Educational Scenario Essay

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Education Scenario

Response from District Superintendent

Bill James

How did the parents' letter make you feel? Be candid in your response.

How did I feel when reading this belligerent letter? My first impression after reading half way through the letter was, here is a member of (or an ideological believer in) the Tea Party and the school's multicultural programs give him a perfect opportunity to rage against immigration. Reading all the way through, and reading it a second time, it is apparent that the father has a chip on his shoulder because he served in combat missions and now that he is out of uniform he believes he has the right to rage against what he feels is too much attention paid to other cultures / subcultures in America.

He can say that he was in the service with others of different nationalities and ethnicities -- and therefore he can't be labeled a racist or "right wing religious fanatic" -- but his words (and the context) give him away. He appears to be first and foremost intolerant of Mexican immigrants. He tries to diffuse the obvious bias he has against Mexicans by ranting about how traditional holidays are celebrated -- "Halloween becomes Harvest Day" and "Christmas becomes Winter Break" -- but he can't hide from his belligerent anti-immigrant viewpoint. This is a right wing demagogue and he may be dangerous, given his harsh narrative.

"We speak English -- all the time!" he rages. He rails at the school district's "…incessant bowing down to anyone Mexican or Spanish-speaking" and he believes that asking elementary school children to study other cultures is tantamount to the "destruction of American values." So, according to this parent, the only "Americans" are of European extraction -- or, "LEGAL IMMIGRANTS" (like his wife). The suggestion that all Mexicans are illegal immigrants is beyond bias and moves into a hateful context.

The tactful approach used in the letter to this parent from the district superintendent is simply good business practice. The fact that the superintendent would like to meet with the parents shows the district is listening. There is no need for arguing or contentiousness in a case like this; the district just needs to be listening to parents' complaints no matter how absurd or bigoted they may be.

How does this issue focus on a school's academic program in terms of its organization and alignment for all students?

Since there is no available breakdown of the ethnicity of students in the son's classroom, it is not possible to examine those dynamics. But if a sizeable number of students -- or even a minority -- were of Mexican heritage, one could see that there is a viable cultural reason for launching a week's study of the Mexican culture, Mexican history, Mexican values. After all, there are a number of traditional American celebrations that all students are expected to take part in, like Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, and so forth.

Moreover, Mexico is part of the history of the settling and development of the United States so it makes good sense for schools to introduce the customs, values, religions and cultural beliefs of Mexico.

Does the curriculum properly advocate for the need to focus on the welfare of all students in a multicultural setting or has this district gone too far? Explain and elaborate.

According to Standard 1 in the ISLLC Standards, teachers promote the success of students by embracing "…a widely shared vision for learning," which implies a vision that all students, no matter their ancestry or socioeconomic situation, can be part of. In Standard 4 (ISLLC Standards), the faculty and community members of public schools should respond to "…diverse community interests and needs" by bringing together resources from the community, in case, those resources would include individuals from the Latino / Mexican-American community to showcase traditional music, dance, and art.

The district has not gone too far at all (although it could be argued that a week is longer than needed, but that is splitting hairs) and it is assumed that within the multicultural curriculum there will also be celebrations relating to the lives and cultures of Asian-Americans, African-Americans, and Native Americans as well.

The Merced County Public Schools "Multicultural…[continue]

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