Politics in Elementary School: Unethical Always

Believe it or not, Yip Harburg is only 7 years old in this photo...

Third graders at Woodbrook Elementary School in Albemarle County, Virginia recently performed a song called “Part of the 99,” proclaiming their solidarity with the “Occupy” movement’s zeitgeist.  The song was part of a program sponsored by “Kid Pan Alley,” a children’s arts organization. The children worked with a facilitator to develop the theme and lyrics for a song, and that facilitator, who so far has not been identified, obviously, and I mean that in the “do these people really think we’re all idiots?” sense of the word, manipulated the process to produce an “Occupied Youth” moment. A blog got wind of it, and the criticism, richly deserved, erupted on the internet.

Incredibly, the school denies that any indoctrination went on, and claims that the children came up with the lyrics and theme on their own. As “who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” lies go, this one is superb. Here are the lyrics those third graders supposedly came up with by themselves:

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be one of the 1 percent
I worked all the time
Never saw my family
Couldn’t make life rhyme
Then the bubble burst
It really, really hurt
I lost my money
Lost my pride
Lost my home
Now I’m part of the 99

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be sad, now I’m satisfied
’Cause I really have enough
Though I lost my yacht and plane
Didn’t need that extra stuff
Could have been much worse
You don’t need to be first
’Cause I’ve got my friends
Here by my side
Don’t need it all
I’m so happy to be part of the 99.

Right. And Yip Harburg was 7-years old when he wrote “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?”. Third graders have just started to learn percentages. They do not understand such matters as finance, mortgages, foreclosures and banking, concepts like the real estate bubble, tax brackets,or what “the 1%” means in the context of the economy. Yet, amazingly, they wrote a rather coherent song linking all of these things. What a great program!

What liars these schools administrators are.

School spokesman Phil Giaramita told reporters, “This is the first time we’ve had the lyrics of one of these songs criticized.”  Interesting. Perhaps that’s because the left-wing parents in Albermarle County don’t mind school indoctrination, as long as it’s the “right” ideas that are implanted in their children’s brains. Or perhaps it’s because the kids never began channeling class warfare before. Giaramita also said he has no doubts that eight-year-old children could write such lyrics and denied that teachers might have influenced their song choice. “Students aren’t told what to write by either school officials or by the people associated with Kid Pan Alley,” he said. “I’ve talked with teachers and they tell me you’d be amazed at how creative a lot of children are these days – even younger than that.”

Such bald-faced lying is rare, even in politics. These children don’t read the newspapers; they don’t watch the network news; they don’t log on to The Huffington Post, and yet with no prodding from adults at all, decided to write a song tracking the rhetoric of the people in Zucotti Park. Brooklyn Bridge for sale! Meanwhile, the songs, according to program guidelines, are forbidden to promote political agendas.  I am sure that Mr. Giaramita and his bosses are also perfectly capable of saying with a straight face that the song isn’t political, too. Now if it was about tea parties, THAT would be political.

One of the most repellant features of old films of Nazi Germany is the Hitler Youth, with fresh-faced children being molded into anti-Semites and killer before our eyes. But it isn’t just the evil values involved that make these films disturbing. It is that adults undertook to bind and warp the minds and values of youngsters to their own agendas, at a time in their lives when children should be allowed to be children, and not concentrate on the gray and contentious issues of law, policy, philosophy and government. Teachers who inject their political beliefs into elementary school activities are behaving unethically, no matter what their motivation or position, or how benign their intent. This extends to showing Al Gore and Michael Moore documentaries, reading Barack Obama autobiographies, or reciting Ronald Reagan speeches. The fact that the Woodbrook School song is only provoking outrage from conservative commentators  shows something seriously rotten in the state of progressivism, where the same people who correctly oppose religious indoctrination and the teaching of “creation science” see nothing wrong with programming kids to mouth Occupy Wall Street cant.

The political opinions of teachers and administrators should never be injected into class work in any way, shape or form. This is an abuse of power, and a breach of trust. Politics is not an area where elementary school teachers have or should have any special expertise; their political beliefs should be kept to themselves, and if they cannot do that, then they need to find another occupation.

There is also a limit to the dishonesty or stupidity that can be tolerated in school administrators. The claim that 8-year-olds, without adult influence, wrote “Part of the 99″ is proof positive of the presence of one or the other to an intolerable degree.


Filed under Education, Government & Politics

7 responses to “Politics in Elementary School: Unethical Always

  1. Can’t we let kids be kids? Do they really have to be occupied (forgive the pun) and frightened and angered by issues that belong in the adult world? “Hey! Teacher! Leave those kids alone!!!”

  2. We don’t need no education
    We don’t need no thought control
    No dark sarcasm in the classroom
    Teacher leave them kids alone
    Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone!
    All in all it’s just another brick in the wall
    All in all you’re just another brick in the wall

  3. Becky

    If they were 10, maybe…

  4. Karl Penny

    If memory serves, Jack, you stated in a post scant weeks ago that this could be the year that education surpassed journalism as the most unethical profession out there. I did not dispute it, but I did not expect to see confirmation of your prediction appear so early. This is of a piece with the schoolchildren (in a video posted on You Tube) singing a tribute to Barack Obama, then newly elected as President, to the tune of “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” and with lyrics only slightly modified as well. Mr. Obama was still getting the rock star treatment in the press at that time (arguably, he still is) so it died down without much of a furor, but we were told then that the kids had come up with that on their own, though they were being led by an adult in the video.

  5. jim stern

    FYI only one School Board member Koleszar had the guts to publically defend this. What isn’t ever reported is that another School Board member Buyaki immediately spoke about everything wrong with this. And within minutes of the radio show breaking this the two sat down to a civilized lunch and discussed politely for an hour. The other SB members hide and won’t return my messages.

    I am a parent of school children in the same system and I complained 5 years ago to the Administration, Not about lyrics, so spokesspinner is right, but about ignoring selective children and cost and ties to curriculum, and ability to opt out and ………the only concession was the opt out they ignored the rest. And then no one told the other schools so only my school
    did it.

  6. This sort of thing is alarming whenever it surfaces. What’s even more alarming is not only that the instances are becoming more prevalent, but that they’re becoming ever more blatant and being inflicted on children ever younger. Those adults who have no respect for traditional concepts of decency, of childhood or of educational professional standards- but are foremost committed to the advancement of their political interests- find fertile fields in the minds of young children who cannot yet discern indoctrination from education. It seems that- in all ways- children have become the targets of exploiters and are without a safe haven. If those havens cannot be re-instated within our schools, what kind of unthinking, morally bereft adults do we risk creating? And what becomes of our free country with their advent?

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