Helping third-graders become anti-war

I missed the story of the Madison, WI elementary school (reg. req.) where teachers gave third graders an assignment to write letters to their congressmen and media outlets urging an end to the war in Iraq the first time around, but Frontpage has a good write up about it here:

The day before Thanksgiving, third-grade students at the Frank Allis Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin, were given a curious lesson in civic responsibility. They were told to write letters to their congressman and various media outlets calling for an end to the war in Iraq.

Parents were sent a letter justifying this political indoctrination as a social studies lesson. “The Frank Allis third grade will be writing letters to encourage an end to the war in Iraq” the letter explained. “The letter writing will teach civic responsibility, a social studies standard, while providing an authentic opportunity to improve composition skills and handwriting. If the war has not ended by the 12th day [of the letter writing campaign] we will start the whole sequence over again, writing to students in middle school, high school, and college.”

Signed by the “third grade staff” the letter in closing asked parents to fund ten postage stamps and 12 envelopes for the project. As a “courtesy” the teacher gave parents the option to opt out of the assignment Γ’β‚¬β€œ as if that excused the school’s attempt to recruit impressionable third-graders into the service of “antiwar” movement and mold their views on the War on Terror.

Opposition to this project was strong, and the school rescinded the assignment. But that disappointed some people:

Not everyone was pleased with that decision. In the aftermath, Sharon Johnson, Frank Allis Elementary PTA president, said she was disappointed to see that the envelopes and stamps she sent to school with her daughter, as requested in the assignment, were returned last Tuesday. “I got the letter, and I had no objection” Johnson told the Journal Sentinel. She had hoped that the antiwar project would prove revelatory for her daughter. “Her world is pretty much made up of the Cartoon Network. I thought it was a good idea to get kids to open up their eyes” she said. But while Johnson, a Democrat, approved of the assignment, she admitted that had the campaign been in support of the war, she would have taken umbrage.

Read the whole thing.

Now just why would a group of third grade teachers want their students to write letters urging an end to the war in Iraq? Civics assignment my foot. U.S. Rep. Mark Green (R-Green Bay, WI) suggested a letter writing campaign in support of the troops (and let’s remember, as we’ve been told countless times, you can show support for the troops without showing support for the war) instead if the teachers truly wanted to continue on with a civics assignment revolving around the Iraq war.

The school has not responded to Congressman Green’s suggestion.

Related: Jay at Stop the ACLU blogs about the ACLU’s non-interest in the case of the Excelsior Elementary School (in the Byron Union School District in California) being allowed (via a court ruling) to use “Islam simulation” materials and methods on 7th graders in their World History and Geography classes. Here’s more on those methods and materials:

In the three-week course, Excelsior teacher Brooke Carlin had students assume Islamic names, recite prayers in class, memorize and recite verses from the Quran, and had them simulate Ramadan fasting by going without something for a day. The final test required students to critique Muslim culture.

The Islam simulations at Excelsior are outlined in the state-adopted textbook “Across the Centuries,” published by Houghton Mifflin, which prompts students to imagine they are Islamic soldiers and Muslims on a Mecca pilgrimage. The lawsuit also alleges students were encouraged to use such phrases in their speech as “Allah Akbar,” which is Arabic for “God is great,” and were required to fast during lunch period to simulate fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

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