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Dear Leader

There is nothing dear about President Bush these days. He is, by all reported accounts, to be seen as less than the President of the United States. Such has been our daily instruction for more than a year.

In our more contemporary instruction, we are inundated with the apparently indisputable fact that not simply is our most pressing crisis the financial crunch afoot, but that the only solution is government assumption of ownership as the remedy.

Yet, as President Bush speaks this morning from the White House addressing the latest government move to infuse liquidity to tight credit markets, cable and broadcast networks carried his words live - except for NBC, who couldn't bring themselves to break from a dancing Al Roker on the Today Show to afford the President of the United States the attention of their viewers.

George W. Bush is, after all, less than the President of the United States and Al Roker's massive weight loss is still more important.

But alas, Dear Leader lives regardless.

Racine, Wisconsin 8th grade English students are breaking the crisp bindings of new textbooks, and within the 2008 text is a 15-page tribute to the Coronated One, Dear Leader Barack Obama. Not history textbooks (or, social studies for the contemporary and enlightened among us) but English textbooks. Via Gateway Pundit...

My 8th grade son is in an advanced English class at a public middle school here in Racine, Wisconsin. I just found out that my son's new (copyright 2008) Wisconsin - McDougal Littell Literature book has 15 pages covering Barack Obama.

I was shocked - No John McCain, no Hillary Clinton, no George Bush - Just Barack Obama. I'm wondering how it is that Obama's story gets put into an 8th grade literature book? It would be one thing, if it was just the tidbit about his boyhood days, but 15 pages, and they talk about his "Life of Service". Honestly, what has Obama really done to be included in this book? Not only that, but on page 847 there is a photo of Obama at the 2004 Democratic Convention with at least 8 Obama signs in the background! Front & center is an www.obama2004.com sign.

Now I understand that many teachers are liberals, but does the school have the right to shove Obama down our kid's throats? All the kids grouped together and read the story. After that, they discussed it... I guess it appears that Obama is planning ahead. If he doesn't get his coveted Presidency, Obama is going to make sure, that the younger generations know all about him, and his "life of service".

If we can only get past the nuisance ritual of election, we'll have no need for priest or president, pastor or principal. We will have Dear Leader, President of The World.

Get up. Get active. Get moving.

Or get ready to cede your liberties and earnings in the spirit of 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.'

I am not ready. Nor will I ever be. For behind the curtain of the redistribution of wealth lies the true ambition of the assumption of central power. Our Constitution protects against the rise of Central governmental power, derived only through its wresting from the individual citizen. But that parchment... It's a silly thing... To be admired in books and museums for its antiquity and aged appearance. But we need not bother reading it. Or following it.

Update: Welcome, Instapundit readers. And thanks much for lending them, Glenn.


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Comments (65)

Boy, I do not believe in bo... (Below threshold)
MPR:

Boy, I do not believe in book burning but, I would be tempted to roast marsh-mellows over that one if my kids bought it home.

I really can't make any com... (Below threshold)

I really can't make any comments more pointed than this.

Let me know where Galt's Gulch is. I know nothing about food production or building things, but I'm a whiz with computers and file conversions. You'll need a reprographer there.

If it looks like a setup, a... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

If it looks like a setup, and smells like a setup...

Any idea how long the lead time is on publishing textbooks?

You know, I can see a mention of Obama as the first black candidate. But 15 PAGES, with no mention of Hillary as the first FEMALE to get within spitting distance of the Presidency?

There's something really unsettling about that. It's like we're being forced through a script, and we've got no control.

And educators contin... (Below threshold)
Larry:


And educators continue to be true to their worldview:

www.supportbillayers.org

Currently 3,247 Educators, most of whom have identified their school, have signed a petition of support for William Ayers, an unrepentant terrorist.

The question "What is going on in our schools," has an answer. Now the question should be, "What can be done about it?"

"It's like we're being forc... (Below threshold)
Scrapiron:

"It's like we're being forced through a script, and we've got no control." That is called socialism/communism/nazism which seems to have been accepted by democrats in this country. They welcome the government making all decisions for them. That is not a political position, that is a mental illness. The educational system in this country is under the control of idiots.

When the Constitution stops... (Below threshold)
OLDPUPPYMAX:

When the Constitution stops "protecting" it becomes both the right and the duty of the people to protect themselves. Where are the parents, demanding that these worshipful textbooks be replaced! And when will the sheep who call themselves Americans finally rise up and take back the nation and our rights??!!

One wonders about how you f... (Below threshold)
JFO:

One wonders about how you felt about the Constitution when Bush and Cheyney were ripping it apart and aggrandizing more and more executive power? Funny, I don't remember hearing much from the right as that was happening.

And why, exactly, do you ex... (Below threshold)

And why, exactly, do you expect us to report on your paranoid fantasies, JFO?

Because it's no fun being p... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Because it's no fun being paranoid if you can't convince people to play along!

I am not ready. Nor will I ... (Below threshold)
paul:

I am not ready. Nor will I ever be. For behind the curtain of the redistribution of wealth lies the true ambition of the assumption of central power. Our Constitution protects against the rise of Central governmental power, derived only through its wresting from the individual citizen. But that parchment... It's a silly thing... To be admired in books and museums for its antiquity and aged appearance. But we need not bother reading it.

Word: homeschooling... (Below threshold)
Tammy:

Word: homeschooling

Look, this is a guy who bel... (Below threshold)
Buddy:

Look, this is a guy who believes, honestly, the government is the solution to all evils. I mean he honestly believes that:

"Real change is finally giving our kids everything they need to have a fighting chance in today's world. That begins with recognizing that the single most important factor in determining a child's achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it's not who their parents are or how much money they have. It's who their teacher is. It's the paraprofessionals and support staff and all of you in this room."

Let me know where Galt's... (Below threshold)
Cloudfish:

Let me know where Galt's Gulch is. I know nothing about food production or building things, but I'm a whiz with computers and file conversions. You'll need a reprographer there.

I'm with you. You'll need a pilot to get in and out of the Gulch. Many other skills to share....

Yet another reason to homes... (Below threshold)
newton:

Yet another reason to homeschool your child...

My advice to that mother is... (Below threshold)

My advice to that mother is: Home School. Solves many of the 'education that isn't' problems. If you don't have time for home school, there are many co-operative education programs available where your child is in a classroom setting with other children and a teacher. It's expensive, but given your choices, it is well worth it.

Well if the book is ... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

Well if the book is a perfect example of what they're trying to convey, what's the problem? Need everything be political? Most of these kids will be 17 by the time President Obama came up for reelection. Why all the fuss?

Our Constitution protects against the rise of Central governmental power, derived only through its wresting from the individual citizen.

You Jacksonian Democrats missed your turnoff. The nineteenth century is
that way.

What I meant was:{--... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

What I meant was:
{---------
That way. As in arrow pointing backwards.

Racine, Wisconsin 8th gr... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Racine, Wisconsin 8th grade English students are breaking the crisp bindings of new textbooks, and within the 2008 text is a 15-page tribute to the Coronated One, Dear Leader Barack Obama. Not history textbooks (or, social studies for the contemporary and enlightened among us) but English textbooks.

Ya, I can see why you guys are angry about this. It would make MORE sense for this to be included in a history or social studies class. But then, I can see why it's in the book, since it is part of fairly important current events. It would be more politically fair to include something from the opposite political spectrum as well, however. That would have made a lot more sense, IMO.

I do think that it was irresponsible on the part of the publishers, at least from what I know so far.

But what this really points to is the need for parents to be active in their child's education. Education is not about cramming information into kids, at least I don't think so. It should be about teaching kids how to read and understand information--all kinds of information--so that they can start to assess what these things say and then make up their own minds. Indoctrination, from either the left or the right, should not be the goal of our educational systems.

But I really don't think the parents of these kids should freak out completely. Politics infiltrate all kinds of media, and that should be no surprise to any of us. It could be used as a good exercise in understanding how media can be used for different purposes. Maybe the parents should sit down and talk to their kids, ask them what they think about what they read, and find a way to have a good discussion about it. That's what I would do at least. Talk to the kids. I certainly do not think that parents should stand idly by without participating in their kids' education. At the same time, I also think that parents should be open to teaching their kids how to think critically about the world around them.

I definitely think that we should teach kids how to deal with different kinds of information. I do not think that shielding them from being exposed to differing political ideologies is the way to go. Kids should be taught how to read anything about Adam Smith, Marx, Reagan, Obama, Clinton, WF Buckley, etc, and make up their own minds about what they think/believe.

What I would really like to... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

What I would really like to see is the book itself, and how the editors used the Obama text. From another screen shot of it, it seems to be about teaching kids how to analyze writing.

If you look at the pic on Gateway Pundit, you can see the comments in the margin. One of the prompts asks the readers how they should know that this Obama text is a speech. Looks to me like it's a critical reading exercise, but again I would have to see the whole thing.

Does seem to be a little mu... (Below threshold)
James H:

Does seem to be a little much, but I'm not sure about the context.

Discussing Obama's candidacy is more than appropriate in a civics or history class, however.

Incidentally -- if a parent is concerned about textbooks, shouldn't that parent have volunteered for the local textbook committee (or similar board/group) in the first place??

"Why all the fuss?"<... (Below threshold)

"Why all the fuss?"

Let me guess - you're kidding again, right?

Turn it around, Parthenon, and tell me:

Would you be so complacent if this book, an English book, for 8th graders (13 year olds), opened up with 15 pages about George Bush or John McCain to the exclusion of all others? I know. It's silly to think that it could possibly happen. Just try to imagine.

Oyster,Would yo... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Oyster,

Would you be so complacent if this book, an English book, for 8th graders (13 year olds), opened up with 15 pages about George Bush or John McCain to the exclusion of all others? I know. It's silly to think that it could possibly happen. Just try to imagine.

I think you're right. Plenty of people from the political left would freak out, just as people from the political right are freaking out about this Obama thing.

But that doesn't mean that either side is being rational by any means. A lot of this depends on how the text is actually being used though, and I haven't seen it first hand.

I still think kids should be taught how to handle these kinds of things. They should be taught how to understand media and language, and the ways that it can be employed.

Oyster--I like to ... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

Oyster--

I like to think I wouldn't, if for instance they were teaching about oil executives/baseball owners who became presidents(Bush), or Vietnam prisoners of war (McCain). My point is that if a public figure is relevant to a discussion, we shouldn't force the kids to learn about other public figures that aren't relevant just out of some sense of political fairness. Now I haven't read the textbook, but my sense is that they used 'Dreams of My Father' as a literary example of some lesson. That isn't necessarily advocacy, especially since these kids will never vote for Barack Obama (unless of course he loses and runs again).

But maybe you're right. I dunno. Hard to say how I'd react.

The book in question is an ... (Below threshold)
John:

The book in question is an English book. The article in question is a speech Obama gave during the 2004 National convention. It is used as part of a lesson plan on how to write a good speech. I guess they used his speech because it was well-written. My guess is as good as those who are going to immediately come to the half-baked conclusion that Obama (or Bill Ayers) had something to do with this.

The article in que... (Below threshold)
The article in question is a speech Obama gave during the 2004 National convention.

Well, it sounds like there's more to it than that. The mention of that tidbit about Obama's 'Life of Service' makes me think we've got a real puff piece here. And 15 pages? Even with illustrations, that's a bit much. This reminds me of the textbooks I've heard about that have, say, a paragraph on Abraham Lincoln and 23 pages on the evils of Joe McCarthy.

But, the guy complaining about this says he's scanned in those 15 pages and would send them to any who asked him, so I did.

So we'll see.

The book in question is an ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

The book in question is an English book. The article in question is a speech Obama gave during the 2004 National convention. It is used as part of a lesson plan on how to write a good speech. I guess they used his speech because it was well-written.

Kids should be able to read these things without becoming automatically indoctrinated into the author's political ideology. If they are learning about writing a good speech, and this is an example of a well-constructed contemporary speech, then parents should not automatically assume that this is part of some educational conspiracy to brainwash all school kids. Plus, kids should be able to learn about the ways that a speech is written and constructed without having to agree with what the speech says. That's a part of being a critical reader. You can't believe everything you read. And that means that kids should be taught to assess the information that they encounter.

Granted, I think that it's a little politically unwise to include a speech from one of the current candidates. It would have been smart to include one speech from each side of the fence or something. The editors should have seen this one coming, and known better.

crap. that first paragraph... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

crap. that first paragraph was supposed to be a quote...

But, the guy complaining... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

But, the guy complaining about this says he's scanned in those 15 pages and would send them to any who asked him, so I did.

Ya, I would like to see the whole thing as well.

Wonder if the textbook ment... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

Wonder if the textbook mentions his mentors... Racists, America-haters, terrorists, scam artists, and now...

Child rapists

Just who vetted Obama anyhow?

You folks ought to round up... (Below threshold)
JFO:

You folks ought to round up Palin so you can just burn the textbook. She'll light the bonfire for you.

John, there's more than jus... (Below threshold)

John, there's more than just a speech. It's a biography and excerpts from two of his books and a speech. Oh, but there's a good balance! They have Isaac Asimov in the same book.

I can understand non-political personalities, or even if they include political personalities, at least make them historical - like Lincoln or Churchill or Roosevelt. But to dedicate 15 pages to a current candidate in the middle of a contentious campaign strikes me as indoctrination. They couldn't wait until 2009? Whether he wins or loses, it would at least then have merit.

"My point is that if a p... (Below threshold)

"My point is that if a public figure is relevant to a discussion, we shouldn't force the kids to learn about other public figures that aren't relevant just out of some sense of political fairness."

What are you trying to say?

JFO, I like you better as t... (Below threshold)

JFO, I like you better as the natural asshole you are. The reasonable and thoughtful (and fake) JFO that you projected briefly here was so, I don't know, phony.

Oyster, let's say Barack Ob... (Below threshold)
Parthenon:

Oyster, let's say Barack Obama was an expert violin maker. You might reasonably expect a book on violin making to mention that fact, and a few relevant details about his violin making. Should the book maker - even if it's for children who will never vote for Sen. Obama - include the work of lesser violin makers to keep it fair? Find some reason to mention his political opponents? Decline to use him at all, because it might offend some folks' political sensibilities?

Parthenon, that's known as ... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:

Parthenon, that's known as the Chewbacca Defense

Parthenon, your argument wo... (Below threshold)

Parthenon, your argument would be stronger if this was the year 2100 and Barack Obama was safely and firmly established as one of the great presidents and orators of American history. Then it would make sense to include a section of his autobiography and perhaps a speech or two in a literature textbook for grade schoolers.

But right now, he's not any of those things. At the present time, Obama is a lightweight senator from the midwest whose only accomplishment is being the first African-American candidate for president from a major party.

There's nothing particularly noteworthy about either of the books Obama wrote (ghostwrote?) about himself, either in style nor in content. Surely the compilers of the textbook could have found more worthy examples of good autobiographical literature?

Which is why they're being accused of including the Obama selection for nothing more than political reasons, and I'm inclined to agree.

Ahhh Oyster, you hurt me. M... (Below threshold)
JFO:

Ahhh Oyster, you hurt me. My responses are just a reflection of what I read. If someone writes something reasonable and thoughtful I respond in kind. When it is not I respond as above and I am willing to be branded an asshole. In fact, I take it as a compliment when you consider the source(s). It's the price you have to pay for truthiness.

I will refrain from a vulgar insult directed to you except to observe that I once thought you had intellectual honesty until I continue to read your Pavlovian defense of anything and everything far to the right.

<a href="http://www.singula... (Below threshold)
Toads:
Hasn't the Constitution bee... (Below threshold)
Ted Kennedy:

Hasn't the Constitution been converted into the Wikistution, editable by all readers?

"From each according to ... (Below threshold)
OCBill:

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Obama's brother in Kenya needs a new cardboard box to live in, but it looks like even THAT exceeds Barack's ability.

Well, it sounds li... (Below threshold)
John Author Profile Page:
Well, it sounds like there's more to it than that. The mention of that tidbit about Obama's 'Life of Service' makes me think we've got a real puff piece here. And 15 pages? Even with illustrations, that's a bit much. This reminds me of the textbooks I've heard about that have, say, a paragraph on Abraham Lincoln and 23 pages on the evils of Joe McCarthy.

But, the guy complaining about this says he's scanned in those 15 pages and would send them to any who asked him, so I did.

So we'll see.

tou
25. Posted by OregonMuse | October 14, 2008 2:28 PM

With all due respect, I suspect not much, this line of argument is an insult to the intelligence of everyone here. There are thousands of well written speeches that can be used for this purpose without heaping accolades on The Dear Leader. Try John Kennedy's inaugural or just about anything by Abraham Lincoln (oops Republican, sorry) even Cato!

Get up. Get active. Get ... (Below threshold)

Get up. Get active. Get moving.

If anyone wants to actually do something:
1. Go to a BHO appearance.
2. Ask him a tough question or call him on his lies to his face.
3. Upload video of his response to Youtube.

If you get a "good" response it could get millions of views and have a devastating impact on his chances.

See my name's link for the details, and send emails to those listed urging them to back this highly effective plan.

Little Red Guards: Long liv... (Below threshold)
ic:

Little Red Guards: Long live the Great Helmsman.

If this isn't a product of ... (Below threshold)
Jim C.:

If this isn't a product of Bill Ayers' education "reform", it sure could pass for one.

Everyone asks the same ques... (Below threshold)
lorendd:

Everyone asks the same question - "What can be done about it". I propose that the duty to propose what to do about it rests upon those who raise the question; and while they are likely respected members of the media (wherever their readers may be) they have the built-in advantage of being able to get our attention.

For example I may feel strongly about this, and in fact I would cut those pages out of the textbook, but what credibility would I have if I started my own blog about this, as opposed to well respected bloggers with thousands of readers and the credibility they have already earned? So the proposal is that the hub of action resides with those who have the credibility and reach into their readership, and they would suggest something like an organized effort to have the materials expunged, a class action suit filed against the publisher, etc. etc.
Too bad most journalists stop at raising the question leaving someone else to take action. It defies my sense of logic since reach and call to action are so wonderfully compatible with each other. This begs for organization.

"That isn't necessarily adv... (Below threshold)
newscaper:

"That isn't necessarily advocacy, especially since these kids will never vote for Barack Obama"

Not if ACORN has anything to say about it ;)

I must not be qualified to ... (Below threshold)
Agoraphobic Plumber:

I must not be qualified to post on this thread. Aside from the massive spending, I've never thought once that Bush was anything less than an average president, and often quite good. The more people say he lies (and have no proof of intentional misleading, which is what "lying" is) the more I take perverse pleasure in continuing to believe that he is a pretty good president who had the misfortune to be in office when a lot of nasty things came to a head and he had to take the heat for them.

This was a literature</i... (Below threshold)
Elaine:

This was a literature book. You know... Edgar Allan Poe's "Tale of the Tell-Tale Heart," or "12 Angry Men," or any other actually legitimate literary works should be in there. But 15 pages on Barack Obama, including a photo of him at the DNC 2004 convention? That's not literature, no way, no how!

As for lead-time on textbooks: First the book has to be written. Now, with a textbook, you may have different sections compiled by different authors, but you still have to come up with things like discussion questions at the end of each literary work. Add in time for copy editing, to check, not only the new material added by the textbook authors, but also the original literary material.

Then you send your proposal to the printing company which actually presses the books. This in itself is a process which can take a couple of weeks, just to finalize an estimate on the cost of the printing project. Then there's the actual printing and shipping.

Lead time of 3 to 6 months, minimum.

Dr. Kings "I have a dream" ... (Below threshold)
wilky:

Dr. Kings "I have a dream" speech would have been a much better choice. A speech with a universal theme, one that everyone can connect with..

Homeschooling is the way to go. Didn't California try to ban homeschooling?

Wonder why?

Give any leftie a ... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:
Give any leftie a vein-bursting stroke with this picture.

Wow. So that's what Clinton meant by a "Jack and Coke" moment...*shudder*

Finally, after Obama's full... (Below threshold)
ENS:

Finally, after Obama's full-throttle assault on freedom of speech takes hold, armed resistance will be our last refuge and hope.

"What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms."

-- Thomas Jefferson

And yet. . . Wisconsin's 10... (Below threshold)
AndYet:

And yet. . . Wisconsin's 10 electoral votes are still going to Obama, right?

Lots of whining on blogs, not much action in the street.

lorendd~F... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

lorendd~

For example I may feel strongly about this, and in fact I would cut those pages out of the textbook,

So, you are in favor of censorship? If you do have a blog that you have started without your "friends" knowing where it is, you have made a wise choice. Especially if they only pretended to be your friends, hacked your page, and screwed you over at your expense, and you found out the hard way. They can have their "Male ego" club, and you can get the word out. Don't be daunted by those ulterior motives behind the "favors".

The GOP sort of blew it if ... (Below threshold)
GOP08_DOA:

The GOP sort of blew it if you ask me. Sucky candidate, suck VP choice, sucky campaign, and a sucky base. No wonder you guys suck.

More Chewbacca, comin' up:<... (Below threshold)
LaMedusa:

More Chewbacca, comin' up:

The GOP sort of blew it if you ask me. Sucky candidate, suck VP choice, sucky campaign, and a sucky base. No wonder you guys suck.

And now, a word from the real world:

http://www.ourcountrydeservesbetter.com/nationaltour/index.html

There are thousand... (Below threshold)
There are thousands of well written speeches that can be used for this purpose without heaping accolades on The Dear Leader.

That's precisely my point. There's a ton of material available that there's no reason to pick a lightweight like Obama. That they chose to do so suggests a political motive.

every generation needs to ... (Below threshold)
mark l.:

every generation needs to see a democratic president in action...

carter became synonymous with economic failure and lbj over acheived in embarassing democratic foreign policy.

but-

you'd have to be in your late 30's to even remember carter.

what will obama become synonymous with? success or failure?

The most dangerous comment ... (Below threshold)

The most dangerous comment herein was way upthread:

I do think that it was irresponsible on the part of the publishers, at least from what I know so far.

But what this really points to is the need for parents to be active in their child's education.

...no offense to ryan, who appears to be trying to be very evenhanded throughout the thread. I think this is a dangerous comment because, while it acknowledges the bad judgment of the publishers (glossing over any nefarious - from my POV - intent), it then redirects our attention in a perfectly reasonable direction, one to which we all pretty much acquiesce: we, the parents, are the problem. Or at least we can be the problem, if we're not paying sufficient attention.

Of course parents need to be involved in their children's education. But how did parents end up as the first line of defense against inappropriate political indoctrination in school? Do the publishers, the authors, and the educators in the classroom have no responsibility to be as objective as possible, at least at this age level? In college, in appropriate fora (which means "not in chemistry, not in English lit, but probably in some poli-sci classes"), I can live with professors' political leanings' being expounded in the lecture hall, as long as the professors are open about them. But here?

Courageous homeschoolers aside (I've never had the guts to face my own kids all day, every day, with their future success riding on my abilities), the reason most of us send our children to school is because we believe trained educators can do a better job of teaching some things to our children than we can. How can we protect our children when those same educators abuse their position?

There's a point at which th... (Below threshold)
section9:

There's a point at which the Left Hagiography of the Dear Leader will begin to turn rank and file voters off.

Unfortunately, speaking as a Republican who remembers the Bush/Quayle 1992 effort, it won't be until after the State Street Duce is safely in office. Only after the Full Metal Triumph of the Will tendencies come out will the scales come off of Andrew Sullivan's eyes. Too late for the rest of the country, however.

Until then, however, I suggest that those of us with maximum foresight start looking for the landmarks that lead to Galt's Gulch.

"Do you know the way to Galt's Gulch?" will become a Conservative Mantra in the coming years of the "New Economic Plan, 2.0.

"Should the book maker -... (Below threshold)

"Should the book maker - even if it's for children who will never vote for Sen. Obama - include the work of lesser violin makers to keep it fair?"

That's exactly what I thought you were trying to say. You're implying that Obama has no equal or no betters. There's just no comparison, unless they want to include lesser people.

You can do better than that, Parthenon.

I just got off of the phone... (Below threshold)
SDW:

I just got off of the phone with the publisher and according to the representative (who took the time to look through several of the current lit. books), no such 15 page section exists.

You folks seem to believe anything if somebody is handy with Photoshop and a word processor.

Jamie wrote:...... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jamie wrote:

...no offense to ryan, who appears to be trying to be very evenhanded throughout the thread. I think this is a dangerous comment because, while it acknowledges the bad judgment of the publishers (glossing over any nefarious - from my POV - intent), it then redirects our attention in a perfectly reasonable direction, one to which we all pretty much acquiesce: we, the parents, are the problem. Or at least we can be the problem, if we're not paying sufficient attention.

Don't worry Jamie, no offense taken.

It's interesting to me that you consider my comment, as you say, dangerous. Why? All I am saying is that parents should, and can, pay attention to the education that their kids are getting. No educational system is perfect, and I think that parents should ideally play a role in the educational process.

Of course parents need to be involved in their children's education. But how did parents end up as the first line of defense against inappropriate political indoctrination in school?

Well, I guess me and you just disagree, because I see parents as the natural first line of defense when it comes to their children's education. I don't see how that's a negative thing at all.

I think that parents should take part in education, instead of expecting some system to do it all for them. The parents have to be active, and they, along with the teachers, have to teach kids how to do the same. Passive education goes nowhere, IMO.

So none of this is a matter of singling out parents and saying that THEY are the problem. Not in the least. Our educational system is far from perfect, and there are any number of potential people or aspects that we can blame. But I am not looking to blame, only to talk about ways that certain situations can be dealt with (like this Obama in the textbook issue). We don't need to freak out here, but instead realize that education and learning happens both in school and at home. My point is that maybe we should teach kids how to handle these sorts of things, because they are a regular part of life. Politics infiltrate many aspects of society, despite our attempts to remain "objective." The question, then, is what we do about it all. How do WE handle these sorts or things, and then how do we turn around and teach KIDS how to handle them.

And just so you know, this comes from someone who does not have kids yet, but will in the next few years. I am also someone who is on his way to being a teacher someday, so I think about teaching and education and all that good stuff. In my view, the whole point is not to cram certain views or ideas down kids throats, but instead to teach them how to assess and understand it themselves.

Hmmm...this would be better... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Hmmm...this would be better for that last sentence:

In my view, the whole point is not to cram certain views or ideas down kids throats, but instead to teach them how to assess and understand those views/ideas on their own.

That's a little better sounding at least...

ryan, I absolutely didn't w... (Below threshold)

ryan, I absolutely didn't want to tar you with the "dangerous" brush - what I was trying to say (apparently with less-than-perfect success!) was that your point of view is so reasonable, so self-evidently true, that it ends up turning our attention from the problem this blog entry brings to light: that public education, which ought to be "value-neutral" as far as political partisanship goes, is not necessarily so.

And I do agree with you that parents should be and, in many cases, are their children's first and best advocates in the public education system; I'm distressed, though, that beyond the need to advocate for one's children with regard to quality of teaching and completeness of curriculum, it also has to fall to us to defend our children against the inculcation of political values that I believe are better introduced (at that young age, at any rate) in the home.

And I also agree with you that the primary object of education, in the end, is to develop a person's critical thinking skills. But at the age level we're talking about here, ISTM that great care ought to be taken in the vehicles chosen for teaching those skills. If this story is true (in light of the comment a couple above), I don't think that care was taken in this case.

Jamie,ryan, I a... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jamie,

ryan, I absolutely didn't want to tar you with the "dangerous" brush - what I was trying to say (apparently with less-than-perfect success!) was that your point of view is so reasonable, so self-evidently true, that it ends up turning our attention from the problem this blog entry brings to light: that public education, which ought to be "value-neutral" as far as political partisanship goes, is not necessarily so.

Ideally public education should be fair, value neutral, and objective. That's what we all want I think. Maybe I am just a cynic though. I think that we can work hard toward value neutral education, but I think that ultimately politics will always be a part of the picture. For that reason, I do not think that the education system will ever be something that we can sit back and trust to work properly. In my opinion it will always require our participation and attention.

I guess I tend to think of the education system as something that is inherently political in many ways. And I do not think that parents all across the US will always agree with certain decisions made by educators.

I'm distressed, though, that beyond the need to advocate for one's children with regard to quality of teaching and completeness of curriculum, it also has to fall to us to defend our children against the inculcation of political values that I believe are better introduced (at that young age, at any rate) in the home.

I can understand how that distresses you. That is something that my fiance and I talk about all the time. And we are both planning on being teachers. The trick is staying involved in my opinion. At this point, I have to admit, a lot of my ideas about what I think I would do with my kids' education is pure speculation. I don't have kids right now, so all of this comes from just thinking about what I would do.

I expect politics to enter into my kids' education, and it's something that I want to find ways to deal with. I do not want to shield my kids from politics as much as I want to find ways to counter it, learn from it, and balance it. I do not want my kids to be indoctrinated into certain ideas--either from others or from myself. I want to teach them as much as I can, and I want them to be able to learn as much as they can in the schools that I send them to. I am hoping that school and home education will be mutually rewarding. But I think there will be plenty of shortfalls to deal with.

The thing is, certain political values are inculcated in education, at very young ages, all the time. The US education system, like any national education system, is a system that teaches certain political values. Once kids start learning about history, civics, government, economics, and literature, political values are being imparted. Now, the trick is creating a system that works for all of the parents and kids in the nation. One of the problems, IMO, is the fact that our ideas about education are always in flux, always changing. So we have to keep up with the changes, despite the fact that it's a lot of work.

But at the age level we're talking about here, ISTM that great care ought to be taken in the vehicles chosen for teaching those skills. If this story is true (in light of the comment a couple above), I don't think that care was taken in this case.

I do think that educators really need to pay attention to how they teach, and what they use to teach. I have been trying to find out more about the specifics of this case. The problem here is timing. The upset parent noted that the book is copyrighted 2008. Now, if the publishers had just put this text out this year, I think that would be problematic. I do not think that putting out a Lit book that includes Obama as a new addition this year would be appropriate, considering the election.

Now, I read this short news post which basically says that this particular book has been in use since 2005.

Here is the end of the article:

"It's about overcoming obstacles. It's not about politics. We don't endorse one candidate over another -- we don't endorse one political party over another," Director of Curriculum and Instruction Jeff Weiss said. "I was very surprised by this -- this book was used all last year and I didn't have any complaints."

School officials said that after the subject appeared on Fox News and then on a local conservative radio station, they've received one call from a district parent and at least a hundred other emails and calls from people across the country.

The district is now reviewing their procedures but officials said the book is remaining.

"We had a committee review. We went through the prescribed steps -- and we're going to review that, to make sure there were no steps missed," Weiss said.

The textbook company McDougal Littell said that although the copyright is for 2008, the Obama section was included in 2005.

The district started reviewing the book in 2006, well before Obama announced his presidential candidacy in 2007.

So, in this particular case, I think that this was more of a misunderstanding than some kind of political ploy in the schools. But I still want to read more about this. This kind of thing is always going to be touchy though.

Anyway, thanks for the good discussion Jamie. Sorry for being so long-winded!! See you around these parts.....




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