About this post? Major edit. My two older children attend a charter school in Broward County which apparently, despite the blanket decision made by the county school superintendent (which contained no opt-out order, though who knows whether that applies to charter schools…) decided NOT to air the president’s stay in school message today. To put it mildly, I am not amused. I have a call in to the principal and will definitely be at the PTSO meeting tonight. Any other Somerset Academy parents out there? Holla at your girl.
We parents were given NO notice that the school was making this decision, in contravention of the District. I called the office and was told that the school “got some complaints” from right wing parents, and the school apparently gave in to the ignorant partisanship of the few, without even bothering to check with the many. Broward County is a majority Democratic county — one of the most Democratic leaning municipalities in the country, and voted overwhelmingly for President Obama last November. But that’s not even the point. The fact that the school I pay for, not just with property taxes, but through the nose with more school fees than you can possibly imagine, has allowed a few right wing extremist, weak, scared puppy parents to dictate to the rest of us.
UPDATE: I just spoke with the principal of the school, a very nice gentleman, who explained that charter schools were given a separate instruction from the district, and more lattitude to decide what to do about the speech. Mr. Montero, the principal, said his office instructed the teachers to play the speech, and to inform parents that they planned to do so, and to give parents the opportunity to opt THEIR children out, in writing. Well, that didn’t happen. These two teachers (my son’s and daughter’s) opted ALL of the kids out. Out of order. I’m emailing my objections to them now, and will pursue this even to the extent of yanking my kids out of their classes if I have to. After all, who knows what right wing Republican messages they’re indoctrinating my kids with in class?
UPDATE 2: So I attended the PTSO meeting (like the PTA) for Somerset tonight and while I didn’t have my Norma Desmond moment and wig out, I did have a second talk with the principal at the start of the meeting. He again apologized for the speech not airing, and insisted that the reason wasn’t political — but rather because charter schools got different guidance than regular Broward County public schools on Friday, and that teachers were confused by it. He also said that he sent out a second email this afternoon, requesting all teachers to show the speech, and “incorporate it into their lesson plans,” saying it would likely air during history, civics or related classes, on a class-by-class basis. For now, conditionally, I’m going to wait to see if that happens. The worst thing about this situation is that the drive to ban the speech from schools began with a political operative: Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer, whose job is to elect and re-elect Republicans, not to be an independent arbiter of educational standards or content. The fact that parents were channeling Greer — a blatantly political act — makes any entertaining of their opinions by this or any school outrageous.
I’ll give it until the end of the week, although tomorrow, I’ll get a chance to address the issue with one of the two teachers at high school open house. Meanwhile, I just read an email from one of the two teachers involved, responding to my email (which is printed below.) She also expressed confusion over the guidelines, insisting that the decision was not political on her part, and that she supported showing the speech. We’ll see. This one’s still developing…
My email to the teachers and principal:
From: Joy-Ann Reid [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 4:18 PM
To: XXXX, XXXX
Cc: XXXXX (principal)
Subject: Why was the president’s address not shown in my children’s classes?
Ms. XXX and Ms. XXX -
I am writing out of grave concern over an apparently political decision that was made on behalf of my middle and high school students today in your classes. Neither of my children, who have you as their fifth grade teachers, respectively, was permitted to view the president’s “stay in school” speech today, despite the fact that the principal has confirmed that teachers were asked to show the speech, allowing parents who objected to opt their children out. Unfortunately, it seems that my children — and in fact all of the children in these classes, and who knows how many more at Somerset Academy — were opted out by their teachers, with no communication with their parents. Certainly, I was not notified that this blatantly political decision was being made on behalf of my kids, and I was not given an opportunity to object.
I recently attended middle school open house, and was encouraged to communicate with my childrens’ teachers by email. In turn, you have my email address, as supplied in the mountains of paperwork I filled out at the beginning of the school term. And yet, while I get regular emails from Somerset announcing the latest cookie sale fundraiser, I received no word from the school, or from either of you, announcing your decision to not air the speech.
Political partisanship has no place in the classroom, and as a parent who made the affirmative decision to move my children to Somerset from their mandated public schools, I find it ironic that had I left them at Glades Middle and West Broward High, they would have been able to hear the speech (as their younger brother who attends a non-charter elementary school did), and I’m sure would have emerged completely unscathed by the experience. The appropriate course, and apparently, the course outlined by your own administration, would have been to allow any parents who had a problem with having the president of the United States exhort their kids to stay in school, work hard, and do their homework, to remove THEIR kids from the classroom, rather than imposing their nakedly partisan, political views (or the teacher’s — which would be even more troubling –) on the entire class.
How utterly shocking and disappointing, and what a welcome to Somerset Academy.
Middle and High School parent
Again, this one’s developing…