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The Indoctrination Has Begun

November 12, 2008

My four year old daughter came home from preschool yesterday and was sitting at our kitchen table making drawings of turkeys from the outline of her hand.  She put an eye and a beak on the thumb and the other fingers were the feathers.  She was absorbed in her artwork and repeating “Barack Obama” as she colored the turkeys with markers.  It was as if she was carefully practicing the pronunciation of his name.  I asked her, “Who is Barack Obama?”  And she said, “He is the president.”  I asked, “Did you learn that at school?”  And she said, “Yes, there is a picture of him on the wall in my classroom.”  My eyes popped out.  Then she said, “I’m glad he’s president.”  And I asked her, “Why are you glad?”  And she said, “Because he is nice.”

I’m not going to let her preschool classroom continue to be a place where the seeds of statist loyalty are cultivated.  I expected them to chat about the election on November 5th during circle time, and I knew the teachers there had a definite bias toward Obama just by taking a survey of all the bumper stickers in the parking lot.  I didn’t expect talk of politics to spill into this week or to hear that a picture of The One now hangs on the wall.  Her teachers will be hearing from me shortly.  I am going to tell them to back the fuck off.  In a pleasant way.

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turkey artwork

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21 Comments
  1. November 12, 2008 11:50 am

    He he, you crack me up. Love the last two lines. 🙂

  2. November 12, 2008 12:25 pm

    Thanks, Jenefur. Only Mao comes to mind when I think of pictures of leaders hung on classroom walls. I called and found out that my daughter was exaggerating since the picture was only on the current events board for a couple of days. Thank goodness it is not a permanent fixture.

  3. November 12, 2008 12:33 pm

    I went to an elementary school where there was a picture of the current president hung on the wall next to the American flag. I haven’t noticed it in my daughters’ schools, but such was the case about 30 years ago.

    I’m glad that you were able to get to the proverbial bottom of this.

  4. November 12, 2008 12:59 pm

    good luck with that. this is one of the many, many reasons we plan to homeschool.

    i see nothing wrong with hanging a picture of the current president in the classroom. but the rest of the stuff (“he’s nice”) scares me. not that he’s not nice, i really don’t know. but anyway…

  5. November 12, 2008 1:20 pm

    Ahhhh…it starts so young….

  6. November 12, 2008 1:35 pm

    Good for you FW. Obama wants mandatory government service for the kids too. Individual liberty is vilified in the collectivist indoctrination centers.

    Did you hear about the Fayetteville, N.C. elementary school teacher who was berating her young student because she said she liked McCain. Her dad was in the military and the teacher told her that McCain wanted to keep her daddy there for 100 years. It was filmed by a Scandinavian film crew for a documentary.

    http://www.charlotteobserver.com/244/story/306104.html

  7. November 12, 2008 2:08 pm

    That makes me wonder what sort of things I was “indoctrinated” with as a child that I no longer remember. Good thing she has you for a mom to set her on the right political path! 🙂

  8. November 12, 2008 2:20 pm

    Mrs. Chili, I know there are schools where that is done. But, like you said, it would be a picture of the current president. They are teaching our children that Obama is the current president. That seems underhanded to me since it is not the truth. I remember having to sing patriotic songs in salute to the flag in third grade.

    Maya, yes, I know what you mean. It is creepy that a president would be categorized as nice. He’s all the rage among the preschoolers because they were allowed to talk about who their parents and grandparents voted for. During that circle time, my daughter didn’t mention who I had written in on the ballot even though she was there with me when I did it, rather she talked about her grandma’s love for Obama in order to fit in. I am saddened, but I understand that she just wants her friends to like her. I requested that the indoctrination stop and her teacher thanked me for expressing my discomfort.

    Evenshine, doesn’t it? It is unbelievable. I liked the letter that you wrote to Obama on your blog.

    JP, thanks for the link. I am going to have to really pay attention to what my daughter is learning. Just the messages she picks up from friends are disturbing. The teachers made an error in judgment by letting some of the children gush about how enthusiastic they are about Obama. I was reassured that talk of politics was confined to last week and is not part of a larger curriculum objective.

    Kristin, thanks for the perspective. She won’t make a big deal of it if I don’t. I will have to plan some indoctrinating lessons of my own for her after school. 😀

  9. November 12, 2008 2:57 pm

    This leaves me speechless which doesn’t happen too often. You can’t say the word Christmas but it’s OK to put your political ideas into the heads of young children. I hope my daughter lets me home school her child when she has one. Good for you. Let us know what happens, please.

  10. November 12, 2008 3:44 pm

    I really don’t like the idea of kids talking about who they would vote for or who their parents voted for (which at a young age is often the same thing) – and I’m even an Obama supporter. I remember in kindergarten we all were supposed to “vote” for president in the 1980 election and then we talked about who we voted for. It was mortifying, I was the only one who didn’t vote Reagan. Not that I knew anything about politics at 5 years old, but I knew who my parents supported, and then I learned pretty quickly how isolating it can be to be in a political minority. Not to mention it kind of detracts from the whole secret ballot issue.

    As for the current / president-elect issue, I can see where that could be kind of confusing to explain that the country elected a new president, but he’s not president yet, but he will be, but for the next 2 months we still have our old president. It’s likely not underhanded so much as not doing a good job of explaining the whole system.

  11. Constar permalink
    November 12, 2008 8:47 pm

    OMG! I would have spoken with them 1st thing the next day. If the government can take out morning prayer and the use of Christianity in schools, which BY THE WAY the United States and Canada was founded on then they SHOULDN’T PROMOTE a group that other may be offended by.

    Their are muslim prayer houses for boys being attached to schools, so that the muslim boys can pray before class. Yet as a Catholic I can’t pray in school. I remember a day when we would pray in the morning and give thanks and pray for a certain child in need or in trouble or who suffered a loss, now I can’t say Merry Christmas. I have to say “Happy Holidays”.

    What has happened to everything?

    IN CHINA THEY PUT PICTURES OF THEIR LEADER IN SCOOLS, HOSPITALS, PUBLIC BUILDINGS, CHURCHES….

    Don’t let it happen to America

  12. Constar permalink
    November 12, 2008 8:53 pm

    I think children should be taught about politics but shouldn’t be asked whom they would vote for, rather who they feel is a stronger opponent.

    When I was in school (Im Canadain) I was taught what different parties stood for and what it mean to vote and how voting is being something adults do and how voting changes the country.

    I was taught how to correctly choose whom I would vote for in the future and how to vote based on the things that I am most concerned about.

    I was never told to speak aloud whom I would vote for in a current ellection. Rather it would be announced whom was running for Prime Minister and then at the end of the race, who won the election. We would also study American politics and how it effects Canadian politics and economics.

    I feel that too often teachers mix their agenda with the children’s agenda. They forget how manipulative they are at a young age, well into their adulthood actually.

    I feel that besides teaching children the fundamentals of politics, all popular elections and voting pols shouldn’t be discussed.

  13. Susannah permalink
    November 13, 2008 1:31 pm

    I’d personally be a little worried about the ‘traditional’ Turkey/Thanksgiving teachings more than the new president at this point.

    I remember being taught about Thanksgiving from only the settlers perspective in many classrooms…and of course we have the over abundance of mixed messages with the Christmas holiday. I’m not an overly religious or even p-c person, but I like hearing all sides of the story if that is possible.

  14. refincher permalink
    November 13, 2008 9:25 pm

    I am laughing out loud!!!! I’ve never actually heard your voice…but I think I just did.

    Great turkey btw!

  15. November 14, 2008 3:16 pm

    I’m not looking for an argument here, I swear, but I think that one of the basic tenants of public school is to teach about “being” an American, which would include how the government works and who is currently president. Flying a flag and having pictures up of major figures makes the kids informed citizens.
    However, I strongly advocate for the right to privacy in voting, and I think it’s sad that your daughter felt pressured to say she supported Obama in order to fit in. Not cool at all, and not American.
    I also think that in this global village we’re all living in, religion classes should be mandatory in public school–ones that each ALL the MAJOR religions in the world EQUALLY. Not worship classes. Not preferential for one religion over another. Not prayer time, but intellectual, fact-based classes about religion and how it connects to politics and personal choice.
    Informational, ya know?
    🙂

  16. November 14, 2008 4:05 pm

    Oh.wow. I don’t know what to say…. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  17. November 14, 2008 6:24 pm

    Joan, how awesome are you with the dream to homeschool your grandchildren! When I wrote this, I thought there was a picture of him on the wall and that they were having morning prayer at the Temple of Obama. But I got the wrong impression. I’ve talked to her teacher and the director since then and they both said that the children were the ones who were so enthusiastic.

    Ann, thanks for sharing your perspective. I remember a project in 1988 where we made political posters in groups. My group for Dukakis. We didn’t know what to put on our poster, but we wanted to represent our parents well.

    Constar, it seems like this time around more people were vocal about their views than usual. But you are right, usually people would keep their votes secret and just go on about their day. Thanks for your comments.

    Susannah, that’s so true. We have to be careful not to be so Eurocentric when we tell stories like traditional one about the first Thanksgiving dinner. I will be mindful of that.

    Rebecca, thanks! Glad to make you laugh.

    westwardbound, what I thought had happened was that a picture of Obama had been put (permanently) on the wall and that the students were told he was going to save the world and make it a better place. Kind of like a picture of Jesus in a Sunday school classroom. I thought she was being taught to adore him in a way that I would not have condoned. I am rather cynical about hope and change and I jumped to the conclusion that the teachers were telling her things were great now that Obama has been elected.

    Sandi, thanks for the hugs!

  18. November 14, 2008 10:28 pm

    Like Ann Z, I “voted” in 1st grade when it was the reagan/carter election. I was so clueless that I was actually unaware that there had been an election, and I voted for carter because I’d never heard of reagan. I was very upset to learn that our votes didn’t count, that the election was already over before we voted, and that carter hadn’t won.

    I told my parents about it, and they laughed – they’d voted for reagan.

    I think I was just a spectacularly clueless child. Nose in a book all the time or something.

    I’ve a friend who is an elementary science teacher, which is a few years ahead of your daughter still, but he makes it a point to teach his kids to think for themselves. When he does the nutrition segment, he has them all bring in labels from food they have at home, and they analyze things. He makes them come up with the answers. He’s completely honest with them that HE has a bias, and he’s probably the first adult who ever tells these kids that everyone has a bias.

    Probably goes without saying, but he’s always the favorite teacher. He’s had parents come up to him and tell them that he has changed their child’s life! (He can make science fun. Imagine that!)

    I don’t think it is a problem that teachers have bias (don’t we all?), I think it is a problem that we aren’t teaching kids that there is always a bias. Though preschool is likely a bit young for some of that, I imagine that critical thinking skills are at play to some degree even then. (though i don’t know kids, so I might be way off there.)

  19. November 15, 2008 8:47 am

    I’m glad the story wasn’t quite like it was sounding to start with.

    Our boys are 7 and 4, and I listen closely for improper political influence. We’ve been fortunate so far.

  20. November 15, 2008 4:41 pm

    Well, my kids have been singing about Obama too. I ask them about it and they say he is our president. My oldest says he is just making up his own songs.

    I can’t ever remember anything like this. I barely remember fighting between legs when we had to go see Kennedy. That was quite the hoopla but I can’t judge whether it was like it is now with Obama.

    I have to also say I’m sooooo sick of hearing about how people thought they’d never see this day…I can understand it if you are 70 plus but geeze. I CERTAINLY would have expected to see it (rather it would have been Powell or Rice). This will be the first president YOUNGER than me, damn it, I AM getting old! er, BETTER! 🙂

  21. November 17, 2008 12:46 pm

    I’d love to hear how that talk goes. I’ve been reading on a few blogs about kids coming back from school talking about how they’re so happy Obama’s president, and they’re only 7 or 8! I don’t think this is something teachers should be teaching…or perhaps we should let them teach our kids politics AND religion?

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