Thursday, September 3, 2009

I Seriously Don't Get Something

I'm not trying to be funny here, because I truly don't understand the hoopla about President Obama addressing American students on Sept. 8.

"On September 8, in what the Department of Education is touting as a "historic" speech, President Obama will be talking directly to students across the U.S., live on the White House website. But some parents and conservatives are blasting the president, calling the speech an excuse to brainwash American children.

"Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a letter to the nation's principals, inviting schools to watch the speech and included suggested classroom activities."

Now, I can't fault Yahoo! News for this, because they reporting the news. But to lead off with the idea of brainwashing? This is where it turns weird and stops making sense to me.

"But Jim Greer, the chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, came out swinging against the planned speech. An excerpt from his statement:

"The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President's agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President's initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.

"NBC spoke with Katie Gordon, a spokeswoman for the Florida Republican Party, who said the party's "beef" is with the accompanying lesson plans. The guide for pre-K through grade 6 suggests questions students think about during the speech, such as "What is the President trying to tell me? What is the President asking me to do?"

"The plan for grades 7-12 includes a "guided discussion," with suggested topics: "What resonated with you from President Obama's speech? What is President Obama inspiring you to do?"

I mean, God forbid the students watching the address become interested in politics and become educated registered voters when they turn 18. Or maybe they'll become interested in news or current events...we don't want that to happen, do we? Or worse yet...what if they learn how the Executive and Legislative branches of our government works? The horror! The horror!

Seriously, what's wrong with providing some suggestions for lesson plans? Maybe there are teachers out there that would welcome the help. Maybe they are overworked and don't have time to create another lesson plan. Maybe the provided plan won't be all that great, but a good teacher can mold it and turn it into something teachable. I seriously doubt the plan is mandatory, just like watching the address won't be mandatory.

Or is this a case of sour grapes on the part of the Republicans? That's what I think, but are these people (not all Republicans, just the ones complaining) petty, small minded people?

I'm neither a parent nor a teacher, but I really do believe that students today would get more out of an address aimed at them, by President Obama than they would of any other member of government today. Think about it...the President is in his 40's. For some students, this is more like having your parents in office. They can relate to him better than they probably could to John McCain or George W. Bush. And because he has two young daughters, he can relate to the students. It sounds like a win-win to me.

"Both Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan both gave speeches aimed specifically at students that were nationally televised. In 1989, Bush delivered a televised anti-drug speech, and Reagan's 1986 commencement speech and Q&A session was "beamed over public television into 171 school districts," according to the L.A. Times."

Good Lord, I was in elementary school for part of Reagan's presidency (January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989 was his two terms). Now in all honesty, I don't remember seeing either Reagan or Bush's addresses. We probably watched Reagan's when it was aired, and I'm no worse off because of it (or maybe that's why I decided I'm a Democrat but with Republican leanings...who knows).


  1. I agree that to have children of all political backgrounds hear the leader of their country speak is a good thing. To put the hysteria in perspective, the same day Michael Vick was speaking to 200 kids at a Philly school. So which would you want speaking to your kid?

  2. Right on! :) I think any child knows it's wrong to be mean to an animal, but hearing how important education is from the President, that has more meaning.