School survey sparks outcry

Charlotte Guedry

Recently, a small section of students at Galvez Middle School were asked to complete a survey which would make the distinction as to their views on political party affiliation.

“Are you a Republican or Democrat” was given to seventh graders in a Social Studies class at the school, and the survey has raised some emotions among some parents.

In the survey, students were asked to pick between A or B answers on a number of questions, ranging from their thoughts on healthcare to their feelings on the welfare system.

Some of the answers, a few parents feel, were just too black and white.

“Our children at an age where they are beginning to form their own thoughts and ideologies,” said David Ellis, whose daughter participated in the survey. “The school had a responsibility to show this information in an unbiased manner, and that’s not what happened. The kids have essentially been robbed of their ability to make informed decisions.”

Ellis and other parents were unhappy with the wording of the survey, which in their opinions portrayed the Republican, or Conservative viewpoint in a negative light.

“The entire survey is a misrepresentation of the Conservative side of the spectrum,” said Apple Gaffney, another parent. “Instead of giving reasons in a clear manner for having a specific viewpoint, the survey was badly worded. It allowed for no defense of a position.”

In a question on the welfare state in America, students were allowed two options. Either, A: Welfare is an important social safety net for those who find themselves needing help, or B: Welfare is for the lazy and the weak. Totally bogus. It’s not needed. Private charities will help poor people.

In a question regarding the student’s opinions on whether or not they believe in the death penalty, they were again given two options to choose from. Either A: No. Nothing can ever be certain enough to warrant the taking of  life. The death penalty is barbaric and costs the US more money than simply sentencing those prisoners to life without parole, or B: Yes.?Watch those sinners sizzle! Two wrongs DO make a right on the right.

The way the answers to the questions were worded is the main reason Mr. Ellis found himself upset a the survey being given to his daughter.

“By giving out this survey, the school has done a great disservice to our  children. This biased information cannot be what is expected in the classroom,” he said. “It is worse than not teaching our kids anything at all.”

Gaffney agrees, “If a teacher or a school cannot understand the simple concepts of American Conservatism, then how can they possibly teach the basics of the American Revolution? It was far too one sided to be used as a teaching tool for our children.”

The parents of the students were sent a letter that Gaffney says, “Essentially told us the school was sorry, but for us to ignore this and move on. I’m sorry but that is not good enough.”

Ellis shares that point. “I think this matter needs to be further dealt with,” he said. “I’d prefer to see something actually done about this, something like the students being addressed about the dangers of biased information.”

Calls to Galvez Middle School were not returned, but the Ascension?Parish?School Board did release a statement regarding the matter.

“On Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, our seventh grade social studies classes participated in a survey. The survey contained information that cast one particular political party in a negative light. I want to assure you that this survey does not reflect the views of Galvez Middle School or the Ascension Parish School System. The purpose of the lesson was to provide students with the understanding of the purpose and function of political parties in American History. The survey used to characterize political parties, however, contained biased information. This type of lesson is not condoned by Galvez Middle School or the Ascension Parish School System. Measures have been and will continue to be taken to ensure that all future lessons contain a balanced approach when depicting political views.”

Charlotte Guedry is Editor of the Gonzales Weekly Citizen. You can contact her by calling 644-6397, emailing editor@weeklycitizen.com, or follow her stories on Twitter by following @WeeklyCitizen.