Dear Dr. Risner and Administrators of Ames Schools,
I would feel comfortable sending my two Ames High students to class the week of Feb 1-5 under the following two conditions. I’ll tell you who I am at the bottom of this letter.
I would send my children to Ames High Feb 1-5 if the students were taught about the BLM movement in an educational, descriptive manner – teaching them about the movement, who started it, why and how it started, what their credo states, and all of the actions they have engaged in since organizing.
The current proposed curriculum, which ascribes to a list of pledges, is completely inappropriate for a school, yet indeed appropriate for a voluntary club, a church, a religion, or perhaps a list of family rules. A curriculum using language such as “we commit to,” “lovingly engage,” and “affirming” is quite frankly religious in its nature, completely inappropriate for a tax-payer supported public school. It is not a school’s role to instruct students what to “love” and what to “commit to,” or even how to “feel,” for that matter. That is the role of the family and for a church, synagogue, or mosque. An educator’s role is to teach about various events in history, and possibly current history at the secondary level.
I would send my children to Ames High Feb 1-5 if three or more subsequent weeks were dedicated to teaching about other varied current political movements – at the very least including the 1776 Commission Report, going through that report with the students for one dedicated week – again, discussing who started it, why and how it started, what their credo states, and all of the actions they have engaged in since organizing. Check it out. It is descriptive and educational in its language, not religious, and represents a movement in our current time with at least equal level of concern and support as the BLM movement. To be consistent with Ames’s current actions, other current historical “movements” should be explored as well, such as Pro-Life along with Pro-Choice, inviting proponents of each movement to explain their points of view.
The above conditions describe an option that would be more consistent and in line with the role of educators than what Ames has proposed for next week. However, an additional valid question that deserves discussion is this: is it the proper role of public high schools to explain the source of every violent and peaceful social protest we experience? If the school administrators define this as a proper subject of teaching and learning, how will the district pick and choose which protests or property destruction efforts or social movements are taught? Should it not include all such movements, with all presented in a descriptive manner?
For example, has the district devoted equivalent pedagogical resources and time to pro-life protests, which have been going on in every state since 1973? Has the district devoted equivalent pedagogical resources and time to the Tea Party movement, which was active in every state over a period of six or eight years? Has the district devoted equivalent pedagogical resources and time to the home-schooling movement, which has been going on in every state for decades?
Without the above two conditions, Ames High cannot claim to be a school interested in critical thinking nor in teaching students how to think critically. Instead, they can maintain their quickly growing badge as the Ames High Church of Selected Trendy Feel-Good Political Movement(s).
I am a parent of two current Ames High students, but they begged me not to use my name, for they were 100% sure they would get “targeted’ by students, teachers, and administrators; they already have been targeted at Ames High, subtly and overtly. Sabrina Shields-Cook, you know me; our kids went to school together. We often talked outside Meeker together. I am an educator at the college level. I have watched what has been developing for years, and I am not impressed with Ames High’s handling of our changing world and growing children. You have abandoned your roles as educators, and you have taken on the inappropriate roles as cultural priests. Reconsider. Reprove a wise person, and s/he will love you. Surely there are enough wise few among you, or enough wisdom in each of you to reconsider.
Ames High Parent