Monday, September 7, 2009

What Am I Missing?

I awoke Friday morning to the late breaking news that half the country was up in arms because American students were about to be indoctrinated by none other than the President of the United States. And the subject of the indoctrination? Brace yourselves.... It was THE IMPORTANCE OF STAYING SCOOL! OMG y'all, our children are going to have to be asked by the President to do well in school, to apply themselves, and, Heaven forbid, TAKE RESPONSIBITLTY FOR THEIR EDUCATION!! All this leads me to ask the obvious:

oh, and...
Are you effing kidding me??

Numerous conservatives are claiming that President Obama's speech on Tuesday about 'persisting and succeeding in school,' along with classroom activities about the 'importance of education,' will 'indoctrinate' and 'brainwash' schoolchildren. They've compared Obama's address to Chinese communism and the Hitler Youth, while also calling for parents to 'keep your kids home' from the 'fascist in chief.' Um.... Since when did a speech from the President to US students constitute brain washing and indoctrination? It's not like a message from the President to the nation's youth is unprescedented. Surely there was something that I was missing. Surely, there had to be a valid reason why our nation's Conservatives were threatening to establish a nation-wide 'Parents Keep Your Kids Out of School Day' rather than have their children be talked to about the improtance of staying in school. Because, you know, that'll show those education do-gooders.

Nationwide, 7,000 students drop out every day and only about 70 percent of students graduate from high school with a regular high school diploma. Two thousand high schools in the U.S. produce more than half of all dropouts and a recent study suggests that in the 50 largest cities, only 53 percent of students graduate on time. Is this not cause for alarm. Are these statisitcs not enough to bridge the bi-partisan divide and have us come to gether as a united nation and do what we can to implore the nation's youth to get serious about their eduaction? Teachers and parents can do what they can, but ultimately, it's up to them, the students.

True story: I grew up in Dallas, TX, and went to high school at an inner city school, known for their top-notch performing arts (which I sadly was not a part of but loved to watch) and their ability to produce National Merit Scholars while hosting an unbelievable drop-out rate. I'll never forget my first day of Freshman year when Mr. Giesler spoke to the new class of Freshmen and told us to take a look around at the faces that surround you. See how many seats are filled. So I took a look at the sea of faces that were my new classmates, taking them all in, and then was shocked to hear him say There are more than 600 students in your class. Your goal, is to graduate with half. Ouch. My being new to the DISD school system I had no idea what the drop-out trends of the early 90's were like. In May of 1995 I found out. While we still had 200+ students in our Senior class, we didn't even walk with 200.

Needless to say this latest breaking 'news' frustrates me. Pisses me off. Makes me laugh even. So why this? Why now? Glen Beck jumped the gun when he said that Obama's speech was more evidence of the 'indoctrination of your children' and sadly, millions followed, hook-line-and-sinker. What am I missing? Conservatives are demanding to know why it should be up to the President to deliver this message. And why in the classrooms? And I ask Why the hell not? Am I so naive in thinking that a message like the one that Obama will be delivering tomorrow to our nation's classrooms can be anything but good? I think that the supplemental classroom materials to generate discussion and encourage taking ownership of their educational endeavors is a great idea. Because at the end of the day,that's exactly what we need them to do. Talk. Discuss. And take responsibility because no one else is going to do it for them.

I could go on, and want to, really I do. But don't take my word for it. To read for yourself the words of tomorrow's indoctrination, click here. And then talk. Discuss. And take responsibility dammit.