Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Obama Jungen?

On Tuesday September 8, President Obama will make a televised appearance in classrooms all over America to speak to the country's elementary school children. This event has drawn the ire or many conservatives. They believe that this president, who had claimed to be post-partisan, will offer an indoctrination to our kids that will amount to an unopposed attack on his political opponents.

The administration refutes this claim and says the president will speak about American principles of hard work and education:

During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation's children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

So what should a responsible school administrator do? Do they believe that President Obama is providing a non-political talk about the importance of education or do they think that he will brainwash his captive audience toward his political agenda? Not surprisingly, most public school administrators take the administration's word at face value and will air his address with no questions asked. A few conservative administrators won't chance controversy and refuse to let the president into their classrooms.

Fortunately, parents who sacrifice to send their children to private school may end up with the best alternative. The Archdiocese of Minneapolis/St. Paul recently sent the following advice to it's school administrators (please forgive the lack of a link):

. . . some of our Catholic schools across the country are choosing to tape the President’s address, preview it, and then make the decision whether or not to share it with students in age-appropriate gatherings. We would recommend this as a prudent method in alignment with how you already bring speakers and groups into your buildings.

This makes all the sense in the world. There is no reason this address needs to be shown live. If it is an inspirational non-partisan message, then the kids should see it. However, if it is controversial political propaganda then they should pass.

I for one welcome my president to reinforce universal themes of hard work, education and avoidance of drugs.

The Elder Concurs: I applaud the prudent approach the Archdiocese is taking on the matter. While the original DOE lesson plan that was to accompany the speech was out of line, there's nothing inherently wrong with the President speaking to America's schoolchildren. Conservatives need to be careful not to overreact to everything Obama that comes down the pike. There's enough real issues to be concerned about without having to gin up outrage over relatively unimportant matters like this one. Best to keep our powder dry. (Note: the last idiom was employed for rhetorical purposes only and should in no way be taken in its literal sense.)

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