Oh no! It had to be an eleventh hour event! I really like that phrase, eleventh hour. And I work well under pressure. In this case, the eleventh hour call to action came in the form of an email from the elementary school Principal. Late Friday afternoon, before a holiday weekend, she dropped this tidbit in my lap:
You are probably aware that on Tuesday September 8, President Barack Obama will host a webcast directed towards school children. We have had numerous phone calls at Manning Oaks, inquiring about our plans, if any, to broadcast this school-wide. This communication is to notify you, that consistent with other schools in our cluster, Manning Oaks will not be broadcasting the address at school. Families have the option of watching the President's remarks with their children outside of the school day, as the speech is expected to be available on both the White House (www.whitehouse.gov) and CSPAN (www.c-span.org) web sites after the broadcast.
Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend! School is closed on Monday.
To which I offer my reply, on a sunny Friday in Georgia:
Dear Ms. ____,
I received your email regarding the decision not to broadcast the President's speech to school children.
Frankly, I am utterly shocked and disappointed with that decision.
Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and George HW Bush all addressed the nation's school children during their administrations. I believe this decision is a disservice to the education of the children under your care. Regardless of political affiliation, this is the elected leader of our country. It is our right and duty to respect the office. His speech, like others before him, consists of a call to focus on education - it is a pep talk, and an encouragement, not a policy talk.
As M__ openly held mock elections all through the fall, I would have expected the M___ administration to support and welcome this window into our nation's leader. For the children to feel involved and a part of something so much greater than themselves, and to possibly gain a spark of interest into the workings of our country, would only benefit the school. It would certainly benefit the nation, when these young ones grow up. A politically tuned and interested electorate is always a plus. I distinctly remember being a part of President George HW Bush's "Presidential Fitness Award" and still have the plaque I earned. It was an exciting moment to feel some connection with a world leader.
To hear that the school we have proudly attended and touted for 4 years has now made a decision that smells of spoiled politics rather than education, makes me upset. I sincerely hope that the true goal of education will not be derailed by a paltry few outraged phone calls. If I had known that would be the case, I would have alerted other parents who support the Presidential address, to make our voices heard to the school district.
At a state-funded institution, not a private school, I expect and insist that my children be allowed to watch the President's broadcast at school, as has been done for generations past. It is their right and privilege as American citizens, patriots and students of American culture and history.
Stay tuned for further communication from B. v . Board of Education...