More Maroons in Federal Way

Orcinus, January 16, 2009
Back in 2007, the school administrators in the working-class Seattle suburb of Federal Way found themselves on the wrong end of Jon Stewart’s wit when they refused to allow An Inconvenient Truth to be shown in their classrooms because the movie was “controversial.”

The same maroons are back at it again today. According to a Daily Kos post by Andrew Villeneuve (which in turn pulls from Seattle’s KING5 news), the Federal Way school administrators in their manifold wisdom have decided that kids need permission slips from their parents to watch the Obama inauguration at school.

Evidently, they also consider our new president “controversial.” (One wonders if they’d have made the same call if John McCain had won; or if in that case, attendance would have been mandatory.) Somebody in the front office is all too well aware that reality has a liberal bias, and is doing their level best to make sure that it doesn’t intrude on their attempted indoctrination of Federal Way’s youngest citizens.

Of course, being accomplished bureaucrats, they cooked up a procedural excuse for this decision:

The concern is that the televised inauguration was not listed in syllabus handed out at the beginning of the term. The district considers the inauguration a full length documentary, unlike some newspaper or internet reference articles which do not require pre-approval.

As Andrew points out, they’re trying to argue that the inauguration is some kind of feature-length film — not one of the most important historical live events of these kids’ lives.

This is the kind of insanity the blogosphere eats for breakfast, so the Federal Way school administrators will no doubt be getting a big fat national earful — maybe even another one from Jon Stewart come Monday night. But if your kid is actually a student in the Federal Way school system, you have another, much better way to fight back: Simply keep your kids home from school that day, and watch the inauguration as a family. If you’re a stay-at-home parent, invite the kids of paycheck parents to come hang out at your place for the day, and make a party of it.

Schools get paid by the day for every student sitting in their seats. This kind of stupidity will come to a quick halt when the district realizes that it’s going to bounce back and hit them squarely on their own bottom line. Even a few hundred extra absences on Tuesday, January 20 would make a pretty strong point, aimed right where it’s most likely to get the attention of these administrators.

In the meantime, we need these people’s names. And in the long run, Federal Way needs a new school board that’s willing to fire administrators whose idea of “education” is to keep students away from the actual science and history that are happening around them, and the events that will have the biggest impact on their lives.

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Published by Sara Robinson

Sara Robinson is a Seattle-based futurist and veteran blogger on culture, politics, and religion. Since 2006, her work (gathered in the Archive section of this blog) regularly appeared at Orcinus,, Group News Blog, and Alternet. She's also written for Salon, the New Republic, New Yorker, and many other sites. This is her personal website: a writer's workshop bringing together old friends, new ideas, past work, and future projects.