Mary Carney, a Marshfield, Wisconsin School Board member, member of the Central Wisconsin Tea Party and Very Frightened Person, will attempt today to do right by her child, her faith, and the Statue of Liberty by wresting Jim Henson’s For Every Child, a Better World out of the hands of vulnerable kindergarteners.
The book—which is written in the voice of Kermit the Frog and was produced as a fundraiser for the United Nations in memory of Audrey Hepburn—troubled Carney with its depictions of poverty, world hunger, and altruism. The Marshfield News-Herald reports:
Some people have said they were traumatized after reading the book, according to Carney, who cited online reviews as evidence.
“I just have concerns that it’s too graphic, even though these are Muppets characters,” Carney said. “Unfortunately in this world there is a lot of war and strife and poverty; I understand that. I just don’t know how appropriate that is to be teaching that to 5-year-olds.”
Carney, who has perhaps been stirred by One Million Moms’ fiery assessment of the new Muppets TV show (to summarize: It’s too sexy! where are their pants?!), said: “I believe young children should see the world for what it truly is—beautiful, good and hopeful—and their innocence remain intact for as long as possible.”
The issue was first broached this past July, when the newly-elected Carney also raised some rather vague objections to a set of minor, routine, and entirely unobjectionable revisions to the kindergarten through 6th grade social studies curriculum. Citing passages that described developing students into “effective members of global communities,” Carney spewed:
“The focus is away from ... American exceptionalism and being proud to be an American, and the focus is instead on being kind of a citizen of the world, and we can no longer just be isolated, or ethnocentric,” Carney said. “I think it’s a philosophical shift.”
Oh dang, our beloved American isolation and ethnocentrism, how will the children know who to direct their hatred toward? She was wrong on a number of levels, however, as the updated curriculum, like most, boasts no small amount of flag-humping. Via the Marshfield News-Herald:
Board members Amber Leifheit and Frances Bohon interpreted the curriculum differently than Carney. Bohon said kindergarteners will learn symbols of the United States, such as the American flag and the Statue of Liberty; second-graders would be taught the concept of freedom and the purpose and principles of government; and fifth graders will explore key documents such as the Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights and U.S. Constitution.
According to a copy of the revised curriculum, obtained by News-Herald Media, students will also be required to identify and understand the three branches of the American form of government, including the basic roles of each branch. In addition, students would have to write a biography of a famous person in United States history, and explore “the historical background and meaning of freedom and justice.”
The board voted 4-1 to approve the new curriculum, but agreed to hold today’s meeting to conduct a review of books. (In July, Carney threatened to pull her child from the district should the curriculum changes move forward—guess she didn’t.) Thus far, Carney has apparently failed to stir up much unrest; according to school board Vice President Amber Leifheit, no one else has raised concerns about the book’s classroom use.
“I believe it shows compassion for people other than yourself,” she told the News-Herald. “I think that’s a good thing.”
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Image via Disney.