Thursday, September 3, 2009

Politicizing the Class Room: Hide the Children.

On Tuesday of next week, the President will address the children of American by video and will speak to them about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. I see nothing wrong with that. The leader of the Free World taking time to tell kids that doing your homework is important sends a special message.

A few on the right are taking offence at the President’s address to the school children of America and are urging parents to keep their children at home that day. I think they are overreacting. I suspect that most Americans, even if they do not like Barack Obama respect the office of the President and think that the President addressing school children and telling them to do their homework is a good thing. I don’t think most liberals would have objected if the same message would have been sent by George W. Bush during his tenure.

While I am not opposed to the President addressing the nations children on this non-political topic and while I would not urge parents to keep their children out of school that day, I nevertheless think we are wise to be vigilant. It appears to me that this president is attempting to grab power wherever and whenever he can. The banks, the auto industry, and health care are the obvious examples. The more sinister aspect of his power grab includes everything from the appointment of various “czars” not subject to congressional confirmation, maneuvering to impose a new version of the fairness doctrine that will silence his critics, establishing a snitch line and encouraging people to report those spreading “fishy” rumors about the health care reform proposals, attempting to gain authority to declare an emergency and seize the Internet, ending the secrete ballot in workplace referendums on unionizing, and moving the census bureau to the control of the White House.

We have not seen such attempts to concentrate power in the White House since FDR, if ever. With these kinds of power grabs and big brotherism, no wonder there is caution when the President wants to address the children of America.

The aspect of this issue that causes me concern is that U. S. Department of Education put out lesson plans to accompany the Presidents speech and Presidential aides have acknowledged the White House helped the U.S. Education Department craft the lesson plans. Those lesson plans originally contained suggested activities such as having the students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." (link) This comes awfully close to indoctrination and manipulation. Since coming under criticism, the Department of Education has redrawn the lesson plans to be less objectionable.

While I don’t object to this address by the President we must watch him like a hawk. If he would have gotten by with this initial politicizing of the schools, the next effort at propagandizing would be more overt. I can imagine him telling the little darlings to go tell their parents how awful it is that some people don’t have health insurance and that they need to help President Obama help all of those poor people without it. The next month, he will tell them that he is trying to save the planet and they need to tell their parents to pressure their Congressman to support cap and trade.

We better be vigilant or we will see him turn the Department of Education into the Department of Reeducation and Propaganda.

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  1. Hello..Droppin by here..I added you in my technorati favorites..Please add me too if it's ok with you..God Bless!!Please buzz me when you're done..Thank you so much

  2. I think it would be interesting if the Pres would address questions from some of the children. Maybe one of the kids could ask, "hey, back when you were senator, why didn't you vote for a ban on the practice of 'live birth abortion'" then televise that live for kids across the country.

  3. I agree that the post-speech lesson plans were poorly written and generally a bad idea. But I can't believe the uproar the speech in general has caused.

    Do we really believe that the teachers in our schools would work to "indoctrinate" students into Obama's brownshirts? I know far too many teachers, many of them staunch conservatives, to believe they would do ANYTHING that wasn't in the best interests of students.

  4. Trying to look at the bigger picture, I wonder what people would have said if Pres. Bush presented a similar speech. Yes, I suspect some nuts on the far left would have reacted like some of the nuts on the far right are currently reacting. However, I think your point about respecting the presidency and by extension, in my view, the country and its constitution is very important.

    While we all have lived under presidents that were not our top choices, that is part of democracy and even those presidents we dislike most are still capable of delivering important messages.

    With that I am no more concerned about President Obama turning "the Department of Education into the Department of Reeducation and Propaganda" then I was about President Bush doing the same thing.

    As to "attempts to concentrate power in the White House" I've always been more concerned with President Bush's invocation of the Unitary Executive Theory in his signing statements than I am about President Obama carrying out aspects of the Unitary Executive Thoery.

  5. I think your stance is quite moderate. Yes, children should respect the President and the Office of the President and having the President speak to children in that capacity is fine--on the surface. However, like you, I am concerned that such events could be expanded and politicized, which would not be good. There is a reason our schools have historically been locally controlled--and I think, this is one of those reasons. I would no more want Obama using school time to explain his health care plan to children than I would want Bush using the same time to explain his Iraq policy to them.

  6. I agree we got to watch Obama like a hawk. I just feel he shouldn't be trusted. He did say he will change America, I just don't agree on the kind of change he was talking about.

  7. My wife and I went through a whole process to figure out how we wanted to handle this issue..

    The President urging our child to work hard in school was never the issue. It was always the White House urged Dept. of Education lesson plan that got us wrapped around the axle.

    In the end, we aren't keeping our son out of school. The speech is supposedly going to be available Monday evening so we will read it with our son and help him understand what the President is asking him to do. We will also reinforce that just because the President says something, you don't have to agree and in-fact have the right to disagree. I have also written his teacher to let her know that any in-class activities that are done to reinforce the President's message should be sent home so that we can discuss those with our child as well.

    I am hoping it will be a good civics lesson. Listen to the leaders in government, make your own decision on whether you agree or not, and act on your own conscience.

    Rich Mitchell
    The Plain, Hard Truth
    An information engine for Conservatives