School kids singing Obama song are inspired, not indoctrinated
By Charisse Carney-Nunes
9:00 AM on 10/13/2009
Charisse Carney-Nunes is Senior Vice President of The Jamestown Project and author of the children's book, I Am Barack Obama. She was the invited guest at the Burlington, NJ school where the kids sang for her a song about President Obama. A popular YouTube video showing the schoolchildren singing is currently at the center of the national controversy on alleged "school indoctrination."
Much political hay has been made over the video of the New Jersey school children singing about President Obama and I have since found myself at the center of this firestorm. Conservative commentators and media outlets have labeled this "indoctrination by schools," fueling their listeners recently to conduct a politicized protest in front of an elementary school while in session. Contrary to this position, I believe the song - which was initiated by the school's children, not by me - represents a refreshing example of civic expression, creativity and engagement that is sorely needed in our nation's schools.
Civic education is the teaching of knowledge, skills, values, and character needed to grow into a responsible and active participation in American democracy. It is an effort to instill the values of civility, understanding and respect. Through the civic education of elementary-aged children, I have found that they not only begin to understand their place in the world, but also begin to comprehend their power and potential to make a difference in their own lives, their family, their communities, and their country.