Please be very proud of our kids, our staff members, and our parents/caregivers. We are already in the third week of our school year, and everyone is doing a great job. We have been stressing the importance of teamwork and truly that is all I have been seeing. I believe we are on track to have the very best school year that MISD has experienced.
The main purpose of my article this week is to let everyone know of one of my first controversial decisions – though I am sure there are many more to come. President Obama announced last week that he would be making his second broadcast to American students on Tuesday, September 14. This is his "Welcome Back to School" address. I want to make sure everyone knows where the school district stands on this. We will be showing the address in our classes to our students. I have several reasons on why I feel this is the best decision to make on this issue, and I appreciate the chance to explain myself.
First, Mr. Obama is the American president. There are many people in our country who wholeheartedly support the decisions he is making, but there are also many Americans who do not support his administration. In my opinion, this is the very fact that makes the USA the greatest nation on our planet. We can openly voice our opinions concerning our government and this is a right not given in many countries. This freedom has to be respected, which for me means the office of the president, no matter the political affiliation, has to be respected.
Consequently, this means that when the President of the United States of America – whether the person be democrat, republican, or other – wants to address our nation's students, this request is to be respected and honored. Quite honestly, if this year's presidential theme mirrors last year's address, I invite any of our leaders – national, state, or local – to speak to our kids about the importance of their education and the importance of them staying in school.
Additionally, the chance to listen to President Obama provides a wonderful teaching/learning opportunity for our teachers and for our students. The most important tool we can impart to our children, as parents and as teachers, is the ability to think critically. The last thing we want to produce from Midland ISD is a generation of robots who do not question the world around them. Questioning, debating, disagreeing, and consensus building are all attributes our students have to master to succeed in the society in which they will live. Listening to today's political leaders, understanding what they are saying, questioning the direction of our government, and coming to personal decisions as to support or to disagree with that direction truly immerses our students in the governmental process.
I do understand that there are some folks out there that truly believe that we should not let our students listen to the President's address. To this end, I have much faith in both our teachers and our students to assimilate the President's message and to use it as that learning activity I have described. Though our teachers, themselves, have their own definite political views, we will be very careful to make sure our students analyze all sides of the political puzzle. As with the question of religion, it is not the school district's responsibility or right to guide students to any specific political decisions, but it is our responsibility to immerse them in our governmental process and to guide them as they decide their own political views. As with all of our more controversial topics we address in the school system, parents will have the right to "opt out" of the presidential address and have their children participate in an alternative learning activity.
I know there will be many in our community who might disagree with my attitude on this issue and may disagree with my decision about the President's address. Please know that I welcome any comments or questions about this subject, and I will make myself available for discussion. As I have stated above, it is our ultimate goal to use the President's decision to address our children as a unique learning situation that will enhance our students' respect for America's political process.