Teachers Andrea Burmesch and Tara Krueger of were to be the recipients of a $5,000 grant from the National Education Association (NEA), however concerns over the intent of the monies halted the process.
A Learning and Leadership Grant from the NEA Foundation was awarded "to develop a course of study with a team of colleagues to help first and second grade students understand the role of power in their lives, including how they can use technology such as websites and podcasts to create activist messages around issues important to the students," according to a release from the NEA.
Talk show host Mark Belling took up the issue, questioning the use of grant funds to make seven and eight year olds activists for the NEA.
Muskego-Norway Superintendent Joe Schroeder responded to an inquiry from Belling, and immediately "upon inspection, I found a description of the grant that, while rooted in the development of critical thinkers and positive community members, was described with some very concerning language."
Schroeder said he had specific concerns over "helping first and second grade students 'understand the role that power plays in their lives' in effort to 'create activist messages' is language that, especially under the umbrella of a national union's grant foundation, can understandably raise concern."
He explained that those involved in the grant application process were spoken to, and Schroeder believed them "to be people of integrity who have a sincere interest in developing critical thinkers and positive, contributing members of our school and the larger community who were simply seeking additional funds in their service to students."
He also said their intent and meaning of "activism" differed from what others might interpret.
"I also told them that I believe the language of the grant description, especially within the context of a national union's grant foundation, understandably can cloud their original intent. Upon review, they now understand that," Schroeder added.
"To date, we have not collected one cent of this NEA grant -- and will not do so. I have contacted the NEA office that we are declining the grant and, therefore, are requesting that they remove our approved grant from their website," he said.