Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Letter to the Editor: Beaumont Enterprise

A substitute shows pre-approved clips from Fahrenheit 9-11 in alternative school and it becomes national news. Why? Because, according to Mr. Kurth, schools should not be in the business of exposing students to "propoganda" that is "spun to a liberal viewpoint." School Superintendent Carroll Thomas said, "We don't need to be showing biased viewpoints in BISD." As a former educator in public schools, I wholeheartedly disagree.

Mr. Kurth objects to the film on two grounds: its bias, and its R-rating. If the film is biased, all the more reason to show it. How do you teach people to think? You present them with differing perspectives on issues and discuss. Allow them to weigh the arguments and draw their own conclusions. I have read nothing that says the teacher advocated the views expressed in the movie. The teacher should be lauded for a creative attempt to think outside the box and present students with real-world debates over current issues.

The R rating is a laughable non-issue. The clip was previewed and approved, so we may trust there was no offensive language or disturbing imagery in the clips they viewed. A spokesperson for the school said R-rated movies have no place in public schools. When I was in high school in the 80s we watched All the President's Men and Patton, both of which were R-rated for language. My district recognized the value of the class discussion that would result and permitted the viewings (uncensored, I might add). This son isn't 5 years old. He's 17. In a few months he'll be an adult. Certainly he's old enough to be exposed to different viewpoints, challenged, and given the chance to form his own opinions.

Today BISD stands at the cusp of a new Victorian Age, where parents may bowdlerize curricula to suit their own particular world views. "Hard Times" indeed.


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