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Obama Speech In Middle-School English Text

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A Wisconsin mother is furious that her tax dollars helped buy a middle-school textbook that includes a passage from Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention — but has no mention of John McCain.

The woman, who spoke to on the condition of anonymity because she feared business reprisals, became upset after her 13-year-old son told her his advanced English class in Racine, Wis., had read about Barack Obama in a textbook, “McDougal Littell Literature, Grade 8.”

The textbook, published by an arm of Houghton Mifflin Company, focuses on a portion of Obama’s 1995 autobiography, “Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” in which Obama writes about a month-long visit by his Kenyan father when he was 10 and living in Hawaii.

The 20-page section, which kicks off with a student discussion of “What Makes You Proud?” ends with a portion of Obama’s  speech, “Out of Many, One,” at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston, and a photo of him there, surrounded by Obama placards.

Obama was running for Senate in Illinois in 2004.

“The kicker was the photo towards the end with Obama and at least eight visible Obama signs, and the one with the Web site on it,” she said. “Obviously, it was the 2004 Web site, but you can still go right to it, and I think that to me was just over the top. It didn’t need to be in there.”

The mother said any mention of Obama should have included passages from other politicians, such as McCain.

“McCain is a prisoner of war — that’s a story in itself,” she said. “Or Dick Cheney’s wife has written children’s stories. Was that in any of their books?”

But she said she’d prefer not to see any politicians in the English text.

“As a taxpayer, we’re paying for these books, and there should not be a story about Obama in this book right now and there should not be a story about McCain in this book,” she said.

Obama’s passage appears in the textbook along with noted authors and thinkers, including Maya Angelou, Isaac Asimov and Emily Dickinson, according to, which is the online educational supplement to the book.

A representative from the Racine Unified School District said no parent has complained to officials about the text, which is used by students in the district’s eight middle schools. The district has 21,000 students.

“The Racine Unified School District DOES NOT endorse any candidate or political party,” the school said in a written statement. “The choice of this selection was to provide a contemporary and multicultural figure to explore the unit on community.”

Six teachers and three district staff members chose the textbook, district spokeswoman Stephanie Hayden said.

“The Racine Unified School District is a multicultural school district with 49 percent of our student body comprising students of color,” the school said. “Identifying materials that reflect our student population is a priority.

“The selection in question is part of a larger unit centered around the question, ‘If the people within a community accept each others’ difference, how do individuals and their community benefit and prosper?'” the statement continued. “The selections, ‘Dreams of My Father’ and ‘Out of Many, One,’ fit into the curriculum by requiring students to engage in the central question around these and other selections.”

The mother, who says she’s an independent, contacted the blog “Real Debate Wisconsin” to tell it about the textbook, rather than approach teachers, because she said she didn’t want to jeopardize her son’s grades.

She said she was also angered by Obama’s biography in the textbook that included a passage entitled “A Life of Service,” which said Obama “was offered jobs working for an important judge and in high-powered law firms, but instead he chose to return to Chicago to practice civil-rights law.”

“They had to go into all the details about his ‘life of service’ and how he could have taken a higher paying job … It just doesn’t feel right to me. It’s very political,” the woman said.

Her son, she said, doesn’t understand her concern.

“It worries me that, you know, he’s in eighth grade and already he’s thinking that Obama is just going to win because everybody likes him,” she said. “Why in a school does everybody like him? I’ve got to believe there are kids who like McCain too.”


One Response

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  1. of course she spoke to FOX. (-; Anyway, imagine her surprise when she catches her son playing a video game with Obama ads in it. (Coming to a Toys R’ US near you soon.) She’s gonna really flip. Welcome to the 21st century


    Wednesday, October 15, 2008 at 3:27:10 AM

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