It was meant to “start a discussion.” Naturally.

Bidwell Junior High School administrators said a letter sent home with students in an eighth-grade class Tuesday was a good idea for a history lesson, with bad execution.

The letter, which appeared to ask parents to renounce their U.S. citizenship, prompted phone calls to the school from several irate recipients…

Reached at home, the teacher said his U.S. History class is studying the Declaration of Independence, and he decided to write a letter putting the document into modern language. His intention, he said, was to send it home for parents to review, and possibly discuss with their children.

He concluded the letter with “After careful consideration of the facts of our current situation, I have decided to announce to everyone that I am no longer a citizen of the United States, but a free and independent member of the global community.”

Guess what else the teacher is teaching the young skulls full of mush.

Chico resident Michael Hill said he was told by his daughter, Kaytlen Hill, 13, that the assignment was to have parents sign the letter and return it to class Wednesday.

“The lesson being taught in class was that the U.S. kidnaps innocent people and takes them to Cuba, where they are kept indefinitely and tortured,” Hill said he learned through his daughter.

When Hill asked her if Brooks mentioned Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where the U.S. imprisons terrorist suspects, he said his daughter replied “yes.”

He said his daughter broke into tears when she talked about Brooks mentioning illegal wiretaps and other surveillance directed against innocent people.

Forget the letter. If Brooks is teaching kids that nonsense about Gitmo and wiretaps, he ought to be fired for rank incompetence. But, not too surprisingly, his superiors are backing him.

Principal Joanne Parsley said teacher Mike Brooks never intended to have parents sign the letters, or forward them on to President Bush, to whom they are addressed.

“It was a well-intended lesson that didn’t shake out too well,” she said, adding that Brooks would not be subject to disciplinary action.

How is it well-intended to make kids cry that their country is jailing and wiretapping perfectly innocent people, when their country is not doing either?

Parsley and Chico Unified School District Assistant Superintendent Bob Feaster said they were shocked when they first saw the letter, which had gone out with no administrative approval, but wanted to give Brooks a chance to explain.

Parsley said he came up with good arguments for the unusual lesson plan, but would do things a little differently next time.

Today, Parsley said, the teacher will send another letter home with students, explaining exactly what the first letter was about, and assuring them that it was only for classroom discussion.

Parsley said she doesn’t believe Brooks has any political agenda to advance.

Of course not. He’s just mischaracterizing our tactics in the war for the fun of it. And his superiors aren’t clued in enough on the war to know the difference.

Or, they have the same political agenda and are protecting Brooks.

More: Not really related, except in terms of the quality of education that some schools deliver: Mexican-American kids get in trouble for wearing t-shirts saying “They can’t deport us all.” The kids sporting the shirts are probably citizens, so deportation probably doesn’t even apply to them.

Now, having slammed public education twice today, let me praise it a bit. My own kid’s public school is by all accounts excellent. The teachers there emphasize the basics of reading, writing and math, personal responsibility (they never let the kids get away with blaming any of their own academic failures on anyone or anything else, and that’s school policy from the top down) and even patriotism. Yeah, I was as surprised as you are. Good teachers and schools probably still outnumber the bad ones, but they never make news so we don’t hear much about them.