Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Last Year's Letter to School Superintendent

Just wanted to get this off of Facebook. I wrote this last year in response to the school district's decision not to show the presidential address to schools. The schools ended up making the address available to the teachers to show in the classrooms. I feel like not much had changed in the past year with regard to people listening to each other instead of attacking each other. Maybe one day...

Letter to the Malcom Thomas, Superintendent of Schools
By Elizabeth Green Denham

Dear Mr. Thomas,

I am very disappointed in your decision to disallow the showing of the Presidential address in our schools. I have three children in public school. I am a big believer in public education. Decisions like yours cause me inordinate distress because I believe that you are teaching them all of the wrong lessons.

I am raising my children to be be informed, to be open minded, to be tolerant of everyone alike or different, to question authority without disrespecting it. I am teaching them that they have the power to become informed and educated and by listening to others, make decisions on their own. Your decision goes against every single one of my goals.

Narrow mindedness is bred by ignorance. By not allowing them access to our government, you are reinforcing ignorance that limits students' abilities to form their own opinions.

Open- mindedness is taught by exposing children to different people, cultures, and viewpoints. By not allowing them access to our government, you are reinforcing the idea that it is not okay to be different from each other.

Tolerance is taught by example. By disallowing children access to our government, you are teaching them to turn their backs on those who are or believe differently, rather than encouraging open and respectful discussion.

Our country was founded by our questioning of an authority with which we disagreed. By disallowing our children access to our government, you are teaching them to disrespect authority instead of giving them the tools to question or change their futures.

Providing children information from every perspective gives them the belief and the tools to change their futures and impact the world. By disallowing them access to our government, you are teaching them that they have no power to make their own decisions or to change their futures.

I expect the public school system to have the goals that I have listed above to produce educated, informed, tolerant, open-minded and powerful students. I would like them armed with knowledge as they go through school and go out into the world.

Many presidents have made addresses to children in schools, and most of the time it has been used as a learning tool. I believe that you do not have the right to deny my children the experiencing of history.

It does not matter who you voted for or what your political affiliation is, children and the administration should respect the office of President, even if you do not respect the man or the ideology.

We live in an area with a great deal of diversity and however you believe, it is important for all children to know that anything is possible and barriers of all kinds can be conquered. Our president is an historical figure by sheer virtue of the fact that he is our first African-American president. Maybe if we all pulled together for the greater good, he could actually accomplish something.

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