UPDATED at 11:30 a.m. to include the superintendent’s comments.
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — A school named after a conservative icon is teaching its sixth-graders “How to Become an Activist.”
New Berlin’s Ronald Reagan Elementary School’s leftist curriculum isn’t sitting well with some parents in the suburban Milwaukee school district.
“An activist is anyone who sees the need for change and devotes their time to doing something about it. And, as successful teen activists prove, structural, social, or economic barriers don’t have to stop you from pursuing your passion and creating positive change,” states a course document obtained by Empower Wisconsin. “If you are interested in making a difference for a cause you care about, you can do so by educating yourself about the issue, finding ways to get involved in-person and online, and possibly even pursuing a career in a field related to your cause.”
But it’s got to be the right activism — and we don’t mean conservative.
A source tells Empower Wisconsin that the school’s principal said under no circumstances could students choose defense of the Second Amendment, for instance, as their activism project.
School District of New Berlin Superintendent Joe Garza returned Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment Thursday morning. He said the “How to Become an Activist”article “was intended to help students research, learn and understand all sides of issues.”
“That said, after district administration was made aware of and reviewed the article, and after deciding some of the references to various issues may not be appropriate for children of that age, we determined the article would no longer be used as a resource for this unit of learning,” Garza wrote in an email.
An earlier email communication from Ronald Reagan Elementary Principal Angela Patterson notes the literacy unit is a “critical nonfiction” unit.
“The focus topic that 6th graders are researching through right now is Global Activism,” Patterson wrote in the email, sent last Friday. “Students could choose from a list of topics to dig into further.” It appears all students are expected to participate.
“How to Become an Activist” really is about how to become a liberal activist. It encourages young minds to find and support their “passion for change.” Lead by example, the document states. That means “conscious activism,” or “incorporating activism into your everyday life by living and acting in ways that directly support your cause.” Examples given: reducing your carbon footprint, using sustainably produced products. That kind of activism.
“When you look at the world around you, what gets you excited? Fills you with hope, makes you angry? Causes you to be fearful of the future? Your passions can focus on supporting what’s good (e.g., healthier menus in schools) or confronting what you see as wrong (e.g., online body-shaming of teens),” the document states.
Some parents see it all as more liberal indoctrination in taxpayer-funded schools. At Ronald Reagan Elementary, nonetheless.
“How can such a conservative community allow such lessons to be taught to 6th graders? One would think that with such limited time teachers have to teach, more time could be spent on core subjects,” a family member of a New Berlin student said in an email to Empower Wisconsin.