I am MAD! Following is an email I sent to the Cobb County School Commissioner and the principal of my childrens' middle school, then on to the editorial page of the Atlanta Journal-Constition - my first letter to the editor EVER.
Dear Dr. Sanderson and Principal:
I am the parent of two children at a middle school in Cobb County.
I writing to express my extreme disappointment that my children will not get to participate in the live, national broadcast of President Obama's speech to school children next week. Their opportunity to hear the speech in school, with their peers and teachers available for discussion, seems to me an excellent chance for our children to participate in civil, public discourse as practice for one day becoming responsible citizens of our country.
Based on the rhetoric flying around the social media sites, I believe this decision was based on a few loud, panicked parents who somehow got the idea that this was going to be an "indoctrination" message from the White House. Unless you know of some new technology to make children behave (and if so, can I use it to get additional help around the house?) and/or influence their parents' behavior, this is clearly a lot of sound and fury about what should be a special event that brings all Americans together for discussion. Instead, it has become some sort of "mental safety" issue and completely without merit.
This level of irrational rhetoric did not surround any of the Inaugurations that my children watched in school in previous years, nor national addresses from Presidents Bush and Reagan in the past. When 9/11 happened, the children watched or discussed this issue in school as well - as appropriate to their ages - and there was no question about "opting out" about discussing this important event.
Will this be a new trend, that if a small, vocal group does not want their children to hear about a period of our national history, or some aspect of math or language arts, that the parents can "opt out" of it for their children? The answer is, yes, they can choose not to participate in the public schools by making other arrangements for schooling. For the rest of us, who participate in the schools by sending our children to the schools and participating as parents and citizens of Cobb County, this is a failure of leadership and thoughtful consideration for the education and welfare of all our children.