“Day of Silence” on April 16th Politicizes New Rochelle School Children

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org-liar.jpgFriday April 16 has been designated as a Day of Silence in our schools.

When asked about it, New Rochelle Superintendent of Schools, Richard Organisciak, he claimed, “The observance of the Day of Silence is a purely voluntary expression on the part of staff and students alike. We neither encourage nor discourage participation.”

The Superintendent sidestepped the issue and the point of the question.

The Day of Silence, according to its promoters, is intended to have students silently vow to have “safer” schools. But just who are these promoters and what is it they are promoting with their “Day of Silence”?

The organization behind the Day of Silence is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, one of the largest gay-activist groups in the nation. GLSEN is an overtly political agenda.  They have been active in gay-marriage ballot initiates around the United States including the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California. A stated goal of the organization is to build support among students so that as they reach voting age they will support their organizations political agenda.

It is worth noting that the overt political activism orchestrated by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network is planned to occur in the school without any public mention and no (so far) note home to parents. When President Obama made a “Back to School” speech on Education last September, principals at two schools (Jefferson Elementary School and Albert Leonard Middle School) sent home letters to parents alerting them to plans to show a video tape of the speech and offering parents the option for their children to “opt-out” of the viewing.

The alleged concern over the Obama speech was that it would be a “political” hence the parental notification. As was pointed out to the Board of Education by members of the NAACP last fall, the speech had already been given before the beginning of the school year so there was no question about the content of the speech which simply exhorted students to work hard and stay in school. Yet warning were sent home.

In the case of the the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network event in our schools, the purpose is overtly political, orchestrated by political activists for a political purpose (under the guise of “anti-bullying” and “safer” schools).

It is puzzling to try and square the district’s proactive action against the first African-American president, an elected leader delivering a positive but politically benign message to school children at the beginning of the school year and the indifference towards a political organization engaging in political action during the school day, in the classrooms, involving students, teachers and staff.

To not speak at all, especially for a district employee, as a form of political action, is disruptive to the school day. It makes the school day about something other than learning and the proper function of a public school which should be free of religious and political considerations. The Supreme Court has given schools wide latitude to prevent this sort of political speech, and with good reason.

Today, the district turns a blind-eye to the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network. Tomorrow, having invited this sort of political action into out out schools, the district will have opened the door to skin-heads and neo-nazies and any other group that can claim its political operations in the school is just a purely voluntary expression on the part of staff and students alike. It will be interesting to see if Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak is so cavalier when the group organizing in our schools is one less to his liking.

5 thoughts on ““Day of Silence” on April 16th Politicizes New Rochelle School Children”

  1. Fighting for your rights in
    Fighting for your rights in a peaceful way is much better. Advocates for gay rights or LGBT causes are calling for Day of Silence 2010, where on April 16th individuals advocating for the civil rights of others will not speak – barring certain exceptions, of course – to show their support for their gay, lesbian, or transgendered compatriots and the mistreatment and marginalization they’ve suffered at the hands of legislators and others.

  2. day of silence
    We have to approach any day of observation, celebraton, or any deviation from a normal school schedule very cautiously. You only have to see what is going on in Texas, for example, to see the effects of wrong-headed interventon on curricula first then student behavior and attitude. Closer to home we have examples where school personnel stray from their reason to exist and use the class as a bully pulpit to promote views– and it should be clear to all by now that the school system will have enough to do simply to gain control over student performance and classroom management. It is eroding that badly.

    Wrong-headedness is not a synonym for right-heartedness. I would gladly support a number of civil and cultural issues, but the school with its already impressionable student population is not the place. Anyway, try to approach a day of silence in a middle or high school, especially the already educationallly impoverished Isaac Young. Do you really want Anthony Bongo dealing with an issue of this magnitude?

    What is wrong with this Superintendent? Doesn’t he understand much of anything? In fact, perhaps he should set a personal example of silence — perhaps in his case, a year of silence. Martin Sanchez has made the point that our young Latino students are given less than they deserve to overcome the many hurdles they face in New Rochelle and this is a good place by and large for immigrant populations. If the Superintendent wants to support causes I can suggsst a hell of a lot of them — improving the integration of elementary school kids to middle school, concentrating on improving core skills in math, reading, science, boosting up the graduation rates, making the school safer for kids who want to learn, and as mentioned, giving our young latino populaton an alternative to dropping out or feeling left out.

    On the latter point, C Town on Main Street has set a great example — there is a sign in the window saying that they are providing staff help to anyone needing assistance on the Census. That is what a good, forward thinking community resource does — it reaches out and engages; the district rather continue to disengage and act foolishly on a subject that is very important and not at all part of a classroom experience.

    warren gross

  3. OK Mr. Cox
    Ok. I would never wish for a right to life person to have access to a platform in any public school. My opinion and thank G_d the Supreme Court agrees. As you well said, we shouldn’t bend the rules, procedures, policies for the sake of a majority or minority perspective. Unfortunately, we do not live in a black and white world, perhaps a north end – south end worl, but the administrators of our schools need to not only be vigilant, but also consider the impact of what they do and say. Perhaps they’ll get it some day (when we have term limits!)

  4. Everything is Political
    With all due respect Peggy, when we say something or when we say nothing at all, it is a political statement. In these times of hatred and mean-spirit behavior, where being an immigrant or being gay can get you killed, any opportunity to teach tolerance is a good thing. I understand the law of religion and public schools, but I differ with you perhaps that this is not religion or political action using the definition you use in your note. Having the courage to speak on the issue of tolerance is important to our young people. To not do so, is to be like the Church maintained in a truth that has injured and killed millions of children and people of color for two thousand years.

    Martin Sanchez

    1. Keep “agendas” out of the PUBLIC schools
      Martin,

      You do not have to OPPOSE tolerance or gay rights or Latinos or President Obama or Haitian earthquake victims to be concerned about the politicization of our public schools.

      Children are COMPELLED to attend school. It is precisely for this reason that NYS has Rule 19.6 prohibiting direct solicitations for charitable contributions. Likewise, children should not be compelled to be present for political speeches, political demonstrations or otherwise have to be subject to propaganda during the school day.

      You may support the CAUSE behind this particular form of political action but it opens up pandora’s box. Today it is something you accept. What happens when it is something you do not accept?

      For example, will you adopt the same attitude if Pro-Life groups organize a “student-led” event…a “Day of Life”. Just as this event is labeled as “about tolerance” a pro-life event not be labeled “anti-abortion” but something far more benign like “celebrate life”. What if teachers who supported such a “student-led” event used their classrooms in concert with the event? For example, a history teacher does a class on Roe V. Wade and take a pro-life point of view? Or a science teacher, does a class on fetal development emphasize the pro-life view on when life begins? What if an English teacher studies poems with a pro-life message?

      It is easy to demagogue the issue by saying that if you do not support the Day of Silence you are “anti-tolerance” or if you do not support showing an Obama speech on education in the schools then you are “racist” or if you oppose direct solicitation of children for Haitian Relief you are “uncaring” but to me it entirely misses the point.

      Children are compelled to be in school. They should not be coerced into making charitable donations, they should not be subject to political or religious or secular propaganda and they should not be made to the the foil for a form of political action. That it happens constantly does not make it OK.

      Expanding on that last point, what I mean is that the students and staff who are choosing to remain silent are doing it to contrast with those who do not remain silent, right? Otherwise, EVERYONE in the school is remaining silent. In other words, if the stated purpose of the Day of Silence was achieved then no one would talk and no learning would be going on unless your definition of learning is a day of kids reading form their text book or watching video tapes. If that’s the case then why send them to school at all, they can do that at home.

      It is worth noting that there is a long list of organizations that seek to infiltrate the public schools to advance they political, religious or secular agenda. Careful what you wish for because you might find that comes a time when you get it.

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