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Public Schools: Obama is Iffy, but McDonalds is Awesome!

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

evil-mcdonaldsRemember a few weeks ago when the more paranoid among we Americans were living in dire fear regarding President Obama’s speech to the school children of the world? They were afraid he was going to mass hypnotize our kids and convince them to do something socialist…like joining Americorps, or giving a dollar to a homeless man. In the end, of course, the President’s message was simply that of inspirational basics. Stay in school…work hard…take your vitamins…whatever.

In case you missed it, here are some highlights…with some NASCAR people to kick it off, ironically.

All that freaking out over this? Okay. Whatever. We’ve come to expect it from the rightwing clowns, but we’ll get into a deeper discussion of clowns later.

My girlfriend’s son from a previous marriage is in first grade. His class did not watch the speech on the day it aired. Instead, the school presumably wanted to check it out first and make sure it was kosher. A few days later, they decided to show it to the classes, but not without a permission slip, signed by each child’s parents. Ridiculous, I know. And indeed, appalling, as my my girlfriend noted across the top of the release.

On the day of the viewing, some of the children had to leave the room. Let me say that again. Because of their parents’ right wing paranoia, several first graders were not permitted to sit in the same room as a television which showed the President of the United States speaking about the importance of being a good person. (And I wonder how many of these same children are familiar with Family Guy or Halo.) Okay. Whatever. People are stupid. We’ve already seen this at the teaparties, 9/12 protest and FOX News. What mattered is that my girlfriend’s son saw it and he was inspired.

Flash forward.

A few days later, he comes home from school hyped on the idea that he wants to sell coupon books. Of course, the reason he wants to sell coupon books is because the company that put the coupon books together came to his school, held an assembly and gave a pep talk about them.

These coupon books are full of “great deals” from a thick stack of corporate entities. They are ten dollars apiece and the more the children sell, the bigger the prizes they get. Apparently, the greatest prize, if they sell 100 of the coupon books, is a free trip to the zoo. So one hundred coupon books at ten dollars apiece basically equates to a $1000 trip to the zoo. So that’s $750 that apparently goes back to the school, leaving about $10 to cover the trip to the zoo and about $240 in the pockets of the coupon publishers. I guess it’s a lesson in capitalism.

My girlfriend’s son noted that as the coupon book people were giving their speech and announcing the “prizes,” the children of the school were cheering at every open moment. He found it particularly amusing that they cheered for the prize of a free dinner at McDonalds. He’s not very big on McDonalds, but even if he was, it’s still a lame reward for generating money for adults.

Okay. Here’s the deal. We try not to disallow him from doing anything that interests him. For better or for worse, he does want to try to flip a few coupon books and we have no problem with that. What I do have a problem with is this:

Why did the students need a permission slip to see a self empowerment speech by the President of the United States of America, but no such permission was needed for a sales pitch from a corporate spokesperson? Why is it controversial for President Obama to talk to our children about working hard, but no mind is paid whatsoever to some random school administrator trying to win over our children with free junk food? Isn’t that almost on par with a stranger offering them candy?

This is highly reflective of the backwards priorities of this country right now, and particularly the Southeastern United States where I live. People who are supposed to be adults are teaching children to hate and fear our government, but to respect and love corporations, or at least the consumable products that these corporations are killing us with. These same so-called adults are then turning around and speaking out against health care reform. Effectively, this means they are simultaneously encouraging poor health in our children while fighting against their ability to receive quality care for that poor health.

Come on, America. Are we really that blindingly ignorant, or are we just that stubborn? Either way, it’s terrible parenting.