Friday, November 4, 2011

Solidarity Singers and Portage Elementary School Kids

On June 13, 2011, I was in Madison at the Capitol. I arrived at the Capitol shortly before 11:00 AM.

Inside the Capitol building, security was tight at that time. My purse was searched and I had to pass through a metal detector.

The Capitol police maintained a noticeable presence. It made me a bit nervous. I asked an officer why there was such a large law enforcement presence. He told me it was in preparation for large crowds expected to descend as the budget went back on the front burner.

But for the time being, no groups of protesters were inside.

It wasn't until noon that the "Solidarity Sing-along" began. A very small group of protesters gathered in the rotunda. They sang "We Shall Overcome" and pro-union songs, cheering briefly after completing each song. A few children played in the center of the circle.

I assume the kids belonged to the participants in the sing-along.

Madison, Capitol Rotunda, June 13, 2011

While peaceful, I found the protest extremely disruptive since it could be heard from behind sets of closed doors as business and ceremony in the Capitol took place. It angered me because it did take away from my experience of why I was there in the first place.

Free speech is terrific, but their noise infringed on my business. It was distracting, making voices difficult to hear in the room where I was.

Being familiar with this daily Solidarity Sing-along, when I saw a promo for the following news story on FOX6, I knew exactly what to expect.

From FOX6 News:


When you send your kids off to school, you expect them to learn all about the "three r's": reading, writing and recall efforts?

That doesn't seem right, and it didn't seem right to FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn either.

It is common practice for elementary schools to take students on a tour of the Wisconsin State Capitol, but how would you feel if your child went on just such a field trip, and ended up being led, quite literally, into the middle of a political protest?

One superintendent refused to watch video of this very thing occurring, and his elementary school principal waited 22 days to tell parents what happened.

...It's been nine months since thousands of protesters occupied the Capitol in Madison, and the so-called "Solidarity Singers" still show up, every day.

"This is an exercise in free speech, and they're doing it in a respectful way," Sen. Mark Miller (D-Madison) said.

I disagree. It is not respectful. When the noise they make can be heard on floors above, down hallways, past sets of closed doors, it's a terrible annoyance. Dignified events are marred.

Nope. Not respectful. Not true.

Every weekday at noon, the "Solidarity Singers" gather around the Capitol Rotunda to vocalize their displeasure with Governor Walker's agenda.

..."We want to sing in the Capitol the day after Walker is no longer working in this building," Solidarity Song Leader Chris Reeder said.

For first-time visitors, it's an attention-grabbing experience, especially when those visitors are fourth-grade students on a field trip.

It is one thing for students to witness a political protest, and quite another for them to become a part of it.

On a Tuesday in late September, FOX6 watched as elementary school children were led into the middle of the protest, and encouraged to clap and sing along.

According to Reeder, it's not the first time this has happened.

"When they are here, we do try to sing 'This Land Is Your Land' or 'If I Had A Hammer,' things they might be familiar with that are a little less political, so they would feel welcome to come into the circle," Reeder said.

However, the protesters' rendition of "This Land Is Your Land" includes a controversial verse that's almost never sung in schools.

That verse is: "And on that sign it said, private property, but on the other side, it didn't say nothing. That sign was made for you and me."

The rendition also includes a final verse, aimed directly at the governor.

That verse is: "Scott Walker will never push us out! This house was made for you and me."

"That is just flat-out wrong," Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said.

The rendition also includes a final verse, aimed directly at the governor.

That verse is: "Scott Walker will never push us out! This house was made for you and me."

"That is just flat-out wrong," Rep. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) said.

This is sickening.

As the photos of the Solidarity Sing-along I took in June show, the children were coloring and wandering around in the circle. It looked like they were keeping themselves busy as their caregivers sang their protest. Clearly, they were not there as part of a public school field trip.

The FOX6 video of the Portage Elementary School fourth-graders actually taking part in the protest, becoming active participants, not just viewers, is a totally different situation. Your tax dollars at work.

The video shows a very disturbing abuse of the children and a very disturbing abuse of Wisconsin taxpayers' dollars.

...FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn: "Are you, as the superintendent of the district, concerned about your students being led into a political protest to participate?"

Poches: "I'm not interested in viewing the videotape.

Polcyn: "You didn't answer my question. Are you concerned that your students were encouraged to participate in a political protest?"

Poches: "No."

Poches insisted that his students did not participate in the protest, but merely happened to be in the same room, waiting for tour guides. Had he watched the FOX6 video, he would've seen one of the protesters talking to a fourth-grade teacher.

In the video, just a moment later, the same protester appears to let the song-leader in on his plan, and in a matter of seconds, the students are led into the circle, as their teacher watches, with no objection.

Parents were not told that their children would be used in the protest against Governor Scott Walker. They didn't give permission for their children to join in solidarity with the Leftists.

Portage Superintendent Poches was obviously very defensive. He made a fool of himself, this public employee.

He did his best to avoid accepting responsibility and holding teacher Michael Hemming accountable.

...To believe the teachers didn't know this was a political demonstration, you have to believe they weren't aware of the ongoing protests at the Capitol, didn't read the signs and banners all over the Rotunda, and didn't hear the song immediately before "This Land Is Your Land."

"I am sure they knew what was going on, they just chose to let the kids join in," [Portage parent Susan] Lovelance said.

The Portage School District waited 22 days to send a letter home, informing parents of the "situation."

Why so long?

The letter is dated October 19th, which is just one day after FOX6 was in town, asking questions.

...Just Thursday morning, the Portage School District sent a copy of a letter of reprimand that has been placed in fourth-grade teacher Mike Hemming's permanent employee file.

The letter reads, in part: "You allowed and encouraged students to participate in a politically-motivated protest.

This lack of professional judgment put the students you supervised and the Portage Community School District in an uncomfortable situation."

The school district also provided FOX6 with the teacher's response, which says, in part: "I did not observe any indication that the people were seeking to advance any religious or political cause. While I am embarrassed and upset by the incident, I know that I did not do anything wrong."

As it turns out, there were other teachers or staff members on the field trip, and the school district has refused to tell FOX6 who they were, or what role they may have played, but FOX6 is not aware of any other disciplinary actions taken.

Kudos to FOX6 for doing this story and exposing this example of the completely unacceptable indoctrination of public school children.

Read more, from FOX6:

Letter To Parents

Teacher's Letter Of Reprimand

Teacher's Response To Incident

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