File this under "Why even local elections are important."
In Marshfield, Wisconsin, the school board decided last summer to slightly change the curriculum to include kindergarten teachers to read a Muppets-themed book called "For Every Child A Better World." Per the Amazon description of the book, it is about this:
The familiar character of Kermit the Frog teaches young readers about the plight of young children who lack the basic human necessities and the efforts of the United Nations to provide such essentials as housing, water, food, and medical aid.
The goal of reading this book was to help make the little tykes better citizens, something that this world does desperately need.
But one of the school board members, Mary Carney, had a complete breakdown about this book and threatened to not send her kids to her school district. Carney's beef was that she felt that the new curriculum downplayed "American exceptionalism":
Central to Carney's criticism is concern for how students learn about the United States in relation to the world. Claiming the update "downplays American exceptionalism" by focusing too much on global affairs, she recited passages in the curriculum that say its aim is to develop students into citizens who can "use their knowledge about their community, nation and world" and to "become effective members of global communities."
"I believe that effective members of Marshfield, Wisconsin, American communities would have a greater benefit to us all," Carney said. "Yes, we live in an interconnected world — I've traveled the world, and I was an exchange student in high school, and it was a wonderful experience — but must we sacrifice our identity and values?"
Asked to provide specific evidence of her claims, Carney said in an interview that the revised curriculum lacks focus on United States history, including the founding fathers and American presidents.
"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."
Even though the school board ignored her craziness, she is a persistent goof and is now trying to get the book banned altogether. Her new angle is that the book is just too darn graphic:
Marshfield School Board member Mary Carney in July objected to the district’s use of the book “For Every Child a Better World” by Jim Henson in kindergarten classes, The book, she contends, contains images of suffering children living in poverty and violence, including one illustration that shows a child living in a box in the rain. 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.”
The real kicker is that rural Wisconsin has been hit hard by Scott Walker's plantation economics. Some of those kids are living in extreme poverty. The book will be nothing new to them.
Oh, and if the gentle reader had guessed that Carney is a Teapublican, you are correct. In fact, she was the leader of the Central Wisconsin Tea Party.
Now go and keep telling yourself that it's just a school board race and doesn't really matter. Just don't complain when this kind of insanity hits your community.