As many on this blog know, I have long been an advocate for public schools, which I believe serve a critical function in shaping future citizens. However, teachers and administrators seem intent on fueling calls for even greater private school voucher programs and other alternatives to the public schools. Some schools seem more focused on indoctrination than education. That is the concern with a video recently shared by a mother in New York. In the video, students at the Upper West Side’s M.S. 243 Center School where students held up signs for Pfizer and Moderna and sang “It’s safe to vax and if your friends don’t vax then they ain’t no friends of mine.” Students are not required to be vaccinated in New York and the song appeared to be an effort to stigmatize and isolate those who have declined vaccination. The New York school system is investigating the matter.
A mother, Antigone Michaelides, shared recordings with Just the News and said that participation of students was mandatory. The kids sang a parody of the Men Without Hats song, “Safety Dance,” which includes the line “Your friends don’t dance, and if they don’t dance, well they’re no friends of mine.”
Michaelides tweeted an image of skit:
There were also signs reading “I FEAR GOD NOT COVID” and “I AM NOT A SCIENCE EXPERIMENT.” Rather than offer a counterpoint, critics say that those holding the signs were portrayed as crazy or unstable.
Regardless of how these signs were presented, the controversy highlights the unnecessary politicalization of our public schools. This is just a little play and a small school. However, it is indicative of a rising concern over teachers using schools — and our kids — for political agendas.
This week, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly recalled three school board members. We previously discussed their controversial agenda, including renaming schools and opposition to gifted programs as inequitable. Other officials in San Francisco have denounced meritocracy itself as racist.
Some in the media have responded to the recall with outrage like CNN’s column “San Francisco school board recall sends a dangerous message” explaining that “the rhetoric of ‘parents’ rights'” is merely a substitute for “right-wing school politics.” This view was echoed by ousted San Francisco school board president Gabriela López who tweeted Thursday that these voters were “aligned” with white supremacists. That’s right. With more than 70 percent removing the three Democrats, we have learned that San Francisco is a hotbed of white supremacy and far-right politics.
Others have warned that the use of schools to advance controversial political and social justice agendas is backfiring on Democratic figures. As shown in Virginia, it could well backfire at the polls.
However, my concern remains the impact on public schools, which are now viewed as largely hostile to conservatives or libertarians. Others feel that teachers and administrators have increasingly put education as a secondary priority despite continuing low performance rates in many of our public school districts. The result can be a further exodus from our schools and even greater pressure for vouchers to allow parents to go to private schools. Again, this is just one school and one little skit. However, it reflects the poor choices fueling the shift away from public schools.