Saturday, September 5, 2009

Frisco ISD announces “Office of Presidential Filtering”

(Frisco, TX) In response to the impending intrusion on the valuable lunchtime activities of the students of the Frisco Independent School District by “that guy living in the White House,” un-named FISD “officials” have created the Office of Presidential Filtering. Since clearly our duly elected federal officials have some nefarious plot behind this presentation, local officials have decided that they are best suited to “hone in on important aspects or portions of the message.” At this point, it is unclear as to what criteria would be used to decide what is important and what is not. Nor is it clear just which individuals would assume this post or how those people would be chosen. But FISD wants all Frisco parents to rest assured that no unacceptable content regarding the value of education or the importance of respect for our elected officials would be allowed to sully the minds of impressionable young people. According to unnamed FISD officials, “We feel that our leaders and educators at the schools are best equipped to determine how it (the Presidential Address) should be used. We feel that our staff can best determine impact on instructional time and what facilitating questions and follow-up discussion topics best tie in with our curriculum and learning.”

C’mon, people. Seriously? This is the best they can come up with?

For any number of reasons – from the valid to the ridiculous –school districts around the country have been falling all over themselves to distance students from President Obama’s planned address on Tuesday. Our own Frisco ISD seems intent on doing the same, without quite coming out and saying so. The information page posted on ( cites issues around scheduling (the plan falls during many students’ lunch periods) and timing (the planned message is geared toward students just starting classes, while our kids have been going to school for a couple of weeks already). Both excuses, of course, are tepid, at best. I’ve seen the schools monkey with schedules for a lot less reason and resulting in a lot more disruption. And quite frankly, I give Frisco students a little more credit than it seems they do. I think our kids can grasp the concept that some schools in other parts of the country are just starting.

So, let’s call it what it is: an attempt to wrap some legitimacy around our school officials’ unwillingness to stand up to the ridiculous pressures being placed by the ultra-right wing blog-o-radio personalities and the local parents that have been whipped into a froth. Even worse, they compound the problem with a collection of wishy-washy language that basically amounts to the establishment of the fictional “Office of Presidential Filtering” described above. In their grand wisdom, unidentified “school officials” have reserved for themselves the duty of editing President Obama’s presentation for use in specific classes such as “speech or journalism,” “history or government” or even the more unwieldy “civics/social studies/current events.”

I’ve got a better idea. Why don’t we set aside partisan bickering and show some respect for the elected leader of our nation? This is not just some political hack pushing an agenda. It’s the President of the United States of America. If you don’t agree with his politics, that’s fine. You have every right to speak out against his policies and, even more grand, vote for someone else during the next election. You can certainly – and I highly encourage this – have an open and genuine conversation with your children about the message and the messenger, if you like. In the meantime, perhaps we can try and teach our children to respect the office and just shut up and listen. No editing. No repurposing. No “determining how it can best be used.” More importantly, no prejudging that somehow this President deserves to be censored based on the ranting of a bunch of media hot heads and the over-reaction of a few parents in the school district.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Bravo, Allen. Very well said.

At worst, this is an opportunity for the schools to teach kids that reasonable minds can disagree and that civil political debate is preferred to the full-body cage wrestling that usually goes on among otherwise normal adults these days.

At best, it's a chance to get some high powered ammo to help drive home a message that I hope our schools are trying to instill in the first place.

The uproar over this demonstrates just how cynical many Americans have become about politics and elected officials in general, and it's just sad.