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My daughter's social studies teacher has been giving a decidedly Republican twist to the curriculum. So sent the following message to the principal. We'll see what kind of response I get.

I am writing to express a concern with how the social studies curriculum is being presented in my daughter’s 8th grade class by Mrs. Smith. She is presenting a very right-wing ideology which I feel does our children a disservice.

Some examples of things that are ideologically biased are:

Mrs. Smith: Thomas Jefferson was a strict interpreter of the Constitution.  

Actuality: While Thomas Jefferson was indeed a strict interpreter of the Constitution,  this loses validity as a historical artifact if the position of the Federalists are not also presented as equally valid. This is especially true in light of the political overtone that the term, "strict interpretation of the Constitution," has taken in the last decade.

Mrs. Smith: Democrats believe in big government and Republicans believe in small government.

Actuality: This is hardly a nuanced statement. It should be stated as "Democrats believe that government has a positive role to play in society and that civil rights are important and should be guaranteed.  Republicans believe that government does not a positive role to play, that a free-market economy can provide the benefits necessary to society, and that government has the right to control morality and sexuality." This also completely ignores the doctrinal differences between Democrats and Republicans on the role of religion in government and society.

Mrs. Smith: The Health Reform Act is bad because it included federal student loan reform which fundamentally changed the way federal loans are made. Banks have been cut out and you will have no choice in where to get federal student loans.

Actuality: Federal student loans are a subject with which I have much experience. The new legislation cuts out the middle man in the student loan industry, the banks. Previously the federal government accepted all the risk for the loans, and the banks, as loan originators, were able to charge higher fees (My current federal loans are in the 1-3% range, and my private student loans, some of which are federally-backed, are in the 5-9% range) and turn a profit on the loans. The new legislation simply removes the profit motive, by removing the banks, which allows $60 billion to be returned to students in the form of higher Pell grants (meaning less loans are necessary)  and lower interest rates. Even before this change, all federal loans came from .... the federal government, as they still do.

I’ve looked at the state standards for the social sciences and nowhere do I see such an ideological slant being promoted. I can only assume that Mrs. Smith is giving my daughter a distorted view of social studies, and that you are either unaware of this, or approve of this insertion of political ideology into the curriculum. I do not care what political ideology Mrs. Smith subscribes to as long as she does not impart it upon the children. It is possible that my daughter is incorrectly remembering what is being said, but she maintains very high grades, so that is not likely. Politics are frequently discussed in our home, although of a much more liberal ideology, so she would not pick this information up at home. This penchant of Mrs. Smith to present only the more conservative viewpoint has sparked many interesting conversations at home (and I had to research the history of Jefferson’s role in the development of constitutional law), so it not completely a bad thing. I just want to make sure that the classroom is politically neutral.

I would appreciate a response to my concerns.

UPDATE the FIRST: I believe the culturally expected gushing about first time on the rec list goes here? :D Thanks!

UPDATE the SECOND: This is the reply I got back from the teacher and my response to her response follows that:

Thank you for your email.   I would truly never want to do a disservice to any student.    I make it a point of not telling students my political beliefs or how I vote.    I agree, that's not my job.

I do teach the time periods I am responsible for, using the text selected by the district. For example,  the information concerning Thomas Jefferson being a strict interpreter of the constitution is strictly from the text, not my take  on anything.

I also try to have students  not only see how history was formed, but see how these same  parts of government or issues are still working today.   I have never said  "The Health Reform Act is bad.  " I do throw out questions that I have or am thinking about,  such as the student  loans.  I was surprised that this was included in this bill, and brought that up.    I do try to get them to think about things... I am sorry if it has come across as my opinion.    If it is being interpreted that way, then I need to be even more careful on what I say and how I say it.
I often will try to connect events from today to events from the past, and have discussion on it.  I do want kids to be involved in what happens in this great country, to think and research items, and be  part of an active solution.   They are the future.  I do not want to tell them how  or what to think.

I would be more than willing to sit down and talk with both Meghan and you, or just you if you would like, to discuss any or all of this at  any time.

My response to Ms. Smith:

Ms. Smith,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I fully comprehend the difficulty of trying to teach about politics, without interjecting your own political viewpoint. You may have not been aware of the way in which your language and teaching could have interpreted. To you, it is simply the language and concepts that you use to organize your own thoughts. I interpreted the language that Meghan brought home as Republican talking points:

Strict interpretation of the Constitution
Democrats want big government
Student loan reform equals no choice

I can accept that the standard textbook has that opinion of Jefferson, so perhaps the textbook needs to be changed. However, the Health Care Act did not contain the language about student loan reform, it was the reconciliation package. I do not know if that distinction was made in class, or even if there was a discussion of why a reconciliation package was even necessary.

Meghan asked me how she was supposed to learn anything if she could not trust her teachers. I told her that this isn't a matter of trust. She should respect and listen to what her teachers say, then verify it for herself. That this is simply a part of being a well-informed critically-thinking person. Wasn't it Reagan who said,  "trust but verify?"

I fully support political dialogue among peers. You are not my daughter's peer. You, as a teacher my daughter likes very much, are in a position of power in my daughter's life. You have more responsibility to present the information in a politically-neutral manner.

This is what I hope you will do, please pay more attention to how you deliver the curriculum to the students. If you present a concept fraught with political division, do it with respect for those who may not believe as you do. Be conscious of your language, and verify your own sources, even if that source is the state-approved textbook (Look at the Louisiana Purchase of how Jefferson was NOT a strict interpreter of the Constitution).

Meghan is an astoundingly bright young woman, who I hope, will develop her own thinking on these matters. I want to thank you again for your response.

UPDATE: The THIRD:  Those who have said that I should have contacted the teacher first are right. That was bad form on my part.

Originally posted to thealater on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:16 AM PDT.

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    •  Not being a US citizen, I'm (50+ / 0-)

      astounded at the approach. I'd think that in a social studies class you'd read Durkheim, Marx, and Weber (we did) and then use actual relations as a demonstration of methods.

      Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

      by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:56:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Nor resident, I have to say. n/t (9+ / 0-)

        Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

        by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:56:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, I doubt it. (6+ / 0-)

          Firstly, the way sociology is taught is still horrendous (I am interested in it, and slept through those classes), and we have too many high school pupils per class (32 at most, and 30 is the average).

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:25:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Love the "Class Too Large" Argument (12+ / 0-)

            Why were there so many kids in classes when I was in public school (1970s, and 30-45/class was common), but the expectations and requirements so rigorous?

            Seriously, the stellar reputation of No. VA schools was built then, and remains. What changed?

            "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."—J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

            by skeezixwolfnagle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:36:09 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It is interesting to me that, as a part of the (14+ / 0-)

              Baby Boom, I don't remember a class, other than a study hall, having more than 20 to 25 students during the sixties.

              How come we managed to teach such a large demographic in smaller classrooms than the students of today?  Could it be part of the march towards privatization of the school system by making the size of government small enough to drown in a bathtub?

              •  No.. teachers weren't paid as well then. (3+ / 0-)
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                It was considered a "calling", if you will.

                Instead they were given really nice benefits including terrific pensions.

                Now, in many areas, they are very well paid - more than the average salaries and those benefits have been bargained into even more expenses for school districts.

                That, in a nutshell, is why.  Take a look at a school district's budget some time.  It's a real eye opener.

                "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

                by Skeptical Bastard on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:00:05 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I don't work in one of those... (5+ / 0-)
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                  most assuredly!  :-)

                  Classroom sizes could be bigger back then and still work becuae teachers had control over how they taught.  That has been taken away now.

                  Our country can survive war, disease, and poverty... what it cannot do without is justice.

                  by mommyof3 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:52:02 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Classes are becoming larger again (10+ / 0-)

                    as budgets get cut and younger teachers are laid off. The rest of us have to double down..and it is pretty impossible to have a meaningful conversation with every student if you have 35 kids.

                    Just a thought I teacher, I wish you had contacted her teacher first, before you sent an email to the principal. It is always a good idea to start at the source, and if you don't get the answer you want, then contact the principal for further information or action.

                    It sounds to me like it was a combination of the teacher not realizing how she came across, and your daughter misunderstanding what was said.  That she wrote a thoughtful letter back tells me she pays attention to parent concerns and wants to do the best she can for your daughter.

                    We all have photographic memories. Some people just don't have any film.

                    by fireflynw on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 05:21:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  And teachers were able to eject students (4+ / 0-)
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                    who got disruptive, and those too disruptive were ejected from school.

                    I don't think they can do that anymore.

                    •  Ejecting students (6+ / 0-)
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                      I teach in an upper-middle class suburban town in a high school of 2900 students. One boy, after my "writing him up" for using his cell phone in class repeatedly, and then again for pulling out his notes in the middle of a quiz, had the balls to go to my boss and complain that I was singling him out because...ready?...he's Asian.

                      Never mind that at LEAST 1/4 of my students are Asian. Never mind that NONE of my other students pull any of this shit, period (I'm lucky; other classes have more problems). Fortunately, my boss backed me up, as best he could, and assured him that his open defiance and subsequent office referral had nothing to do with his race. However, I was warned that this could escalate and the BIG write-up for cheating was...made to disappear (though I received authorization to give him a zero for that quiz).

                      Anyway, my point is that yesteryear's teachers didn't deal with this crap, and didn't have kids saying, and I quote, "I know how to make you lose your job!" Generally speaking, at least in my experience (I'm in my mid-40s), the teacher was the dictator in his/her classroom and if you made waves (i.e., disrupted the learning), you were out in a heartbeat. Now we teachers are told explicitly to handle anything short of a fistfight on our own, but are given very little to work with. In other words, all of the responsibility and almost none of the authority.

                      I used to teach in an inner city and you'd never believe the shit that went on in that environment.

                      Sorry, had to vent. Resume your regularly-scheduled programming.  :^)

                    •  Yes yes yes, read any teaching (4+ / 0-)
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                      JVolvo, Foxwizard, BYw, NWTerriD

                      blog for evidence of this. Those in the trenches in DC public schools have stories that would astound everyone here. No wonder that district is failing.

                      Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer.

                      by CayceP on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 09:02:01 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Educational requirements for teachers... (2+ / 0-)
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                  JVolvo, altius2020

                  have changed as well. I don't know about other places but here in Providence you might get a teaching job with a bachelors in ed. but you must get a masters level degree within 5 yrs.

                  I would also argue that if you really wanna see where the problem is in the district's budget you'd be better off looking at administrative salaries. I know (because he told me) that my vice principal (one of two at my large urban school) in HS made over $100k in the mid-eighties.

                  "Congressmen should be just like athletes. They should have to wear the brand of the corporation they're working for." - Robin Williams

                  by Independant Man on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:28:07 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  it's still a "calling"... (2+ / 0-)
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                  BYw, NWTerriD

                  I highly doubt a person goes into teaching to "make it rich."  The high salaries you are seeing are most probably in the administration.  
                  And even if a teacher's salary is to you excessive, don't they deserve it? They are educated and have a great deal of responsibility. It's not just a 8-4 job, they spend countless hours outside the classroom.  

              •  Oh but I do remember some bigger classes. And we (10+ / 0-)

                were expected to behave. Our parents were expected to be engaged and to support the teacher's authority, unless there was some evidence.

                Okay, the Government says you MUST abort your child. NOW do you get it?

                by Catskill Julie on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:05:20 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Probably, although most of my classes were in the (5+ / 0-)
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                28- 32 student range. I tend to believe the right is waging war on public education in order eradicate it. Once it is gone, no amount of vouchers will enable the lower, or even much of the middle, class to educate their children.

                They'll then have to work for their prep-school educated peers for pennies a day.

              •  Also went to school in the 60s, and large classes (0+ / 0-)

                were routine.

                I don't think I remember a single class under 25, and very few under 30 students.

                But we were expected to produce, and very little in the way of excuses were treated as valid.

                neca politicos omnes; deus suos agnoscet.

                by khereva on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:01:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Large class sizes encourage (5+ / 0-)

              standardized exams.

              Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer.

              by CayceP on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:51:30 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't see the relationship; under Bush (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                codairem, CayceP

                standardized exams were mandated because it is easier to judge a school's "progress" based on tests, than doing so on a whole basket of factors.

                Of course, it didn't work in TExas, so it was foisted on the whole country.

                •  This is true, however (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  dancerat, Foxwizard

                  in Oregon at least, standardized exams were implemented long before Bush and I bet I can run a correlation between a rise in class size and an emphasis on exams.

                  Irgendwann fällt jede Mauer.

                  by CayceP on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 08:52:41 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Standard tests suck (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Foxwizard, BYw

                    If you are bad at tests, no matter of "test practicing" is going to help you and you are screwed. I liked it better when it was more college based, i.e. 20% attendance, 20% participation, 30% homework, 30% tests. At least you'd have a chance at passing the class with a C or above if you were a crappy test taker.

                    I bet Obama smells like warm cookies, fresh from the oven.

                    by dancerat on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 07:27:28 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I think I moved from abject failure in high schoo (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      to successful college student, mainly because of small class size (15) and the fact that in college we had very long essay exams, where I could reason my way through problems and focus on the concepts I'd learned, rather than regurgitating unrelated facts. (I was a history & philosophy dual major).

                      This has made me acutely aware of how standardized tests actually seem designed to create failure; you know, how businesses now eliminate their bottom 20% of customers each year, the standardized tests seem designed to filter out the bottom 20% of students (in terms of test taking ability) each year.

                      OK, that's verging on paranoia, so I better go find some meds now.

            •  expectations were not more rigorous (9+ / 0-)

              One of the changes is that all the kids are expected to reach a fairly high level of acheivement, instead of merely the top students.

              For example, when I was in school 30/500 8th graders took Algebra - the elite math kids.

              Today in California we expect EVERY 8th grader to take - and pass - algebra.

              Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

              by elfling on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:33:43 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  We All Had to Pass Algebra By 8th Grade, Too (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Angie in WA State, Foxwizard

                And that was in 1975, in a certain No. VA county.

                The "smaller classrooms" argument is now being used there.

                What changed?

                "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."—J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

                by skeezixwolfnagle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:43:33 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What happened (5+ / 0-)

                  to the kids who didn't pass or weren't ready?

                  Because you know there will be some, at the very least kids with disabilities of various sorts.

                  Maybe they ended up at different public schools, maybe they were pushed to special ed, maybe they dropped out. But I guarantee you that not every 8th grader in your county in VA in 1975 passed algebra every year.

                  Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

                  by elfling on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:47:13 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Your argument seems based on what (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    dancerat, skeezixwolfnagle

                    schools are accused of doing NOW, before the miracle of standardized tests.

                    In point of fact, school WAS more rigorous then. I graduated High School by the skin of my teeth in 1971, was given six weeks by my college to shape up or ship out, and aced the semester. I had the foundation, I just wasn't a test taker.

                    Since I have two master's degrees and have been successful in three careers, the foundation got laid but a standardized test would have forced me to drop out before 12th grade, or never get into college.

            •  I had large classes as a student too. (36+ / 0-)

              I guarantee you that the teachers at my school did not deal with one fourth of the kinds of issues that I deal with every day in the classes I teach.

              When I was a kid, my classes were 95% white middle class, in a small school in a small community with shared values. Teaching consisted of a lot of worksheets and drills. Parents, teachers, and students alll believed that the norm was for students to do what they were told during class, and to do their homework at night. If they didn't do what they were supposed to do, corporal punishment was used. At that time, the alphabet was taught in first grade.

              Nowadays, kindergartners are expected to be reading full sentences before the end of the year. My school has a near 50% free and reduced lunch population. I teach my 7th-graders math that I didn't learn, in my advanced math classes, until high school. I have students in my classes who start the year with anywhere from 2nd-grade to 9th-grade math skills, some with ADHD, some who barely speak English, some with disabilities that prevent them from being able to comprehend and follow written instructions, some who stay up till midnight or work all weekend in their parents businesses and end up falling asleep in my class. I am supposed to meet the educational needs of 150 of these students in 50 minutes a day -- on the days when we have a full class period. (It actually works out to something like 130 hours a year.)

              I wish that here on an allegedly progressive site, I would stop seeing people suggesting that the solution to our school problems is to go back to what we did in the 60's or 70's, when the world was a completely different place than it is now. If you want to find out why classes of 32 students are considered too large, go spend a few days observing in an urban school. Find out what the realities are that today's teachers are dealing with. Stop listening to the bullshit rightwing talking points about how it's all because of lazy incompetent teachers.

              Before I started teaching, I was a successful litigation attorney. I am not exaggerating even an iota when I say that handling multimillion-dollar lawsuits was MUCH easier than my current job.

              Relax - the adults are in charge now.

              by NWTerriD on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:49:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Differences Between Then and Now Education (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              JVolvo, NWTerriD

              There were college prep high schools, comprehensive high schools that combined college prep with technical classes, housing two separate student populations, and normal schools.  Students were divided according to aptitude.

              In middle school, students were separated and sent to classes based on achievement level in various academic classes such as math, English, science, and social studies.  The accelerated learners were not placed with the struggling learners in the same classrooms.

              No special needs/special ed children were "mainstreamed."  They were in special schools.

              Those were my experiences in three different public schooling milieus.  Southern California, New Jersey, and Florida.

              "ingratiation and access . . . are not corruption." -- Justice Kennedy (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010)

              by Limelite on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 07:46:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I think Japan has 40-45 students/class (13+ / 0-)

            They are expected to behave, and to learn, and they do.

            This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

            by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:26:41 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  God forbid we expect anything from (5+ / 0-)

              our kids!  (or their parents!)

              "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

              by Skeptical Bastard on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:01:32 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  I'm just guessing (3+ / 0-)

              that their parents are much more involved than American parents. For one thing, Americans almost have to have both parents working just to keep up with things. That leaves a lot less time for the kids, and a lot of stress too.

            •  There is much more to a Japanese Education (5+ / 0-)

              It is teaching to the test on steroids and almost totally memorization based.  It's exactly what many of us are wanting to stop.  I know that I want the results of education to include knowing how to think and use the material rather than just pass tests.

              As an example, children there will spend years and years learning English and come out of it passing huge tests of vocabulary, but almost know idea of how to put it all together and speak.

              "Whatever you say today in the comments...I shall take umbrage!" -- BiPM

              by Progressive Chick on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:45:38 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Reminds me of a Japanese math curriculum (0+ / 0-)

                I was reading about quite a while back.  The entire focus of it was doing math quickly in your head.  Start with learning multiplication tables, then start doing 2 digit multiplications, then 3, then 4, etc.

                The problem with that is it has little practical value in the modern world.  I mean, suppose you could show off at parties or something, but even a 20 year old computer is more useful, if you want to do a lot of simple math operations quickly.  Or a cell phone, for that matter.

                That having been said, I do admire the emphasis Japanese culture puts on education.  Beyond the issues mentioned (overworked teachers, distracted students, etc), think priorities of the average student and their parents could be a lot more conducive to getting a good education.

                •  In my opinion, they place far too much on it (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  JVolvo, NWTerriD, Flying Goat

                  You know how many of our kids go to after-school activities and sometimes the mom is acting as chauffeur each day.  Piano and other music, tap/Jazz/Ballet/gymnastics, and then all of the different sports.  Not in moderation or because the child has talent and really wants to pursue the activity daily?

                  In Japan, the kids go to school six days a week (half day Saturday) for after school, many go to...More School.  They are called cram schools (Juku).

                  I could write more, but I think I need to send you and others who know more to Wikipedia so you can have more access to additional information and not depend  on just me and what I can remember off the top of my head.


                  "Whatever you say today in the comments...I shall take umbrage!" -- BiPM

                  by Progressive Chick on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 08:36:44 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Mental math has its place (5+ / 0-)

                  I've taught 7th grade math and now teach high school business. I believe the ability to do mental math helps a student quickly determine if the answer the calculator spits out "makes sense." I've had too many students who couldn't do mental math or even an estimate, vehemently defend a ridiculous answer because..."the calculator says so!"

                  •  No argument there... (0+ / 0-)

                    People certainly should some familiarity with numbers, but this was completely focused on fast mental math.

                    •  mental math (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:

                      My son is in 4th grade. Last year they drilled like mad (add, sub, mult, div). The kid who did it the fastest could not solve problems very well - he was, in effect, a human calculator. There has to be a mix. Heck, my wife's a successful accountant and she still uses her fingers to count sometimes!

              •  Learning HOW to think (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                is not a Republican value.

                (regrettably not a snark)

                Torture is for the weak. After all, it is just extended wheedling.

                by nargel on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 10:56:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  And what do those amazing test-taking (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Japanese kids do when they graduate? They're not exactly taking the world by storm, are they? Don't buy in to the lie of the "Why can't American kids be like the (insert nationality here) kids?"

          •  The Main Problem We Have (8+ / 0-)

            isn't even necessarily the class size. It's not even necessarily that a teacher teaches badly.

            (Specifically, with regards to historical studies,) here we have a standard historiographic viewpoint of the US that we teach which seriously distorts one's view of the US, and in my opinion, represents outright indoctrination. There is this stubborn notion that the founding of the US is some glorious golden age, after which everything has been a downward spiral. The Constitution was supposed to be this magic, perfect document, and the role of John Marshall (the activist judge of activist judges) in fixing much of the huge gaps in the document is not nearly sufficiently emphasized. There is the silly portrayal of all American enemies as cartoon villians. England, for instance, is talked of as this monstrous tyrant that collected taxes without representation, with little discussion as to whether the taxes that the colonies was asked to pay was even much at all or why the taxes was collected (i.e. to help pay for protecting the American colonies). There is also no question as to who, really, were the people who complained about the taxes and what special interests they represent. America is always painted as the hero, or the unjust victim of foreign villians. The War of 1812 is never honestly presented in the context of the Napoleonic Wars. And only a very small fraction of US history students can talk about what the US did in China or Philippines as an imperialist. US achievements are completely aggrandized beyond proportions. The Great White Fleet is always portrayed as proof that the US was a preeminent power, but it is never put in context with the Royal Navy or the Kaiserliche Marine.

            These distorted views of the history of the US pollutes the thinking of Americans, creating these ridiculous notion of American invincibility, infalliability, and immortality which misguides much of the policies of the nation.

        •  I have to say (7+ / 0-)

          that clip is the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. Perhaps ever.

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:32:22 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It Wolud Be Funnier... (4+ / 0-)

            ...if it weren't true.

            Just like 1968, when American morans elected a nearly dead guy for president and a moron for vice president.


            We dodged that same disaster 40 years later. Let's hope and work so it doesn't happen again.

            "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."—J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

            by skeezixwolfnagle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:21:15 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  W-o-u-l-d...Sorry (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."—J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

              by skeezixwolfnagle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:21:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Nixon was a "nearly dead guy"? (8+ / 0-)

              Wasn't Humphrey older than him at the time?

              And looking back.. Nixon was probably one of the most progressive Republican presidents ever!

              Richard Nixon: The Forgotten Progressive

              Nixon signed into law the Clean Air Act Extension of 1970, amending the Clean Air Act of 1963 to greater enforce environmental regulations.

              Nixon then established the Environmental Protection Agency, streamlining several agencies into one, making it easier to regulate and enforce environmental laws.  

              A Quaker, Nixon felt racism and segregation in the U.S. was a moral outrage. In 1971, he signed the Equal Rights Amendment desegregating public schools.

              Nixon opens up relations with the Soviet Union and China.

              He becomes the first president to visit the People's Republic of China in February of 1972.

              "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

              by Skeptical Bastard on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:07:35 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Puh-leeze! (0+ / 0-)

                Most Progressive Republican = Least Progressive Democrat

                Nixon felt the "racism and segregation in the U.S. was a moral issue"? He certainly used that "moral issue" to create a wedge with his Southern Strategy, didn't he, especially when he ran his campaign for a 2nd term?

                Nixon opposed the Clean Air Act Extension, but he signed it into law because he knew the Democratically-controlled Congress would override his veto anyway.

                The man used the fireplace in the summer and walked the beach in black socks and wingtips. His paranoia nearly did him and his office in.

                Nearly dead? You betcha!

                I know Chomsky called him "the last liberal president," but what did he know, anyway?

                "It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."—J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)

                by skeezixwolfnagle on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 02:14:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Love your sig (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I used to read a lot of Krishnamurti. Maybe it's time to revisit. Thanks for the reminder!

      •  It is astounding (17+ / 0-)

        All they told us in school was that Karl Marx was a bad man with bad ideas that would destroy our country. We never read him or anything -- that's all we were told.

        "Of all the varieties of virtues, liberalism is the most beloved." -Aristotle

        Follow me on Twitter!

        by weatherdude on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:39:07 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  In 8th grade? (8+ / 0-)

         I know that there are times our educational system is a little dumbed-down, but are 8th graders ready to read primary texts by authors such as Durkheim, Marx, and Weber?  Perhaps short excerpts would be appropriate and extremely beneficial, but not long, multi-page passages.

         I teach high school - religion in a Catholic school.  My students are juniors, and I am disappointed that they don't understand more about some basic political philosophy, which is why I introduce them to it.  I also give them primary texts to work with (Aristotle, papal encyclicals).  Unfortunately, I find that I also have to teach them how to read difficult texts.  We do need primary texts in high school because reading comprehension is poor, but, seriously, reading more than just short excerpts of primary texts in 8th grade?

        •  Well, we did have to read part of a primary (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tmo, JVolvo, Augustine

          text and then the teacher explained the general concepts and methods and applied them by example.

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:56:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sounds like a good method (10+ / 0-)

            That sounds great for 8th graders - reading a passage, then talking about what the passage means. As they get older, they can get longer passages and have to answer questions on their own and eventually respond to what the passage says. I really think too many 8-10th graders don't aren't stretched or pushed to think.  So few can actually take notes in class or when reading.  Some don't even pay attention to the question on a quiz/test.  Once a student asked me, "What am I supposed to do?"  I asked him to read the question/instructions.  He started reading them out loud and then stopped in mid-sentence.  He assumed he knew what was being asked without even finishing the question!  sigh  I guess I'm rambling a bit now, but the longer I teach, the more I realize we have to start with critical thinking early on.

            •  I had such a horrid 8th grade English teacher (5+ / 0-)

              I'm just writing this under your post because you really seem like you would really understand why this was frustrating.

              I came from a really good school system the previous year and I knew that I always did well on tests for comprehension.  He had us read a short story and take notes and then take a short test on them and that was the first time I ever got a ZERO on a test.  After taking down what I had been taught were the important events of the story, and of course, knowing the bigger meanings that the author was trying to convey, I took his "test" and was allowed to use my notes.  I found that I had written down noting he asked.

              After failing the next week on the same kind of test, I figured out the system and got a 100% each time with much less work.  I just skimmed the story and jotted down anything trivial that the author was using just to add a bit of interest to the wring.  Little things like the street number of an address the character was traveling to, or that another person in the story had little flecks of gold in their blue eyes, or every shade of pink mentioned by the protagonist when looking at a sunrise.  I'm very glad that I discovered that it was him and not me, because I can not imagine if I had to continue into High School having to relearn note taking.

              Thanks for listening.  I'm 46 and I still think about how horrible this teach was.

              "Whatever you say today in the comments...I shall take umbrage!" -- BiPM

              by Progressive Chick on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:16:07 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That is horrible (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Progressive Chick, NWTerriD

                 Did he ever try to show that the street address had a symbolic meaning that helped the reader understand the story?  I try to avoid nitpicky details like that; they don't serve a purpose except to make the event the author is describing more detailed and concrete.  Now that's good writing, but if that's what he was trying to teach, he needed to say so.  I don't teach a literature class, but I use short stories and novels in class to get the moral dilemmas across to the students.  It's a chance to see a human being in a situation that is grey and complex, rather than the black and white 2-paragraph scenarios that are fairly easy to come up with.  I use the literature to broaden their experience of the human condition.  It's amazing how limited in scope they are, but then they are high school students, and their experience is limited.  Thank goodness there's literature!

            •  Directions? (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              joy221, JVolvo, Augustine, NWTerriD

              I have the same experience with their not reading directions. I tell my HS kids: "Years from now, if you have a child, and you get a prescription for him/her, will you read the instructions or just pour the whole bottle down junior's throat?" The response, invariably, is "that's different!" I reply that if they can't do simple things NOW like read basic directions and actually put their name, date, and period on the assignment, how are they going to handle the more complex situations of college and adult life? They either assume what they are supposed to do or they've been programmed (by parents or other teachers) to be spoon-fed. Well, that stops in my class and they get the message quickly. I don't show mercy; failure to follow instructions often leads to low grades. One shot across the bow does the trick. I learned the hard way that "Oh, I'll let it go this time" just begs more learned helplessness. So far, my strategy is working and not a single parent has complained (some like my hard-line approach).

              •  A thousand recommendations (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                 I wish I could recommend this post a thousand times rather than just once!
                 I have the same attitude.  I teach college as an adjunct, and I keep in touch with friends from grad school and other colleagues teaching at the college level.  The other day, on their spring break, I asked three friends what do they find freshmen unable to do that they should know how to do on day one of college.  They answered:  1)  reading comprehension was weak; 2) note-taking skills were weak; and 3) writing skills were weak.  I tell my high school students that these are the things they have to work on.
                 I taught for 3 years in an inner-city Catholic school, and the principal had a powerful statement at orientation:  "Our goal is not to get you into college.  Anyone can do that.  Our goal is to help you FINISH college."  I tell my students that I don't want them to be the one failing their first semester or returning home after Christmas.  I want them to be the ones their college friends turn to for help in writing a paper or studying.  I want them to be the one going back after the Christmas break and asking, "Where's so-and-so?  Did he come back?" rather than the one who dropped out.

        •  I think that is the problem (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          When I was in school, we had special curriculum to teach reading comprehension.  SRA, if I remember correctly.  My reading level in 3rd grade was at the 11th grade level (at that time).  Why have we strayed from such a basic as reading comprehension?

          My middle daughter went to a private prep-school.  In her freshman year they dissected Marx.  My youngest, now in uni, hasn't heard of him (except through me, I'm a soc major and Marx is one of my is Durkheim). If we continue to dumb down the curriculum, they won't be able to understand Marx in uni!

          Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

          by EdgedInBlue on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:26:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  We haven't "strayed." (0+ / 0-)

            Reading comprehension is still taught.  From kindergarten on.

            Relax - the adults are in charge now.

            by NWTerriD on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 12:02:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Perhaps it's a regional thing or testing (0+ / 0-)

              but I put 4 girls through school (3 daughters and a niece) in Missouri, all had at least 4 years catholic school.  The two oldest, twas not an issue.  The two younger I had to coach at home and both still struggle marginally (both are currently  in uni).  

              I went to uni myself in Missouri, at age 47, and the biggest issue I had was with peer-group reviews because the students couldn't understand my literary references or devices.  I once wrote a paper entitled "Beware of Trojans" about the gifts that can (or can't!) be found in adversity.  Every single review, 30 of um, mentioned not understanding what Trojans (and some said condoms) had to do with my story.  The GA teaching the class asked about the title as well.  I could go on with instance after instance, especially in literary analysis classes.  I also worked in a Presidential Scholar's dorm, with some of the best and the brightest, and they would comment on other students', whom they tutored, lack of comprehension.  It seems to me that at some point, the methodology of teaching reading comprehension has changed and it seems to be failing. At least in Missouri!  ;)

              Since I am going into teaching, I suppose I will discover the reality for myself.

              Here is a test to find whether your mission on earth is finished: If you're alive, it isn't.

              by EdgedInBlue on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 02:16:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Hahahaha. Oh sorry, it's not really funny, is it? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Education is so dumbed down here, I doubt anyone in any other country could fathom it.

        This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

        by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:25:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not having experienced it, (0+ / 0-)

          I'm cautious with generalisations. I won't judge how good or despicable the system is overall, just a case.

          Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

          by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:34:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Why? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, NWTerriD

          Because we cannot have them feel badly and everyone gets a trophy (or diploma)...just like in Little League!

          My district does not give a grade of 'F' - they changed it to 'U' because 'F' might harm their psyche. I tell them if I don't pay my mortgage, I get an 'F' in FORECLOSURE!

          I'm not mean, but I'm tough and I'm fair, and those who do well in my class can feel proud to have actually earned it.

          That said, thanks to Governor Chris Christie cutting 55% of our state aid, I'm out of a job and probably out of teaching at the end of this school year.

      •  I'm in the Uk and I too, am surprised (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dauphin, EdgedInBlue

        by this approach to social studies. For the most part our classes in these subjects were split in two. PSE (Personal and Social Education] taught us the ins and outs of government and RE (Religious Education] gave us moral and ethical discussion.

        I actually learnt more about ideological politics from my year 8 english teacher.

        Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm - Winston Churchill

        by Hexa on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:22:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  God forbid we ever do so. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JVolvo, Dauphin, DawnN

        If I had the audacity to have a rigorous discussion of Marx et al in a public high school classroom, in my district, I might become persona non grata  -- toute suite.

        I'm in a teacher certification program for social studies, and frankly I worry about how academically rigorous and historically accurate and honest I will be allowed to be.  The textbooks are indeed a major problem.  And younger, newer teachers have to worry about the possibility of being let go if some well-heeled conservative in the district insists that they go.  If you don't have tenure, you are vulnerable.

        "Fighting Fascism is Always Cool." -- Amsterdam Weekly, volume three, issue 18 (-8.50, -7.23)

        by Noor B on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 05:26:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Well (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It was an 8th grade social studies class - 13 year olds

    •  Two more things (47+ / 0-)
      1. Contact the principal and express your concern that the curriculum being taught does not assure that kids receive neutral and unbiased, factually correct information as well as a lack of encouragement towards critical thinking, and that the presentation may actually interfere with meeting NCLB tests if slanted. (NO principal wants to hear they may be getting stabbed in the back on NCLB scores by teachers.)
      1. Contact the school system and ask if there is a curriculum director for the entire school system. If there is, ask if you can discuss your concerns with them. If there isn't a curriculum director, ask who is responsible for consistency in curriculum across the school district from K-12, and who is assuring neutral, factual curriculum.

      Just thought of a third:

      1. Go to the school board's next public meeting and express your concerns about neutrality, fact-based curriculum which encourages critical thinking, along with concerns about meeting requirements of NCLB. Get it on the public record. Stack the room with other like-minded parents and ask them to participate in feedback as well. If you're concerned that the school board won't hear you during the meeting, send them a registered letter with your concerns prior to the meeting.

      Best of luck to you.

      •  Well, before I brought out the big guns like that (17+ / 0-)

        I'd just call the department supervisor.  You need the curriculum director, BOE, etc. when it is a widespread problem throughout the program.  

        I work in a school, and usually, USUALLY, a problem with a teacher can be discussed with the teacher and with the supervisor.  

        If I wanted to shut up, do what I'm told, and like it, I'd be a Republican!

        by MadLibrarian on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:28:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Depends on the size of the school district (0+ / 0-)

          We don't have department supervisors here. It's teacher > principal > superintendent > school board.

          And that's it.

          The curriculum director reports to the superintendent and is supposed to assure that all six elementary, one middle school and one high school are using the same texts, striving for the same outcome from those texts (meeting and exceeding expected NCLB scores and improving over last year), and that all the schools funnel up to the same end standard at graduation.

          And if you have a school system which is also teaching to the International Baccalaureate program in middle and high school levels, deviations from the curriculum can have dramatically bad outcomes that deprive the kids of their ability to merge into the right level of the program. In IB, the kids are working at the same level as their peers around the globe; it's not purely a state or local program, and deviations hurt the rest of the school's efforts.

          If there's one teacher who is deviating, there are probably more, and it's time the administrators of the curriculum and the school were sending out reminders to ensure that everybody top to bottom in the system is aligned with the school system's standards. It's also important when dealing with authoritarian personality types that they know their authority figures are in the loop, too.

      •  Yes! Don't stop at the principal. Run it up (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        tikkun, eru, st minutia

        all the way to the top.  The principal shouldn't be tolerating this.  If there is one teacher like this in your school building, there is likely to be others across the district.  

        It might indeed help your initiative to ask for the NCLB test score results and other standardized testing results.  Seek to compare this teacher's classes versus other teachers might prove interesting.  Simply making the request with these sorts of interests and angles should help to get a more serious response.  

        What you probably don't want is a vacuous promise that the principal will talk to this teacher in order to change the focus and balance for the next couple of months while your daughter is there.  As hard as that might be to achieve, this is a temporary bandaid.  I suspect what you really want is precipitate a top down effort to review the curriculum, how it is taught,  who is teaching it and perhaps a review of specific teacher credentialling.  None of that will happen by simply focusing on one school building.  You do have to go to the curriculum coordinator in the administration.  You do have to go to the school board to seek the long term and district wide reforms.  You will want to have independent audits of the classroom instruction, comparing this teacher's outcomes with other ones in other schools, maybe even other districts and states.  You want to find and work with other parents with shared concerns.  You may find there are state level and national resources you can leverage as well.

        Developing a local supportive group will be especially helpful since others on the far right may eventually peg you as a liberal activist who needs to be shut up and put in her place.  Depending on the size of your community, the right leaning folk often have some organization already, and may seek leverage from various vantage points to push you off message and silence you.  For them, this is a zero-sum game they may feel they must win, since they feel an obligation to win the hearts and minds of children for generations to come in order to bring them to their way of thinking and through off God's curse on a disbelieving America.  For you it is mostly about fair and accurate teaching.  So, it's an understatement to say the motivations are asymetric in intensity. Taking on prejudice that is founded on religious fervour will take courage, objectivity and careful planning with a group. You've got 2 out of 3.  It's probably time to find and build a local support group. You already know you can count on support here.  Hopefully a few Kossacks will be relatively nearby.

        When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

        by antirove on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:51:23 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  burn the witch! (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dancerat, blueoasis, VClib
        •  antirove - a question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Would you support the same action if the teacher had a progressive slant on the subject?

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:37:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is being done & I don't support it. I just (0+ / 0-)

            advocate working the angles the conservatives will already be working, or at least working to get one step a head.  People with an agenda to 'reform' education doesn't stop at just the teacher.

            When life gives you wingnuts, make wingnut butter!

            by antirove on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:59:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  What's a progressive slant on a subject? (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JVolvo, codairem

            Seriously. Give me one.

            I've dealt with the same problem the diarist is up against.

            Had a teacher telling a classroom of third graders than French fries should be "Freedom Fries" because the French were surrender monkeys.

            What would be the progressive opposite of that? Really? I'd like to know.

            I'd settle for a liberal education -- one which emphasizes the "libe" part of liberal, the Latin root "free" as in free-thinking, instead of getting right-wing ideology crammed into my kids' heads. A liberal education might suggest the kids research why potatoes cut in thin strips and deep fried were called "French" rather than telling them they were the product of "surrender monkeys."

            •  Rayne - here is one (0+ / 0-)

              Prior to passing HCR the idea that "the federal government should take a broader role in providing health care to citizens of the US". My guess is that in civics and government classes teachers might have said those words, not to spark a debate, but as a statement of opinion. Would you complain all the way up to the school board for a statement like that?

              "let's talk about that"

              by VClib on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 08:08:04 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Or (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You could not hyper-over-react

        •  Or (0+ / 0-)

          You could ignore this, tell your kid it's nothing, and allow the indoctrination to continue.

          Or you could tell your kid this is one bad teacher, nothing to see here, move alone.

          Or you could minimize the problem and pretend there's no further action required, it's just a teacher exercising free speech, and ignore the problem for about 20 years until the graduates from that class are running your government.

          I'm sure those are all so much better options than actually assuring a publicly-funded education is neutral and factual. /s

          •  thank you for another example (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dancerat, left turn, bushondrugs, NWTerriD

            of ridiculous over-reactions.  Indoctrination?

            Of course the proper, adult course of action would have been to contact the teacher if for no other reason than to find out how accurate the child's recount was.  In my five years as a teacher, I can't tell you how many times I/my principal would get angry parent emails recounting some thing their child claims the I said, only to discover that the child's recollection was a bit colorful.

    •  Thomas Jefferson! (25+ / 0-)


      Thomas Jefferson wrote and spoke as a strict interpreter of the constitution -

      Thomas Jefferson as President probably did more to expand federal powers of the government than anyone else in history... Washington included.

      Don't get me wrong - there's a lot I love about TJ, but Thomas Jefferson the writer and philosopher and Thomas Jefferson the President were mortal enemies and on polar opposite ends of the scale.

      I mean... The Louisiana Purchase?  Everyone knows that one.  But how about the 1807 Embargo Act?  Jefferson cut off ALL trade, nationally, which both sides of warring Napoleonic Europe.

      Wingers are so historically ignorant sometimes I don't know whether to laugh, cry, or scream.

      I guess everyone's got their own blog now.

      by zonk on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:33:03 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I remember seeing (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Politburo, elfling, esquimaux, JVolvo, codairem

        in school a beautiful Embargo cartoon that had some sort of monster strangling New England labeled, "OGrabMe"...

        I think the bottom line is that NONE of the Presidents who were involved in setting up the Constitution were strict constructionists when they saw something as an Executive that they wanted to do, which was not strictly enumerated as a power of the Executive Branch.  (Not all of which was entirely admirable, but still - Alien & Sedition Acts, anyone?)

        •  Remember that even if they wrote and signed it (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          alizard, JVolvo, happymisanthropy

          it was still a committee document, and they spent a lot of time adding and subtracting elements. I'm sure that as writers they felt quite a bit less reverence for each bit that someone else wrote than any of us would. ;-)

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:36:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  "American Sphinx" by (5+ / 0-)

        Joseph Ellis was one of the most eye-opening books about Jefferson. Jefferson was definitely a conundrum who, still to this day, cannot be pigeon-holed or measured with simple talking points.

        It seems to me that Mrs. Smith has no idea about Jefferson at all. It sounds like she needs an education.

        "There is nothing more frightening than active ignorance." - Goethe

        by kingyouth on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:49:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  And even if he WAS a strict constructionist (5+ / 0-)

        it would be a lot easier to strictly construe a document back in the times during which it was written than 150 years later when so many things in society and the world have changed. The drafters never even dreamt of half of the things we're dealing with these days, which is why they made it a fluid document that is able to be changed as necessary.

        "Out, out, you demons of stupidity!" ~ Dogbert

        by husl piper 11 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:05:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  and if there were questions as to (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JVolvo, husl piper 11

          what was meant by the Founding Fathers, Jefferson could simply go find one and ask with no guessing or inference necessary. Of course, if the question referred to a document for which Jefferson was the primary author, figuring out what was really meant was necessarily his problem.

          Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

          by alizard on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:05:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well.... (6+ / 0-)

      I'm willing to give the teacher the benefit of the doubt on #1.  That statement, by itself, isn't factually inaccurate.  And I wouldn't have a problem with #2 for a 3rd grade class, but for an 8th grade class its simplistic and biased.

      #3, however, is in the place where a teacher has absolutely no business inserted his/her editorial comments.  #3 is just wrong in a public school.

      "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." --Barack Obama, June, 2008

      by oldskooldem on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:36:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This doesn't sound so bad. (12+ / 0-)

      Hopefully you didn't do more harm than good for your child for the rest of the time she has to spend in that school environment.  

      Your letter doesn't mention anything about having spoken to the teacher directly, expressing your concerns.  I assume you wouldn't go around her back to the principal before giving her the decency of expressing your thoughts directly to her?  

      •  Very good point (5+ / 0-)

        I agree with you. And were I teaching below the college level, I could well imagine how I'd feel if a parent went behind my back to get me in trouble for expressing liberal views about most anything, but for example, the labor movement. Of course, I don't know yet whether thealater did have a conversation with the teacher already.

        •  Yes. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dancerat, JVolvo, left turn, MichaelNY

          I taught 6-8 social studies at a catholic school, me with my liberal views.  I gave a presentation on the the history of nuclear weapons & the manhattan project.  The next day a conservative parent had written an angry email to the principal (also hyper-conservative) accusing me of all sorts of things that didn't happen, quoting me on things I didn't say.  I ended spending hours preparing to defend myself in a parent/teacher/admin conference, only to have the chicken back out the day of.

          Reading this diary made me actively angry - at the parent/author.  Just a childish thing to do.

    •  Good on you (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PeterHug, ladybug53

      It seems to me there are two responsibilities in play here. First, that of a parent for their child and second, that of a citizen and human being. I think you have met both admirably.

    •  Also your daughter is in 8th grade now. (6+ / 0-)

      She should be thinking for herself and you should be encouraging it.  In high school and college she will encounter teachers who have viewpoints different from her own.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Are you going to be sending letters to the Dean 5 years from now?  

      Teach your daughter to think critically and question what she is taught, no matter what viewpoint it comes from.  

    •  vis a vis rec acknowledgements (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, Hexa, linkage, happymisanthropy

      'I believe the culturally expected gushing about first time on the rec list goes here?'

      Back in the far away long ago, it was considered bad form to gush.  Maybe way back in 2008.  Then, if anybody were to mention the honor, the appropriate etiquette would be to say something like, 'Dammit, get the hell off my lawn!'  I am unlikely to be in this situation, being the author of invariably lame diaries, and I like my grapes sour, if you please, with a spritz of lemon juice.

      Excellent post.  Go get 'em!  My wife and I had a reputation when our kids were in public school. We supported the good teachers tremendously, and the others... Well, they hid under their desks when they heard we were coming.

      Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. Stupidity is a condition; ignorance is a choice.

      by triplepoint on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:45:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I wish more parents were like that (0+ / 0-)

        Most are so tuned out to their childrens education it's unbelieveable. Kudos.

        Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm - Winston Churchill

        by Hexa on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:26:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Any response? n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I have never been able to figure out if Fox is the propaganda arm of the Republican party or is the Republican Party the political subsidiary of Fox.

      by Dave from Oregon on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:51:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm going to pass this (0+ / 0-)

      over to Edouard and see what he thinks. Should be an interesting opinion. :-)

      Congrats on finishing the dissertation, BTW! If you and Luc need anything, let me know. :-)

      "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Albus Dumbledore ~~~~~~~~~

      by Lainie on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:22:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  thealater - two questions for you (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ferallike, mystery2me, foresttdog

      If the teacher had been presenting issues with a progressive slant, would you have written a similar letter? If not, why not?

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:34:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  At first when I read this I thought ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      (a) Come on ... the Jefferson bit wasn't your strongest point when you start out "true but ..."  After all, it's 8th grade.

      (b) Well, maybe (the big government bit) that's OK because it doesn't say anything about which is better.

      Then, I got to (c) and you had won me over.  My devil's advocacy was shot to hell.  Federal student loans can only be obtained from the government!  Now, there she went too far.

      My son is always trying to read between the lines and figure out which side his teachers are on.  I think mostly they do try ... but not hard enough.

      "I want my America back!" -- But, which America is that?

      by alliedoc on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:52:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  good on y ou AND your daughter! (0+ / 0-)


      "We struck down evil with the mighty sword of teamwork and the hammer of not bickering!" - The Shoveler

      by Pandoras Box on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:44:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I had something like that (46+ / 0-)

    During my kid's 5th grade year, he told me that his teacher had told them something about the parties.

    She said something to the effect of "Democrats don't think people can make choices, but Republicans allow people to make their own decisions."

    That's a little simplified, but the general gist was that Dems are bad, Reps good.  

    She is a 65 year old Mormon teaching 5th grade boys in the heart of one of the more liberal cities in the country, so I'm not really concerned about her wide reaching impact.  I just let it go.

    If Dailykos is a book, I'm the doodles in the margins.

    by otto on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:22:41 AM PDT

  •  Good for you for speaking up. (65+ / 0-)

    I'm a retired social studies teacher who made absolutely certain that I stuck to teaching the facts in my history classes.  The only time my students would get my personal view of historical facts would be when we had open discussion sessions, and they would ask me what I thought.  

    •  How do you react to the idea (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reino, BMarshall, ladybug53, mystery2me, JVolvo

      that even the choices of what facts to teach and how to present them are not-neutral? It's clear that there are degrees of accuracy and inaccuracy and degrees of slant in historical accounts, but I submit that it's equally clear that there is no such thing as completely objective instruction in history. Do you disagree?

      •  Sorry to be so late in responding to your (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JVolvo, bushondrugs, MichaelNY

        reply.  I had some errands and shopping to do.  In GA, we have GA Performance Standards (GPS) that are tied to state-mandated tests in core subject areas.  I stuck closely to the GPS material, but sure, sometimes we would express different opinions in discussion sessions, and I would give students my opinion on what I thought about historical events, and I allowed the the students to have their opinions, but I would also make sure that the information in the standards was covered.  Some of them would disagree,and I thought it was a good thing because they were engaged and thinking.  I would also include the thoughts/ideas of those in history who had different ideas on the same topic, like the federalists and anti-federalists.   The principal required us to use the GPS as a "guide" to teaching all courses.  This was based on the idea that if the teacher taught the required material, the students would be more likely to pass the U.S. History end of course and graduation tests.  The GPS units are stated in a very specific way.  This is one of the standards for the Progressive Era: Describe the significance of progressive reforms such as the initiative, recall, and referendum; direct election of senators; reform of labor laws; and efforts to improve living conditions for the poor in cities.  

        •  Thanks for your detailed reply (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          My argument would be that any syllabus itself is not neutral because even the choice to require certain aspects of history be covered involves a choice not to require other things to be covered, from a practically limitless number of events that happened in people's lives. Then, there are inevitably non-neutral aspects of teaching even a required syllabus/curriculum (etc.).

          All that said, I certainly understand that you acted in good faith in making sure to use the GPS Standards as a guide and cover the required curriculum. But to the extent you did that, it is those who mandated the standards, rather than you, who can be credited or/and blamed for making choices that by definition involve a degree of non-neutrality.

    •  As a public school teacher, I also say (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      thank you so much for being such an involved parent, and for holding your daughter's teacher accountable for honest discourse.  It's highly likely that because of your involvement, this teacher will be very careful not to make this same mistake again.

      Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. Martin Luther King, Jr.

      by nandssmith on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 09:11:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good for you! (20+ / 0-)

    And this "Mrs Smith" would be my candidate number one when they do the downsizing of these assclowns.

  •  I'm a social studies teacher myself, (50+ / 0-)

    and I can verify that some people see it as their duty to make sure their pupils get the "right" perspective (or "left" or "Christian" or "whatever" perspective).  I hope you communicated with Mrs. Smith to express your concerns through email or a phone call first.  I know I always appreciate hearing directly from a parent about any concerns, rather than hearing about it from an administrator.  

    It doesn't sound like this is what's going on here, but I do sometimes play "devil's advocate" with my students and voice one particular point of view in order to inspire a discussion/debate.

    Of course, if you're concerned that Mrs. Smith is punishing students who might object to her point of view, that's another matter entirely and one that needs to be brought to the administration's attention.

    •  I think we should say on the other hand (15+ / 0-)

      We can't expect that social studies and history will be adopting Howard Zinn books to lead the curriculum.

      It's the US, and there will always be some sort of nationalist message.  

      The question is how to be critical and questioning while not being persistently negative.  

      If Dailykos is a book, I'm the doodles in the margins.

      by otto on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:27:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Procedure (7+ / 0-)

      I understand you when you said:

      I hope you communicated with Mrs. Smith to express your concerns through email or a phone call first.  I know I always appreciate hearing directly from a parent about any concerns, rather than hearing about it from an administrator.

      But a parent would rather avoid direct confrontation, because, after all, the teacher is the expert.

      I think that 8th grade is a little too early to get into the political parties, what do you think? Would it not be better go give a broad presentation about the left and right?

      •  You wanna bet? (18+ / 0-)

        "But a parent would rather avoid direct confrontation, because, after all, the teacher is the expert."

        When we were raising our girls, I frequently found that I knew more than the teachers did. We were involved enough in school activities that they knew who we were, too.

        By name.

        "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

        by QuestionAuthority on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:51:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The teacher is basically (5+ / 0-)

        holding your kid hostage sevedral hours a day. A good reason to go to administrators directly.

        Let tyrants fear.-Queen Elizabeth I

        by Virginia mom on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:52:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Only (11+ / 0-)

          if we assume the teacher to be unreasonable.  I think a lot of people are fairly unselfconscious about what they do and say.  They take certain things for granted, and some of what they do and say may therefore offend us.  But that doesn't mean they're trying to offend us or are inflexible.

          Case in point: I think I've succeeded in getting our local Giant to stop stocking Cosmopolitan in the checkout lanes.  I did it by (nicely) asking the manager, Sir, if this magazine cover was a movie, what do you think it would be rated?  Probably R, right?  It has four references to sex, also to rape and cheating.  My daughters are 10 and 7, and they're excellent readers; do you think it's appropriate to have this R-rated material right where they'll see it?

          I honestly don't think he'd thought about it -- just put the magazines where they're told to put them.

          Where there are pie fights, there must be pie. Henry Clay

          by deminva on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:09:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  rite..... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dancerat, NWTerriD

          No, the teacher is holding social studies class, probably about an hour a day, and neither you nor the parent/author have any actual understanding of what is happening and being said in the classroom.

          Going straight to the administrators just changes the action from of waste of teacher & parent's time, to a waste of the administration's time as well.  And it makes the parent look ridiculous.  

          Going straight to the principal is a childish overreaction, and far less likely to affect the teacher's conduct that having spoken with them in person.

          •  You say that a lot... (0+ / 0-)

            Calling people "childish" and saying they're "overreacting". Care to defend it, or are you just here to beat your chest?

            You can't spell TREASON without T-E-A.

            by The Panic Man on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:44:43 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  well (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              beat my chest?  I think that's supposed to imply I'm bragging about something or at least loudly proclaiming it - my message is an observation, and my take on it having been in these situations repeatedly as a teacher.

              Lets see.  The teacher sent a letter to the principal without even contacting the teacher over the concerns.  The letter accused and pseudo-quoted the teacher of saying things that they did not.  Of course the teacher could have explained this if the parent had tried to contact them.  

              The most childish part was the 2nd letter - the teacher's initial response was overly respectful, directly addressed the parents concerns, and exposed the silliness of the parents claims.  But the parent felt the need to have the last word with a foot stomping yea-you-better response to the response.

      •  8th grade (6+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JanL, JVolvo, myrealname, geomoo, MichaelNY, DawnN

        would make the students about 14.

        Not too early - but too early to be pushing one side or the other.

        I'd prefer that they say that the parties view the role of govt differently, and that their views have changed over the years.

        Let the students figure out what views the parties espouse now, what views they held in the past, and which they side with.

        Actually, that might make a good assignment - what views on the role of govt do the major political parties hold, and how are today's views different from those of 100 yrs ago?

        •  and how have those approaches changed in response (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          antirove, JVolvo, MichaelNY

          to other issues of the day.

          What was the context that changed the solid Dem south to the solid republican south?

          In a state as big as CA, why the party differences between inland and coastal counties? Between support for  and opposition to capital punishment?

          And so forth. Those differences make history interesting and an area for exploration, rather than a memory exercise.

      •  I disagree, I went to a Catholic School and that (12+ / 0-)

        is exactly what they did for elections.  
        The class was split up into the two political parties and had to put together a platform and a campaign.  It was a wonderful experience and it helped the students thoroughly understand our election process.  

        "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

        by lakehillsliberal on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:12:52 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Multi-dimensional learning (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, JVolvo, left turn, angstall, DawnN

          like what you describe is so important because it engages students' imaginations and makes it possible for them to learn at a much deeper level.

          Hard to test - essential to teach.

          Middle school and junior high kids would do so much better if they were challenged more to stretch in this way. It is a primary developmental task at this age.

          •  There are many things I did not like about my (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mystery2me, JVolvo

            religious school experience but the quality of education was not one of them.  They did not let their beliefs about religion or anything else interfere with giving their students the finest educational tools they had at their disposal, and for that they have my unqualified gratitude.

            "When fascism comes to America, it'll be wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross." Sinclair Lewis

            by lakehillsliberal on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:47:01 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  8th graders (8+ / 0-)

        are beginning to be very aware and interested in the political process.

        I would hope it wouldn't be a confrontation if a parent contacts a teacher.  I don't see an expression of concern by a parent as necessarily being critical of me.  

        •  As a smart but bored 8th grader, my teacher (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          caught me reading Time magazine tucked in my book during class. In response, he put me in charge or presenting Britain's point of view in a debate on whether they had a right to tax the American colonitst to help pay off the debts form the French and Indian war.  

          While I was not thrilled about that role, I did fine.  After that, he would direct questions at me, or use me to start a mini-debate about other explanations for events.  

          So, yes I agree that 8th graders are very much open to thinking about broader world and national events, and that teachers and parents who challenge them to think and grow spur on that interest.

      •  8th graders aren't little kids... (6+ / 0-)

        and are capable of reading and supplementing what they learn in class. An 8th grader should be developing critical thinking skills, not simply soaking up whatever is placed before them. As far as skipping over the teacher, I DO think the parent should contact the teacher first. For one thing, things may not be exactly as reported, for another, the teacher will be involved, and except in extraordinary circumstances will continue to be your child's teacher. Best to work with her.

        "Grab a mop -- let's get to work. "
        -- President Barack Obama, Oct 2009

        by davewill on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:39:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Middle school is a prime time and opportunity (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JanL, DawnN

          for learning.

          It is so important for them to learn to think across multiple dimensions (time, space, context, conceptualization, culture). They are primed to learn to think critically, analyze, explore the emotional and empathic dimensions of history, to learn to recognize propaganda, and to discover that facts are subject to creation and interpretation. etc. Also the importance of creative thinking, engineering, and so forth - depending on the child's nature and interests.

          A huge wasted opportunity if the curriculum is all about mind stuffing and dumping.

          At that age, if not younger, my son was reading and understanding and thinking about The Corn Laws. Why? Because he had a copy of David Ricardo's book at home on the floor next to his bed. Was it supplemental reading for my graduate econ class or for his history class? At this point - 30 years later, I don't remember. but I do remember being stunned to discover how well he understood the book and the economic consequences of tariffs. He was a relatively late reader, too.

          That discussion really changed my understanding of what (relatively) young children are capable of... in terms of their complex thinking - and how much the traditional curriculum sells them short.

      •  No (7+ / 0-)

        I think that 8th grade is a little too early to get into the political parties, what do you think?

        Not at all. I would have to think that many 13-year-olds have heard plenty of references to Democrats and Republicans and could use some useful historical perspective on both parties. Furthermore, it's really interesting to see how the parties have changed and in some ways, nearly flipped, and what shades of opinion have been represented in them.

        •  Well, it was not what I meant... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I am concerned about the dirt side of politics. I'd rather let kids have an historical approach, as you said, and leave it that way. When a teacher comments on policies such as Health Care that are happening now, I think it is wrong.

          For instance, teachers can discuss Vietnam War, Civil Rights, etc... because it is set history and we know the outcome, therefore it's debate over facts. The new health care law... as much as we like it, we didn't observe what the overall affects would be, so it's open to debate an it's not set in stone. Now, if the teacher wants to set groups to debate about it, it's fine. However, if a teacher gives his/her opinion, it's beyond an objective and impartial perspective a teacher should present.

          •  You may be right about best practices (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            I'll say this, though: My history teachers in high school made fairly evident what the general thrust of their opinions were, and I thought and think that it was fine. They didn't mind if we debated them and each other. It really depends on the atmosphere in the classroom. But I certainly think that current events are very relevant in discussions of history.

          •  8th graders / 14-year-olds (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            JVolvo, MichaelNY

            are on Facebook, know all about bullying, are exploring their sexuality, watch prime time television filled with sex and violence, etc, etc, etc.

            Life itself has a "dirt side" and 14 tear olds are not innocent babes.  They are still young, and very impressionable, for sure.  But it's too late to try to shield them from the dirt in life - it's out there all the time and they know it.  Better to discuss and explain it openly and calmly then to shield them from something they are already aware of.

            When the rich wage war, it's the poor who die. - Linkin Park

            by mystery2me on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:10:51 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Actually ... all you have to do (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JanL, mystery2me, JVolvo, davewill, MichaelNY

      is teach them to think for themselves .... they will get the right (Left) perspective, and it will be all their own idea.

      We do not forgive our candidates their humanity, therefore we compel them to appear inhuman

      by twigg on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:43:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It raises an interesting question though. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      How do we justify teaching that the civil rights movement was a good thing when some parents disagree?  Or that the Holocaust occurred when some parents don't believe that?

      Don't get me wrong, I think these are justifiable things to teach, but I think a lot of us probably are still at the stage of thinking, "Well of course it's OK to teach that the civil rights movement was good because that is obviously true."

      The one advantage of the right wing philosophy of education as indoctrination is that it makes decision making simple.  Once you open up social studies to questions, where do you stop? If you let the camel's nose of Howard Dean in the tent, do you let the tail end of Pol Pot in as well? [Note to the irony impaired: you just missed some there.] The sense I get is that the right wing sees liberalism as bottomless pit of mushy questions.  I don't see it that way of course, but one thing I can't offer to people who are burned out over issues like this is a promise like this: do it my way and this all will stop.

      Yes, you and I probably agree it's good to have kids exposed to questions, but we'd be mad as hell if they ended up Holocaust deniers.   There's not a lot of difference between how the right wing feels about us and how we feel about Holocaust deniers.  If you listen to Glenn Beck, Howard Dean and Pol Pot are one and the same animal.

      So what I'm asking is are we promoting some kind of epistemological guidelines? Is it a matter of our having a plurality that agree Howard Dean is not Pol Pot and tough luck lady?  Is it all as simple as pulling a Barney Frank and saying, "Ma'am, you're obviously an idiot and it's a waste of time even talking to you?"  Because that's awfully tempting, but I worry about the parts of the country where the crazies have control of local school boards.

      I've lost my faith in nihilism

      by grumpynerd on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:15:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can you imagine (34+ / 0-)

    what kind of letter a Kossack parent would have to write to the Texas school system if their textbook changes go into effect.

    Might be 30 pages long..

  •  Your letter is respectful and clear (11+ / 0-)
    though the teacher's statements are not so very egregious in comparison to others I have heard.  The third statement however is pretty ignorant.  Wasn't student loan legislation completey separate from healthcare?

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:33:14 AM PDT

  •  good that you voiced your opinion (8+ / 0-)

    to the teacher.

  •  all too common (8+ / 0-)

    for teachers to espouse personal feelings into sponge like minds.  

    I have had it both ways (too much left and too much right) in the end, it never stops.

    I am not sure it can.

  •  Thanks for your action. I had to do (29+ / 0-)
    something similar a few years back.

    My sons high school History teacher had bush posters on display in his classroom.

    When I learned of this I was understandably furious.

    I left a VM with the principle. The posters disappeared that day.

    It seems like a small gesture, but at times it feels important. Like calling the principle when I learned that President Obama's speech to the students of this country was not allowed to be seen. We had a nice chat, then I removed my daughter from school to watch the speech with me at home.

    I bristle when I think of how the rw deligitimized our leader with their disallowing him to speak to millions of kids. Pathetic.

    •  Was this when Bush was president? (8+ / 0-)

      Having a poster of the president of the country displayed in a history classroom made you furious??  

      That's strange.  

      Where do you think this principal may have gotten the idea that it's best not to present the current president's speech to the students?  Perhaps the fact that a parent once demanded the then-current president's poster be torn down from a history classroom contributed to his or her thinking?  

      What principle are you espousing...that we should actively politicize our schools, and take umbrage when others follow suit?

      at odds with knuckleheadedness of all stripes

      by Jo Jo the Hun on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:46:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It was election season and there were no posters (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        of Kerry. Plus, something I did not reference since I though it unnecessary, is that the teacher spoke openly about his supoort of bush and spoke neagtively about Kerry TO THE STUDENTS.

        All I wanted was an even playing field.

  •  One suggestion (13+ / 0-)

    Rather than say "right-wing idealology", you might get further by simply saying its "overly politicized." Your criticisms are spot on, but I can see how a princpal will dismiss the letter after reading the opening line.

  •  I look forward to the response, but (6+ / 0-)

    did you CC; the teacher herself?

  •  Curious - what state? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tapestry, JVolvo, alkalinesky, geomoo, dhajra

    Just wondering...

    "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

    by Benintn on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:48:34 AM PDT

  •  Jefferson was a less than strict interpretor when (15+ / 0-)

    president and presented with opportunity to buy Louisiana purchase.

    fact does not require fiction for balance

    by mollyd on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:48:53 AM PDT

    •  And do we want "strict interpretation" (11+ / 0-)

      when that means acceptance of slavery, no rights for women, no rights for citizens who don't own property, etc.?

      "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

      by Benintn on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:50:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True (6+ / 0-)

        which Constitution do you want to strictly interpret? The amended one, or the unamended one?

        Because too many people forget that the Constitution isn't a static document. Though it hasn't been amended for a long while, it CAN be amended, including amending some of the original wording AND intent.

      •  What is a strict interpretation, anyway? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Betty Pinson

        I agree with Aharon Barak (President of Israel's Supereme Court) who wrote in his magisterial thesis:

        it [an interpretve system for legal interpretation] must adhere to one critical principle: interpretation is a rational activity that gives a legal text a meaning that it can bear in its language (public or private). This cndition is both necessary and sufficient for the existence of a system of interpretation... my position is that the limits of the text set the limits of interpretation in law, and the limits of language set the limits of the text.

        A. Barak, Purposive Interpretation in Law, Princeton U Press, Princeton, 2005, p. 18, quoted in Goode, Kronke, and McKendrick, Transnational Commercial Law, Oxford University Press, 2007

        Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

        by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:03:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You've heard about the 13th amendment, right? (0+ / 0-)

        The amendments to the Constitution are part of the Constitution.

        Furthermore, strict interpretation of the Constitution doesn't mean no rights for women or no rights for citizens who don't own property, any more than it means no rights for men, or no rights for property-holders.  

        at odds with knuckleheadedness of all stripes

        by Jo Jo the Hun on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:23:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm referring to making Jefferson interpretation (0+ / 0-)

          normative - Jefferson couldn't have envisioned the country we live in today.

          Jefferson's interpretation is helpful to modern application of principles, but it can't be considered normative.  We the people own the Constitution, not merely Jefferson or Madison or anyone else from the 18th/19th century.

          "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses." - CS Lewis, Weight of Glory

          by Benintn on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 05:36:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  not a constitutional scholar... not even o teevee (0+ / 0-)

      I admit to having to spend some time on the interwebz for this one. I didn't have time to do much more, as I turned in my dissertation Monday which I am preparing to defend, am preparing for my wedding, and trying to work a couple jobs.

      •  goodness you sound like my kids (0+ / 0-)

        She is preparing for her orals (phD in Neuroscience) and just had a baby last summer. Her husband just finished his dissertation on Quantum computing ( I have no idea what aspect) and just finished giving a paper at some scientific conference.

        fact does not require fiction for balance

        by mollyd on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:15:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe you can help your kid... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, yella dawg, Niniane

    ...offer up some good arguments to Mrs. Smith's bullshit.  Sounds like the only group she can find to parrot her GOP Talking Points to are a bunch of kids who:

    1. Don't know enough about the issues to counter
    1. Are to scared to argue with the teacher
    1. Don't give a shit one way or the other

    "IGNORE ME!" -The Galactic Grand Inquisitor

    by Scruffy Looking Nerf Herder on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:50:58 AM PDT

  •  Thomas Jefferson, like John Edwards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Betty Pinson

    recognized and lived in "two" Americas.  

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:53:09 AM PDT

  •  A model letter (10+ / 0-)

    I liked how you firmly stated your concerns without attacking Mrs. Smith's political views. IMO that was precisely the right way to approach it. Hopefully it also gives your principal room to maneuver.

    Of course, given the laughable history "standards" just adopted in my state of residence, when my son is of age he will be taught history by me. It's a good thing I've hung on to a lot of the books I bought for my college history courses.

    OTOH, he's only 3 so maybe by the time it will matter we'll have a school board that's not certifiably insane. This being Texas I won't count on it, however.

    •  Studebaker! Yes! (0+ / 0-)

      I loved my Studebaker Lark Daytona. On the outside, it looked like a Lark, but it had a V8 and a 4 speed stick on the floor, very unusual for the era. I surprised a lot of folks with "hot" cars pulling away from signals.

      My dad had one of the original Avanti's. For 1963/64 that car is still great looking today. From idea to production, 17 months. Try THAT today.

      I am confused. No, wait! Maybe I'm not!

      by Tuba Les on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:06:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  but watch the brakes! (0+ / 0-)

        Arthur Godfrey restored an early Avanti but wasn't good at brakework, and died with his son in a crash long ago.  I used to listen to him in the afternoons back in the late 40's/early 50's.

        I still like the Avanti, and own a 1970 Lotus Europa, with a similar light fiberglass body.  Death trap.

        Real plastic here; none of that new synthetic stuff made from chicken feathers. Stupidity is a condition; ignorance is a choice.

        by triplepoint on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:57:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  My dream project (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tuba Les

        is to take either a Studie Lark, or maybe a GT Hawk, and put an electric motor in it. Studebaker made cars that are still lighter than similar-sized American models being produced today, so they are pretty good candidates.

        Alas, that is going to be a while in the future, unless my number comes in with the Lottery.

        Bail out Studebaker.

        by AustinCynic on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:12:08 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans want small government? (21+ / 0-)

    Oh so that is why they created the largest bureaucracy in our history with the Department of Homeland Security.

    Teabaggers teaching government and civics is like having Pat Robertson teach biology.

    Please help the people of Haiti

    by DWG on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:53:55 AM PDT

    •  her words (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, fhcec, DWG

      This is what my daughter relayed back to me, and my first clue-in to the language being used in class.

    •  Republicans believe in destroying and milking (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      PsychoSavannah, fhcec, VA Breeze, geomoo

      government. That's why they place people in charge of agencies that are designed to protect citizens that are incompetent, pro-bussiness, or both.  And it pre-dates Bush.  It's their policy.  

      Reagan's ignorance in this area is personified by James Watt and Anne Gorsuch, the leaders he selected to head the Department of Interior and the U.S. EPA, respectively. "Never has America seen two more intensely controversial and blatantly anti-environmental political appointees than Watt and Gorsuch," said Greg Wetstone, director of advocacy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, who served on the Hill during the Reagan era as chief environment council at the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

      Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

      by Kayakbiker on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:01:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Trees pollute more than people" (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PsychoSavannah, Kayakbiker, DWG, DawnN

        May we never forget James Watt.  I still remember the gloating smile of Reagan's face when he symbolically tore a book of EPA regulations in half.  That was the beginning of the extreme marginalization of the DFH's.  W. doubled down on this strategy of appointing people bent on actively undermining the mission of their agency.  I'm sure many of them are still working their mischief.

        The falsifications and fictions that are ruling us have become life-threatening.

        by geomoo on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:20:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  And indeed Bush added more bodies to the federal (6+ / 0-)

      payroll than Clinton, Carter, LBJ, and Kennedy combined - i.e. more than all the Democrats in the last 50 years!

      Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

      by absdoggy on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:01:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It involved guns and probable oppression, so (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      the Rethuglicans were all for it.

  •  Brings back memories. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    freelunch, BachFan, geomoo

    In high school, I took philosophy as part of my finals, and, while the normal teacher was cool, preparations for finals (2 essays, one on a part of Plato's Republic and one on a general subjects) were presented by a whackjob theologian (gotta love the irony, since it's one of the most leftist and bohemian high schools around).

    We heard more about St. Hildegard and Saint Anselm than about Plato. Skiving was a pastime (my attendance was probably just over 50%), but since everyone knew the teacher was a bit weird no one minded (except him). More strangely, those of us who didn't listen to him did well (I scored a hundred percent on the essays) while those who did scored rather poorly.

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:55:31 AM PDT

  •  Great letter - reminds me of the time (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, VA Breeze, geomoo

    my son came home from school and said his 7th grade science teacher was telling the kids about evolution and then added the the editorial comment "If you believe in evolution."  

    He made no secret about that fact that as a right-wing Christian, he did not.

    Needless to say this mom had a little discussion about this with the principal.

    We all have to stand up to this kind nonsense from teachers, especially those who teach younger kids.

    Way to go thealater, keep us updated!

    "Look Dave, I can see you're really upset about this...I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill and think things over." ~ HAL

    by LuLu on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 11:58:47 AM PDT

  •  Yeah, my 8th gr teacher was a right winger (6+ / 0-)

    I argued back at every opportunity.

    Made me a better citizen, frankly.

    •  Both my 7th and 8th grade social studies teachers (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Geenius at Wrok, geomoo

      were. Yes, I argued with them. In 7th grade, my grades suffered noticeably from it: In a class in which most graded assignments were open-book tests on which I routinely scored in the 90s, I got B- term grades.

      On the whole, I think it's as important to equip and encourage your kid to argue these points as it is to write letters as a parent.

  •  Interpret? (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mmacdDE, bmcphail, jhecht, alkalinesky, dsmmom

    Jefferson didn't have to interpret the Constitution.  He was one of the framers.    He knew exactly what he meant when he wrote it, no interpretation necessary.

  •  Jefferson proposed a Constitutional Convention (8+ / 0-)

    every 25 years to amend The Constitution, if necessary. So the whole idea that he believed in a strict interpretation of The Constitution seems a bit out of whack. He believed The Constitution should be a growing and changing document. This teacher should be fired.

    "This sucks" - anonymous

    by jhecht on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:01:43 PM PDT

  •  Hardly a new phenomenon. I remember my (13+ / 0-)

    8th grade history teacher (in 1963) presenting as fact that FDR knew the Japanese were planning to attack Pearl Harbor and so had the Pacific fleet gather there in order to force the US into WWII.

    In my Junior year of high school my teacher called me a Communist for questioning the progressive tax system used by the US.  A Communist who was against taxing the very rich more than the very poor.  Not only did the accusation make no sense, it showed how old is the right wing habit of calling anyone who questions them a Communist.

    What you teach your child at home will carry far more weight than anything a teacher claims.  That said, good luck with the school administration, because the fact that she will survive this indoctrination does not make it right.

  •  May be late in the year, but get the book (14+ / 0-)

    "Lies My Teacher Told Me" by James Loewen. And have a field day every day challenging the crap that most Social Studies and History teachers peddle to students.

    Liberalism is trust of the people tempered by prudence. Conservatism is distrust of the people tempered by fear. ~William E. Gladstone, 1866

    by absdoggy on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:05:07 PM PDT

  •  One (or more) of my elementary school teachers (15+ / 0-)

    said that the Native Americans would not have been the focus of genocide by the settlers* "if they had agreed to live peacably beside their new neighbors."

    I raised my hand and said, "How "peacably" would you live with someone who broke into your home, pushed you into one room, ate your food or left it out to rot on the table while keeping you out of the kitchen?  Because that is what happened when white people slaughtered the buffalo and took only the tongues, and put Indians into reservations."  (I read a lot outside of class, even in 4th grade or so.)

    The teacher was absolutely dumbfounded, and the other kids were, "Yeah, what about that?"

    I'm not sure if that was one of the days I got a paddling for "impertinence" or not.

    *Not in those words, that was the gist.

    To say that my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:06:13 PM PDT

    •  Cool. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dar Nirron, Mariken, DawnN

      For the record, the Native Americans were not necessarily the conservationists we like to think.  There are archeological records of entire herds being driven over cliffs with only a fraction being utilized.  I'm afraid human nature is the same everywhere, and it was primarily the more sophisticated technology that made Europeans more effective at slaughtering needlessly.

      My point is that bettering our behavior and circumstances lies in looking at our own human nature rather than in feeding the delusion that any one group of people is better than another.

      None of this alters my pleasure in picturing your little 4th grade smart-ass self.

      The falsifications and fictions that are ruling us have become life-threatening.

      by geomoo on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:29:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  My daughter, at 4 years old (20+ / 0-)

    was riding with me the other day and said, "Mommy, I'm special but you aren't special because you don't go to church and you don't love Jesus".

    Needless to say I had a serious talk with her preschool provider (private) whom I have had nothing but respect for up until this point.

    My first lesson in the indoctrination of my children outside of my home. It was a sad, but necessary experience for me. So good on you for confronting this.

  •  how do YOU spell i-n-d-o-c-t-r-i-n-a-t-i-o-n? (4+ / 0-)

    Surely... after all the uproar over Obama's speech to elementary school kids, this is yet another example of... hypocracy?



    that would require being able to spell.

    nevermind (said in her best Gilda Radner voice)

    "Which one of you wants to yell next?" - Barney Frank

    by cricket7 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:09:41 PM PDT

  •  Wonderful letter! (3+ / 0-)

    Thanks for standing up for those kids.' New Science-Based Climate Change Agency

    by GN1927 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:11:34 PM PDT

  •  Why do you think that the princpal will help? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Don't you think that this stuff is ordained from above?  Just saying, your perspective makes it seem like the teacher has gone rogue wrt giving out her own viewpoints.

    Statistically speaking, it is more likely that the mindset she is regurgitating does not reflect the average teacher.  Really, what is she going to do next, bash teacher's associations and/or unions?

    •  Wow..this is ideological indoctrination... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      revsue, Roadbed Guy, SteelerGrrl

      I congratulate you on stepping up to the plate.  Would that more people did so.  

      On the differences between parties here is another frame: The Democrats want government to help People and the Republicans don't want government to help people.  They would rather give our tax dollars to big businesses.  

      I did confront a teacher once about prayer in the public school many years ago(San Antonio TX) as it was harmful to my child, coming from an atheist home.   When authorities (like teachers & schools) sanction ideologies it is tantamont to indoctrination.

      "I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong." Richard Feynman

      by leema on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:44:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Big/Small Government (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Meh.  That one makes sense.  Democrats want big government, Republicans want small government.  I don't see anything wrong with it a priori.  Obviously things are a lot more nuanced, but to 0th order that makes good sense.  Sure, Republicans want some parts bigger and Democrats want some parts smaller, but in general, that's a good first look.  I'd be concerned if the formulation were instead something like "Democrats want the government to control you and Republicans want you to have freedom," which, while not entirely inaccurate (though also meaningless, since you could reverse it and it would still work -- "Republicans want the government to control you and Democrats want you to have freedom"), is entirely slanted.

  •  Go for it!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Please keep us posted!!!

    Never walk into a public restroom while breathing through your mouth.

    by quityurkidding on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:18:12 PM PDT

  •  Is this going to be on the test? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    I always hated that question (from fellow students) especially in college. No! No it's not. Any interesting aside, especially context, is never ever going to be on the test. It's just worth knowing. Shut up!

    Support good reform not a political party blindly.

    by Eposter on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:18:15 PM PDT

  •  Your diligence is admirable but... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, hatdog, VClib, left turn

    you're splitting hairs.

    Take it from a progressive household who had girls in Khristian Konservative Kansas public schools -- creationism, proselytizing, etc -- with small stuff like this address the teacher first.  With larger infringements, contact the principal after you talked to the ACLU.

    Some advice -- but good for you in all the ways.

    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect -- Mark Twain.

    by dcrolg on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:19:17 PM PDT

  •  Jefferson (5+ / 0-)

    While Thomas Jefferson was indeed a strict interpreter of the Constitution,

    He was anything but. He believed that the Constitution did not grant him the authority to purchase Louisiana. He did it anyway.

    Like most politicians, TJ believed in strict constructionism when it suited him.

  •  If you (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    receive a response, could you please post it.

    Citizenship is a contact sport!

    by horowitz on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:20:18 PM PDT

  •  Did You Talk to the Teacher First About Her (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hatdog, bookgirl

    right-wing views creeping into her lessons before writing the principal? She may have stopped if she confronted beforehand.

    And God said unto Blue Cross/Blue Shield, "let not he who have preexisting condition enroll in thy plan for he will incur great cost unto thee!"--- Holy Bible

    by Aspe4 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:21:33 PM PDT

  •  Jefferson (9+ / 0-)

    It isn't at all clear what a claim like "Jefferson believed in strict interpretation" is supposed to mean.  Technically Jefferson wasn't a framer since he was in France but he certainly was an influential thinker of the founding period.  As several people have pointed out he clearly wasn't engaging in "strict interpretation" when he pursued the Louisiana Purchase.  Generally I avoid the term "strict interpretation" because it doesn't mean anything.  Most people engage in broad interpretations of some language in the Constitution was simultaneously engaging in narrow interpretations of other language.  The Bush administration engaged in broad interpretations of presidential power while following narrow interpretations of the 4th amendment.  Obama supporters in advocating for the health reform bill will endorse a broad interpretation of commerce power while pushing a narrow interpretation of the 10th amendment. The term strict interpretation obscures far more than it communicates.

    •  You would have loved the American Family Assoc. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VA Breeze

      (Motto: "All Christianist Hate Speech All The Time!") Radio guy talking yesterday on the air about the original intentions of the framers.

      They would have hated this health reform stuff, apparently, and supported all those brave states suing over it.

      (He didn't specify, but I guess Jesus told him what the original framers were saying about Obama.)

  •  My Sophomore History Teacher (13+ / 0-)

    brought audio tapes from the John Birch Society to class and used them as American history texts. No countervailing views were presented. I recognized them for what they were and confronted him in class (I was 15).  He sent me to the Principal's office.  I sat out the period and then called my father (a respected minister in town).  My father came in and asked to see the tapes.

    My father made sure that the material was removed from the school.  I was no longer in trouble with the administration after that, but I never got another A in that class no matter what I did.

    Educate yourself. Think for yourself. Be yourself. Act for others.

    by DHinIA on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:25:33 PM PDT

  •  Almost all government/social studies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ...teachers are GOPers until you get into college.  You are going to be doing a lot of letter writing ;(

    Run for Your Lives!! It's Moosezilla!!

    by jds1978 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:26:21 PM PDT

  •  tone (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, VA Breeze

    I like the tone of your letter. It seemed to me to be reasonable and non-combative.


  •  Jefferson was not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    He made the Louisiana Purchase without any constitutional authority.

  •  Change the course name to GOP talking points (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, The Drawback

    then the teacher won't have to teach social studies badly.

    Support good reform not a political party blindly.

    by Eposter on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:31:52 PM PDT

  •  8th grade is old enough (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that kids should be able to handle a little ideology. Few teachers manage to keep their personal opinions completely out of their teaching. Even more so with History and English, where interpretation is part of what is being taught. Do I like the teacher's ideology? No, but unless she starts getting hostile toward students who hold other opinions, I don't have a real problem with it.

    "Grab a mop -- let's get to work. "
    -- President Barack Obama, Oct 2009

    by davewill on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:34:15 PM PDT

    •  I don't know about that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, Cali Techie

      8th graders are still pretty easily led. And when you stop and think of the sheep who sit in front the the tv and listen to the pap that Beck and Hannity and Limbaugh feed them... far too many people believe things unquestioningly. I know Thealater, and she's an excellent mom who stays on top of this stuff. But far too many moms don't. If someone like Thealater doesn't step up and say something, this sort of nonsense will just slide on by.

      "It is our choices Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities." -Albus Dumbledore ~~~~~~~~~

      by Lainie on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:14:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I still remember my bad teachers from high school (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bustacap, codairem

    more than my good teachers.

    I don't know why.

    I had some real doozies, worse than this, including the social studies teacher who asked leading questions about incentives and communism, the science teacher who thought the concepts of north and south extended into the universe, the typing teacher who informed us that when we got to college we would get our lunches eaten by...wait for it, THE JEW!

    These things stick in the mind.

    There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

    by upstate NY on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:39:08 PM PDT

  •  I feel like as long as the lecture is factually (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    accurate, any opinion presented should be a matter of discussion between kids, peers and parents.

    The lecture described in the diary is not so factually accurate, so good for you, thealater, for seeking to address that.

    I mention this because I went to a religious private school where, in the early grades, we were spoonfed legend and commentary about the scripture as though it were the truth, by teachers whose qualifications were more in getting kids to sit and not make trouble for an hour at a time rather than in their ability to promote critical thinking or whatever. So I often took the lecture material home and said to my parents, "Here's what I heard in class today. Did that really happen? Is this true?"

    Their answers were typically, "No, honey, that's just a parable made up to explain what the scripture means." Or, "No, that didn't happen, it isn't really true."

    "You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." -- Dr. Seuss

    by Shaviv on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:40:08 PM PDT

  •  Democrats=Big Government, Republicans=Small (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    esquimaux, VA Breeze

    Talk about simple-mindedness. The big problem is that nobody seems to take this statement in a nuanced fashion. Ive seen plenty of knee-jerk pro-government sentiment among Democrats in response to the knee-jerk anti-government sentiment, yet we all forget how much the role of government was expanded when Bush was president in all of the worst ways possible.

    I had a right-wing neocon civics teacher when I was in high school, he presented everything in an extremely biased manner implying that the problem with Vietnam was that "we didn't have the will to win" and that Japanese internment was justified. I just wish that I had the debate chops them that I have now so I could have teared him a new one in front of the entire class (=

  •  My kids teacher ported an "Obama '08" button (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bushondrugs, NWTerriD

    I complained.

    Not that I didn't like Obama.

    I just don't think it's appropriate.

    I would hope that you would do the same, regardless if you are in agreement or not.

    The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only legitimate object of good government. - Thomas Jefferson

    by ctexrep on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:42:44 PM PDT

  •  My take on this (9+ / 0-)

    I think the teacher has a right to express her opinion, AS LONG AS SHE ALSO PRESENTS ALTERNATE VIEWS AND EXPLAINS EVERYTHING IN AN ACTUAL HISTORICAL CONTEXT. My problem with what you're reporting is that it sounds like she is presenting ONLY her viewpoint, and thereby, pushing propaganda, rather than teaching history.

    I teach history at the college level as part of courses in music history, and I always tell my students that it's no accident that history contains the word "story," and that it's always in some sense a fiction, first of all in that the teller has chosen what to include and what not to include. I tell them one of the most important things they should learn in college if they haven't already learned it is not to believe everything they read or everything anyone - including me - tells them. Of course, I never intentionally lie, but I make choices about what to focus on; I am subject to human error; and more importantly, like everyone else, I have my own views. So my students get at least three slants on history: Mine, the textbook author's (where there is a textbook), and their own. Anyone who does not mention these things in an age-appropriate way is in my opinion committing a form of malpractice.

  •  Great letter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Geenius at Wrok, Cali Techie

    I'm glad you sent it (although I'm certainly not glad that you had to send it).  

    I'm very, very glad for my social studies teachers now.  Although, 8th grade for me was more international studies.  I'm trying to think if I had teacher insert any right-wing memes in to the classes.  I had one (7th grade social studies) teacher say something like, "You guys were born under Reagan?  Already? Oh, boy."  I think I was the only one who laughed but the other students didn't care (or didn't get it).  Oh!  I did have right-wing crazies!  In high school during the Clinton impeachment craziness.  But they didn't teach history -- they taught math and physics.  When students would disagree with them (Clinton isn't an awful president, this isn't a high crime/misdemeanor, the "kids" you're so worried about offending are telling you that we aren't offended), the teachers would manipulate the conversation and the facts to get the student to agree with them.  I saw it coming and I thought it was awful.  So I complained to my mom, who in turn, complained to the principal.  It did have an effect :-)) Yay moms!

    But now the teacher's comments are making me want to research Thomas Jefferson some more.  Is the teacher trying to say something to the effect of well, Scalia is a strict constructionist but that's okay, because even the "liberal" Thomas Jefferson was one, too?  How utterly bizarre.  He was an anti-federalist, he stretched the bounds of executive authority with the Louisiana Purchase; what exactly was he "strictly interpreting" in his role in the executive branch as the enforcer of the laws.

    Why not highlight CJ Marshall?  He was the federalist on the Supreme Court that kept federalist ideas going for decades, long after the party had died out (and Hamilton had been shot).  But I guess his whole, Marbury v. Madison, theory of judicial interpretation was too "radical"?  Frustrating.

    The laws and Constitution are designed to survive, and remain in force, in extraordinary times. -- J Kennedy

    by iheartbooks on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:43:45 PM PDT

  •  It's getting really bad...Last year, during the.. (8+ / 0-)

    election, my daughter's 3rd grade teacher made the class watch a SARAH PALIN rally and had her poster up in the room. Naturally, I complained and then made her put up the Obama poster I had. And my oldest who was a senior in high school got in ROUTINE ideological scrapes with her idiotic Sociology teacher. It's one thing when the kid is old enough to speak up, it's quite another to have a bunch of 8 year olds have to sit through a Palin rally! So sick of some of these teachers!!!!

    Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed...

    by langstonhughesfan on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:47:11 PM PDT

  •  If I think back on all the crap I learned (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, esquimaux, VA Breeze

    in high school, its a wonder I can think at all.....

    •  Are we going to Graceland? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      The Drawback

      This is what the Department of Education can expect from my grant proposal:

      Teach God in the public schools, and let Darwinism take over.  Pretend the constitution doesn't exist (Old Testament), and give them unlimited political power by teaching them that every ounce of political thought comes from Republican ideals of free enterprise and market transperancy and Democratic ideals of equal opportunity and government regulation.  Form concrete solutions as they relate to less-materialized ones.

      Eliminate 1/2 standardized tests, and change grades to reflect a fair assessment of subjective and objective student progress.  Subjective assessment should be actual parent-teacher communication based on students' weaknesses and strengths in completing class assignments and general retained knowledge as exemplified by class participation.  As well, note what the teacher thinks in regards to areas of improvements.  Tests should be based on class assignments and subject knowledge, and areas of improvement are implied and inferred in any standardized test.

      Education should be an emotional experience for students.  They should fear time constraints, and they should be rewarded for organizational skills.  Soon enough, they will teach us how to differentiate between Good and Evil.

  •  6th grade abortion indoctrination (8+ / 0-)

    I had never even heard of abortion until our apparently politically-conservative and devoutly Christian but popular and much-loved 6th-grade teacher brought it up, apparently out of nowhere, and told us it was evil.  Not knowing any better, I took that information home and told my mother, who'd been an ob/gyn nurse for several years, what we'd learned.  Oh, did I get an earful.

    That man went out of his way to make my sixth grade year hell.  He labeled me "antisocial" because I took a book outside during recess time instead of running around screaming with the other kids--but he was particularly irritated because I was uncomfortable sitting on his lap.  Eeeeuw, yes, he made "problem" students sit on his lap and complained to my mother that I wouldn't at a parent-teacher conference convened to discuss my "case."  She admits she wasn't very good at confronting male authority or making waves, but to her credit she made it clear to me that I was to take everything he said with a grain of salt and just ride the year out.

    The guy just died a few months ago, and I saw all the tearful tributes on hometown Facebook friends' pages and just quietly bit my tongue, knowing that if a child of mine had a teacher like that, I'd be complaining to the school board about the abortion thing...and calling the police about the lap thing.

  •  This can actually be a teachable moment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    People have different points of view that are often reflected in their teaching/writing/etc.

    Most of my social studies and history instructors (so many years ago) were on the liberal side, which was fine by me, but they also welcomed and fostered discussion and acknowledged that theirs was only one point of view.

    Props to Mr. Walter Homan, civics teacher par excellence. - Kicking against the pricks since '98!

    by chuckvw on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:53:00 PM PDT

  •  As a former HS social studies teacher... (5+ / 0-)

    I remember talking to a parent that was upset by some comments made (by me) during an American Government class concerning then President Ronald Reagan (by the way, they were not positive.) and his approach to government (or lack of one.)
    I tried to explain to the parent that I encouraged discussion and his daughter was welcome to express any opinion that could be supported by facts. (I believe that was his problem, he didn't have any. :-)
    Although it did make me reflect on my own possible bias in discussions.

  •  Debate her. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, NWTerriD, SteelerGrrl

    In front of the class.  It would be a terrific civics lesson for the kids.

    Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

    by play jurist on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 12:56:27 PM PDT

  •  When I was in 5th Grade a John Birch Society.... (8+ / 0-)

    ...member (my 5th Grade Teacher) made us listen to John Birch Society records and told us we "could get a one-half grade increase" (i.e. B to B+) if we went to the local shopping mall and passed out John Birch Society literature. My parents nearly had a stroke when I told them this.

    This was over 40 years ago, so this type of wingnut intrusion into the schools is not new.

    By the way, none of this indoctrination worked.  I've been a Progressive Democrat my whole life.

  •  My only suggestion about your letter is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that you should also send it as a letter to the editor of your local newspaper(s) and to the Board of Education in your area.

    It's hard to believe that the right lives only to dismantle the teacher's union with teachers like this on their side.

    The religious fanatics didn't buy the republican party because it was virtuous, they bought it because it was for sale

    by nupstateny on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:03:47 PM PDT

  •  You forgot the part (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, Panda, VA Breeze

    where government actually GREW under bush and was REDUCED under Clinton.

    "Balance" does not mean giving the same weight to a lie as you do to the truth.

    by delphine on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:05:22 PM PDT

  •  Just an aside (5+ / 0-)

    UPDATE: I believe the culturally expected gushing about first time on the rec list goes here? :D Thanks!

    Very very few expect or want the "Thanks I'm on the rec list!" updates. You could edit it out, even now, and nobody would complain.

    Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

    by Jim P on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:07:32 PM PDT

  •  I was going to say - (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe, VA Breeze

    'you GO girl!' till I realized you might be a dad.

    "You GO parent and taxpayer!!"

    I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live by the light that I have. A Lincoln

    by quadmom on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:08:17 PM PDT

  •  8th grade social studies (0+ / 0-)

    What I remember most about that class was that there was a really cute girl a couple desks over that I found more interesting than the teacher.

    I doubt anything that I was taught in the class contributed much to my future political leanings LOL

    You deserve this frame. It was built for a dummy and it looks good on you. -- Jim Rockford

    by GrouchoKossak on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:11:58 PM PDT

  •  At least you don't live in Texas (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, bushondrugs

    because then they wouldn't even be talking about Thomas Jefferson, since he was the one who coined the phrase "separation of church and state."

    Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz

    by FredFred on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:22:03 PM PDT

  •  An Excellent Example of (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    linkage, VA Breeze, Jo Jo the Hun

    Republican TP's versus what they do in practice.

    Believe in smaller government? No, they want a government not powerful enough to reign in the depredations of a Plutocratic ruling class and their corporations but one certainly big enough to shove religion and their version of "morality" down out throats.

    But that would take a mess of research to support that assertion, though it is quite true. So, let's use a different metric. Let's define the size of government by how many people are employed by that government. What could be a more fair way to do it?

    Using this method we then find that;

    During the last 40 years, Democratic administrations added to the federal government's payroll 31,000 civilian defense employees (Defense Department employees who aren't soldiers), and 49,000 nondefense employees--some growth in both categories. But Republican administrations have on balance subtracted 426,000 civilian defense jobs--and added 320,000 nondefense employees. That adds up to bureaucratic bloat more than six times that of the Democrats. The biggest slasher of federal nondefense payrolls was Bill Clinton.

    Government Employees Added or (Subtracted)

                     Civilian Defense  Non-Defense

    Kennedy               (12,000)           73,000
    Johnson                312,000          105,000
    Nixon/Ford           (333,000)          213,000
    Carter                (25,000)         (14,000)
    Reagan                  91,000            3,000
    George H.W. Bush     (184,000)          104,000
    Clinton              (244,000)        (115,000)

    Source: Budget for Fiscal Year 2003 Historical Table 17.1, "Total
    Executive Branch Civilian Employees: 1940-2001"

    Reason - A Right Wing Magazine!

    There are other methods too of course, such as measuring contribution to GDP from Gov't spending. You'll find Pukes lead there too.

    So, just like most Puke rhetoric (perhaps all their rhetoric), it's just a big pile of horseshit.

    - Fools and dupes abound and wisdom is the subordinate of naked greed. What a country!

    by Dave925 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:23:42 PM PDT

  •  FWIW, typo (0+ / 0-)

    "Republicans believe that government does not a positive role to play,"

    "does not have" or "has no"


    "so it not completely a bad thing" -- "so it is"

    This health care system is a moral atrocity. Dr. Ralphdog

    by AllisonInSeattle on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:24:37 PM PDT

  •  Thomas Jefferson and Democrats Want Big Govt (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    floundericiousMI, LynneK, Night Train

    First, on the Louisiana Purchase, it is incorrect to say that Jefferson didn't believe the Constitution gave him authority to make it. According to Wikipedia:

    In 1803, despite his misgivings about the constitutionality of Congress's power to buy land, Jefferson bought Louisiana from France, doubling the size of the United States.

    The Constitution strongly implies that the government can purchase land, as it gives Congress authority to:

    ...exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;

    (Article I, Section 8, Clause 17)

    If you can't buy land to put them on, then you can't build them. Beyond that, Congress was given the power to tax in order to provide for the common defense and the general welfare of the country. The founders were acutely aware of how controlling territory on the continent was critical to protecting the country.

    As for Democrats wanting big government, that's very simplistic at best. Democrats want to solve the serious problems of society, and are willing to use government power to solve those problems. The main difference between Democrats and Republicans (IMO) is that Democrats see their role as protecting the interests of the powerless, whereas Republicans see their role as protecting the interests of the powerful.

    This is a role that's evolved over time. At the time Jefferson became President, the Democratic-Republican Party (forerunner of the Democratic Party) was anti-federalist. Both sides "believed in strict interpretation of the Constitution", but they differed on what that meant. The Democratic-Republican Party generally wanted to limit the federal authority and protect states and individuals from a strong central government. As business has become more powerful (especially at the end of the 1800s) having a strong federal government that protected people's rights from powerful special interests became more important to the Democratic Party.

    It's clear that the biggest danger comes from a concentration of political and economic power that can easily crush individuals in society, not from a strong central government, per se. Our challenge is to use the enormous power of the federal government to protect people without having it co-opted by the powerful business community.

    •  Jefferson evolved throughout his presidency (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking, LynneK

      Look at his positions on foreign policy and military force!  Dramatic changes that were forced on him by the weight of events...

      He started off trying to eliminate gov't debt by reducing expenditures (disbanding the large-ship navy in favor of cheaper coastal gunboats), assure U.S. neutrality, and minimize the intrusion of the Feds into the business of the states and people... the time it was done, he had virtually locked down the eastern seaboard through the execution of the Embargo Act, had fought a war on another continent ending in peace and tributes, and was actively working on (re)building the blue water US Navy in response to aggression from European powers.

      He disagreed with John Adams on many things as an ideologue before serving as president to an incredible degree (vinegar and baking soda!)...afterwards, their correspondences showed them converging on numerous topics.

      History is so rich and so deep it's a wonder teachers can ever cover the "important things" in the time available!

      A left-of-center blow-harded member of the goose-stepping blog-stapo since 2004.

      by floundericiousMI on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:46:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I suggest adding "education" to your tags (0+ / 0-)

    It will make it easier to find later.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:28:13 PM PDT

  •  I'm not clear, were these staements thrown out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in passing? Were students supposed to discuss these points? It's unclear from your diary how these were presented.

    "Ignorance breeds monsters to fill up the vacancies of the soul that are unoccupied by the verities of knowledge." H Mann

    by the fan man on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:29:08 PM PDT

  •  Good for you (0+ / 0-)

    please post the response when it comes in!

  •  All formal schooling is indoctrination... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    floundericiousMI, NWTerriD

    It just is. And, there is a lot of evidence out there to support my claim, whether you look at Ray Rist, Catherine Cornbleth's, David Tyack and Larry Cuban's, Lawrence Cremin's, Pauline Lipman, or even William Bennett and E.D Hirsh.

    Ok, I just got my geek on, but I have a larger point, and that is that in many ways, schools really do reflect the values of society. Those values include what it means to be a good American as much as they reflect how is considered worthy of full citizenship in this nation. If we read the Texas decision, how pathetic too much of urban education is, or even the fact that education spending is too often the first thing that is cut through that lens, I think it gives us a much better idea of why public education works the way it does (or not).

    I am glad you are opening up this conversation with your child's teacher. But I also think it's important to remember that teachers can never be neutral about things. We may say we are presenting students with just the facts, but the reality is that we make a conscious and ethical decision about what we empower students to do with those facts. If I just teach them "the facts" and then have them spit them back on a multiple choice test, I have no one to blame by myself when they can't engage in questioning the validity of those facts. If I also don't teach them how to use the facts, I am denying them access to an analytical world in which they actually think about what they know, believe, and do. Clearly that is not being neutral.

    Sorry, I just had a similar discussion with some of my teacher ed. students.

    Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

    by Edubabbler on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:32:20 PM PDT

  •  btw, anyone else notice the student loan thing... (4+ / 0-)
    ...was kind of a big fucking deal?
    •  It's huge! (5+ / 0-)

      Do you know how many of my students will be able to continue their undergraduate education because of this?

      On the other hand, one of my masters students found out three days BEFORE the Obama signed the health care bill that she was dropped from her parents' insurance. She has major medical issues. Now the big question is whether she can get back on before she ages out. Lovely.

      Change. Such a small word Full of grace, it comes alive As one embraces hope. The Radical Imagination: Dreaming of the future as it might yet be.

      by Edubabbler on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 01:38:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sorry but, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Unitary Moonbat, NWTerriD, We Won

    I really wish you would have addressed the issue to the teacher first. Another poster also suggested getting back up from outside the school system (ACLU) if you didn't get a satisfactory result, before going to the principal and that does seem wise.

    I agree that what you're daughter is bringing home seems ridiculously one-sided, but don't understand why you felt it necessary to go to the teacher's boss first. Personal disclosure, I'm a teacher, and I know what it feels like to have parents take complaints directly to my boss without letting me know they had a problem with me. It sucks, and it's really hard to feel like you can build a partnership with a parent who "told" on you. I suppose you've already decided that there is no way you would partner with this teacher, but that's not a reason to begin a dialogue with disrespect.

    •  I'm a teacher and would have called the principal (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux, LynneK, VA Breeze

      first in a New York minute if someone was this biased.  As it is, the letter from the teacher skirts the issues and I'm glad she is on the watch-list (ostensibly...can't assume that with the number of administrators not doing their jobs these days).

      •  and I'd show the teacher professional courtesy (4+ / 0-)

        I'd address my complaints to her first, give her an opportunity to explain, and make sure she understood my objections. I'd provide her with the information and evidence to demonstrate where she was wrong, and why I found it offensive. I'd let her show me the textbook, and ask why she wasn't using other sources, including primary sources. I'd want to hear some plan for how she would include different viewpoints, as well as how she would validate them. And I'd document all of it.

        If my daughter kept coming home with reports of politicized teaching, I'd then take it to the principal and possibly to the district level, depending on my read of the climate at the school.

        I would not teach my daughter that if you don't like what someone is doing you immediately go around them to their boss to try to make sure that they are forced to change.

      •  Middle school students (0+ / 0-)

        sometimes give their parents descriptions that are not true, or are incomplete, about what happens in class. Sometimes they do it to keep themselves out of trouble, sometimes they do it because they don't like the teacher, sometimes they do it because that really is their perception of what happened, but they missed the point or didn't hear everything that was said.

        It is almost always better to talk with the teacher first unless there is a safety (physical or emotional) issue.

        Relax - the adults are in charge now.

        by NWTerriD on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 12:30:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I'm ready for some flames (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, SadTexan, VClib, jdt112, CalBear

    for this comment.

    But, really, what is the difference between your complaint and the complaints of right-wingers that their children are being indoctrinated by left-wing views of history or politics in public schools?

    You've obviously taught your child your values, as any parent would. But she's going to come up against people in authority who adhere to different values, and how she responds to that is part of growing up.

    Some of the ideas she encounters might change her opinion about your values. And some of the ideas she is exposed to after that may change her mind again. But exposure to ideas is never a bad thing.  

    I'm not defending the rewriting of history that conservatives try to do. But, let's face it, history can be interpreted in many different ways. Just like literature. I draw the line at science, because that's where we have real evidence.

    But sitting in that class isn't necessarily a bad thing for your kid...giver her a chance to question her teacher and her parents.

    You deserve this frame. It was built for a dummy and it looks good on you. -- Jim Rockford

    by GrouchoKossak on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:02:18 PM PDT

  •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

    Mrs. Smith: Thomas Jefferson was a strict interpreter of the Constitution.  

    Actuality: While Thomas Jefferson was indeed a strict interpreter of the Constitution,  this loses validity as a historical artifact if the position of the Federalists are not also presented as equally valid. This is especially true in light of the political overtone that the term, "strict interpretation of the Constitution," has taken in the last decade.

    Do not confound "strict interpretation" with "original intent of the founders."

    The first position was that of Jefferson (one he had to contradict in policy time & time again.
    The second is that of the majority of the Supreme Court.  It is an antiquating, unworkable, unfixable and unflexible approach to law that assumes that the 18th century never ended.
    Problem solved.

    You cannot present a monster with a flower. Nora Astorga.

    by vivens fons on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:06:26 PM PDT

  •  Don't matter (0+ / 0-)

    'cause the teacher probably can't read!

    Or more to the point, her critical thinking skills are severely deficient, due to having her head so far up her fundament that she has to fart every time she sneezes.

  •  Your counter-arguments are EXCELLENT. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    floundericiousMI, esquimaux


    You cannot present a monster with a flower. Nora Astorga.

    by vivens fons on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:07:21 PM PDT

  •  Good for you; a similar experience (5+ / 0-)

    I had a teacher like Mrs. Smith in junior high in the late 1960s. He was borderline John Birch.  

    I was probably the most news-aware kid in my class, and his statements would make me seethe. Meanwhile, my classmates just took it in.  To cope with my frustration, I started writing down his especially outrageous statements in a separate notebook. (I think I still have that notebook in the attic.)

    He was generally unpopular anyway, because he was a bully and sadistic. e.g., For punishment, he would tell kids to write a 50-page report. When they turned it in, he would tear it up unread in front of the person and the class. (My friends got smart: They learned to write a 10-page report and put blank filler in the middle!)

    One afternoon some friends were over and we talked about this teacher, and I showed them my special notes. They loved it, and I like to believe it helped them to be more skeptical of what they heard in a classroom.

  •  I would be furious myself (0+ / 0-)

    and your little dog too

    by chicago minx on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:12:04 PM PDT

  •  A BIT OF ANCIENT HISTORY (13+ / 0-)

    When I was a kid in the 1950s, our 2nd grade teacher showed us a painting by Picasso which featured a dove with an olive sprig in its beak.  She said that this was a pacifist symbol, thereby proving that Picasso was a communist.  Some little girl said, "but isn't the dove with the olive branch in the bible?"  She had been taught the story of Noah.  The teacher fumbled an answer and art time was over for the day.

  •  tipped and rec'ed for awesome parenting!!! (0+ / 0-)

    ...if only more parents would take such an interest in their children's education! (i'm from a family of educators that encompasses all political stripes...unfortunately, it seems that only the winger faction of our family takes their ideology into the classroom.)

    "A time comes when silence is betrayal." ~ MLK, Jr...Where has CANDIDATE Obama gone?

    by liberaldemdave on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:52:06 PM PDT

  •  I also think you should talk with the teacher (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hatdog, NWTerriD

    If he/she is an asshole who seems more interested in presenting a personal bias than having a meaningful discussion with students, then I suggest asking which state SS standards were being taught in the lessons and can you have a copy of those standards.  If you do talk with the principal, you may want to mention the state standards.

    •  No (0+ / 0-)

      Teachers should not teach to state standards, they should teach to make students thoughtful, which is not covered in state standards.

      "I call on all governments to join with the United States all acts of torture." GW Bush

      by Reino on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:13:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Heh (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        We shouldn't, but for the most part, we do (and we must, at least in my state).  Our curriculum  and state/federal standardized testing is driven by standards. Principals require that lessons reflect the standards. Our evaluations (and theirs) are based on such. School rankings, NCLB labels, teacher pay, etc. are all tied to standards-based testing results.  Of course that doesn't mean we are not teaching students to be thoughtful, critical thinkers at the same time. We are, after all, miracle workers. :)    

        •  Parents Shouldn't Make It Worse (0+ / 0-)

          I respect what you are saying, but you are describing a problem. We parents should not add to that problem.

          "I call on all governments to join with the United States all acts of torture." GW Bush

          by Reino on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:27:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It is absolutely a problem (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Reino, LynneK, codairem, DawnN

            that standardized testing drives  most of what we teach every day. A good 90% of my day is  spent teaching reading and math, because (while important) this is where testing occurs at my grade level. Little time is left for for social studies and science, music and art.  I do believe that curriculum should be  broadly based on a uniform  set of standards  and testing should reflect those standards. And honestly, I hope that parents, like the diarist, are familiar with those standards.  Unfortunately, educators have very little input in  the process of creating the standards and the emphasis on testing results gives the standards more value than many skills that we consider to be equally vital. For example, my son is a  "budding" (and I think gifted :) photographer. The photo program, wet lab, teacher, etc. was cut at his high school and across the district.

            Whew! Long comment!    

  •  It's more than a slant. (0+ / 0-)

    This is blatant politics being passed of as teaching.

    The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

    by A Citizen on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 02:58:13 PM PDT

  •  I hope you accept the invitation to talk with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    hatdog, BlueInRedCincy, Vita Brevis

    the teacher, and personally get an indication for how she comes across.  I also hope the issue can be resolved without causing any problem for your daughter.
    Good luck.

    Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by Amber6541 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:04:56 PM PDT

  •  Unless we speak up, this will continue. (0+ / 0-)

    Good diary, great email.  I'd say 'keep it up.'  

    We've learned a very difficult lesson since at least 2000: take our eye off the ball, and they will win, and make changes so deep and entangled, that it will take generations to reverse.

    Good on you diarist.  

  •  This Is Crazy (8+ / 0-)

    The teacher sounds fairly reasonable to me.

    She uses a textbook that says Jefferson believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution? That's an imperfect and overly simplistic statement, since Jefferson moved away from that position over time, but it's not some ridiculously wrong statement either. It's certainly not a sign that you need to go to the Principal to prevent the indoctrination of your child.

    She said that Republicans believe in small government while Democrats believe in large government? As you said, this is hardly a nuanced statement, and I'll add that in many ways it is just plain wrong, but this is a teacher talking to eighth graders telling them something that is commonly believed by Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Is there anybody shocked to hear such a statement coming from a junior high teacher?

    She discussed student loan reform? I wish more teachers were willing to do so. Your point that it was the reconciliation bill rather than the original Senate bill that contained student loan reform is as trivial as any of her points.

    If you have a problem with a teacher, go to the teacher first. If you still have a problem, go back to the teacher. This teacher gave a reasonable response to your letter. When teachers do things that you disagree with, it's OK--remember that you are your child's most important teacher by a factor of thousands. When teachers simplify points that they are making to eighth graders, get used to it.

    Furthermore, we should applaud the discussion of viewpoints by teachers. US History without points of view is not US History. Learning Jefferson's constitutional opinions for the sake of learning Jefferson's constitutional opinions is the fastest way to put students to sleep and puts up an imaginary wall between past and present that history teachers should be working hard to tear down.

    "I call on all governments to join with the United States all acts of torture." GW Bush

    by Reino on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:09:47 PM PDT

    •  In the world of parental over-reactions... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Reino, algebrateacher, hatdog, NWTerriD

      ....thealater's barely registers to me.


      I agree that the teacher hasn't done anything wrong, but I applaud thealater for giving a crap.

      I just would have suggested that she give the teacher the courtesy of questioning her first before going to the principal.

      Sanctimony thy name is Joe Lieberman.

      by roguetrader2000 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:48:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True (0+ / 0-)

        "I call on all governments to join with the United States all acts of torture." GW Bush

        by Reino on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:29:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe I'm just oversensitive to these things (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jdt112, NWTerriD

        but while the diarist's original letter looks to me to be a really good challenge to a genuine concern(although as others have said, it would probably have been better going direct to the teacher in the first instance) the teacher's reply seems entirely reasonable too, acknowledging that she may have made mistakes in the way she handles things and offering to talk further to resolve any concerns.

        In the light of that reply, the diarist's further letter came across as mean-spirited and ungracious to me, and liable to cause unnecessary ill feeling where there had appeared to be a reasonable resolution of the matter.

        Chill the f*** out. I got this.

        by ultraviolet uk on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 02:22:18 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  not only that (0+ / 0-)

          it's email. face to face is required here. if it's important enough to actually get upset about to write a letter to the principal, then it's important enough to schedule a face to face. email doesn't cut it. teacher, face to face, then see how you feel.

          I bet Obama smells like warm cookies, fresh from the oven.

          by dancerat on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 07:51:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  More than anything, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm distressed by this teacher's poor writing ability.

    " If it is being interpreted that way, then I need to be even more careful on what I say and how I say it."

    "...on what I say and how I say it?"

    Look at that phrase. It's bizarre. It's simply bizarre. Unless the diarist accidentally substituted an "n" instead of an "f," which would make it "of what I say," that phrase is a grotesque nonsense phrase.

    "...I need to be careful ON WHAT I SAY AND HOW I SAY IT."


    Sorry. I couldn't focus thereafter.

    "I would much rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

    by Georgianna Darcy on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:12:40 PM PDT

    •  It's obviously a typo (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leberquesgue, LynneK

      nothing to get too worried about. Anyone can make a typo.

      On the other hand, whether it was meant to have been "on" or "of", it's still a clunky sentence that should have been rewritten. But all of god's children aren't born to be writers or editors, although in the age of spell check, a lot of them think that they are.  

      You deserve this frame. It was built for a dummy and it looks good on you. -- Jim Rockford

      by GrouchoKossak on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 03:38:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh, I don't know about that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I've seen and heard phrasing like this before. I'm not crediting this teacher with a typo.

        Maybe the diarist.

        But no, it's not obvious.

        "I would much rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

        by Georgianna Darcy on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:22:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That's a rather excessive reaction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LynneK, bushondrugs

      There are many possible explanations, thanks to technology, including a wayward auto-correct or incomplete editing. Or, just maybe, the note was hand-written and the error was in the diarist's transcription; I don't think that is likely, but look at the following sentence in the diarist's response:

      Look at the Louisiana Purchase of how Jefferson was NOT a strict interpreter of the Constitution.

      Care to comment on the diarist's grammar? That would be ridiculous diary policing. You may reasonably hold a busy teacher's note to a parent to a higher standard than many dKos diarists' efforts, but don't be ridiculous.

      The big guy in the commercials would not approve of my use of the High Life.

      by leberquesgue on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:54:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The diarist isn't a teacher. (0+ / 0-)

        Hence, my not caring about the diarist's sentence structure.

        And sure, it was an over-reaction. (And I allowed for transcription error - did you miss that part?) I believe I am allowed to go bonkers here at Daily Kos over little things every once in a while, am I not? This isn't live TV or anything, is it? I didn't blow my stack and use profanity in a seventeen paragraph rant or anything, right?

        No. I just lost my cool over a little, strange use of syntax from someone who's supposed to be a teacher. It's a peeve of mine, is all. Gave me the willies.

        Now, can we move along? It wasn't supposed to turn into a federal issue. Yikes!

        "I would much rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it." - Thomas Jefferson

        by Georgianna Darcy on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 03:28:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  nice (0+ / 0-)

    I liked your letter and thought the response was promising- I wouldn't start a war- (from experience) I had a non political disagreement with my son's principal he made my sons life unpleasant. The teacher will make your daughter think.. your daughter will make the teacher think - thinking is good

  •  Wow!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You are a great mom! Keep it up!

  •  Ah, the text book said it - well get ready (4+ / 0-)

    Because if Texas is successful our textbooks will have a whole lot of rightwing talking points.

    You wrote an excellent letter. At the very least the school is on notice that a parent is involved and pays attention to what's going on in class.

  •  All in all - not so bad (5+ / 0-)

    I have taught American Political Systems 101 as a TA.  I think that these statements are not demonstrably false and could be used to explore the issues more fully.  Kids of that age will filter information through familiar and comfortable frameworks and may actually misinterpret statements being made to encourage discussion or thought.  I thought the teacher's response was prompt, measured and respectful.

    Did you ever sit in on the class to see how the teacher presents issues and conducts the class?  It's difficult to teach - especially now when people tend to divide in rigid thought camps.   I was vigilant when it came to curriculum but rarely intervened.  Perhaps you might use any "cognitive dissonance" to explore issues with your daughter.  Such discussions might allow her to develop critical thinking skills and arrive at informed and supportable positions.  Those skills are in great demand and short supply these days.

    "Dogs' lives are too short. Their only fault, really." -- Agnes Sligh Turnball

    by EyeStreetMom on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:05:14 PM PDT

    •  I can't imagine (3+ / 0-)

      We never had such classes in Britain (I have heard suggestion of civics classes in recent years, but I don't know if they have been introduced). My closest such experience was Politics A Level (taken ages 16-18). Looking back, I am impressed at how the teachers approached controversial topics by always clearly presenting other people's viewpoints. Source material is a valuable tool. Trying to get 13 year olds to imagine other people's viewpoints and move beyond their biases sounds like a nightmarish task.

      The big guy in the commercials would not approve of my use of the High Life.

      by leberquesgue on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 05:06:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I see your update (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    leberquesgue, Fury

    The teacher's response seems quite reasonable and your response indicates your willingness to partner with him/her on behalf of your daughter.  Looks like a good outcome!    

  •  I am glad you are bring up a "thinking" child (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    12yrs old is an age when kids DO start thinking differently from their parents, however, teachers and text books are the areas where they get differing opinions.  Kid's today have the Internet and all sorts of facts at their finger tips unlike per parents generation.  I applaud you for addressing your daughters' concerns and making them known to her teacher.  The teacher will, I hope, think before she speaks and try to make it neutral.  It is hard to separate your personal views and it is even a harder job to be a teacher.  I am thankful that there is respectful dialogue.

  •  Good for you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, DawnN

    Many parents don't pay any attention to what their children are being taught in school. Of course, the teachers have a curriculum and a text and often cannot take the time to go into details. That's another reason it's good for parents to be involved. And also a reason I have an entire library of history books ;)

    I had an experience with my daughter's 5th grade teacher and a spelling test. The word pagan was on the test and the definition given was one who has no religion. Naturally, I took great exception to this and sent a letter to both the teacher and the Principal (I was the President of the county Interfaith Alliance group at the time). They were very good about it and things were changed.

    The lesson being, I think, to be involved and unafraid to communicate your concerns.

    A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.

    by Purple Priestess on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:23:28 PM PDT

  •  Out of all of those three points (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, codairem

    the very worst is "democrats want big government".  

    That's not in the textbooks.

    And student loan reform - I wouldn't have focused so much on the fact it was part of reconciliation but that it has nothing to do with choice and everything to do with lowering the cost of student loans and allowing the government to save money so they can offer more loans.

    "Balance" does not mean giving the same weight to a lie as you do to the truth.

    by delphine on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:44:02 PM PDT

  •  This is tragic. (5+ / 0-)

    This is a very interesting time in politics. A civics teacher should have been teaching reconcilliation and all of the parliamentary procedures that were being discussed in the House and Senate. We are living history and our kids are being taught by teachers who are afraid to address it (my school did not show the president's speech in September we stayed home of course), or teachers who admit in emails that they don't understand civics.

    My sons' PE teacher asked the class why they have Friday off and the kids didn't know, so he told them "You muslims need to start understanding this Christian country." I do not believe there is a single muslim in the class but there were several Jewish, Catholic, Christian and Atheist (my son) kids present. WTF? Of course I will be visiting with the principal tomorrow.

    "Don't knock's just like chess but without the dice" - john07801

    by voracious on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 04:57:46 PM PDT

  •  I applaud your efforts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Reino, Niphead

    but to be overly blunt your letter is far too nuanced er.. well lets really be blunt.. it makes the democratic mistake. Your opponent utters a sentence you babble for an hour on the nuanced details of his not being technically accurate.

    On Jefferson: Jefferson is the mind behind the bill of rights including the 10th amendment. The democratic party historically has fought for the bill of rights. The gop has fought against it. There is NO historical context in the framers time of "strict" or "nonstrict" interpretation as at the time NOONE viewed the role of the SC as arbiter of the constitution.

    The Republicans want to give your Social Security to Wall Street

    by cdreid on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 05:19:35 PM PDT

  •  Your a great parent! This reminds me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LynneK, NWTerriD, DawnN

    of the day my son came home from school one day with his social studies test paper.  His score was 90% but instead of being happy the 2nd grader was upset at being marked wrong for a question he believed was correctly answered.  

    Question:  When did Christopher Columbus discovered North America?

    My son's answer?  Never.

    A week before he had asked me about the Caribbean and I told him of PR and how Columbus rediscovered it for the New World on his 2nd voyage and never landed in the mainland of the North American continent.  That he only reached the Caribbean.  Then told him how Ponce De Leon was tricked by the Taino natives with the Fountain of Youth  a Taino legend, telling him he could find the fountain in Bimini (now Florida) to get him off the island.  And that instead of finding the Fountain of Youth, Ponce De Leon met his death, tricked by the Tainos!

    My son was so upset at being marked incorrect he kept pointing to the X mark while I was praising his 90%.  "Here Mami, here.  Look at the question!"  I then realized why he was so upset.  He kept bugging me about it until I promised to go to school and fight for the correction.  I was directed to the principal's office where a lady, waiting for me said the question, although wrong, was correct because the book clearly said he did disoovered N.A. in 1492. We went back and forth until I told her, "You and I both know Columbus never landed in North American.  You know the book is wrong.  Since you refuse to correct the error you leave me no other choice but to....", I grabbed my son's test paper and wrote a big X over the teacher's x and changed the test score from 90% to 100%, turned to my son and said, "It doesn't matter who changes it King, you and I both know the truth and you were correct.  I excused myself, grabbed my son's hand, turned around and walked out as he gleefully smiled at his 100% test paper.

  •  I had a similar problem (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury, left turn, bushondrugs, Ann T Bush

    with my daughter's 5th grade teacher having her class sing hymns in music class. When I requested a meeting, she showed up wearing a giant cross and the first words out of her mouth were, "what, are you Jewish, or something?" I ended up having to write a letter to the superintendent of schools explaining the concept of separation of church and state and that what I was defending (I was active duty Navy at the time and this was a DOD school) was my daughter's and everyone else's right to freedom of religion. They made her stop. Your letter and response to your daughter's teacher are brilliant and classy. Great job, Mom!!!

    "Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people." Eleanor Roosevelt

    by snpsmom on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 05:41:51 PM PDT

  •  Honestly... (6+ / 0-)

    As a teacher myself (middle school social studies, actually), I would have read your email / letter, sighed, and moved on with my day.  The teachers response to your complaint was pitch perfect, and directly addressed all of your concerns.  You don't run the class, and you aren't in the classroom.  You are not part of the back-and-forths that occur between teacher & class.  What you know about the situation is entirely 2nd hand from a child.  Of course the teacher didn't get in front of the class and say "the health reform act is bad..." But you don't hesitate in pseduo-quoting the inaccurate 2nd hand account to the teacher's boss.

    Your response to the response was childish, redundant, and completely unnecessary - it reads like you just want the last word.

    Your response to her response is a prime example of why I left teaching.

    •  foresttdog, re: (0+ / 0-)

      I'm interested that you wrote

      Your response to the response was childish, redundant, and completely unnecessary - it reads like you just want the last word.

      That's how your response to her response sounds......

      Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it. --Mark Twain

      by SottoVoce on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 07:58:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  We Are Glad You Left Teaching. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You are not teacher material.

      You are America's nightmare when it comes to education of children.

      •  alrighty (0+ / 0-)

        I take it you are an expert teacher...or have any experience teaching in a classroom...or more relevantly, to dealing with over-reactive parents who have been told inaccurate things by their child and flip out...or are you just someone that trolls around online saying ridiculously offensive things cause you enjoy flame wars.

      •  No (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        You are wrong. You sound like a complete ass, but I don't know for sure that you are a complete ass, because I am only judging you based on this one post.

        "I call on all governments to join with the United States all acts of torture." GW Bush

        by Reino on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 08:37:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Do You Also Hang Up Letters From Parents In The (0+ / 0-)

          teacher's lounge for ridicule?

          •  No (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            left turn

            We don't have much of a teacher's lounge, but a few of us did get a laugh last week when a wealthy parent wrote to tell me that her high school son was doing poorly in my class because he lost his textbook in October and that the solution was for me to give him my book.

            Thealater's letter isn't as funny, but I probably would show my principal the parts about changing the textbook because of the Jefferson statement, the distinction of being in the reconciliation bill as opposed to the main bill, and the mention that I am well-liked by the student to demonstrate that this is a nitpicking parent rather than a case of teacher bias. Fortunately, I teach in a school which has a principal intelligent enough to ask a parent like thealater whether s/he had talked to the teacher first.

            "I call on all governments to join with the United States all acts of torture." GW Bush

            by Reino on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 08:58:08 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  In Your Defense, This Is What You Are Defending: (0+ / 0-)

              I was a teacher for five years... Letters like these end up on teacher lounge bulletin boards for lunchtime entertainment.  Sometimes, English teachers would grade them just for fun.
              by foresttdog on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:16:40 PM PDT

              •  Not that it matters... (0+ / 0-)

                But I'll specify that I never actually posted messages myself - just got plenty of laughs at the some of the absurdity that fellow teachers posted.   You really have no idea of the nonsense teachers deal with.

  •  did something similar w/ my son's (8+ / 0-)

    teacher.  My son is a Junior and when Teddy Kennedy passed, his American Govt teacher went on a tirade about Teddy and "he never did anything good for this country".  

    My son spoke up and asked the teacher how he'd gone to school - oh yeah, student loans and pell grants. Teddy was to thank for that.  Teddy was also the one who pushed through special legislation to give teachers home purchasing assistance. MyBoy also mentioned that his neighbor, Kimberly, was especially happy with the ramps at her school and the mall as she's in a wheelchair with spina bifada - and Teddy helped put those ramps there.  It's law. The teacher was a bit embarassed, but still said that was about all Ted Kennedy did; other than kill his mistress.

    My son came home asking questions - so we did a bit of research and found 3 pages of the Liberal Lions accomplishments.  I finally asked him why all the interest and when he told me - I was furious.  Called the Asst Principal and told him I was giving my name, my child's name and then relayed what MyBoy told me.

    AP said he'd not let on that a parent had called, but would say that he'd heard students talking in hallway and asked where they were hearing such outlandish tales of a great American Hero.  

    End of tale, RightWing American Gov't teacher spent a whole class correcting himself and discussing about 2 pages of the Liberal Lion's accomplishments and then apologized to the class.

    Never told my son I called.  He thinks the teacher did his own research.  Momma's little secret.

    Good job, Mom!

  •  She's wrong on the student loan thing. There is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fury, LynneK, bushondrugs

    nothing that says you cannot still go to a bank and get a bank loan to pay for college if you want to.  

    "If you go all day without hitting or biting anyone, it was a good day." Patrick, age 4

    by Meggie on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:16:39 PM PDT

  •  I was a teacher for five years... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    codairem, CayceP

    Letters like these end up on teacher lounge bulletin boards for lunchtime entertainment.  Sometimes, English teachers would grade them just for fun.

  •  Republicans believe in small government - right (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The actual truth is that both parties believe in big government, as long as it's their version of big government.  Fundamentally they could both be re-classified as the singular Big Government Party with two separate branches.  

    I do know what you mean about having to re-educate your children, though.  My son came home from second grade one day and proudly announced that Abraham Lincoln was the greatest president.  I had to keep from spewing my water across the room.  Afterwards I asked him where he got that idea and he told me his teacher said it.  Wonderful, more crap I have to correct from useless government lunatics.  So I explained how Lincoln was a murderous tyrant who destroyed the very Consitution he swore to defend.  Thanks to our continued efforts, this year when he had to write a paper on the New Deal, he was able to convincingly demonstrate how FDR's entire legacy was un-Constitutional and has continued to negatively affect us to this day.  It takes quite a bit of effort to undo all the crap they learn in government schools (i.e. marijuana is a gateway drug - give me a f'ing break) but it's worth it.

    Name 3 things that are make-believe: Bigfoot, good government and climate change.

    by raynor on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:28:51 PM PDT

  •  Cheer up. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    algebrateacher, left turn

    I spend all day every day indoctrinating my students in progressive values.


    I love Republicans--especially flame-broiled.

    by Dragon5616 on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 06:35:31 PM PDT

  •  There's a teacher at my daughter's school... (7+ / 0-)

    ...exhibiting similar right-wing nutjob tendencies.  Last week, she went on for ten minutes about how the country is turning to socialism under our socialist president, Barack Obama.  I called the principal and complained about that one!

    Turns out that wasn't the worst thing she did last week - she's a science teacher, so she assigned her kids some homework that involved watching the Discovery channel.  One kid, son of immigrants, only has basic cable - the teacher told him "you tell your father that he's in America now - he has to get a job!"  

    Time for her to retire...

  •  Could be worse... (0+ / 0-)

    They could be living in Texas, where not only its social studies where this crap is being taught, but also Science

  •  I Hope The Teacher Isn't Prone To Bullying. (0+ / 0-)

    Republicans often are.

    If so, your daughter may want to be on the look out for it.

    The teacher assigning additional homework to the class as a whole (for example) and then some off-hand  comment about "some" parent complaining about how the class is being taught may be all it takes to get the rest of the students (and teachers) riled up about having more homework because of so and so.

    Like the girl in the Mississippi school who was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to the prom.  Then the prom being canceled for the whole class because of this "one" girl.

    This is how Republicans run the show.

  •  Speaking as a high school history teacher... (9+ / 0-)

    I would like to say a few things:

    But before I do...

    I've read dailykos regularly since 2003 and have had this nick registered on here for ages and never added my input to a thread.  First time for everything I guess.  Maybe it is because I'm currently on spring break and actually have the time to type...

    1.  It's excellent that you and your daughter have extensive discussions about what she is learning in class, thealater.  I've found that that is actually where the largest amount of learning happens: at home.  Congratulations for making sure your daughter thinks about and takes ownership of her own learning.  Thankfully, your daughter has a teacher who actually took the time to respond in an extended email and offered clear evidence of reflective teaching.  
    1.  As a teacher, I would personally appreciate a parent FIRST communicating his/her concerns about my teaching with me first.  An extensive (and at some points, honestly, a bit 'prgressively' self-righteous) email sent to my superior just makes dialogue extremely difficult.  From what I have seen in the thread, others have pointed out that this may have been a helpful first step.
    1.  While neutrality certainly is the goal, history is not ever neutral.  Every single historian writes from the bias of his/her time period and personal perspective.  Exhorting the teacher to stay neutral stands as a difficult process at best given the slant in textbooks, curricula, and students' own lives and homes.  However, encouraging the teacher to acknowledge and include the complexities of multiple perspectives seems more than possible.  As a teacher who tends to have a fairly lefty view of history, I know that whenever my own bias crops up, I do my best to own up to it and explain differing views, regardless of whether or not I agree with them.  Using multiple primary source documents and varied secondary source treatments in the classroom in addition to any textbook really empowers that kind of well-rounded approach, I've found.  Hopefully Mrs. Smith will do more of this if she hasn't up to now.
    1.  Some of the comments in this thread really bother me.  The sweeping generalizations of there being some sort of 'Golden Age' for education ('back in the 50s/60s/70s'), the slamming of this teacher as a teabagger who should be drummed out of the classroom, nitpicking the teacher's short, the lack of understanding from some individuals commenting on what it even means to be a teacher at ANY time, much less the highly charged and divisive political and social environment of today smacks of loads of entitlement and smug know-it-all-ism.

    I'd like to ask that people take a moment to think about a teacher who really made them see the world differently.  Perhaps I am that teacher for your child; perhaps I am the teacher who you view as biased and overly opinionated.  

    Regardless, know that every day the vast majority of teachers out there work extremely hard to plan detailed lessons, grade papers, maintain class discipline, get students to graduate, support kids who struggle socially and emotionally, stop bullies, build reading and writing skills, hone critical thinking, complete paperwork, and somehow have some semblance of a personal life.

    So is it excusable that Mrs. Smith was overly reductionist when discussing Thomas Jefferson, Democrats/Republicans, or the recent health care bill?  

    Absolutely not.

    But I don't think it warrants some of reactions in this diary and thread, and it really would have been heartening to see a parent actually START a dialogue with a teacher instead of immediately hitting send on an email to the principal.

  •  I think you handled that very well. (0+ / 0-)
  •  You are a great mom! (0+ / 0-)

    That was a superb letter. You are one sharp cookie!

    Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor each morning the devil says~~ "Oh Crap, She's up!"

    by surfermom on Wed Mar 31, 2010 at 10:22:30 PM PDT

  •  Wingnut teacher.... (0+ / 0-)

    Oh man is that a right wing ideologue of a teacher.  She says she doesn't tell students how she votes?  I can tell how she votes by the statements she makes.  I'm 48, but can't imagine when I was in middle school having a history teacher discuss how various historical figures "interpreted the constitution". I mean, it just didn't happen and it doesn't make sense anyway, considering that Jefferson was at least indirectly involved in writing the Constitution. The righties are currently obsessed with the constitution even if many of them don't have a clue as to what is in it.  I have had frequent arguements with conservatives on at least two of the topics mentioned here....their obsession over the interpretation of the constitution and the student loan thing.  My son has several stafford loans and why these idiots think it is necessary for there to be "choice" regarding a FEDERAL loan is beyond me.  I'm sorry, it is a FEDERAL loan and the private bank "middleman" just makes the loan more expensive, and why should the Federal Gov't accept the risk of the loans, pay interest on behalf of the student, to the lender, and then the private bank "lender" reaps the profits?  The sheer amount of stupidity out there scares the hell out of me.  Wingers are asserting themselves, regurgitating talking points and it is clear that they don't know what the hell they are talking about.  Had some idiot post on a facebook thread that the health care vote was "unconsitutional" because they didn't have votes, and another person and I are telling this person that the vote was based on senate rules which were not in the constitution.

  •  Yer Both Wrong (0+ / 0-)

    It is Democrats who believe in small government.

    Well maybe not DINO's and other progressives but liberals.

    Liberals have always feared Big Brother.

    Conservatives embrace Big Brother.

    Nobody ever expanded government like Ronald Reagan.  

    Of course Reagan shut down schools and facilities for the mentally and emotionally disabled but needed more expensive prisons for many of the socially disadvantaged.  Others somehow survived on the streets.

    You allude to some of this in your indication that Democrats [read: liberals] want to protect civil rights while Republicans [read: wingers] want to police morality.

    That's the problem with sloganeering being clothed with the aura of actual thought.

    I agree, and thank you, for acknowledging it would have been best to discuss matters with the teacher first.

    I picked up on one small point that is decidedly the polar opposite of reality.

    Meaghan and the other students will find their way.  At least it appears Meaghan will be just fine.

    Just my thoughts.

    Best,  Terry

  •  Why are 8th graders (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    being told about student loans?

    They don't give a shit. And no, they shouldn't. They are what, 13?

    They have all of high school to be pummeled with information about college.

    To whom it may concern: I am an American citizen. Not an American consumer. I am a human being, not a variable in the capitalist system.

    by FinchJ on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 04:49:51 AM PDT

    •  They're being taught about (0+ / 0-)

      what our government is doing. That is an appropriate topic for a social studies class.

      Relax - the adults are in charge now.

      by NWTerriD on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 12:45:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  In 8th grade (0+ / 0-)

        I could care less what the government was doing as long as it was beating the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11.

        To me, that was what the government was doing. What the government was doing about student loans? Or even college? Nope. Not at 13.

        Health care- I could see a 8th grade social studies teacher talking about health care. But student loans?



        Guess that's why I'm not a middle school teacher!

        To whom it may concern: I am an American citizen. Not an American consumer. I am a human being, not a variable in the capitalist system.

        by FinchJ on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 05:26:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Petty (0+ / 0-)

    This seems incredibly petty to me.  you listed three real minor issues of concern, I mean the Jefferson thing seems completely irrelevant to current politics.  I really think in the end all this accomplished was the teacher now becomes more nervous about what she says in class and maybe begins limiting topics of debate which ultimately results in a disservice to the students.  Oh and Meghan becomes the daughter of "that father".

  •  Just a thought (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    When my son first started AP Gov, the first couple of weeks I heard how right wing and conservative his teacher was and how he was being more favorable to the right wingers in the class. Well, we listen to Democracy Now every day so you can imagine how well that went over. I made an appointment to go in and talk to him, imagining that he was this Scalia teaching the class of fresh young minds.

    Hmm. Within 15 minutes of our initial visit, I found out that indeed, he was just the opposite. Very liberal, very "to the left", critical of the Supreme Court. Not conservative at all. Taught law in a local college. After our quite illuminating conference, I went home and spoke to my son about this.

    I think it was more about the old school way he taught than the views he held that made him seem "right wing" to my son. He was more favorable to the students that turned in the assignments and cared about the class. Now of course, after conferencing and working with my kid, he is pulling Bs and As, and loves his AP class and guess what? He is now teacher's pet as well. Go figure.

    I also believe in face to face conferencing before letters to the principal, because you never know. I get to say this from experience though, I've got 30+ years of experience now of dealing with kids and their interactions with teachers. Until you go in and talk to them (email is okay, but not the same as actually going in and talking), you never know what is really going on.

    I bet Obama smells like warm cookies, fresh from the oven.

    by dancerat on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 07:21:20 AM PDT

    •  As a teacher, (0+ / 0-)

      I would actually prefer an e-mail (directed to me, rather than the principal) as the first step in a situation like this. I have anywhere from 125-150 students, and I already work 12-14 hours a day. I'd rather be able to respond by e-mail than have to take the time to meet with a parent in most situations.

      What I really like is the parents who write me an e-mail, acknowledge that they'd lke to get my perception of what happened because they understand they probably didn't get the whole story from their 13-year-old, and then they invite me to write, call, or set up a meeting.

      If it is something that I feel can be cleared up through e-mail, I choose that option, and I always invite them the let me know if they feel that we need to continue the dialogue in person. Usually they write back with a grateful note thanking me for the explanation and for everything I do for the students.

      Occasionally, what they've been told is so distorted, or the situation is so complex, or I recognize I've screwed up badly enough, that I opt to call them or set up a face-to-face meeting. Sometimes I even escalate and bring the adminstration into the picture myself as back-up because I can tell I'm not likely to get a reasonable hearing from the parent, or because what I'm being accused of is so heinous.

      Face-to-face is definitely the best way to deal with the big stuff, but this really isn't the big stuff.

      Relax - the adults are in charge now.

      by NWTerriD on Thu Apr 01, 2010 at 12:56:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks! (0+ / 0-)

        You know though, it's kinda sad that teachers have no time anymore to meet with parents. I have more facetime with coaches and drama teachers than I do with the actual subject teachers. They even cut out the parent/teacher conferences at my son's high school, which has 2500 students, because there simply isn't enough time. I get your e-mail thoughts, but I honestly think every parent should at least MEET their child's teacher. That must make me old school.

        I bet Obama smells like warm cookies, fresh from the oven.

        by dancerat on Fri Apr 02, 2010 at 10:05:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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