Character Education Lesson for Inauguration 2017: Diversity of Thought/Political Beliefs Not Allowed?
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January 20, 2017 was the inauguration of the 45th President. Whether or not you supported President Trump, it is remarkable that an inauguration has occurred every four years since 1789. (Here are a few interesting facts about some Presidential inaugurations). Yesterday’s inauguration included Missourians prominently participating in the ceremony. From The St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
Senator Roy Blunt, the first Missourian to chair the Joint Congressional Committee on Inauguration Ceremonies since Congress took over the ceremonies in 1901 and a chorale from Missouri State University sang one of the musical numbers.
Flyover country usually garners little exposure on a national stage and Missouri participation in yesterday’s ceremony should be a history lesson, especially for Missouri students ….or maybe not. A Missouri teacher sent a report on how this inauguration was covered in her school district which is located in a conservative voting district:
Inauguration Day 2017
What a difference eight years make. In January 2009, our superintendent encouraged all teachers to show the presidential inauguration since every election is an historic event and as educators, we need to set good examples by allowing our students to experience the swearing in of our president as part of their civic duty. Those of us on the conservative side of politics were basically told to do the right thing and allow the kids to watch since every swearing in is American history in the making. As good conservatives, we showed up to teach our classes that day like we did every day. Except this wasn’t an ordinary day. The entire school was whipped into a frenzy and we were told we had an all school assembly in the gym to watch it as a building.
About two hours before the swearing in, all 800 students were ushered into the gymnasium and told to sit quietly while teachers tried to stream the inauguration events on two giant mobile SMART boards. It was a sight I will never forget! Teachers and staff alike were eagerly attempting to hear the events on phones, mp3’s, and old school transistor radios! Never mind paying attention to the kids, this was history. As the entire school waited in anticipation of the swearing in, the time was fast approaching and the wheel of death was still spinning on the SMART board. Apparently, MSNBC was overwhelmed with demand for the event and we couldn’t log on! Panic had set in, and common sense went out the window. In less than 10 minutes, Barack Obama would be sworn in as president. As I looked up, I saw a PE teacher on a ladder with strips of aluminum foil attempting to make rabbit ears for a small TV. He then attempted to attach the foil strips to those metal cages that protect clocks in a gymnasium. I was secretly praying that he wouldn’t fall off the ladder and break his neck in front of the entire school. Needless to say, his attempts failed.
By this time, the patience of every seven year old was wearing thin, so several teachers opted to return to their classrooms for a break. I decided to take my class back to the room as well in an attempt to allow them to watch from my classroom computer. I gathered my students around my computer and quickly logged on to FOX News and was able to instantly stream the swearing in just in the nick of time. Out of nowhere came one very angry teacher screaming at me in front of my class. Apparently, I was now the reason why they weren’t able to stream the inauguration. You see, I was using bandwidth!!! I have never seen that type of anger before. She blamed me for their two hour long log on issue. Knowing my district, I seriously doubt that.
Fast forward to January 20, 2017, same district: Several very openly Hillary supporting teachers were notably absent today. Most likely recovering from their social media tirades of last night! Facebook and Twitter bashing does take a lot out of you! Or maybe they were part of a protest, although I hear the flu is bad this year. Since we were encouraged to watch the last two inaugurations, I assumed I was good to go to live stream the Inauguration of Donald J. Trump for my students. After all, eight years ago I was told it was a learning experience and great exposure for the kids. They said every swearing in is history in the making! About midway through his speech, an announcement was made to stop streaming immediately unless it was directly tied to your curriculum. We were also told that it was not acceptable use of district internet and computers. In addition, the use of bandwidth was interfering with classes and district curriculum. I guess the fact that we are still lacking bandwidth eight years later, is very telling of the state of our schools! I know the same acceptable use policy was in place in 2009, but am confused as to why this inauguration is suddenly not acceptable. After all, we just spent eight years being told to tolerate one another and their viewpoints. But then again, the white older male won. I’m pretty sure if Hillary had won, we would have had assemblies and female teachers would have been granted leave to actually attend in Washington, DC. I can only imagine a time in which acceptable use will include streaming the inauguration of ALL future presidents, not just those chosen by the left. This just proves that we as a district and a Nation have a long way to go to undo the divisiveness brought on by the last eight years.
How did your school district address the last three inaugurations? Did it focus on the historical significance of the events or is the focus on the partisanship aspect? Does your school district provide character lessons in diversity? Does that include diversity in thought and political leanings? Does your ‘diversity driven’ school district honor inauguration ceremonial traditions or does it censor those ceremonies if it doesn’t approve of the newly installed leaders? How can students decide for themselves what they think about the Inauguration Address if they are denied access? Why are teachers told a previous inauguration ceremony was mandatory viewing and the 2017 ceremony was banned for the majority of students?