Before I get all heavy and serious and depressing, go visit my other site for a nifty giveaway. I promise, this post will still be here when you get back.
I’d told myself that I wasn’t going to post about this. It’s a week past the speech (yep, you all know the topic now, don’t you?), but it just keeps on with a life of its own in our district.
It started out two weeks ago yesterday when I went to our presidents’ council meeting where the PTO presidents across the district get together twice a month. The superintendent told us about the speech and that he’d been getting angry emails from parents since the night before wanting to know why he was mandating that all students in the district watch the speech. Considering that he hadn’t known there was a speech and had to google it to find out what the parents were talking about, in his own words, “I hadn’t even known about it yet to mandate it.” That didn’t stop the parents in our district from freaking out.
The decision the superintendent did make, once he had all the information, was that it would be a teacher by teacher decision whether or not to show it, and if parents didn’t want their students to see it, they could go elsewhere to study during that time.
Personally, I think the parents who were pulling out of school all day (and there were several) went overboard. The message wasn’t a bad one, and I wouldn’t be opposed to either of the wee ones hearing it (neither did, FYI). However, if I were the parent of a high school student whose — say — math teacher decided to show it for that math period, I’d be upset because my student now lost a day of teaching that the other identical math classes didn’t for something that wasn’t related to the class that my child easily could have seen later online at home.
I think my district made the right choice in leaving the decision to the teachers, as they’re the ones who need to decide if and how it fits with their lesson plans. The key being their lesson plans.
However, last Thursday a memo went out to all the teachers in the district. If they wanted to show the speech again, they had to get signed permission slips from all the parents in the class to show it. In other words, I’m a speech teacher or a civics teacher or whathaveyou and want to tie it into my lesson plan because of the history of it or to analyze the oratory skills, and I now need the parents’ approval of my decision to show it in the classes that didn’t have me as their teacher during the original broadcast.
If I have a legitimate reason to reshow the speech, then I have a legitimate reason to reshow the speech, and it isn’t about politics.
How soon before we have to get permission slips to start watching other potentially politically charged — but valid teaching tool — speeches and moments in history. Do we decide that the Clinton impeachment hearings now need a permission slip, too? The way that the memo to teachers is worded, yes, they do.
And that means that maybe the Challenger explosion, Reagan getting shot, JFK getting shot, MLK’s I Have A Dream speech and more — they all need the blessing of every parent in the classroom now in order to be shown.
Yes, we had some vocal parents. But why are they now deciding how teachers preside over their classrooms? And how quickly does the administration realize what they’ve given away?
Sometimes it’s about trust. It’s about knowing that you’ve taught your child well and that your teacher is going to teach your child well. It’s about knowing that you have a critical thinker who can analyze anything they see and draw their own conclusions about it. I wrote awhile ago about helicopter parents, and this? This really scares me.