Are you ready for the next class discussion in our graduate seminar on public education communications? 😉
I have a surprise for you all today, if you’re good. But first let’s have inspection, everyone properly dressed, clean nails, bare heads? COD, I don’t understand that geeky sy-fy t-shirt message and it offends me to not get it, so you’ll have to turn it inside out before we can start. Nance, go call your mother (or son) and have someone bring you proper shoes instead of those flip-flops. We’ll wait.
[tapping properly shod foot because Nance is dawdling]
Please know the message war is not just about “science” class any more (never really was, you knew that, right?) Now it’s infecting MATH and MUSIC at school too. Fighting to control not just the curriculum of the textbooks but the curriculum of the t-shirts too.
We Thinking Parents have studied school messages from curriculum to t-shirts to “serious hats.” But now Nance — oh, those shoes are better but stop sulking, your face is part of the message and I require a pleasant expression in this class — found a new school t-shirt controversy and THIS time, school authorities are forcibly taking shirts off kids’ backs that the school gave them to wear as a uniform in the first place! Because a few Unthinking Parents demanded it.
Did you know evolution science is actually religion, and therefore doesn’t belong in school?
The band debuted the T-shirts when it marched in the Missouri State Fair parade. . . While the shirts don’t directly violate the district’s dress code, Assistant Superintendent Brad Pollitt said complaints by parents made him take action.
. . .Band parent Sherry Melby, who is a teacher in the district, stands behind Pollitt’s decision. Melby said she associated the image on the T-shirt with Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
“I was disappointed with the image on the shirt.” Melby said. “I don’t think evolution should be associated with our school.”
Say what?? The Missouri state standards for high schools clearly associate evolution with public education. Don’t they? Oh, I see the Discovery Institute message is being taught there as “public education” and “academic freedom” instead, hmmm.
And it’s not just this one sorry excuse for a parent/teacher who got the message but this public official, a school board member. His public message is that Education will avoid the controversy of thinking altogether, if that’s what it takes to “move forward” as School:
Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education member Michael Stees said it was unfortunate the T-shirt design was misconceived and he hopes the band can just move forward.
“This is an exciting time for the band,” Stees said. “They don’t need any negativity.”
They don’t need no thought control either, you sorry appeasing fraud. What does all this “educational authority” say to the students? Here’s how it translated for one kid who just wanted to defend his fun school band shirts and keep playing brass for the public fair, willing to wear and pretend to believe anything the grownups require: the shirt’s okay because um, god isn’t bad and evolution isn’t good and I just want to play my music, please, what did I do wrong?
“It’s not like we are saying God is bad,” sophomore band member Denyel Luke said. “We aren’t promoting evolution.”
Poor kid. So what he’s learning in band has nothing to do with making music. All he can make out is that he’d better be wary of thinking or believing anything at all. Shame on anyone who dares call THAT educated.
It all reminds me of bizarre civic lessons forced on kids by local wackos in the name of school theatre education.
Final insult added to injury in the band t-shirt fiasco was in making School smile as it is punished, using public education tax dollars to pay the full price of the shirts they let be censored, and agreed to confiscate from the kids. At least they could have been “bought out” by the community members who wanted them gone, the way boosters will buy out a coaching contract when they want someone fired.
Pollitt said the district would now have to absorb the cost of the T-shirts — $700 — that would have been paid for by the band parents.
Okay, the seminar is now open. What’s the hidden curriculum, the real lesson to students in all this, do all you Thinking Parents think?
That students are more like pets owned by crazy old cat ladies than thinking young adults pursuing a real education? Mere foot soldiers (whose feet are not their own to dress as they please and take where they will, much less their minds) or even pawns (who have no feet at all!) in a culture war waiting passively to be moved from place to place by tinpot dictators with battle plans that make no academic or social sense as a coherent whole? That their status as students sets them up as early casualties no matter whose “religion” — in science, music, math or sex education — may ultimately declare victory after they are dead and gone, and have lost all as individuals?
That the only choice left to THEM in the heat of battle, is between blind obedience and reflexive rebellion, either path itself irrational but what does it matter when everything else is too?
Ready for your surprise? It’s not just them. It’s us.
The Anti-thinking Authoritarians are just getting started with kids at school but their curriculum is comprehensive. Even their dress code is universal, planned to put the “public” in “public school” too — check out the Sunday New York Post teaching us all a lesson about t-shirts and flip-flops. On adults. In public. By choice. When dress is *so* not the message that matters. When choosing how best to live and what to believe about what of you will live on after you die, is the real message, what learning to learn is all about. Unless you let this young fashion writer mess with your head.
At Ted Kennedy’s public memorial on Friday, there were many sad things: Victoria Kennedy’s hopeful smile. Signs in the crowd saying THANK YOU TEDDY. A mother with a son in Iraq clutching an American flag.
But just as sad? The flip-flops.
Mourners also sported short-shorts, undershirts, dirty tees, and many pairs of infamous Crocs. It was a Casual Friday gone horribly wrong, as if everyone’s destination was Fenway Park, not a public casket viewing. . .
Just as sad?? Seriously? This supposedly educated American opinion-maker with a mainstream media platform, claims equivalency between grief for beloved dead family members and T-SHIRTS?
Signs of an education problem, or have we all pretty much lost whatever minds we were born with?
Education (not schooling or indoctrination) is about developing the quality of one’s thought process, which in turn empowers one to individually evaluate who and what is most deserving of respect, starting with self-respect, respect for humanity and for all living creatures. (Most educated philosophers and scientists and Kennedys for example, teach children that love of our neighbors and fellows comes above love of money, status and power.)
But those who were themselves poorly educated will not, cannot trust free human thought to be good and true and beautiful. They can’t have kids actually learning to think for themselves, how would conservative authoritarianism control them then??
“We support whatever steps the school district has to take,” [band director and co-designer of the t-shirt] Summers said.
Well, of course he does. What real choice does he have — quit on principle, in this economy and with a family of his own to feed, over a damn[ed] t-shirt? Poor guy. Poor kids. Poor us.
Never mind debating evolution, arguing over theism, music or math, academic accountability testing or dress code details. Before any of that matters, the core message of public schooling is citizenship education in support of sustaining our civil liberties and national unity, and that’s under fire as never before. Eyes on the prize y’all.
Here’s the punchline, the last surprise message of class today. Here’s a photo of the journalist who equates the sadness of bereaved Kennedys with the lack of respect in wearing a t-shirt.
In a t-shirt. In a school t-shirt. From a school where she wrote a sex column.
So for those Thinking Parents among you, if you teach your children well the real lessons of such school stories, then by the authority vested in me as Dr. JJ, I hereby empower you to dress them any damn[ed] way you please. . .
Class dismissed. For GOOD.
(Except if you read all the way to this point, you get extra credit for reading and thinking about this.)