A school principal has apologized for showing a video at an assembly that a politically conservative group leader is calling "radical, leftist propaganda."
Children at Eagle Bay Elementary School in Farmington were shown a short video called "I pledge" on Aug. 28. The video opens with an image of President Barack Obama and part of a speech in which he says, "Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other." The video then features celebrities making pledges about how they will help the president and the world -- and that's where some say the problem lies.
Many pledges, such as supporting local food banks, smiling more, and caring for the elderly are noncontroversial. But other pledges, such as "to never give anyone the finger when I'm driving again," "to sell my obnoxious car and buy a hybrid" and to advance stem cell research cross the line, some say.
"Showing the video in a public school is completely inappropriate," said Jennifer Cieslewicz, whose daughter is a first-grader at the school. "I don't believe a video such as this that promotes certain values should be shown to elementary students, especially without parents being aware. "
Chris Williams, Davis School District spokesman, said school principal Ofelia Wade and school PTA leaders decided to show the video as part of an assembly about the school's theme for the year, service. He said the PTA board chose the video and Wade did not see it before it was shown in the assembly.
"It got to a point where she turned to her assistant and said, 'Oops, I wish I would have seen this before. I don't think I would have shown it,' " Williams said. He said Wade could see how some adults might find the video political.
"She acknowledges she was wrong and apologizes for it and says she's sorry," Williams said. Attempts to reach school PTA leaders Tuesday evening were unsuccessful.
Williams said Wade plans to send a letter home to parents Wednesday about the issue.
Gayle Ruzicka, president of conservative Utah Eagle Forum, said the video was blatantly political. She said other offensive pledges included, "I pledge to be of service to Barack Obama," "I pledge allegiance to the funk, to the united funk of funkadelica," and pledges to not use plastic grocery bags and not flush the toilet after urinating.
"It's very inappropriate to show a radical, leftist propaganda piece that political to children," Ruzicka said. "If parents want their children to learn about those things and do them in the home, wonderful, fine, but it's not the place of the school to show a one-sided propaganda piece to children without parents knowing about it."
Cieslewicz said such values should be decided in the home, not at school.
"They shouldn't be troubling our youth with the woes of the world and making them feel like we're in slavery or they have to worry about how many times they flush the toilet or if they have a plastic water bottle," Cieslewicz said, referring to pledges in the video to "end slavery."
Ruzicka said she contacted local media about the video after receiving complaints from several parents. Ruzicka said she worried the video's messages would confuse children whose parents might choose to use plastic bags when shopping or who want their children to flush the toilet after every use. Also she said she didn't like a pledge "to be of service to Barack Obama" as he is here to serve Americans, not the other way around.
Ruzicka said she'd like to see the school district send a link to the video to all parents before an upcoming back-to-school night so they can voice their opinions and discuss it with their children. Williams said it's unlikely the district will send out a link, but parents are welcome to access the video on YouTube.