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>Poor Kate!

>Via Andrew Sullivan, this account of schoolbus cheers:

Matthew Whoolery and his wife aren’t blaming the school district for what happened on the bus but they do think all parents need to be careful about what they say and teach their children.
Whoolery and his wife couldn’t believe it when their second and third graders got off the bus last week and told them what other students were saying.
“They just hadn’t heard anything like this before,” said Whoolery. “They were chanting on the bus, ‘Assassinate Obama. Assassinate Obama.’ Then adding in a name sometimes of a classmate on the bus, ‘Assassinate Obama and Kate.'”

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. >Poor Kate, indeed.
    I’d hate to have to go to school and look up that word just to see what my fellow second graders were saying about me.

  2. >In which state is Rexburg? I know, the reddest one. But which state is that? (I couldn’t see this anywhere on the article. Perhaps I missed it, though…)

    Think the folks that the kids get this from consider themselves patriotic?

    True Blue and Horrified in Illinois

  3. Roger Sutton says:


  4. Under the Covers says:

    >Not that it matters, but Rexburg is tucked into one of the most beautiful places in the country, is a short distance from Yellowstone, and home to BYU-Idaho.

  5. >That is by far the most disturbing thing I have read in some time.

  6. Victoria Thorne says:

    >It reads like an Opie nightmare, doesn’t it?

  7. >It reminds me of the story that children cheered the assassination of President Kennedy because it meant a day off school.

    Forgive them for they know not what they do, also comes to mind. Of course, that might not apply to their parents.

    . . . Though I am sure that many of the parents are lovely people who have been shamed by their offspring. Children do that to the best parents.

  8. >Our daughter’s preschool had a policy that if kids were going to use “Potty” language, they needed to go to the bathroom and sit on the toilet until they no longer felt the need to use the bad words. It stopped the inappropriate language pretty quickly.

    That busdriver needed to pull over, and stop the bus. Seriously.

    This kind of hateful stuff is NOT acceptable, and by parents and other adults laughing it off, or shrugging it off, we CONDONE it’s occurrence, and almost ensure it’s repetition.

    A lot of times, kids don’t totally know what the things they say mean, and they’re looking for a reaction. (And it was a decent rhyme, which is irresistable at times. There are other words to rhyme, though.)
    We need to react, not from a place of anger, but of firm guidelines – to let them understand that it is not acceptable.


    We have a long way to go as a country, don’t we?

    Thanks for sharing this.


  9. >Kids say the darndest thing.

  10. >How sad it is that this should happen right at a time when America is sending out to the world a new, positive picture of race relations in the United States of America.

    While it is true that the children may not have been aware of the horrible significance of what they were saying, the adult in charge should immediately have taken control of the situation. Children need boundaries and it is up to all adults to help children understand and uphold them.

    My book “Tales My Ghanaian Grandmother Told Me” ( gives a picture of how one traditional African society worked towards this goal.

    It is a positive sign that the matter has come up for public debate.

  11. >Sounds to me that it is possible that several kids overheard his parents discussing what might happen to Obama because of his skin color. I have heard many people discussed about Lincoln and Kennedy and how they think the same thing could happen to Obama. I hope he will hire extra bodyguards.

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