A Wisconsin public school teacher alleged on a recent post to her blog that her 5-, 6- and 7-year-old students are a group of promising future political cartoonists. Oh yeah, and they all hate anti-union Governor Scott Walker — but the teacher has no idea where that came from.
In July, Madison Metropolitan School District elementary art teacher Kati Walsh posted a series of pictures drawn by her students to an art blog affiliated with the local elementary school.
Along with the artwork, most of which centers around the theme of Walker being a bad man and deserving to spend time in jail, Walsh provided a little background information:
It’s no secret that Madison is a pretty political place. Today, students were engaged in our Garden Signs project when an interesting conversation happened. One student said something to the effect of ‘Scott Walker wants to close all the public schools.” I have no idea where this came from, I missed the beginning of their exchange. Another student, who’s (sic) father is a reporter, proceeded to correct the student with a surprisingly very factual and grown up answer. This began a whole conversation between kindergartners, first graders and second graders about our Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker.
So the rest of the class started drawing their own cartoons and they turned very political. They have very strong feelings about Scott Walker. The cartoons started getting a little inappropriate so at this point, we stopped drawing and discussed what a political cartoon was. We also talked about how you can disagree with someone and not wish them harm. It was also important for them to understand the role art plays in sharing one’s opinion and ideas! Wow, I did not plan for THIS intense lesson with kinders through 2nd graders!
Here’s a look at some of the artwork:
Now, lest you think Walsh coached the children, she offered the following disclaimer with the work:
For those of you who don’t know me very well, I just want to make it clear that I did not talk about MY personal opinion of Scott Walker with these kids. I made it clear that it is important for everyone to feel comfortable expressing their own opinions through art. I did clearly state that I love our public schools and think it’s important for them to have a good public education. This should not be a controversial statement.
If Walsh were to talk to her students about Walker, however, her recent political activity makes it clear that she probably wouldn’t feel inclined to paint the man in a favorable light.
Via a March 2012 report in the Wisconsin State Journal:
Kati Walsh, an art teacher at Randall and Gompers Elementary, is one teacher who wasn’t politically active during the 2010 gubernatorial election, but became involved after Walker introduced changes to public-sector collective bargaining last year. In recent weeks, a typical day for Walsh might include early morning playground duty, a full day teaching third-, fourth- and fifth-graders, an after-school program and then three hours of knocking on doors and distributing fliers for Flores and Silveira [local school board candidates who supported the Walker recall effort].
“I get a lot of, ‘Oh, you’re a teacher, I was hoping I could hear from you,'” Walsh said. “Doors make a difference.”
Walsh also signed the recall petition in the 2012 campaign against Walker and gathered signatures for the recall.
In an interview with the Wisconsin Reporter, Walsh insisted that her political leanings don’t matter because the students decided to hate Walker on their own.
“Children are much smarter then you give them credit for,” she said. “These children who are now growing up having protested at the Capitol with their parents and are going to union meetings and political meetings with their parents. They are listening and they have their own strong opinions about what is going on in our state right now.”
What do you think: Politically astute tykes or a bit of good old-fashioned government school indoctrination?