Thursday, September 3, 2009

President Obama message to schoolchildren: Inspiration or Indoctrination?

On Tuesday September 8, 2009, President Obama will be addressing schoolchildren nationwide. School districts around the country are seeing an array of feelings the topic. The White House is saying the address by President Obama is to show "the importance of education, the importance of staying in school, how we want to improve our education system and why it's so important for the country." The move of the President of the United States to address schoolchildren nationwide on their first day, or any day, is something new for America. I personally never recall hearing a speech from Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, or Ronald Reagan while in elementary school. While the White House contends the speech will be void of policy rhetoric it is the "suggested" lessons that follow that have raised the ire of most.

A lesson that has been asked for all kindergarten thru six grade to perform after the speech is for the students to write and then discuss answers to "Is President Obama inspiring you to do anything? Is he challenging you to do anything?" (The Dallas Morning News). The type of lesson plan suggested by the White House does carry the odor of another fascist regime that understood the children are the future and to control their thoughts early enough will ensure power in the future. Texas school districts are being given the option to show or not to show the speech.

Without seeing what the message is before hand, I understand the apprehension of those across the land. That being said, I may not go as far as Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer has gone in asserting "The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the president justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power." The sad part about Mr. Greer's comments is that indoctrination of the social agenda of any party in power already takes place; No Kid Left Behind is a clear winner in that book.

The man who seeks to change America, the former community organizer and now President of the United States understands that to secure real power it begins with the youth of America. While I have no problem for any President, sitting or not, to send a message to all schoolchildren on the importance of a good education, showing respect for their teachers and others, and that one's surroundings is not a reason; then go for it. But if the message being sent has an underlying tone of partisan politics then it does not belong in the schools.

I don't encourage parents to keep their children out of school next Tuesday; rather show up with your child – please inform the school you will be so there is room – to listen to the message being delivered by the President and observe the lesson plan for the day. Judge for yourself if the message being sent is filled with partisan policy rhetoric or if the message is about the importance of education and staying in school. Show up, get involved and be a part of your children's educational pursuits. Don't allow the media to dictate your thoughts or frame your understanding of the issue. Be active and ensure the best possible outcome.