Thursday, September 17, 2009

17 SEP 09: The Doctrine is In

Happy Constitution Day to you. If you're not aware, this day marks 222 years since our "founding fathers" signed the U.S. Constitution. No, it does NOT mean you're required to buy a copy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Schools across the U.S. will have programs to mark Constitution Day. In fact, public schools have to do it - because a law was passed requiring it earlier in this decade. So if you see smiling children in ceremonies today, remember something. School district accountants may be gritting their teeth, about escaping a loss in federal aid.

So here's my question -- where is the outrage, when it comes to Constitution Day? Why aren't parents complaining, and demanding "opt-outs?" After all, our children are having the laws of our land shoved down their throats. And even more stunning -- this federal mandate was imposed when Congress was controlled by Republicans.

Why isn't there outrage about the "indoctrination" of our students with the Constitution? After all, some parents objected to President Obama possibly indoctrinating children with his "stay in school" speech last week. But then again, no one seemed to object to basketball star LeBron James doing the same thing during the program....

While we're at it, I wondered Wednesday if Muscogee County high school juniors were allowed to "opt out" of that drunk driving reenactment at the Columbus Civic Center. In another words, were parents allowed to issue a "DUI don't?"

We apparently called the Muscogee County School District office too late in the day with our question, as our message was not returned Wednesday night. But district spokesperson Valerie Fuller told WTVM the drunk driving reenactment was "graphic, but.... reality." They use that same excuse for having sex education classes, too....

Now please don't get wrong ideas here. I oppose drunk driving, and support the U.S. Constitution - although I've thought from time to time it might be fun to violate Article I, and create my own money.

My issue here is with the big word critics of President Obama brought up -- indoctrination. The critics say it's wrong for the President to do that during school. But don't Constitution Day programs and field trips about safe driving do the same thing? Not to mention the Carver High School principal wearing that T-shirt Wednesday proclaiming "The kids won"....

In fact, my dictionary shows "indoctrinate" means to teach or instruct. Last time I checked, that's why schools were created. The tension seems to come with who does the indoctrinating and what the indoctrination involves. Some people apparently think a young woman six months out of college is more qualified to do that, than a U.S. President who once taught college law courses.

If parents think a person doing the indoctrinating is biased, there's an option I haven't heard anyone mention in recent days. Ask your P.T.A. to get someone on the other side of an issue to appear as well. For instance, I imagine plenty of Republicans would love to speak to children -- although inviting the owner of a liquor store to discuss drunk driving might be more controversial.

While I was on the road, the Columbus NAACP called a news conference about President Obama's speech to children. Group leaders said they were "saddened" because Muscogee County schools allowed parents to "opt out" of watching the speech. I thought freedom of choice was a good thing - for instance, to attend integrated magnet schools.

Yet I've attended church for decades with parents who face "opt out" issues all the time. Not with their children hearing the President, but celebrating holidays the church groups consider improper or wrong. If they're considered biased against black cats for avoiding Halloween, so be it....

(When I was in fourth grade, a teacher from another class in my school was invited to speak to my class during December. The woman was Jewish, and talked about Hanukkah. I don't recall anyone converting to Judaism after that - although some of us were jealous about getting eight days of presents.)

Perhaps we'll always have this kind of tension in public schools. As long as people have different views on issues, we'll debate the ways students are taught about them. We'll have sex education versus abstinence, Bible guidance versus evolution - and my third-grade class even had a fuss about "hedge apples" versus "Osage oranges."

If anything good comes from these debates, it's the knowledge that many parents are genuinely concerned about their children's education. They may not be concerned enough to take full control and start a home school which could produce a second income, but they're concerned.

-> Wednesday marked our 100th night of live poker tournaments! How are we doing? Learn the answer at our other blog, "On the Flop!" <--

E-MAIL UPDATE: While we're discussing Muscogee County schools, a reader is concerned about what happens next with the sales tax money....

Why is adding on to Hardaway with the new tax money never mentioned?..Hardaway has as many portable classes as does Northside..The new portables on the bandfield are double classrooms..THe total is 16 portables rooms..HHS is again having AC problems and last year closed because of sewer problems..My question is why has HHS been left out of the discussions of an addition? I can't believe we have kids in substandard schools and the board is going to build another all magnet school..Once again we have crowded schools and empty schools..Everyone should write to the US Dept of Ed.and stop this transfering and instead spend that transportation money on a tutorial program and keep those kid in their home schools..

The list of SPLOST projects mentions "needed repairs" for things such as air conditioning systems and school sewers. Perhaps you should lobby your local school board member in behalf of Hardaway High School. If that fails, try Frank Myers - since he may now be in line to oversee SPLOST money, in case that Crime Prevention Director job falls through.

Muscogee County school officials held several public hearings across town in recent months, to prepare a list of SPLOST projects. I'm not sure why Northside High was chosen for expansion over Hardaway - unless that Northside rifle team applied some subtle pressure.

(Someone left a comment on Superintendent Susan Andrews's blog, complaining about a lack of sufficient food at the Shaw High School cafeteria. Andrews actually responded to that complaint -- so as long as you don't bring up Paul Olson's name, she might do the same for you.)

We'll have some news to break about the Muscogee County School Board Friday. But let's ring the bell to end this session, with some Wednesday headlines:

+ Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue announced federal funding has been approved to widen Whittlesey Road, between Veterans Parkway and Whitesville Road. The race is now on, but which will happen first - the widening to four lanes, or the opening of the new Rob Doll Nissan along the roadside?

+ Federal Judge Clay Land dismissed a court challenge by an Army Captain, who wanted to see absolute proof that President Obama was born in the U.S. before deploying to Iraq. Land called the case "frivolous" - but he left out one key detail. If President Obama is disqualified, Vice President Biden apparently was born in Pennsylvania.

(The attorney for the soldier told WRBL both Judge Clay Land and President Obama should be tried for treason. Someone needs to tell this woman Land really was once a Republican lawmaker.)

+ Coca-Cola announced it's testing a new vending machine in the Atlanta area, which offers more than 100 different varieties of soda. Hmmmm - which buttons do you press, to learn how "New Coke" tasted in the 1980s?

+ WTVM showed several Beauregard High School football players with their unusual "lucky haircuts." If they're really that lucky, those players should take the field in Eufaula Friday night without helmets.

+ Instant Message to the Southern Company: What took you so long? You're only now buying electric-powered service trucks?! Don't you want to encourage all of us to buy electric cars, so you make more money from our recharging? Or does your corporate investment plan include ExxonMobil stock?

SCHEDULED FRIDAY: A blog reader's question sends us back to the library....

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