Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Indoctrinating Our Children

Dear Principal Smith;

I'm writing with a certain amount of trepedition, because we are slightly concerned that this letter may have a negative impact on our daughter, Letitia, who is in Ms. Johnson's class. I ask that you keep our identity secret, if possible. We don't wish Ms. Johnson any ill, and don't want Letitia to face any kind of complications.

However, as we were driving along after school yesterday, I brought up the entire Bush/wiretapping incident that is currently going on. Much to my surprise, she already knew about it, because Ms. Johnson had the class analyze a political cartoon concerning it. Then Ms. Johnson treated the class to her own opinion about the matter, which is that Bush did something illegal and unconstitutional.

I happen to agree with Ms. Johnson! But that isn't the point.

The point is that I am more than happy to have Ms. Johnson educate my child on world and national issues. But she is not entitled to tell her how to think about them.

My daughter already had the preconceived notion that Bush was doing wrong. It happens to be the same thing that *I* believe. But, what if she had been told otherwise?

Our teachers don't have the right to tell our children what to think when it comes to anything that isn't factual. They are there to present the facts alone. It would have been much more fair if she'd said "Some people say this, while others say that" and let the children draw their own conclusions.

Is this a common practice in your school? I would be interested in your thoughts on this matter. At what point do you draw the line when it comes to having your own personal opinion? Politics? Religion? They're not that far apart, especially when it comes to certain gray areas.

If you'd like to recommend further reading to Ms. Johnson about the Bush/wiretapping incident, I highly recommend this editorial in the St. Pete Times today. It's a very balanced reading of the situation, and I agree with what he says. Please note that I am NOT saying that Ms. Johnson merely needs to be more informed on the topic. I'm saying that it is not her business to impose her opinions on our children. Period.

Dr. Saur Kraut

Principal Smith wrote back assuring me that she was in complete agreement and would follow-up with me once she'd tackled the teacher on this. I have yet to hear a peep out of Principal Smith.


TSB said...

More parents need to know what is happening at school. I once had to visit the prinicpal of my childrens grade school when the kids informed me that they were required to attend "family meetings" at school. The explanation being that school mates and teachers were more their family, since they spent more time at school than at home. Believe me I made enough of a stink that those meetings ended rather abruptly. Is there no end to the liberal teachers who believe that it is their place to impose their nonsense on our children. I sometimes wish I had home schooled. I did use those occassions to teach my children what I believed was right, the public school system has an obligation to teach, in an unbiased manner. Period. Stop.

Saur♥Kraut said...

TSB, what did those 'family meetings' consist of?

michelle said...

Good golley, my son goes to the same school. So far so good, but we are in kindergarten. As he gets older you will have to let me know what you know about the teacher's he is assigned. I like the idea of the assignment, too bad she had to say, "And 'I' think this..." I am definately looks at other options for education for my son. Charter schools and private school. Private will have to wait until 6th grade to be a consideration. If I am lucky enough to have good teachers until 5th grade then we should be ok. Time will tell.

michelle said...

By the way the kids are having a Jumprope for Heart thing this month. Dish out the money Saur. I believe there is a picnic at the school around Feb 24th also.

AP3 said...

rabbit, rabbit!

You make good points. I had a few teachers in elementary school who let their views be known, and sometimes it really bothered me. Most of them were conservative (it's a conservative town) and we Pezes were not. Very uncomfortable.

Some Random Girl said...

Nicely written!

OldHorsetailSnake said...

This reminds me a college experience. Our instructor in Latin American Government was a known supporter of Douglas MacArthur. The day after MacArthur was fired by Truman, we expected to make fun of the prof. But he opened up with a disarming comment: "All I can say is that I am thankful that we have civilians overseeing the military." Pretty nifty, I thought.

Edge said...

As the husband of a teacher, I agree with you and the principal.

On the wiretaping ... well ... we may need to disagree. I'm thinking of a post about it and why.


Three Score and Ten or more said...

You already know from my blog that I disagree with you on the phone intercepts business (There really isn't such a thing as wire tapping in most places anymore), and I think that the times columnist misconstrued the justice department report, but I sure agree with you about the teacher's indoctrinating students. That's one of the reasons I support the liberal point of view on school prayer. I don't think schools or teachrs have any right to deal with any of these opinion issues that are really the parent's right, and obligation. Well structured letter, and I am glad you shared it with us. ( now if you could only convincd word verifaction to be more merciful, I *think* this one is njpxxkhhx, and they all look alike to me.)

Mr. Althouse said...

I have yet to hear a peep out of Principal Smith.

And I don't think you will. Although she says she agrees with, I very much doubt that she does or that she thinks it's a big deal. She may say something to the teacher, but it would be to be careful in only that particular class, not that she has done anything generally wrong.

George Will wrote a colunm in the Jan. 16, 2006 issue of Newsweek about how the "teaching" schools influence teachers. In it he documents that "Many education schools discourage, even disqualify, prospective teachers who lack the correct "disposition," meaning those who do not embrace today's "progressive" political catechism "

Judging from my experience, this is nothing new. When I was either a freshman or sophomore in high school, California was in the midst of the "taxpayers revolt," otherwise know as Proposition 13. This was a state constitutional initiative that dramatically cut property taxes and required a 2/3 majority for all future new taxes and tax increases. In light of our perpetual budget crisis, one may argue the soundness of this law, but there are some interesting observations regarding its inception.

First, cutting taxes is generally and traditionally considered a conservative position. In the classical sense, it is a republican stance. California has been, in its constituency (not in its assembly or senate, due in no small part to gerrymandering - but I digress), a moderate state. The proposition was overwhelmingly approved.

Secondly, this issue was heavily campaigned against by those who are paid by said tax dollars. The teachers union was chief among them. Others included: The police, fire, corrections officers, CalTrans, etc. Of course, the government officials that should have cut taxes long ago were against getting their hands tied in such a way.

The doomsayers were coming out of the woodwork. I remember vividly one day in band class, the instructor rounded us up for a "special" announcement. He explained to us that if prop 13 passed, it would mean and end to band, sports, HIS job along with a host of other negative ramifications. He made it sound rather imminent. He concluded with a plea that we talk to our parents and urge them to vote against prop 13. I should point out that he was a very well liked instructor and his plea did not fall on deaf ears.

My parents are probably a little to the left of your average Californian, but they too were tired of paying through the nose for property taxes. They had in fact already decided to vote for the measure. They were also incensed that an instructor - paid for by their tax dollars - would be able to get up on a political soapbox and campaign to them through their children. In short, they were pissed. I don't know if they ever pursued the issue with the school, but I am in total agreement with you. The teachers are there to teach the facts - nothing more. Their ideology has no place in the classroom.


Jamie Dawn said...

Teach, don't indoctrinate.
Good post!

Ellen said...

This reminds me of a friend who went to Catholic School. The Science Nun was going over points about how there were no major volcano eruptions 50 years prior to that date, and how the children would probably never see one in their lifetime. My friend raised her hand to correct the Nun about tectonic plates, hot spots, and her own gut instinct about volcano eruptions. (She was a science and environmental lover from an early age and had independently studied this.) The Nun screamed back at her that she was incorrect, to shut up and not worry about it.

I agree with you, teachers do not belong on the soapbox about issues. They should be objective to the facts, open-minded to new ideas, while keeping their personal feelings intact. This opens up discussion... and who knows, they might learn something too.

My Dad was a teacher, and he was very good at this. He'd always say: "What makes you think that?"
thereby letting you do all the explaining of your opinion so he could see your side. He may not have agreed personally, but allowed it out, and defended your right to say it. This opened up the discussion table, and many views aired maturely.

Very well written letter, Dr. Saurkraut!

uncle joe said...

I know you will keep us updated if the principal ever peeps.

In other news Okslick has an interesting post today. I'm interested in your opinion....

Jenn said...

I think they will take your letter more seriously since you note that you actually agree with the teacher's point of view.

Monique said...

In my daughter's class at school this year, she and her classmates were not allowed to even talk about Halloween because one in the class didn't celebrate it. Yet at Christmas it was okay for them to learn all about Hannakuh. I'm not at all against that because I want my kids to learn all viewpoints and have an open mind. I just don't see the logic in why it's okay for some agendas to win out over others.

Your letter to the principal was very well composed. I'll be interested to find out if you get a response.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Teachers aren't allowed opinions.

Wipe their minds clean of all imperfections.

This is the future!

Kathleen said...

I agree 100%!

Monique, I was listening to a news report last holiday season and the reporter was interviewing a city official at City Hall. He was explaining that they would not have any signs of the holiday being religious and had canceled a the performance of a church choir that traditionally sang each year. In the background the music coming over the sound system was Felix Navidad! I guess that Spanish Christmas songs are ok. *sigh*

dddragon said...

(first, thx for the rabbit pix link!! Rabbit Rabbit!)

Yes, I agree that teachers should be careful not to sway children. Educate, not indoctrinate!

At my girls' school, a social studies/history teacher has been harassed into quiting because he taught about the various religions of western civilizations. Yet a science teacher manages to frequently inject his political and religious (far conservative right) views during class. Aaargh

Senor Caiman said...

Oh my goodness you're one of those parents. Now all the teachers know. You might want to consider Northside where all the know-it-all ladies with hot bodies send their kids.

Lee Ann said...

Very well said. The same reason we were not ever allowed to learn about Evolution!

Badoozie said...

i don't mean to be the wet blanket, but i doubt that anything is done. i've heard from numerous people, that it is very hard to chastize a teacher, or get them to change their ways. there are some awesome teachers out there, but there are bad apples. and its hard to get rid of them, because of the strong teachers union.

i had my son in a private school, it was SDA, because there wasn't that much to choose from. K,1,2, great teachaers. did not indoctrinate. 2 moved away mid year, and next 2 came in. she was judgmental, and very opinionated. she immediately diagnosed my son with ADHD, and began to treat him like crap. She told me that our eating habits were bad, and sent home stuff off the internet to prove that eating meat was sinful. i complained, no one cared. i pulled him at the end of the year, and gave a piece of my mind. they did not care. she chased off a bunch of families, and then she got married for the 4th time, and moved away. principles should be advocates for the children, and the parents. the teachers have advocates in their union
please, no teachers get offended here, i know there are a lot of good ones.

Eddo said...

I used to work as a janitor in a school. I thought it was funny how I was a student putting myself through school and at 19 I was treated like a janitor - especially by the principal. She was always looking down her nose at me and of course always took the teachers side even when it was obvious that the teacher needed to not allow their children to spill BUCKETS of macaroni on the floor and that the smell in their room was coming from a stinky turtle cage that hadn't been cleaned in weeks - the smell and the macaroni and every other problem were always my fault - the teachers were never in the wrong.

I think people get tired of banging their heads against a brick wall and so they go about changing either themselves or everyone around them instead of fixing the problem.

~Deb said...

I went through a similar situation with my neice at preschool. I know that it’s not as prominent as grade school---but the preschool she is going to is owned by two lesbians. They’re both ‘married’---without legal papers of course, and have been together for like 20 yrs or something.

Anyway, these ladies took it upon themselves to educate the kids on gay rights and the pride flag. That particular day was ‘pride day’ for our community.

These ladies put a gay pride flag in each of the children’s lunchbox. We’re talking about kids ranging from 2-5 yrs of age. I was horrified to learn of this, and very upset. Yes—I wrote a letter stating who I was, and that I had a partner of 12 yrs—but I have absolutely NO right to tell SOMEONE ELSE’S child that being gay is ‘okay’---because they may come from a home where it’ s ‘not okay’----or a more conservative type of family who feels differently.

Anything regarding politics or religion being taught to our children doesn’t sit well with me, because each of us have our own views/values and beliefs. We should just keep it ‘at home’.

I think the letter was appropriate. This was a great post---thanks for sharing this.

The Zombieslayer said...

Is this a common practice in your school? I would be interested in your thoughts on this matter.

Only if they're Democrats. I've always found that non-Democrats are better at keeping their opinions to themselves.

I second what Mr. Althouse said. I was in California at the time, and had plenty of teachers spew that trash.

My parents, both Democrats, voted for the measure. They were sick of property taxes going up and up and up.

it's really hard to live in California. Non-Californians have no idea how expensive it is. When I tell a friend in another state my salary, they assume I'm rich. They don't understand I'm making the bare minimum to get by with it and I have things going on on the side to pull ahead, as do a lot of Californians.