BOOTHBAY – The parents of one Boothbay Region High School student are outraged following a Social Studies teacher’s Tax Day screening of a MoveOn.org video that disparages Republicans and calls for higher taxes on the so called rich.
The video, which was published at MoveOn.org on April 15, features Robert B. Reich, a professor of public policy at University of California at Berkeley, criticizing wealthy Americans for not paying enough taxes. Reich also has some harsh words for U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) over his latest federal budget.
“Believe it or not, Republicans want to make all of this worse by cutting taxes on the wealthy even more,” Reich says. “Paul Ryan’s new budget doesn’t just slice Medicare, education and Food Stamps. It also lowers the top federal tax rate to 25 percent.”
“When the rich are let off the hook in all these ways, the rest of America has to pay more in taxes to make up the difference, or have services cut because government doesn’t have the funds,” he says.
Reich’s message concludes with a call to action that might be unfit for a high school classroom: “Join me in sending a petition to Congress saying you’re in favor of higher taxes on the super rich to pay for what America needs.”
After hearing about the video Social Studies teacher Joyce Sirois showed her class, one parent complained.
Stuart Smith, who happens to be the chair of the Lincoln County Republicans, said the video was inappropriate and too partisan for a classroom.
BRHS Superintendent Eileen King and Principal Daniel Welch did not return multiple phone calls and emails seeking comment for this story. Although Sirois also did not respond to requests for comment, she did provide a letter of explanation to Smith, a copy of which The Maine Wire has obtained.
In the April 28 letter, Sirois attempts to explain why she showed a video to the class which she openly admits is propaganda.
“Mr Welch informed me today that you had some questions concerning my lesson concerning animation before vacation. (sic) As [Smith’s son] has probably shown you we have been making animations in World Cultures and I came across the Reich animation that day as I was finishing up some planning.”
Sirois wrote that the video serves three purposes: “1 It is short and graphic, made with readily available materials … 2 Main ideas are written and spoken for reinforcement … 3 It is a strong example of one point of view.”
She continues: “We will be doing some work in class with propaganda as we finish up our study of East Asian countries, China, Japan, and Korea that the students are working on now. Our final projects will give kids a choice to use one of the computer programs they have learned to look at Russia, where they will have a chance to make a Power Point/ Book Trailer/ Animation about some aspect of Russian History.”
MoveOn.org is a liberal 501(c)4 nonprofit that works primarily to elect Democratic candidates and advance liberal policies.
For Smith, Stuart’s explanation is no excuse for showing High School freshman political propaganda — especially without providing a counterpoint.
“I would hope that the school would be respectful of other people’s views and not try to push a political agenda in the classroom,” said Smith.
According to state records housed at MaineOpenGov.org, Sirois made more than $63,000 per year as of 2011.
Check out the video: