Debriefing my 7th Grader

Tom Duggan – December, 2007

Last month, my 7th grade daughter at the North Andover Middle School came home from school and said that she learned in her Spanish class how the leader of Venezuela (Hugo Chavez) was a “good guy” for giving cheap oil to poor people here in the US. She also said that she learned in class that Chavez hated George Bush.

At first, I was shocked, but once I was able to speak without throwing a fit, I had to explain to her all about Hugo Chavez and Joe Kennedy. I told her how President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela paired up Joe Kennedy in providing oil to low income families through the program dial-joe-4-oil.

But, I also had to take the time to debrief her from the notion that the dictator from Venezuela was a “good guy”. I told her how Chavez’ motivation was simply to exploit the United States and that if he really cared about poor people, he would take care of his own. I explained that Venezuela was a sham of a democracy where free speech was punished by the government, that Chavez was a brutal dictator who closed down TV and radio stations, jailed and murdered people who spoke out against him and that Chavez was no friend of the United States. It had nothing to do with President Bush.

We had a long talk about how Hugo Chavez used the platform of the United Nations to spew hatred for the United States and that he called George Bush “The Devil” while embracing the president of Iran who wants to exterminate every Jew living in the world today.

“But, why didn’t my teacher tell me all this?” my daughter asked. “Apparently your teacher is a fan of Hugo Chavez and is only telling you the things she likes about him,” I had to respond. “It is something you are going to be dealing with throughout your high school and college career,” I told her.

I also explained how Hugo Chavez was a friend and admirer of Fidel Castro and has aligned himself with Cuba, a communist country which is also an enemy of the United States. She seemed so surprised as I told my 7th grader that Joe Kennedy should be ashamed of himself for teaming up with Chavez, especially in light of the fact the Joe Kennedy’s Uncle, the late President John F. Kennedy, fought against Cuba and communism and defended free speech.

I then called my local member of the North Andover School Committee and told him the sad story of the indoctrination of the 7th Grade Spanish class. Finally, I printed out several stories for my daughter to read about the so called “good guy” of Venezuela that her teacher had her practically idolizing, including the Wall Street Journal editorial from last year “Dial Joe-4-Chavez” which I recommend all of her 7th grade classmates and her teacher read.

It was bad enough that a teacher in the North Andover Schools was trying to indoctrinate my child to revere an anti-Semitic dictator, but what made it worse, was that it wasn’t a social studies teacher whose job it is to discuss current events and the nation of Venezuela. This was a Spanish teacher in a Spanish class.

Who knew?