CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS Washington) – A Charlottesville-area elementary school has been accused of making students sing a pro-Occupy Wall Street movement song.
Written and performed in October as part of the Kid Pan Alley group at Albemarle County schools, “Part of the 99” has resulted in a backlash from parents nationwide, and has given the foundation reason to train its facilitators to steer students away from controversial subject matter in their songs.
As part of the regular Kid Pan Alley activities, children are asked about the topics of songs they want to write and sing about. In October, one of the children participating in the activities at Woodbrook Elementary School mentioned that he wanted to write about “having it all and losing it all,”Albemarle County schools spokesman Phil Giaramita told CBS Washington.
“The words ‘Occupy’ or ‘Wall Street’ were not mentioned in the classroom,” Giaramita said.
In the past couple of days, the song from the October performance has been resurrected, with parents from Tennessee, Texas, and California accusing the third-graders of not being capable to come up with an idea so closely related to the Occupy Wall Street movement. There haven’t been any complaints from the parents of the children involved in the performance, Giaramita said.
Blogs such as Big Government have criticized the song as being “Marxist rhetoric.”
“The simplistic left wing economic nonsense of this ditty boggles the mind. But to an impressionistic third grader, it plants poisonous seeds at odds with long egalitarian American traditions that disdain class hatred,” the blog states.
Officials with Kid Pan Alley, a foundation that works with elementary school children through songwriting workshops, has emphasized that the group has restated its guidelines concerning the lyrical content of the songs.
“Kid Pan Alley does not promote nor condone any personal or political agenda. As a result, our programming over the years has consistently received high praise and commendation from children, parents and schools,” the statement said. “Our sole mission has been and continues to be to inspire and empower children to work together to become creators of their own music and to rekindle creativity as a core value in education.”
Giaramita said that a Kid Pan Alley official told him that in the 1,800-plus songs that Kid Pan Alley has produced and performed, none of them have come across the issue like this one with its alleged Occupy link. He added that the song itself came in October when the movement was first starting up and maybe meant something different in October than it does now.
“There’s been a lot of sensitivity raised over this in the last couple days,” Giaramita said, adding that greater oversight will be put into the lyrical content of the songs before they are performed. “If you’re writing about pets or a holiday, those kinds of things are very enjoyable and not controversial. If you’re writing about an issue such as a family that has it all and loses it, we need to be very sensitive about the circumstances around it.”