the administration look good or bad? If yes, I have a windmill that needs tilted at.

  19. The above was kind of harsh. Sorry. I do deeply admire screwing with school administrators. But I seem to recall you have already had one fight in the very recent past. Despite whatever the law says, human nature is what it is and nobody has ever completed paperwork so accurately that some bureaucrat can’t make your life very difficult.

  20. MH, the threat of making my life difficult is a feature, not a bug. I would get even more pleasure out of stomping on someone who retaliated for personal reasons rather than confront the principles at stake.šŸ™‚
    Amy, I would absolutely not support the schools refusing to show the president’s speech. I would say Ugh but I wouldn’t support the refusal to show it.

  21. To clarify, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m into ass-kicking for the pleasure of it. I think schools are places that should promote learning, not playgrounds for people to exercise their paranoid fantasies and personal grudges.

  22. I just really enjoyed baiting the principal back when I was in school. The easiest way to do that was to support the Contras. (The fact that I had near daily interaction with her that did not require any effort on my part makes me realize how dedicated she was, so I do feel a bit bad at times.)

  23. “Amy, I would absolutely not support the schools refusing to show the president’s speech. I would say Ugh but I wouldn’t support the refusal to show it.”
    But would you allow families to opt out, or would you insist that everybody sit through it?

  24. Parents can take their kids out of school for any reason they like. I can’t stop them. Neither can the principal of the school. The only thing a school can do is enforce a number of days of attendance.

  25. What Wendy said. You can take your kid out of school for a day for whatever reason up to and until it triggers an attendance issue. The only thing I know that the local district has a policy about is that if you take your kid on a vacation during the school year, the teachers aren’t supposed to provide make-up work as they will if a child is sick.
    So if you want to keep your kid from getting nasty cooties from the President’s crazy radical message about staying in school and working hard, fine, go ahead, who fucking cares. That’s no different than a parent who takes their kid out for a day because they’re all going to Disney World or whatever, that’s your business.
    If you want to trumpet that decision to the hills and think that this bit of paranoia is something that people ought to engage with or that it ought to actually affect whether or not a school district chooses to show the speech to the kids who don’t have crazy parents? That’s another matter.

  26. TB,
    There is a grand old bipartisan tradition of freaking out over presidential talks to schoolkids. Byron York had a nice little piece on what happened in 1991 when GHWB gave a similar talk to US schoolkids. Basically, all hell broke loose in Congress–hearings, investigations, and various inquisitions.
    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html
    I personally suspect that the long-term academic effect of this sort of thing is very close to zero, especially considering the diverse ages and home backgrounds of children. What did a middle class child get out of this that they don’t get at home? Even with more disadvantaged children, I bet you could get equivalent or better results by showing an similar-sized segment of Schoolhouse Rock, Electric Company, or one of the Leapfrog videos, depending on kid age.

  27. Amy, I think the problem with Bush’s speech in 1991 wasn’t that he gave one but how it was handled: “Unlike most presidential addresses, such as last Friday’s arms control speech from the Oval Office, yesterday’s was handled not by the television networks but by a private firm paid by the U.S. Department of Education, administration officials said. The White House selected the camera angles and decided which pictures would be sent out, officials said.” Also, “Administration officials said they hired WETACOM Inc., WETA-TV’s production company, to handle television coverage after the networks said they would not produce it.
    CNN bureau chief Bill Headline, the temporary coordinator for all the networks covering the White House, denied that. “They made some queries, but they never made a formal request,” he said. “My distinct belief is that the White House realized they wouldn’t get a fancy production out of it” if the networks had handled it.”
    (From the original WaPo article.)

  28. Well religion *is* different from other speech, because of the establishment clause. There is no particular protection against government indoctrination against, say, drugs. But the constitution protects minority religious viewpoints from both being suppressed, and opposes the imposition of majority religious viewpoints.
    I, for one, wouldn’t imagine withdrawing my child from a class because a president was speaking, even George Bush, who I believe allowed Americans to torture under his watch ( a high sin in my book).

  29. bj,
    I don’t think religion is at all a watertight category, even with regard to drugs. Consider the Rastafarians or practitioners of Native American rituals involving peyote, for instance. Religion doesn’t fit neatly into a box. It bleeds into and colors other categories (like politics, ethics, education, art, literature, architecture or music).
    Parents who object to the Obama school speech may in fact be be doing so in part because they are offended by what they see as quasi-religious elements of the Obama phenomenon.

  30. “Parents who object to the Obama school speech may in fact be be doing so in part because they are offended by what they see as quasi-religious elements of the Obama phenomenon. ”
    In related news, I happened to be looking up the word “reaching” in the dictionary, and I found this sentence.šŸ˜‰

  31. Wendy,
    Take it from a horse’s mouth–if one isn’t enthralled with Obama, the Obama phenomenon does come across as profoundly creepy. And the quasi-religious aspects (the fainting women, the halo that appeared behind Obama’s head in press photos, the preacherly intonations, etc.) have been noted for approximately the past year and a half.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-5R5-PBzqc (That’s the Building a Religion video)

  32. Fascinating rhetorical simulation of an octopus spewing ink clouds to cover an escape.
    “Some parents are just enforcing the establishment clause by withdrawing children from public schools because the state IS religion [only when the wrong person is President], and they’re angry because they want to have access to those, um, state-run schools, just without them being associated with the state [when the wrong person is President]…but don’t worry, the state wouldn’t be a religion any more if the right person were President, say someone who brings Christianity *into* state institutions.”

  33. Amy, see this.
    My dad was in Alaska the summer of 2004 and all revved up on politics. He couldn’t believe the woman who ran the B&B he was staying in. The only reason she could give for voting for Bush was that he was a Christian.
    Or, what Tim said.

  34. True, MH. I think a lot of pro-life Catholics have sold their souls to the GOP over the abortion issue when there is actually a strong social justice aspect to Catholicism that now gets overlooked.

  35. Limiting this solely to the political arena, there are alternatives for other social justice issues (Congress, state government, local government). On abortion (policy-wise), it pretty much comes down to how you vote for president (excepting a few senators). That’s why I voted McCain (instead not voting).

  36. “I think a lot of pro-life Catholics have sold their souls to the GOP over the abortion issue when there is actually a strong social justice aspect to Catholicism that now gets overlooked.”
    Until the social justice voter is already giving at least a tenth of their income to support charitable causes, I think that dipping into other people’s pockets is premature. (As P.J. O’Rourke says in a somewhat different context, you can take 10% off of anything without hurting it.)

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