If there's one lesson that students take away from Tuesday's planned Presidential address to the nation's school kids, it may be that you don't have to listen to anyone that your parents disagree with -- even if they're the President of the United States. Yes, the President can get us into a military quagmire that could cost you your young life (or some presidents can, anyway), but he can't speak directly to you in a controlled environment: that's, like, a dictatorship or fascism, or something.
As I recall from my school days, almost any deviation from the repetitive daily itinerary was welcome: the spinal-curvature exams, the presidential fitness test, fire drills, the duck-and-cover film, any damn guest at all. I'm sure the failure of my parents' generation to prevent this insidious "programming" resulted in brainwashing so deep I don't even recognize its symptoms.
Pardon the break. I had to do a bent-arm hang -- trying to beat that 30-second mark.
Anyway, the President's live address, which will air at 11am local time -- on the wildly partisan topic of education (yes, that's correct: the President is going to talk about the importance of education to kids who are in school, in a city, we might add, that has a real dropout problem. Radical, right?) -- has become so politicized* that our major local school districts are treating it like an unannounced Sunday-morning visit from those Watchtower folks. (Possible back-to-school essay topic: Why do some prayers go unanswered?)
The score so far:
San Antonio Independent School District. It's up to the individual teachers whether to tune into the live broadcast, and teachers who choose to do so must notify parents so that they can opt out if they so choose. You cannot, however, opt in if the teacher wants to stay glued to that pre-calc syllabus. "We're not going to have an assembly-like situation," said Leslie Price, who also said something about the address needing to be "aligned with the curriculum," but then kind of backed away from that when we asked if that meant math teachers couldn't let their classes watch it. The President's propaganda talk will be posted to the district's parent portal for anyone who wants to be brainwashed watch it with their kids.
South San Antonio Independent School District. South San is also leaving it to each teacher's discretion, and teachers who choose to tune in must also notify parents so that they can elect to have their kids do something else. "It does put [the teachers] in a tough spot," agreed PIO Ed Suarez. "It's become politicized, and it's understandable." Like SAISD, students and their parents can not opt in to the broadcast.
Northside Independent School District. "It's not logistically possible for us to comply with that invitation," said PIO Pascual Gonzalez. "You cannot delay feeding 90,000 kids; it's a machine."
The President's address will be posted to the district's parent portal, he said, where parents can choose whether to watch it with their children.
Gonzalez says the district's decision is purely logistical. "I think the message is a good one ... If the content of the speech is what the PR says it is, those are things we regularly talk to kids about."
But even if NISD did participate, he added, "we would offer an opt-out."
North East Independent School District. NEISD will also be posting the program to its parent portal, "which is highly trafficked," said PIO Laura Calderon. She estimates that calls to the district have been split evenly between pros and cons. "We’ve had just as many ask to show it as not show it.” The teachers, incidentally, have not been told not to watch the program with their classes. “Honestly,” she said, “we didn’t give our teachers any direction on that. We’ve been talking to our parents.”
Edgewood Independent School District. As befits a district with a proud egalitarian pedigree, Edgewood originally planned to let teachers choose whether to air the program during class time, but "what was a simple, logical 'sure,' is now more complicated," said PIO Maclovio Perez. The administration will announce its policy tomorrow morning, which is intended to take the heat off of individual teachers and principals.
*Actually, we let people politicize it, but I'll save that topic for another post.
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