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Talking Bollocks

Jeff Quinton has one of the more amazingly deluded “clarifications” I have ever read in my life, this one coming from Howard County Public Schools PIO Patti Caplan regarding the Obama Sing-a-long fiasco. Here it is in entirety, with some commentary interspersed.

Several weeks ago, all Longfellow Elementary School first graders were shown a videotape of President Obama’s speech to students as part of the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports Program (PBIS), which focuses on being safe, responsible and respectful. As the classes were gathering in one of the first grade classrooms, the teacher was playing a CD of a song she and her students composed last year for a technology competition. She also played the song as the students were leaving.

Interestingly, the Obama speech was causing a scandal of all of its own. The fact that a teacher decided to exacerbate that issue by playing such a song is amazingly shortsighted, but it gets worse.

One (yes only one) parent called and emailed the school with his concern that the students were being forced to “glorify and worship” President Obama. The school administration responded to this parent and provided him with a copy of the lyrics, which his wife posted on a blog. The school administration has met with this parent and he apologized for the posting and for creating so much trouble for the school. He indicated that the school had addressed his concern.

Talk about trying to place the blame on somebody else. The fact that Caplan would throw a parent under the bus is incredibly amazing. Of course, it seems to fly in the face of a few facts.

There is no mention of the principal, or the song lyric, or Longfellow Elementary prior to September 29th, the day I received the email and posted the contents of the email on my blog and at RedMaryland. So, given the fact that a search of blog records and the internet shows no postings before then, exactly who is Caplan saying leaked this and who is she saying that information came from?

On top of it, why does Caplan try to minimize the one parent who had a concern with this? How many times have we seen schools bend over backwards to accomodate the needs of one parent who is pissed off about something? I’m not saying it’s right, I’m just saying that Caplan seems to be trying to deflect the seriousness of this story on the premise that only one parent of one child was angry.

The objective of this lesson was to motivate students with a positive message to be respectful, stay in school, work hard and do their best. The lesson supports the work the school is doing as part of PBIS. The children did sing along to the song, which repeats “Yes I Can” and “Yes We Can.” Repetition of this nature is a common element in songs for children of this age.

Well, that’s a noble goal. But that leads us to…..

The focus of the lesson was on the children and positive behavior, not the President. There was no intention or attempt to glorify or worship the President. Educators often use positive role models in their lessons, including Presidents of the United States, and this practice is supported by the Howard County Public School System. The Howard County Public School System does not require nor encourage teachers to include references to President Obama in their lessons, nor does it discourage the use of such references.

So why then did the teacher include the President in the lesson plan when there are a plethora of historical figures who could have been used to create a similar example. And does not the fact that the President’s campaign slogan was included in the song a tacit endorsement by the teacher and/or the school of the President and the policies that the President is promoting? I mean this isn’t rocket science here, and considering that incidents like this are on the rise across the country, you would seem to think that somebody would question whether or not the use of the song is a good idea.

The Howard County Public School System respects the right of individuals to disagree with the words of the song and/or even the use of the song in this context. However, the idea that a public school system would have a “policy” to force students to “worship” the President is so ludicrous it deserves no response.

Again, Caplan is trying to deflect away from the meat of the story. Nobody is saying that the Howard County Public School System has a policy to force students to worship to the President. But the fact seems to be at least one teacher at Longfellow Elemetnary in the Howard County Public School system has made it their policy to try and force such beliefs on their students. And since they are employees of the aforementioned public school system, I would love to know what steps the Howard County Public School System is taking to end such shenaingans. But since Patti Caplan seems to be denying that a problem exists, I’m guessing that we know the answer.

Glad to know that Patti Caplan and the brass in the Howard County Public Schools seem to condone this ludicrous behavior.

(Crossposted)






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