Kids, Politics, and Michael Moore: Dangerous Combo

Kids, Politics, and Michael Moore: Dangerous Combo

Printer-friendly version
a a
Type Size: Small

So documentary filmmaker Michael Moore has finally gotten his way.  He has finally figured out how to speak to my son directly, whether or not I wanted him to. 

Last night during an appearance on the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC about the events in Wisconsin, Moore reported that “high school students in Madison are calling for a nationwide solidarity protest against actions taken by Governor Scott Walker on Friday at 2 p.m., wherever students are.” 

Then he quickly added, “I just want to say that anybody who lives within driving distance of Madison, Wisconsin, should make their way to the capitol. I would love to see thousands of people there right now, in that capitol building, in the rotunda, on the lawn, whatever it takes. Really, this is really — this is war. This is a class war.”

Walker, as most know, signed a bill limiting collective bargaining for teachers and other public service unions in order to close the gap on a $3.6 billion state deficit.  Without this measure, he says he would be forced to fire 1,500 teachers. 

The principal of our suburban high school, about thirty minutes from New York City, quickly and efficiently sent out this email message to all the parents:  “At 2:00 p.m. this afternoon, approximately half the student body of the high school staged a walkout in support of the teachers in Wisconsin.” The principal added, “Our students were orderly in leaving the school and quietly protested [nearby].” 

Clearly, kids don’t walk out of a high school en masse without permission from teachers.  So I wondered: Would they walk out in support of raising the Social Security eligibility age?  Would they walk out in favor of lowering the corporate tax rate? Would they walk out to protest the Arizona immigration bill or in support of it? Where would it end?  And who gave teachers the right to proselytize young, uninformed children about their political agenda?

This is America, and I believe in the right to protest and speak one’s mind as much as anybody. But these quickly unfolding events raise a number of questions in my mind, questions that by the way have nothing to do with ‘not in my backyard.”

First, did the students understand both sides of the issue, or were they only told what the public school teachers wanted them to hear? Before anyone starts talking about the thousands of kids who may have been part of “a national walkout,” we need to know what our kids were told by their public school teachers who have a vested interest in the outcome.

Second, do the students understand that shared sacrifice across the land and across all sectors of the population is the only way to seriously chip away at our deficit and debt problems? How much do they even know about our deficit and debt problems? Do they understand how these fiscal issues will one day affect them? I’m guessing not much; I’m guessing it’s easy to be in sympathy with the person standing at the head of your classroom five days a week.

Third, was this a ploy to get out of the last class of the day for many of the participating students? (Not to be cynical, but I, too, was once in high school...)

Oh, and by the way: I just heard from my son. He says he didn't participate in the walkout, “because I was taking a test and I didn't want to have to take it over again.”

Click here to visit the Debt Watch home page.

Maureen Mackey served as managing editor of The Fiscal Times for five years, during which time she oversaw scheduling and work flow and handled edits, writing and reporting of many features, news items, interviews and other content. In 2011 she helped The Fiscal Times win a MIN award for Best New