A middle school teacher assigned each of his 6th grade students to write a letter to a single member of the U.S. military for a class project. The teacher, Alex Kunhardt, was presumably aware of the content of the letters that were forwarded to Pfc. Rob Jacobs.
February 21, 2005 — An American soldier overseas is fuming over letters he received from Brooklyn middle-school children accusing GIs of destroying mosques and killing civilians in Iraq.
Pfc. Rob Jacobs of New Jersey said he was initially ecstatic to get a package of letters from sixth-graders at JHS 51 in Park Slope last month at his base 10 miles from the North Korea border.
That changed when he opened the envelope and found missives strewn with politically charged rhetoric, vicious accusations and demoralizing predictions that only a handful of soldiers would leave the Iraq war alive.
“It’s hard enough for soldiers to deal with being away from their families, they don’t need to be getting letters like this,” Jacobs, 20, said in a phone interview from his base at Camp Casey.
“If they don’t have anything nice to say, they might as well not say anything at all.”Read that section again. Jacobs was stationed in South Korea, far away from Iraq. Even though Jacobs was not in Iraq, the teacher allowed letters to be sent accusing him of all manner of killing Iraqi children and destroying mosques.
Aren’t teachers supposed to be the responsible adults in the classroom? Is it too much to ask that they use a little common sense?
[Ed – Minor corrections made]
Certainly they could have thought of something nice to say, even if it was a discussion of the weather.
From what I read, soldiers want to hear about the kids lives — what they are doing, their families, their favorite class, favorite game, whatever — just a little bit of home.
Which is my point julie.
If you tell the kid you aren’t sending their letter-because you said so, they aren’t going to learn what kinds of things should have been in the letter.
Telling kids that kindness is a good place to start, and that soldiers like to hear about things at home, is a much better teaching moment than just saying “because I said so.”
Sounds like a great chance for the parents of that soldier to visit the class and set them straight
Actually, this soldier is my little brother, and my dad is going to be on Hannity and Colmes tomorrow night to express his outrage (you may have heard him on Hannity’s radio show this afternoon.) There will also be a follow up article in the Post tomorrow with some more of the lovely quotes.
And yes, the teacher did read them, b/c in his cover letter he states something along the lines of “the kids have differing political views”…political views?? THEY’RE 11!!
Anyway, it’s nice to see the support here for my brother. It’s not a matter of freedom of speech for these kids, and we certainly don’t blame them. My family is righteously outraged that a teacher would ask for Rob’s address to write “letters of support” and then sanctify these kinds of notes.
Before anyone says anything about working 9 months, let me state that if I counted the hours I work after school grading papers, making lesson plans, attending workshops, chaperoning dances, etc., the time would even out.
Well Goddess, then you are one of the few who really care. I live in a large city and a lot of the public school teachers I’ve met spend an awful lot of time hanging out in bars with other city employees complaining about Bush. Not sure how many papers they grade between shots and maxing out their sick days.
I’d like to thank your brother for his service and ask if you could let us know the unit he is in so we can send a few letters with an appropriate and heartfelt message.
Most teachers do nothing buty babysit, and think up new ways to SPREAD THEIR LIBERAL NAZI PROPAGANDA onto OUR CHILDREN.
What this Communist Liberal pinko did to one of our brave boys in the service was DISGUSTING.
I’ve assigned the same thing, as a service project. I do censor the letters. Usually the kids, well, the boys, want to ask about weapons and how many people the soldiers have killed. When we do send these letters out we have a generic address and we have no idea where in the world the letters will be sent to our military. Shame on the teacher for not checking what the kids wrote, and if he/she did, for letting them go out….but I have a feeling that the tchr had no idea where the letters were headed.
Carol, actually the teacher knew exactly where the letters were headed…he asked for my brother’s address specifically. And he definitely read them first before mailing b/c he included a cover letter saying that they contained a variety of “political beliefs!”
Mesablue, we’re working on setting up an email account for him to receive letters so I’ll post it back here when we get it out. Thanks for your concern.
Really funny commentary on censorship. Since when does it apply at all to school children, in the classroom? The welfare of all the children, and their education, supercedes any individual’s right to speak out.
This is the (yet another) problem with these commies applying their philosphy in the classroom. Their only obligation and duty is to teach the basics, the three R’s if you will. The kids are barely getting that. Let them be kids and save the political rallies for when they’re in college.
The point of this entire story should be, wherre the hell did these children get these ideas, and why. If they got it in school, they need to start firing people, right to the top. If they got it at home, some one should call child protective services.
Mantis, you took my quote out of context. I was repeating what my stepsister-in-law has told me about the way things work in her school. Why would I want to run her down? She’s a good teacher. She works hard. Last year she spent a week staying with us while she was waiting on an apartment that she had leased to become available. I can tell you that she came home from school and went right to work on the next day’s lesson plans, every night right up until dinnertime. She exhausted herself to the point that she usually went to bed around 9:00, or fell asleep on the couch after dinner.
She’s a good teacher trying to do the best she can in a crap system. She tells us herself that there are more bad teachers than good ones. The problem is that the school system has no mechanism for getting rid of the bad ones, or even figuring out who they are. So the teaching jobs attract a lot of losers who figure that it beats working. And, under the current system, they’re right.
Cherish the good teachers. Don’t be afraid to rip the bad ones. But make the distinction. Don’t lump them all in the same group.
I have a feeling that the tchr had no idea where the letters were headed.
If he did, would the letters then talk about our military killing innocent Koreans?
Filled with political diatribes, the letters . . . predicted GIs would die by the tens of thousands, accused soldiers of killing Iraqi civilians and bashed President Bush.
One girl wrote that she believes Jacobs is “being forced to kill innocent people” and challenged him to name an Iraqi terrorist, concluding, “I know I can’t.”
Another girl wrote, “I strongly feel this war is pointless,” while a classmate predicted that because Bush was re-elected, “only 50 or 100 [soldiers] will survive.”
Kids reflect the views of their parents. That’s why silly stuff like “kids choose the president” are almost always predictive of who wins.
I read a comment (maybe on BLACKFIVE?) from a young person who said she was writing her *own* letter, although her class had written letters, so that the soldier who got it would know that she *wanted* to write instead of being forced to.
It’s not just writing letters, it’s a whole mindset that somehow being forced to do these little community involvment things, write to elected officials, or soldiers, or do volunteer work, somehow being made to do those things is educational and will encourage students to be active in the community. I think it’s far more likely to simply condition them not to do anything they aren’t forced to do.
Oh, and no doubt the teacher will learn how it feels to get hate mail. I wonder if the teacher will consider it educational.
Sorry, Cousin Dave, I was doing a little collection of quotes there, and added yours because I was genuinely curious about sixth graders and the curve, as I don’t remember there being one when I was in sixth grade (don’t remember knowing what one was either). Didn’t mean to lump you in with the blanket anti-teacher folks.
Letters like these were considerable food for thought while I was in the desert (or The Sand Carnival as we dubbed it) and for the most part, we took it in stride.
Creepy. Not sinister.
these kids need to read the following….
The famous battle offers lessons for us 60 years later.
BY ARTHUR HERMAN
Saturday, February 19, 2005 12:01 a.m.
….”Yet even this valor and sacrifice is not the full story of what Iwo Jima means, or what Rosenthal’s immortal photograph truly symbolizes. The lesson of Iwo Jima is in fact an ancient one, going back to Machiavelli: that sometimes free societies must be as tough and unrelenting as their enemies. Totalitarians test their opponents by generating extreme conditions of brutality and violence; in those conditions–in the streets and beheadings of Fallujah or on the beach and in the bunkers of Iwo Jima–they believe weak democratic nerves will crack. This in turn demonstrates their moral superiority: that by giving up their own decency and humanity they have become stronger than those who have not.
Free societies can afford only one response. There were no complicated legal issues or questions of “moral equivalence” on Iwo Jima: It was kill or be killed. That remains the nature of war even for democratic societies. The real question is, who outlasts whom. In 1945 on Iwo Jima, it was the Americans, as the monument at Arlington Cemetery, based on Rosenthal’s photograph, proudly attests. In the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1970s, it was the totalitarians–with terrible consequences. “
If these kids can’t understand the above, they won’t be able to understand any other important happenings in their life.
All I hear from you wingnuts are complaints about the educational system. If the educational system is too liberal for you, why don’t you step up the the plate and become teachers instead of bitching about it.
What was the discussion PFC Jacob’s sister had with Alex Kunhardt? Did they talk about an opportunity for soldiers to open a dialogue with very confused students? Or did he promise that they would send Christmas Cards of support?
I think she’s very off track about sixth graders not having political feelings. This is the age when they start questioning the world and certainly they are effected by the images of war. They had followed a very contentious and close presidential race that divided our nation. Of course their families are most likely discussing the war at their dining room tables. Why wouldn’t they discuss these issues in a SOCIAL STUDIES class?
If they are indeed being innundated by their parents lefty views, then what better way to put their questions and concerns out to the real men in the field who are risking their lives. I know men in the field and they’re not idiots. They could articulate what they feel to a child.
I think our men in the field are brave and smart. They could articulate their feelings and beliefs better than anyone. What a marvelous educational opportunity. I’m saddened that PFC Jacob’s family has chosen to turn this incident into a political bruhaha and another easy attack at public schools.
There are lots of teachers in the trenches who laudably do the best they can. But they also know that they have to keep their mouths shut in a system that punishes those that don’t go with the flow. Some of them burn out, some of them leave for private schools or another career.
Some of them commit suicide.
What problems do YOU have with honest competition? Why do public schools demand a monopoly?
Would you send a “Congrats on your Wedding” card where you then added your sentiments “I think marriage can be kinda nice, but I realize statistics show Western marriages are doomed to fail, or have spouses who beat and cheat on each other with regularity. But I wish you luck in trying anyway with this oppressive patriarchal custom.”
“letters of support to the troops” doesn’t mean insulting the troops with unsolicited/meanspirited politics.
I wouldn’t send a wedding card to a bride unless I believed in the marriage.
I think it would be more than educational for a child to ask a bride why she wanted to get married. Children should be asking questions.
Creating a dialogue of thoughts isn’t “mean spirited.” And if PFC Jacob’s sister picked up the letters that were sent to South Korea than it certainly wouldn’t be “unsolicited.”
Somehow, Jon, I knew the word “appropriate” wasn’t in your personal dictionary. Thanks for confirming it. I bet you are just as fun at funerals.
I don’t understand. How am I inappropriate?
I did say unsolicited letters but unsolicited politics. These letters were ostensibly to be letters of support. How do you come to believe content that is anti-military is support or appropriate? That’s like sending a wedding card containing anti-marriage sentiments. Or a “Congrats on your New Baby” card telling the parents they are contributing to Over.Population and Environmental Destruction.
As my late Grandma Mildred would say “If you can’t say anything nice … “
Is the word “nice” in your dictionary?
I guess when there’s a war going on…
then it’s not about nice. These kids need some information. Again, who better than a serviceman who willing to risk his life for what he believes in to explain the war in Iraq.
And as my Grandma Margaret said, “White lace curtains can’t hide a dirty house.”
You keep suggesting there’s some Emily Post ethics involved in education. These are the most important questions that these kids could ask in their lives. They saw the Twin Towers fall from their classrooms, their brothers and sisters are in Iraq, and it’s going to be their lives that will be drafted if we can’t get more United Nations support. Why can’t they ask a private what’s it really like in the military. Particularly if the family of the PFC agreed to the written exchange?
Darlene, let’s look deeper at this story.
Why were only 21 letters reported? Is JHS 51 extremly underpopulated? Aren’t there usually about 30 kids in a class? Do you think some letters might have been yanked?
Why did the letters go to Korea? Why would this PFC’s sister from New Jersey go to a middle school in Brooklyn and ask for letters? Why did they write letters to a non combat zone? Why Park Slope students? All of New York knows that with it’s Co-Op markets, hippie bumper stickers, and lesbian moms that it’s pretty likely that some of the kids would be likely to be against the war?
The sister says they were expecting letters of support…or were they letters aimed at discussion. I haven’t read the letters of course, but the fragments I’ve been able to read on the Post seem to be well articulated questions and concerns. Yeah, a few of the kids asked stupid insensitive questions. I probably would have pulled them. But I think any thoughtful serviceman would have no trouble telling a student his point of view.
And if he didn’t, he;d just toss the letters.
Why would Mr. Kunhardt put a cover letter on the kid’s writing? He obviously didn’t want to offend. I wish they’d show us the letter he wrote.
Why wouldn’t the sister dump the letters after reading the cover letter? Why wouldn’t the PFC just dump the obnoxious letters? Why would they call Fox/CNN/and Murdoch news services?
Why has his family inundated every conservative blog for the past two days?
I don’t know, Darlene. I wish Kunhardt would speak up and let us know what’s the connection between the sister and him. It’s all kinda fishy.
It just doesn’t seem nice.
It’s all kinda fishy
Ah! Yes, it would come to that. I bet it’s just another plant by EvilGeniusRove™.
What ever happened to honor and respect. This generation has been raised to ignore this. No respect for people in charge, no respect for one another and no respect for our own President. To me a person who is willing to put their life on the line so that others can live a life of liberty and pursuit of happiness, deserves all the honor and respect from this country. It is people serving now and who served this country that brought us to where we are. It is the men and women in the military that should be honored and respected more than anyone. More than pro ball players and actors. I commend the men and women of the armed forces. Without them this world would be in a disasterous state. Thank you from me, my children and grandchildren.