Parents are outraged after a Utah elementary school showed a video to schoolchildren about pledging to “to be of service to Barack Obama,” “to never give anyone the finger when I’m driving again,” “to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid” and to advance stem-cell research.
The video, titled “I Pledge” and produced by Demi Moore, features more than 50 Hollywood celebrities who offer their support for President Obama’s policies. The film was played for Obama during his inaugural celebration.
But school administrators at Eagle Bay Elementary School in Farmington, Utah, showed the video to young students at an Aug 28 school assembly, sparking outrage from parents and conservative groups who called the film “radical, leftist propaganda,” the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The video can be seen below:
“I Pledge” opens with a popular depiction of Obama. The president states, “Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.”
The following are some of the more controversial pledges:
- I pledge allegiance to the funk of the united funk of funkadelica.
- I pledge to never give anyone the finger when I’m driving again
- I pledge to advance stem-cell research
- To reduce my use of plastic … use less bottled water … plant 500 trees this year … to be more green … to no longer use plastic bags at the grocery store
- For the environment, I plan to flush only after deuce, never a single
- I pledge to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid
- I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama
The video asks viewers to visit Serve.gov and sign up for a community service project.
Jennifer Cieslewicz has a daughter who is in first-grade at Eagle Bay Elementary.
“Showing the video in a public school is completely inappropriate,” Cieslewicz told the Salt Lake Tribune. “I don’t believe a video such as this that promotes certain values should be shown to elementary students, especially without parents being aware. ”
Following negative reactions from parents, school principal Ofelia Wade has apologized for showing the video.
Chris Williams, Davis School District spokesman, told the Tribune that Wade and school PTA leaders chose to play the video during its assembly about the school theme this year – service. He said Wade hadn’t viewed the film before it was played for the children.
“It got to a point where she turned to her assistant and said, ‘Oops, I wish I would have seen this before. I don’t think I would have shown it,’ ” Williams said. “She acknowledges she was wrong and apologizes for it and says she’s sorry.”
According to the report, the principal plans to send letters to parents about the film on Wednesday.
Gayle Ruzicka, president of Utah Eagle Forum, told the newspaper the video was blatantly political.
“It’s very inappropriate to show a radical, leftist propaganda piece that political to children,” Ruzicka said. “If parents want their children to learn about those things and do them in the home, wonderful, fine, but it’s not the place of the school to show a one-sided propaganda piece to children without parents knowing about it.”
Ruzicka said she is concerned that the film’s pledges may confuse elementary-school children whose parents use plastic bags at grocery stores or who want their children to flush the toilet every time they use the restroom.
She said she also objects to the pledge “to be of service to Barack Obama” because he has been elected to serve Americans, not so they will serve him.
News of the public school’s decision to show the video comes after WND reported that President Obama plans to give a national address to the nation’s school children on Sept. 8. School officials have been asked to take a break from normal educational activities to allow students to view a speech from the president and participate in recommended brainstorming exercises following the broadcast.
According to a letter from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, “The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. …
“He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.”
The speech is scheduled to broadcast live at 12 p.m. EST on C-SPAN and at whitehouse.gov.
Worksheets provided by the U.S. Department of Education encourage teachers to ask pre-K through 6th-grade students the following questions:
- What is the president trying to tell me to do?
- What is the president asking me to do?
- What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about?
Students may be asked to write down “key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful, make posters of their goals, create a “supportive community” by sharing those goals with one another.
Junior-high and high-school students may be asked to brainstorm answers to the following questions before the speech:
- Why does President Obama want to speak with us today?
- How will he inspire us?
- How will he challenge us?
- What might he say?
They are encouraged to take notes while President Obama speaks about personal responsibility, goals or persistence. As part of a “guided discussion,” they may talk about what President Obama has inspired or challenged them to do.
Neal McCluskey, associate director of the Center for Educational Freedom, objected to the Obama administration message to schoolchildren in a Cato Institute article titled, “Hey Obama, leave those kids alone.”
“It’s one thing for a president to encourage all kids to work hard and stay in school – that’s a reasonable use of the bully pulpit,” McCluskey wrote. “It’s another thing entirely, however, to have the U.S. Department of Education send detailed instructions to public schools nationwide on how to glorify the president and the presidency, and push them to drive social change. Frighteningly, this is what President Obama has done.”
McCluskey objected to Department of Education-suggested classroom activities for pre-K-6 students encouraging children to make posters setting out “community and country” goals.
“Perhaps even more frightening is the lesson schools are pushed to teach that it is important to listen to ‘the president and other elected officials,'” he wrote. “Possibly most distressing of all, though, is guidance that appears explicitly designed to glorify both the presidency and President Obama himself …”
He said the White House is trying to use its power over education to “indoctrinate children, something completely antithetical to a free society.”
Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party, said in a statement that he believes Obama’s speech may be a platform “to spread” his “socialist ideology.”
“As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.”
He continued, “While I support educating our children to respect both the office of the American President and the value of community service, I do not support using our children as tools to spread liberal propaganda. The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President’s agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President’s initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.”