Kid Pan Alley brawl: Do the students who sang “Part of the 99” understand politics and economics?

It’s not banning "The Twist," but Kid Pan Alley’s director, Paul Reisler, came under heavy fire during the last week for performing a song called "Part of the 99" with Woodbrook Elementary students.

While detractors and supporters play their arguments out on KPA’s Facebook page and Weasel Zippers (a blog that takes credit for introducing the story), other conservative blogs have suggested partisan funding influences the Virginia-based nonprofit.

In the interest of healthy debate, C-VILLE took a look at two online discussions: the source of Kid Pan Alley contributions, and whether third graders are expected to learn and understand politics and economics. Here, some more fodder for the debate:

1. Some Kid Pan Alley contributors give to both parties

"If there remains any doubt about the political motives of Kid Pan Alley, just consider one source of its funding," writes a blogger on "It’s the Virginia-based William and Mary Greve Foundation." The writer then explains that the foundation "is headed by John Kiser III, author of a book titled Communist Entrepreneurs."

However, it should be noted that Kid Pan Alley has more than one donor, and a few additional names suggest a more diverse funding network. Marc Benioff, founder of the cloud computing company SalesForce, also launched a charitable foundation that is listed by Guidestar as a top Kid Pan Alley donor. In 2008 alone, Benioff was listed as a contributor to Republicans including John McCain and Mitt Romney; Politico noted the same here.

2. In Virginia schools, third graders do study politics and economics

Amidst online commenters’ calls for "tar and feather" and "public hangings," some comments have asked whether third graders adequately understand the political and economic implications behind the lyrics. 

"They taught the little critters to compose songs about class warfare and political ideology between paste eating 101 and ‘Dora the Explorer,’" commented one.

However, according to the state Department of Education, Virginia expects them to understand both basic politics and economics. (Although, it should be noted that commenters also might take issue with the Department of Education.)

"Students should…demonstrate an understanding of basic economic concepts" and "explain the importance of the basic principles of democracy," according to the DOE.

This information is shared in the interest of creating a more nuanced debate over Kid Pan Alley and the "Part of the 99" song. Just as some donors may give on one side of a partisan line, others give on both. And while the song presents an economic idea that some might contest (and that KPA director Paul Reisler has taken credit for), third graders are expected by the state to know more than "paste eating 101."

Share your thoughts on the matter below.

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