How do you address this in your classroom?

I saw an article yesterday about Obama’s speech to students about education stirring up some political negativity, but somehow I thought it was going to be a blip.   But no, here it is today as the headline:

Obama speech to students sparks new controversy
When kids all across the country return to school Tuesday, some will see a welcoming message from President Barack Obama and some won’t.


It seems that a presidential address about education, to students in the public school system, is open game for to politics of personal destruction and social division.

When I read lines like these:

“As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education — it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality,” said Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Steve Russell. “This is something you’d expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”

Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer said in a statement he was “absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology.”

I hear both a dog whistle from elected officials to a growing body of violent extremists suggesting that our President is the equivalent of Kim Jong Il or Saddam Hussein.  And a much simpler one to racists and people of color reminding us that while this illegitimate (House Bill 1503)  foreign / back man may be sitting in the White House ‘we’ still have a chance to take things back if we aggressively fight against him/them.

Wow.  So back in the land of schools, where students of all political ideologies as well as all races and creeds etc are legally required to sit side by side daily and pretend along with the adults around them that class, race, religion, gender, and ability are all neutral categories in this country…    I am just wondering how this sorth of rhetoric will play out.  Because as I mentioned in an earlier post,whether a faculty member knows what to say or not, well their response speaks for the institution.

And since it is my experience that in neutral  land of education teachers are encouraged not to ‘take sides’ in this sort of heated debate, I am just wondering…..    How does this sort of rhetoric play out in the classrooms, hallways, and parent meetings at schools?  Can we talk about the racial implications of equating the President with foreign and non-white boogie men?  Can we talk about those present in the open and flagrant disregard for the office of the President?  Are we considering the impact of this sort of rhetoric on both majority groups as well as minority groups within our own walls?  This is not neutral territory and it feels like more and more educators are going to be forced off the fence one way or another during this Presidency.

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1 Comment

Filed under Censorship, Curriculum Wars, Islamophobia, Propaganda

One response to “How do you address this in your classroom?

  1. Jeff F

    I have been absolutely astonished by this discussion. Comparing our president to a dictator? These people are ridiculous and in my mind seem to be the ones that are trying to instill undemocratic ideals among American youth.

    I agree that teachers are going to be forced to take sides in this presidency. I hung one of Obama’s “Hope” posters in my classroom and have already gotten quite a few remarks from teachers and parents. My response, “You have something against hope?” It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I will be watching the speech on Tues and will decide whether or not to show it in my classroom. To me it seems like it would be idiotic not to show a presidential speech in a US History classroom. But I do teach in Springfield….