World of (Agnor) Hurt: President Obama, same-sex marriage promoted by Albemarle County Elementary School?

| May 16, 2012 | 28 Comments

In today’s highly charged political environment, government schools theoretically should be bastions of political non-partisanship. In Albemarle County, as in most Virginia school divisions, there are policies in place to prevent political indoctrination of students. Yet once again, Albemarle County’s enacted guidelines have failed to assuage concerned parents and protect vulnerable children from blatant political propagandism.

Agnor-Hurt Elementary School, under the governance of Principal Michele Del Gallo Castner, has posted what could be construed as a Barack Obama campaign poster at the entrance of the school’s library.

The highly stylized placard bears striking resemblance to the famous Obama “Hope” poster, and features:

  • President Barack Obama’s posterized likeness
  • The President’s signature
  • The President’s name, campaign logo and inauguration date
  • The Obama Re-Election Campaign’s official web site, www.BarackObama.com

Students visiting the referenced web site will see a picture of the president, a video link in which the president announces his support for “same-sex” marriage, and the following quote:

“Same-sex couples should be able to get married.” —Barack Obama

Site visitors (under this circumstance, presumably students) are then encouraged to “stand up with the president” by submitting their email and zip code information.

The Albemarle County School Board directly addresses the topic of student indoctrination in an internal policy guideline entitled, Teaching About Controversial Issues:

The Albemarle County School Board accepts training for effective citizenship as one of the major purposes of education.  This includes, in part, recognizing that many important areas of study involve issues on which differing positions are held by individuals or groups.

In considering such issues, it shall be the purpose of the Albemarle County Public Schools to allow the student to do the following:

  1. Study any controversial issue which has political, economic, or social significance and which is within the range, knowledge, maturity and competence of the students, and which does not conflict with State Board of Education regulations and the Albemarle County School Board Policies and regulations.
  2. Provide resources containing a wide range of views on controversial issues so that students may develop the practice of critical reading and thinking.
  3. Study under competent instruction in an atmosphere of freedom from bias and prejudice.
  4. Form and express opinions on controversial issues without jeopardizing his position with the school.

The role of the teacher in the presentation of controversial issues is vitally important.  All sides of the issue should be given the students in a balanced manner.  The goal is for the students to be taught to think clearly on all matters of importance, and to make their own decisions in the light of all the material that has been presented or can be secured on the issues.  Indoctrination is not a policy of the Albemarle County Public Schools.

Although the instructional program of the school division includes many facets of the political party system in the United States, the School Board does not sanction as a part of the school program the involvement of students in activities that imply school endorsement of an individual political party or candidate.  Individual class assignments and volunteer work involving students in political activities are permissible. [emphasis added]

In contrast to the division’s written policy on indoctrination, the overt display of Obama campaign-oriented material at the school’s library entrance in the main hallway may indicate that:

  1. A “wide range of views” is not presented obviously at Agnor-Hurt Elementary
  2. Agnor-Hurt Elementary’s “atmosphere” does not appear to be free from “bias”
  3. “All sides of the issue” are not presented to the students in a “balanced manner” at Agnor-Hurt Elementary
  4. Political “indoctrination” does seem to be the policy at Agnor-Hurt Elementary
  5. Agnor-Hurt Elementary appears to be endorsing a political party (Democrat) and their presidential candidate (Barack Obama)

In the midst of a United States presidential election campaign, Albemarle County Schools Administration, the Albemarle County School Board, and Agnor-Hurt Principal Castner should endeavor for strict compliance with the division’s own written policies regarding political indoctrination of students. While the posting of a formal portrait of the United States chief executive in government schools may be considered acceptable if done consistently, the one-sided display of a campaign-type poster along with a link to a campaign web site which promotes a controversial social policy, has no place in a taxpayer-funded American elementary school.

UPDATE 5/17/2012 9:49 AM: Controversial Obama poster now removed and replaced with appropriate portrait of the president, per Principal Castner.

View pictures of Agnor-Hurt Elementary and the President Barack Obama poster:

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About the Author:

Rob Schilling is founder of The Schilling Show Blog and News; host of WINA's The Schilling Show, heard weekdays from noon to 2 PM; husband; father; and community watchdog.
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28 Comments on "World of (Agnor) Hurt: President Obama, same-sex marriage promoted by Albemarle County Elementary School?"

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  1. President Obama, same-sex marriage promoted by Albemarle County's Agnor-Hurt Elementary School? Exclusive breaking story, pictures: http://t.co/wTrN95gk.

  2. Elizabeth Blake says:

    I have some info about this I received from Angnr-Hurt

  3. When I was teaching at a government school three years ago, I inherited my classroom from a very messy instructor who moved out-of-state for a different opportunity. One of the things he left behind was a laminated poster of Barack Obama on the wall, which I removed before the school year began. Political officeholders have little to no relevance to math learning standards.

  4. Craig Leroy Orndorff says:

    Oh, come on now. Dear Leader has managed to insert himself in to official White House website biographies of nearly every President of the 20th Century. Surely there's a place for him somewhere in math…..http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/05/15/President-Obama-White-House-biographies

  5. Tim Hulsey says:

    Here's one unintended consequence of Obama's endorsing same-sex marriage: Now social conservatives are calling for schools to remove posters of the president from library hallways. Apparently the image of Barack Obama and a small weblink at the bottom of the poster (to http://www.barackobama.com) now constitute "political indoctrination" — and promotion of same-sex marriage (which is nowhere mentioned on the poster). Naturally enough, Charlottesville's own Rob Schilling is enraged that the school is not presenting "a wide range of views on controversial issues." But the information actually presented on the poster — that Obama became President of the United States on January 20, 2009 — is not controversial in the least. Will social conservatives try to enforce a "Don't Say Obama" rule?

  6. Tim Hulsey says:

    Here's one unintended consequence of Obama's endorsing same-sex marriage: Now social conservatives are calling for schools to remove posters of the president from library hallways. Apparently the image of Barack Obama and a small weblink at the bottom of the poster (to http://www.barackobama.com) now constitute not only "political indoctrination," but also promotion of same-sex marriage — an issue which is nowhere mentioned or even implied on the poster. Naturally enough, Charlottesville talk-radio host Rob Schilling is enraged that the school is not presenting "a wide range of views on controversial issues." But the information actually presented on the poster — that Obama became President of the United States on January 20, 2009 — is not controversial in the least. More to the point, perhaps, when the poster was placed in the hallway (sometime between early 2009 and one week ago today), Obama's official views on same-sex marriage matched Schilling's own. Tellingly, neither Schilling nor his listeners made an issue of the poster back then. Will social conservatives try to enforce a "Don't Say Obama" rule in the public schools?

  7. Last time I checked, Barack Obama was the democratically elected leader of the United States. Since when is displaying a picture of the American President in an American public a sign of political indoctrination? I understand the desire for teachers to be apolitical in the teaching of events and issues, but this typical over-reaction by Mr. Shilling is just as laughable as any other.

  8. Ken says:

    Rob’s obviously right that an Obama campaign poster (and it’s nothing less) has no place in the school unless there’s a Romney poster up as well. That’s really wrong, and it’s this sort of news-making that I admire about the Schilling Show. But the idea that it’s promoting same-sex marriage when the president hadn’t even come out in favor of that when the poster was put up . . well even the school kids should be able to see what’s wrong with that logic.

  9. Tim Hulsey says:

    Here's one unintended consequence of Obama's endorsing same-sex marriage: Now social conservatives are calling for schools to remove posters of the president from library hallways. According to Charlottesville talk-radio host Rob Schilling, the very image of Barack Obama, along with a small weblink at the bottom of the poster to http://www.barackobama.com, constitutes not only "political indoctrination," but also promotion of same-sex marriage — an issue which is nowhere mentioned or even implied on the poster. Naturally enough, Schilling is enraged that the school is not presenting "a wide range of views on controversial issues." But the information on the poster — which states that Obama became President of the United States on January 20, 2009 — is not controversial in the least. More to the point, perhaps, when the poster was placed in the hallway (presumably at some point between early 2009 and one week ago today), Obama's official views on same-sex marriage matched Schilling's own. Tellingly, neither Schilling nor his listeners objected to the poster then. Will social conservatives try to enforce a "Don't Say Obama" rule in the public schools?

  10. Tim Hulsey says:

    Here's one unintended consequence of Obama's endorsing same-sex marriage: Now Albemarle County social conservatives are calling for a local elementary school to remove a poster commemorating President Obama's inauguration from a hallway near the library. According to talk-radio host Rob Schilling, the very image of Barack Obama, along with a small weblink at the bottom of the poster to http://www.barackobama.com, constitutes not only "political indoctrination," but also promotion of same-sex marriage — an issue which is nowhere mentioned or implied on the poster itself. Schilling claims that the school is not presenting "a wide range of views on controversial issues." But the information on the poster — which states that Obama became President of the United States on January 20, 2009 — is not controversial in the least. More to the point, perhaps, when the poster was placed in the hallway (presumably at some point between early 2009 and one week ago today), Obama's official views on same-sex marriage matched Schilling's own, and tellingly, neither Schilling nor his listeners objected to the poster then. Will social conservatives try to enforce a "Don't Say Obama" rule in the public schools?

  11. Tim Hulsey says:

    Here's one unintended consequence of Obama's endorsing same-sex marriage: Now Albemarle County social conservatives are calling for a local elementary school to remove a prominently placed poster commemorating President Obama's inauguration. According to talk-radio host Rob Schilling, the very image of Barack Obama, along with a small weblink at the bottom of the poster to http://www.barackobama.com, constitutes not only "political indoctrination," but also promotion of same-sex marriage — an issue which is nowhere mentioned or implied on the poster. Schilling claims that the school is not presenting "a wide range of views on controversial issues." But the information actually presented on the poster — which states that Obama became President of the United States on January 20, 2009 — is not controversial in the least. More to the point, perhaps, when the poster was placed in the hallway (presumably at some point between early 2009 and one week ago today), Obama's official views on same-sex marriage matched Schilling's own. Tellingly, neither Schilling nor his listeners objected to the poster then. Will social conservatives try to enforce a "Don't Say Obama" rule in the public schools?

  12. Principal answered my email and said poster would be coming down and replaced with a suitable portrait.

  13. The_BlueSpade says:

    The elusive term for what you’re searching to describe Ken is backpeddling. Look, there’s a long hook distending from behind the stage curtain already. Duck and cover.

    It’s WRONG to dispense indoctrination upon and among impressionable children. Yet of the various forms of indoctrination, the most egregious and detestable is what is done subliminally!

    But please, continue on Ken…. how do you see the endoctrination mentioned?

    Am interested to see if this may turn out being a rare instance of whether there’s common ground here to agree with you upon something.

    Not holding my breath at either any or for such an exception though.

  14. James Moore says:

    Website link aside, the second most prominent feature is the president’s well known campaign logo.

  15. James Moore says:

    Strange, I can’t locate the source of this poster or a similar one on Google images. Was it produced specifically for schools? Does it have a “paid for by” statement?

    Do the beams of light represent truth, justice, or grace in this context?

  16. James Moore says:

    Never mind. I see the beams were a site embellishment. Still, same question on the origin and “paid for” questions.

  17. Ken says:

    Spade, I’m left of center overall, but I’m a moderate. A lot of conservatives I debate try to make me out to be a wild-eyed leftie, and the progressives want to see me as a benighted fundamentalist. I must be doing something right, eh? I just try to state my opinion bluntly but give the other side its due even when I disagree with them overall.

    So you shouldn’t be surprised if we agree on a few things. I think the problem with the poster is obvious – it has Obama campaign graphics, the Obama campaign logo, and the Obama campaign website. It’s an Obama campaign poster.

  18. Connie Durski Perrin says:

    You can't mention God in school, but this is OK? This is so backwards.

  19. Maybe Obama is now trying to take credit for discovering the amazing laws of mathematics?

  20. Craig…He needs to toot his own horn by claiming he's as great, or greater, than the former presidents. He never ceases to amaze me with his blatant narcissism.

  21. Skip Degan says:

    that's it! The slogan should be "BACKWARDS!"

  22. UPDATE: Controversial Obama poster now removed per Agnor-Hurt principal:

    From: mdcastner@k12albemarle.org
    To: —————–
    Subject: Re: Indoctrination policy.
    Date: Thu, 17 May 2012.

    Hi ——–,

    We have no intentions of supporting any political positions. We have already removed the poster this morning. Our school Librarian has put up pictures of the current presidents for the last 18 years for educational purposes only. We're glad this was brought to our attention.

  23. Concerned Mom says:

    For all of you who oppose a picture of the President in an elementary school, this totally baffles me!!! It is an elementary school, where children learn about presidents, especially should know and learn who the current President of the U.S. is this year!!!! How can anyone call this a political tactic??? Do you really think that teachers would cite his political views, to ELEMENTARY CHILDREN……or would that simply say, this is our current President, Obama……..It amazes me that all of this effort is to interject politics in a learning enviornment!!! Do you want your children to know and understand the history of the U.S. Well, current events people, include Barrack OBama!!! There is nothing political about it!! He simply is the most current president!

  24. Ken says:

    Concerned Mom, is there some reason the school couldn’t have put up a simple portrait of the president instead of a campaign poster?

  25. Giovanni Hashimoto says:

    Big of you to redact your own email address but not that of Principal Castner. Considerate, even. </sarcasm>

  26. Ken says:

    Big of you to redact your own email address but not that of Principal Castner.

    I disagree with Rob more often than not, but that charge is inaccurate and unfair. You can find his email address at the top of the page, and he gives it out during the show.

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