A Letter to a Middle School Principal

I don’t know that I’ll send this letter to school with my kiddo tomorrow – don’t really want risk negative attention from the people teaching my kid, and (more importantly) while writing this, I started to think that the ‘forbidden’ aspects of this speech will probably do more good towards getting kids to pay attention. Best-case scenario of the whole thing would be for those who aren’t allowed to see it to seek it out, and as a result, be even more engaged by it. It’s an inspirational speech, and giving it an air of controversy may well give it an even more powerful impact. Still, I had to get this off my chest.

Edited: after talking with more people, I punched it up a little, copy/pasted it into an email, and emailed the principal. I am just too afraid there will be too many from the other side making noise, and not enough on this side.

Dear Principal,

I was very disappointed to hear that parents in our community had actually contacted the school to express concerns about the President’s speech tomorrow, especially since I have read the full text of this speech and it is a beautiful and inspirational message, completely devoid of any controversial content. After discussing this with a number of friends of mine and reading some disturbing articles about more extreme measures being taken by other districts, I feel grateful that “all” [school] is doing is postponing the speech one day to allow parents to respond, but that doesn’t make up for the fact that this whole situation is filled with distressing closed-mindedness and misinformation.

In the long history of Presidents, and elected officials in general who have taken the time to speak to schoolchildren, there has been no precedent for this kind of reaction, and for the additional measure of offering parents the ability to “opt out” of a portion of the curriculum. I realize that there is tremendous pressure not to anger parents, but I have been following this made-up controversy very carefully, and it disappoints me that this pressure extends to appeasing people on the fringe of the political right, who have deliberately remained ignorant of not only the history of this type of speech, but to the lack of any objectionable material being covered.

If we are to let fringe elements dictate the school’s curriculum, I fear that we will end up allowing children to opt-out of everything up to and including science, history, civics, and literature. I hope that the School Administration is fully aware of the source of this kind of fear, uncertainty and doubt, and remains committed to providing our children with a well-rounded education that does not shy away from encouraging our young people to be involved and informed in the political process, using critical thinking rather than accepting reactionary rhetoric as truth. I do not want our schools to take the default position that everything they teach must pass muster with every parent – if you had to limit your curriculum to avoid contradicting every parental prejudice out there, well, there wouldn’t be much left to teach.

I hope that when you provide the text of the speech to these “concerned” parents, that you do so with a strongly worded preface encouraging them to read the full text of the speech before deciding to exclude their children from this wonderful opportunity to learn.

Thank You,

Mom of a 7th grader who sometimes doesn’t pay enough attention, and really needs this speech.

7 thoughts on “A Letter to a Middle School Principal

  1. This is a beautifully written letter. I would send it! They need a dose of rational feedback, rather than fearful rhetoric.

  2. Thanks for your compliments, but, having read further some of the reactions I am tempted to re-word this to say “Thank you for *only* offering an opt-out” — with the number of schools that have come up with more extreme solutions, “download it, consider it, blah blah and then notify the parents”. At least my kid’s school is going to show it.

    But I will send something, I’m growing more and more afraid that the loons will win the day on this.

  3. I absolutely love your level-headed and thoughtful response. It seems we as a nation are becoming more segmented and ignorant every second. We need more people to speak up when the fringe always seem to win the day because they are more vocal. Kudos
    .-= Steve Weaver´s last blog ..The Sound Of Silence =-.

  4. It’s absolutely imperative that this be sent and sent soon. Don’t underestimate the power of ignorant extremism. I didn’t do much against prop 8 because, deep down, I assumed good would triumph over insanity but we all know how that turned out.
    .-= Julie´s last blog ..Again =-.

  5. oh exactly! i wasn’t even thinking of that but yeah, i definitely was caught off-guard by the amount of misinformation and evil, and i totally had facts to use against it, and … yeah.

    i did send this last night. i haven’t heard back, but, school just got out and i’m sure the admins don’t spend too much daytime futzing about with email, at least i hope they don’t.

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