Obama’s Speech to School Kids Will Be Political

By Caomhin

All signs are heavily pointing to his address to the nation’s students being political in nature.  I would have no problem whatsoever with Obama simply giving a “welcome back to school” type of speech in which he encourages students to work hard, respect their teachers, etc.  However, this does not look like what Obama has in mind:

The White House announced Wednesday that the president plans to tape a presidential address to public schoolchildren around the country to air at noon Tuesday. Along with advanced word of the speech, the U.S. Department of Education last week distributed a “menu of classroom activities” to teachers that aims to turn the speech into one of Mr. Obama’s teachable moments.

Among the activities, the government suggests that students from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” The material includes a suggestion that teachers then collect the letters and redistribute them at a later time “to make students accountable to their goals.”

Another task, recommended for younger students immediately after listening to the speech, is to engage in a discussion about what “the President wants us to do.”

“Does the speech make you want to do anything?” is one suggested question for the discussion. “Are we able to do what the President is asking of us?”

If the preliminary reports are accurate, this is completely unacceptable for a number of reasons.  First, students should not be required to write letters to themselves or anyone else “about what they can do to help the president,” or really, anyone else for that matter.  Students are responsible for their grades and their actions, they are not required to dedicate themselves toward helping any sitting President, Republican or Democrat, achieve their goals.  Furthermore, they are going to “make students accountable to their goals,” with the goal, presumable being “to help the president.”  How any can view this as acceptable is beyond me.  They will also be encouraged to discuss what they president wants from them and determine if they’re able to deliver to him?

Again, I’d like to reiterate that if the Obama simply goes up there and says things like, work hard, believe in yourself, work to fulfill your dreams, your responsible for getting good grades, etc, then that is quite alright. However, when official documents are being released encouraging teachers to make students pay homage and set up goals in order to help a president fulfill his agenda, you can pretty much assume where this is going and it’s not going to be apolitical in nature.

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