Monday, November 01, 2004

the current political climate in my classroom

Today I read a Leonard Pitts essay from Sunday's paper aloud to my classes. It was about the rift in America over the presidential race, the fact of 50% hating the one and 50% hating the other. The author's main question is whether or not we can become one America again. I picked 14 words and phrases (like "flip-the-bird unilateralism") from the essay and made sure they understood the meanings. After a few minutes of the children's mostly wild and unsubstantiated out-loud assertions -- I even set the timer to give them time to make noise and wildly assert -- I called for silence and asked them to put their frenzied thoughts down in writing. Here's a sampling of some of their unedited, unproofread, off the top of the head first drafts and parts. It was difficult to not type in every word every student wrote:

"Your asking if we 'Are Ready to Mend the Rift?' The true question is, 'is the rift ready to be mended?' c.b.

"I think the people that vote for bush want the war to keep going. This shit stupid because he's putting our life in danger. They should play games to see who win. They should play football one on one to see who win. . . If this was a movie, bush would be freddy and Kerry would be Superman." o.d.

"Our country is called the United States of America but according to Leonard Pitts our country is divided. I agree with that our country is divided because I think that whoever wins the race for President should be loved by its country. Regardless of what they stand for, because how can you stay in a country and hate its leader? Each candidate has his faults but each are trying to better this country the way they see fit. I'm kind of glad that I'm too young to vote because voting to me has to be considered. It takes a lot of thinking to decide who you think can best take care of this country. Each reality of both candidates have to be weighed. Can Bush be trusted again after supposedly cheating in Florida? Will Kerry be any better then Bush has been over the years? If I did have to vote and I did it without think I who vote for Kerry, because its seems as though Kerry would try to help the black community more than Bush has done. But then again I can't get this out of my head when the country was under attack on 9/11 and Bush sat in the classroom, Kerry judged Bush. Kerry said 'if I was President I would have gotten up told those kids in a very nice manner that the President had something to do.' Bush was trying to collect his thoughts. This country all looks at him when something happens he has to be the decision maker. Kerry wasn't in that situation, how can he say what he would have done? Both candidates have a record of saying or doing something stupid. That's why it would be so difficult for me to choose who would best benefit our country. I think that both Bush and Kerry both have good intentions and mean well. In my opinion whoever becomes President should try and reunite America as it should be. In my opinion a person can't love its country and hate its leader." m.f.

"Well the two lead candidates, Kerry and Bush are okay. Here is my views on Bush, Bush is a okay man, lots of people don't like him for many reasons, such as, his father, the war, and just the person he is. To me he is a okay man its just he has made some dumb ass choices. He is a unilateral man. He sent us off to war and did not give a damn about who did not like it. But when the world Trade Center was bomb and he sat in the classroom not knowing what to do. What do you expect he is human. I understand that he was scared. I would have been scared too. And I am quite sure the rest of America would have been if they were in his shoes. He needed a minute to think things through. But with the world watching and waiting on him to make a move. He did not have the minute he needed and that's why he sent us to war. It was the first thing that pop into his head. So in a way I blame Bush and in a way I blame us. Now Kerry. I really don't know shit about Kerry. Lots of people are saying that they are voting for Kerry. Lots of people don't know about Kerry either but they are voting for him to get Bush out of office because of the war. No one really cares what he has to say. As long as he is not sending us to war, we are all with him. But he says he is going to take us out of Iraq. We shall see. Right now I am glad I am 16 yrs old." m.t.

"It really not anyone fault why we went to war it were God who let us go to war. To show us something that we need to know and what the world is going to turn out to be." i.t.

"To make a long story short I don't know neither one I just know a little bit from what I know about bush he is trying to help us women that is on welfare he is letting us stay on welfare for a period of time so that we can get on our feet. I also know that he is trying to keep the retired people with a steady income so that they can have some thing to fall back on. He is trying to start a early retired plan for us young children so when we get up in age and retire our children can look back on some thing. he is keeping food-stamps so that we won't spend cash. Bush was also discuss with us about letting men out of jail so that they can start paying child support, and other necessary things. I think that it would be good for us if Bush was to stay with us." r.l.

" On November 2, 2004, America has to elect the President of the United States. I am pulling towards John Kerry. Though I have to admit I am not fond of any of them. I believe John Kerry will do a better job with defending our country. President Bush hasn't done a very good job with our medical care, with our homelessness, and with our society as a whole. I believe jobs will sky rocket when John Kerry becomes President. John Kerry bring better leadership to the white House. Since President Bush has been in office we've been in war, lost many lives in the 9/11 attack, and was forced for our gas and oil prices to increase. I'm also voting for Senator Kerry because he's had war experience, and knows how to survive and win in tough situations. Kerry best suits the job at this position in America, with the war in Iraq. Bush hasn't provided many job opportunities for blacks, especially black males. While Bush has been in office our schools and education has went down. Bush has proved through his action why you shouldn't fix violence with violence. With Bush knowing that he still proceeded. We need a better decision, and we would have a better one in John Kerry.
Bush and Kerry are very different. Kerry wants to end the war on terrorism, but Bush wants to continue it. Kerry see thousands and thousands of our soldiers dieing in Iraq and wants it to stop. But, Bush wants to continue it nevertheless. I believe Kerry will do a better job at addressing what the people want first. Politics exist everywhere in our culture today. This whole Presidential Election is based on Politics, and who could better fulfill everyones, or mostly everyone's need?" p.t.

"Everyone should just come together and vote for the best and just like the article says, vote and just let it be over. If everyone vote for Bush it is not going to go right and if everyone vote for Kerry it is not going to go right, but Bush it is just something about him that I do not like he's just to loud or something." a.l.

"I think that the Presidential election will be very close. I want Senator John Kerry to win the election. I believe that Senator Kerry will make the United States a better place. I don't believe that George Bush has done his job as president.
I really agree with Leonard Pitts when he said that if President Bush gets re-elected none of the Kerry fans will support him and if Senator Kerry gets elected none of the Bush fans will support him. If John KIerry doesn't become president I will support president Bush because I want the United States to improve and I believe that it starts with George Bush." c.s.

I'm suddenly not terrribly worried about our future.

Melanie

2 Comments:

Blogger Nancy McKeand said...

Well, you have proven your point, Melanie. They have their own thoughts! What was so interesting to me is that they sound like the thoughts of an awful lot of us these days. It would be interesting to learn their thoughts after the election is over, too.

These kids and millions like them all over the country are our future. I wonder how many kids at "better" schools could express their thoughts as clearly as your students did. How many of them would really care? I wonder...

Thanks for sharing this with us.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what your student's pointed out, in addition to having the own thoughts, is what some of the real issues are in the presidential election. The real issues in the election are the ones that impact the people, the CHILDREN, and the future of our nation. Your student's nailed them down to the tee and should be commended on their realizations. Your students are very bright and after reading their responses, I completely understand why you have no reason to worry... because neither do I.
- Cassandra

4:19 PM  

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