January 16, 2004

Parental Reality Check

You all know by now of my frustration with Jenna's school and the kindergarten class and teacher. They've made me so angry over the last several months that is difficult for me to view incidents through a fair and balanced lens--like I would if the school didn't suck, for example. But it does suck. Anyway, let me run this by you.

The last two days the students in Jenna's kindergarten have been talking about Dr. Martin Luther King. [[my bias voice--yah, the teachers are all excited about it because they get monday off]]. I would estimate that discussions about Dr. King have totaled a maximum of 20 minutes--10 each day--and that's being generous.

Yesterday when I picked Jenna up and we were driving home, she asked me about Dr. King. Told me how he wanted everything to be fair, for brown people and peach people to respect each other, and that they put him in jail for his good ideas. She began sobbing, weeping.

"Mommy--did you know that a man shot him with a gun and killed him? He's dead because a man shot him. Oh mommy, when the teacher told us that I wanted to cry, i wanted to cry all day but I couldn't because no one else was sad, and a few minutes after the teacher laughed, but I still felt soooo sad. Why? Why did that happen?"

Sob, cry.

I comforted her, told her it was okay to be sad and to cry about it. I told her how his ideas are still with us and about how his family lives right here in Atlanta (a detail the teacher didn't provide) and that the King Center is here--how if she wanted to learn more we could go sometime, and stuff like that.

She stopped for a while, and then started asking about the man who killed him, and why did he do that, and what happened to him, and did I ever meet Dr. King or the man who shot him?

Bottom line, she was in tears on and off during the evening when she'd start thinking about what she learned. I didn't make a big deal about it, was just careful to walk the line between "it's okay to let it out" and distrating her with other things to do.

SO, my question is, am I insane or are there a WHOLE LOT of things you could teach in 15-20 minutes on MLK besides how he died. I mean, maybe you MENTION to kindergarteners that he died but his ideas live on. But do you REALLY need to tell 5-6 year olds--especially my idea-filled kid--that he was killed because of his ideas? Could we save that, maybe, for second grade? Do you NEED to tell them about the gun and being shot? Could you not spend what little time you have to teach it on what peace means, draw what a peaceful world looks like, talk about love, talk about equality, talk about other heroes of the civil rights movement?


Or am I the one with crazy ideas?

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