Teacher Suspended Over Obama Flap
by Danielle Wood
How can we get American kids pumped up about politics? Inspired to study the ins and outs of a complex public policy plan? Passionate about their futures and committed to furthering their education? Well, I'm not sure. But something tells me it's not by suspending the teacher who sparked their interest in the first place...
This week, one of the most read and most shared stories on Fox News’ Election Headquarters page was about a snafu in a Kansas City charter school, and the middle school teacher who’s been suspended because of it.
What happened exactly? Time will tell, but the gist of it is this: a video surfaced on YouTube of a group of middle school boys from Kansas City’s Urban Leadership Academy, in which they march into their classroom and begin a coordinated routine. In the video, the group of eighth- and ninth- grade students perform a step show, a type of dance popular in African-American college fraternities. Each kid takes a turn chanting something Barack Obama inspired them to do—whether it’s becoming a lawyer, or becoming an architect. They move on to a section of affirmations about taking responsibility for their own lives and their own success, chanting “Yes we can!” And then each of them shouts something they’ve learned about Barack Obama’s healthcare plan, picking it apart, point by point. For example, “Obama’s healthcare plan will increase competition” or “Obama’s healthcare plan will provide participants the ability to move from job to job without changing their healthcare coverage!”
Is it a tight and professional performance? Absolutely not. But it is a group of kids at a school meant to inspire them to do better, clearly inspired by something. After buckling down to analyze Obama’s healthcare plan with their teacher, they made it their own. They moved beyond the page to how policy can affect real lives, and beyond the squawk box to analysis and opinion-forming.
Complaints have come in that if the kids were going to study Obama’s plan, they should have studied McCain’s as well. And perhaps that’s the case. But it’s clear from watching the video that this group of African American boys found a hero in Obama, someone who spurred them to be their best. If they didn’t feel like jumping up and performing a similar show about the 72-year-old grey-haired Senator from Arizona… well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles.
The teacher’s fate will be taken up by the school’s board. At the moment, he’s suspended, the reason stated being that politics should not be given a place in the public school classroom. Meanwhile, much of America continues to bemoan the fact that for some reason, young voters are amongst the least likely to vote …
So let me get this straight: we want them to vote, but we don’t think there’s a place in the classroom to teach kids to form political opinions? Sounds pretty counterintuitive to me. America, here’s something to ponder: citizens don’t become active by accident. Political apathy is a learned behavior.
Danielle Wood is the Director of Editorial for Education.com. You can reach her at email@example.com