Kid Pan Alley Takes Responsibility for Controversial Song

January 9, 2012

Kid Pan Alley has taken full responsibility for the controversial "occupy-themed" song performed by third graders at Woodbrook Elementary School in Albemarle County.

In a statement released Monday, the group's founder and artistic director, Paul Reisler, acknowledged he should have avoided phrases like "I'm part of the 99" and "they're the one percent" when facilitating the songwriting process for the song, Part of the 99.

“This is a song about being satisfied with what you have, a song about how life has its ups and downs, as so many people in our country are experiencing now. It was my personal mistake to introduce these phrases and I take complete responsibility for it. I will not make a mistake like this again," he said.

The song sparked controversy shortly after it was written and performed at the school in October. Several blogs attacked Kid Pan Alley and the school system for what they called "an indoctrinating sing-along" with an Occupy Wall Street message. The conservative blog Weasel Zippers wrote, "to have third graders sing about class warfare and rail against the one percent is evil and a violation of the trust parents put in them [schools]."

Nonetheless, school officials stood by the lyrics and Kid Pan Alley. Steve Koleszar, Chair of the Albemarle County School Board, said the group doesn't shape what kids write, and argued that the lyrical content was original.

School Board member Barbara Massie Mouly told CBS19 on Monday she's pleased with the change of course.

"I am gratified that Mr. Reisler did indicate that he regrets using the controversial language with a young group of people," she said. "I think we should examine how outside groups are told what our teaching policy is and make sure they are conforming to our policy of showing both sides of any controversial matter."

Kid Pan Alley is adamant that students selected the song topic and wrote lyrics to express their ideas, but the organization admits the message became overshadowed by the use of politically charged phrases.

The Kid Pan Alley Board of Directors addressed the song, saying "we have taken swift action to clarify our guidelines for lyrical content."

Here is a transcript of the song:

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be one of the 1 percent
I worked all the time
Never saw my family
Couldn’t make life rhyme
Then the bubble burst
It really, really hurt
I lost my money
Lost my pride
Lost my home
Now I’m part of the 99

Some people have it all
But they still don’t think they have enough
They want more money
A faster ride
They’re not content
Never satisfied
Yes — they’re the 1 percent

I used to be sad, now I’m satisfied
’Cause I really have enough
Though I lost my yacht and plane
Didn’t need that extra stuff
Could have been much worse
You don’t need to be first
’Cause I’ve got my friends
Here by my side
Don’t need it all
I’m so happy to be part of the 99

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