The hubbub caused by President Obama's planned "Welcome Back" speech to school children on Tuesday is interesting to say the least. For those of you just tuning in to the debate, here's a helpful summary of arguments from all sides concerning the public school arena – not much I could or would add to any of that. However, as I haven't read much from a Christian private school perspective, let me get the conversation started.
On Friday, Westminster received several phone call from parents asking if the school was going to participate in watching the President's speech. The official WCA position for this and other such live presentations is that they are not to take the place of our own academic presentations – those prepared lessons that fit within the planned curriculum for the courses we teach; thus, as guided by our scope and sequence, there is no official planned showing of the President's live presentation in WCA classrooms on Tuesday.
Maybe because we've already had three weeks of school and the idea of a "Welcome Back" speech seems past the expiraton date, I didn't think too much about the email. While I always want to consider whether something like this applies to what we're talking about in Ethics, in light of the fact that my students are gearing up for their first major test next week (and Tuesday finishes up our discussion for that), I figured I'd watch the speech on YouTube and, if anything seemed to apply, bring it in to class afterward.
This idea might get complicated, however, as apparently we had parents (not a lot, but a vocal few) express that if WCA showed the speech, they would keep their kids home from school.
When I got home later in the day, I asked Megan what she had been reading in the blogosphere about President Obama's planned speech, and she told me there were several "sick out" campaigns being organized for Tuesday, mostly by parents whose kids were in public school (though homeschoolers seemed all too eager to jump on the bandwagon as well). When I told her about the phone calls at Westminster, her response was the same as mine.
Am I missing something here? If it's not in the home (and why a homeschooling family would not use this as an opportunity for discussion I have no idea – we are), I would think parents would at least want their kids engaging live presentations like President Obama's in a Christian school, where I as a teacher am going to ask questions like "What can we affirm?" (importance of education, faithful study, etc.) or "What needs to be challenged?" (ideas different from Scriptural truth, etc.). It shouldn't matter who the speaker is – these are the conversations I would think a parent would be PRAYING to take place. Why keep your kids home from them? This logic does not compute; after all, why are they/we here?
At some point, Christians have got to stop putting the mental in fundamentalist and start interacting with the world. Teaching our kids to stick their heads in the sand and ignore anyone they may not totally agree with is, in a word, unChristian. Folks, we can't counter the culture unless we encounter the culture, so let's take off the blinders, read through Acts 17 again, and be some salt and light around here for crying out loud.