As we approach Labor Day weekend, the traditional close of summer in America, there is a movement, not just in Georgia, but across America, to add one more day of vacation. At least where school children are concerned.
If you are not aware by now, then you should know that President Barack Obama is planning a speech aimed at our nation’s school children and set to air during the school day.
Now there is nothing new about this. As White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom pointed out in an interview for the Associated Press, President George H. W. Bush did a similar address in 1991 that was aimed at students and broadcast by CNN. The theme of the Bush speech was to encourage students to study harder. She also notes that Democrats complained then, accusing the President of making a campaign commercial.
However, what may be the most striking difference, besides the fact that Bush did it three years into his presidency while Obama is doing it nine months in, is that the Obama speech comes complete with action lesson plan on how the student can help the President.
In the face of the criticisim, the White House has quickly changed their initial plans.
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.”
“That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it,” Higginbottom said.
In Georgia, emails have gone around, mainly from grassroots activists, encouraging their fellow parents to keep their children out of school on Tuesday as a protest.
The Atlanta Journal Constitution talked to DeKalb GOP Chairman Frank Auman about the upcoming speech for their article.
The timing of the speech also raises concerns, according to Frank Auman, Chairman of the DeKalb County Republican Party. Though students in Georgia have been in school for weeks now, Tuesday is the first day of school for many students across the country. And a debate on health care reform has communities divided.
“The concern, as far as I can tell, is that rather than being about civics and the presidency, it’s about issues and President Obama,” Auman said.
In Georgia, it is up to the individual school systems to make the decision on whether or not to show the speech. The ones that do will allow students to opt out.
In Cobb, Fulton and Cherokee counties, parents have the option of signing a form to exempt their child from watching the speech, if a particular school is planning to view it. Students will not be penalized for choosing not to listen to Obama’s message, school system officials say.
In Forsyth County, the speech will not be shown at all, but teachers can download it to incorporate it into their lesson plans later.