Thursday, September 3, 2009

Parents Just Don't Understand

On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, President Obama will deliver a live speech to every school across the country via the White House website. The topic: the importance of education.

"Great," you say. "Terrific!" How wonderful it is for a President, in the middle of all the turmoil facing the country, to take time out of his busy schedule to address our nation's youth on the importance of staying in school. A truer expression of good old down right wholesome feel good American values could never be found. Certainly, nobody could object to such a noble gesture. Surely, this is one of those Kumbaya moments where everybody can join hands and feel good about taking a moment to collectively invest in our children's education by showing them that nothing else in this world is more important.

OK enough with the build up already; you already know if such were the case I wouldn't be blogging.

Today, the associated press reported the following:

"[S]ome 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. 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?"

The Cato Institute, a public-policy research foundation, issued a press release entitled "Hey Obama, Leave Those Kids Alone," criticizing the "troubling buzzwords" in the lesson plans:

"It's one thing for a president to encourage all kids to work hard and stay in school – that's a reasonable use of the bully pulpit. It's another thing entirely, however, to have the U.S. Department of Education send detailed instructions to public schools nationwide on how to glorify the president and the presidency, and push them to drive social change."

A healthy debate on the President's agenda?

Glorify the President?

EDIT: Anderson Cooper and Roland Martin PWN Jim Greer:

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