A Michigan fourth grade teacher says he is following his professional duty by not allowing his students to watch the inauguration speech of Donald Trump on Friday. Brett Meteyer sent a letter to parents explaining that because of the incoming Presidents “inflammatory and degrading” language during the campaign; that unless he gets a copy of the speech in advance, he will not allow the students to watch.
Yes, you read that right. A fourth grade teacher is demanding he see a copy in advance or he won’t let his students watch Donald Trump deliver his inaugural speech. I guess maybe I should demand a copy of the speech in advance as well so I can see if it meets my approval, too.
Here is the letter that was sent to parents and then forwarded to me:
Because I am concerned about my students and your children being exposed to language and behavior that is not in concert with the most conservative social and family values, I have decided to show the inauguration of Donald Trump this Friday, but we will not view Mr. Trump’s inauguration speech.
Because every peaceful transition of power is a historic moment, I put in a request to the Trump team to preview the speech, but I have not heard back from them.
I showed the speeches of Presidents Obama and Bush in 2009 and 2005, respectively, but I am anxious about showing Mr. Trump’s inaugural address, given his past inflammatory and degrading comments about minorities, women, and the disabled. I am also uneasy about Mr. Trump’s casual use of profanity, so I sought an assurance that as their teacher, I would not be exposing children to language that would not appear in G- or PG-rated movies.
I do not know if Mr. Trump’s speech is something that would be provided to the press or concerned citizens beforehand, but these plans may change if I hear back from them.
I reached out to Meteyer and spoke to him by phone earlier today. He reiterated to me that he reached out to the Trump team and the RNC and said he has not gotten any response. I am personally shocked by this revelation. I mean, I am certain they have nothing more pressing to concern themselves with other than the demands of a fourth grade teacher in Michigan.
Meteyer went much further saying, “I’ve followed my professional duty to shield these children from possible offensive behavior.” When pressed on what specific behavior or speeches he was referring to from the Trump campaign, Meteyer declined to name any specifics. He then told me I could “look them up on-line” if I wanted to know more because he wasn’t going to do my work for me.
I figured that a guy who proudly says he is ‘shielding’ our children might actually have an idea of what campaign speeches gave him the notion they needed to be protected from Donald Trump’s inauguration speech. He gave me nothing. When pressed on what comments he was referring to he declared, “I don’t need to justify what I did to you.”
I am a taxpayer in the district, graduated from high school in the district, and I have kids in the system. I think that entitles me to an explanation of why a teacher thinks he can decide whether or not the students are allowed to watch a historic inauguration speech.
I also wanted to know if he received the school districts blessing before penning the letter and sending it to parents. I was told I could ask the district. So far, I’ve not received a call back from the administration.
“I feel good about what I’ve done”, he later boasted. I asked quite pointedly ‘Do you stand by the letter?’; “Of course I do!” he snorted with a nice sharp retort.
My mother taught fifth grade for more than three decades and it is her words that echo in my ears today; “my job is to teach kids how to think, not what to think.” I think my mother could share a few lessons with some of the teachers working today.
What do you think?