On Tuesday afternoon (September 8th), I received a phone call from a
friend of mine who is an educator in this county. The caller said,
"Well they didn't show it." For a moment I couldn't imagine what the
caller was talking about. Then it hit me. The speech - the speech
the President of the United States was to give the country's
schoolchildren about the value of a good education and about staying
There are three generations of educators in my family. I love my
country and think it is the best in the world. My husband served in
the U.S. Marine Corps for over 23 years. For almost all of those years
our children and I moved form place to place with him when he was
stateside and waited when he was overseas without us or was in combat.
We tried to do everything we could to help support him because this
made us feel we were doing our part to help him fight for all the
rights we enjoy in this country - among them the right to freely
express our views and to pursue a good education.
When I first heard that the President was going to speak to our
schoolchildren, it made me smile. What a genuinely nice thing to do,
I thought. It made no difference whether this man was named Bush or
Obama. It made no difference whether I liked him or not. The fact
that the leader of the free world was taking the time to talk to out
kids about how they should stay in school and help make the would a
better place was the important thing.
Then I heard that the event was not to be allowed in any classroom in
Levy County as it was being broadcast. How could this possibly be?
Was this decision made at the School Board level? What a legion of
teachable moments has been lost! For the younger kids, teachers could
have concentrated on the message - why it is important to work hard in
school and hang in there. For the older students, the teachers could
have encouraged debate and guided them on how to do this with civility
and without tempers being lost. Have them discuss what they agreed
or disagreed with about anything the President had to say and why.
They might even have discussed the decisions the President and our
Congress could make to help our schools work better. DEBATE!
Are we as a country teaching our children that civil and polite debate
between our citizens is no longer possible? Our country was formed
into the great place that it is because out forefathers were some of
the greatest debaters since the ancient Greeks. They often disagreed
with each other but still made the decisions that were necessary to
move our country forward.
Are our students going to be well enough trained to do this for their
country and themselves? If not, what then? Somehow, I thought we
had moved further along than this.
When I hung up the phone, I cried -