Friday, September 4, 2009
When the announcement was released that President Obama would make a one-hour speech to all children in public schools, a fire storm was started that makes the hills around L.A. pale by comparison. All of the social networking sites were instantly filled with rants as heated souls and keyboards spewed forth disbelief and anger. Some don’t understand the anger. Some want to just say that the parents are all “racists” and “right-wing nuts” bogged in a “silly season.”
But, this comes on the heels of being called “anti-American” and “right-wing terrorists” by ranking Democratic leaders and a post on Obama’s website. It comes on the heels of parents everywhere seeing that their Social Security has been stolen and that promised Medicare is almost beyond bankrupt. It comes on the heels of the unconstitutional interference in American businesses and a skyrocketing national debt that even these children scheduled to watch the President will be required to pay. It comes on the heels of a summer of purposeful misdirection and subterfuge by a party that was trying to defend and explain a plan that they didn’t even have!
Is there any wonder that the American mainstream would have doubts about all things Obama?
What was wrong with the plan to encourage children to work hard and stay in school?
First, we are told it was a problem of semantics. In the middle of another brouhaha about a commercial where celebrities, aka “heroes” to children, (see http://tinyurl.com/kwyycp) are seen vowing to stop a 200 year reign of slavery, giving up plastics and pledging allegiance to Obama, the lesson plan from the US Department of Education asked for our children to write letters about “helping” Obama. Not America. Not Americans. Obama. We had already been exposed to some young military-type group marching and chanting Obama praise, and had seen how our president used the child of a contributor to try to garner favor during a town hall meeting on health care. I personally don’t think this was a case of something being poorly stated, as Obama’s logo is still plastered all over the public domain. I’m surprised it hasn’t replaced the presidential seal on the podium at press conferences. We are constantly exposed to the man, not the office. And the US DOE was doing the same: putting the man above or in place of the office.
Also, the first indications from news reports were that the target would be pre-K through middle school. This seemed to reek of indoctrination attempts, as the older children who could already think for themselves were not included. I didn’t see a lesson plan for junior high and high school students on the first day that the news broke. I didn’t hear these ages included until the fire started.
Another consideration on the part of parents was the idea that this would not be an optional activity. One spokesperson on a news program said that children just don’t have, need or want “a relationship” with a president. That’s not necessarily true. As a child just learning to write, my father allowed me to add postscripts to the letters that he regularly wrote to his representative in government or to the editorial pages in local newspapers. I liked doing it. I liked pleasing my father, emulating my father, and receiving autographed photographs in the mail! But, I wasn’t forced to do this in school. We did have photographs and paintings of various presidents displayed at school, but every morning we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag that also hung on the wall in every room, and “to the Republic” for which it stood.
Even the timing was not well thought out. I taught for 30 years and I can attest to the fact that on the first day of school, there is not a single minute to spare, and we often wish we had a longer day. Teachers are charged with explaining school rules and classroom rules, distributing important documents to be signed and filed, checking schedules and records to make sure each student is actually where he or she needs to be, while being constantly interrupted by announcements about fees, workbooks, textbooks, and lunch rules. To stop for an hour on that day would either mean one class would be a full day behind, or all classes would be shortened, which makes them all the more hectic.
And, last but not least, showcasing Obama as a good example of doing well in school is also a questionable plan, as we have no idea what type of student he was, other than that he graduated. He has refused to offer any proof of any of his early years. He’s been asked. Requests have been rampant not only for a birth certificate, but also for the passport he used when young, school records, his scholarship information, etc. The more he hides, the more questions we naturally ask. Did he get into college on scholarship money reserved for foreign students? How involved was he in radical socialist, Marxist or communist groups? We already know some of the links, but only because someone else investigated it, not because of his “transparency” with us.
So, doubt and distrust had grown to a sparking point, and this little innocuous announcement lit the fire.
The heat reached the White House and the US Department of Ed and parents everywhere discovered anew the power of their freedom of speech when the DOE edited the lesson plans and the White House announced that the speech would be online a day before it would air in classrooms so that parents could appraise it, discuss it with their children and make informed decisions about Tuesday.
While sorting through blogs and tweets and Facebook posts and watching hours of news from MSNBC to Fox, I’ve only run across one comment that gave me great pause. Someone said, “They won’t let kids read Huck Finn, either.” Ouch. I don’t believe in censorship. I don’t believe in propaganda. Do I now have to determine which of these is the greater evil? We need to prepare our children to face both.