What Will Your Children Learn Tomorrow?

President Obama is scheduled to address school children across the country tomorrow with a nationwide address. His words, released in advance, can be found here.

A few excerpts, though I would encourage you to read the text in its entirety, whether or not you have a child in school:

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. …Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

The over-the-top reaction in advance of this address has seemed to indicate that some believe that their beautiful spawn will be indoctrinated into socialist loving drones by listening to this President within the confines of a school building. They are demanding that their schools not show the address, and many are removing their children from school for the day.

The Chairman of one South Georgia County Republican Party sent me the following:

The Berrien School Board that has a majority of Republicans has decided to go forward with the President Obama speech despite demands from the Conservative Parents that elected them. On what issues can we count on the School Board to do the right thing? It is a very sad day in Berrien County that Conservatives who pulled the lever for this Board got shafted.”

I find the contrast in both text and tone between the actual speech and those who object to be profoundly striking. I can only conclude that we have allowed politics to so embed itself into everything we do that it may be the adults, and not the children, that could use some education – in civility, at a minimum.

If you choose to keep your children home from school tomorrow, I would ask that you make sure you understand the lesson you are really teaching them.

Are you teaching them that they should respect authority as long as it is authority you agree with?

Are you teaching them to enjoy the authority they earn in life, but to be a sore loser when they are edged out in a hard fought contest?

Are you teaching them that it is only important to listen to and learn from only those you already agree with?

If you didn’t have the same objections when President Bush spoke to school children, are you teaching them to find unique facts about similar situations to justify selective outrage?

One of the biggest red flags we continue to point out in the Peach Pundit community is when we see politicians proclaim they are acting “for the children”. Watching politicians insulate themselves from criticism for an often indefensible position under the cover of kids is unseemly. Watching parents use their own children for the same purposes is pathetic.

If you are removing your children from school tomorrow, please don’t pretend it’s about them. It’s all about you.

Your children will learn a lot tomorrow. Be wary of the actual lesson they retain.

69 comments

  1. EAVDad says:

    This blog has really started to bore me, which is why I haven’t been commenting much.

    But Icarus: This was beautifully said…especially the ending.

    “If you are removing your children from school tomorrow, please don’t pretend it’s about them. It’s all about you. Your children will learn a lot tomorrow. Be wary of the actual lesson they retain.”

    Amen.

  2. Doug Deal says:

    Icarus,

    One wonders what the address would be if it wasn’t for the outrage.

    The Obama administration has brought this type of reaction on themselves, because they have shown that they cannot be trusted to live up to the things they committed themselves to during the campaign. You know the “post racial” candidate, the “tax cut for 90%” candidate, and the “post partisan” candidate.

    He surrounds himself with crazies and zealots, blames all dissent on racism and is basically a train wreck, and hopefully he is destined to be a 1 term President.

    I do not blame parents who would think he would use the captive audience nature of the public school system to shove his messed up world view down children’s throats. He has demonstrated that he is not above such things and the fact that this speech is not steeped in his philosophy that the poll numbers are taking serious effect in the white house.

    • ByteMe says:

      And, not so oddly enough, I think that the only people messed up are the ones who think that only “their team” can possibly enlighten their little spawn. One really wonders about the depth of insanity that has people thinking that their President is all about indoctrination. Who are the real zealots in this battle for the brains of children: the President telling kids over and over (and yes, he’s done it before) to stay in school and do good work, or the parents telling their kids they can skip a day of school so they don’t have to hear this message?

    • eschristian says:

      That is what I think too – “One wonders what the address would be if it wasn’t for the outrage.”

      What I did was speak to my son who is in middle school about the upcoming speech. I did find out the details of how/when/if it would be viewed in his school. I reserved judgment on the speech itself until I could read it – which I just did. I was never going to keep him out of school because I knew here in Georgia that it was truly optional (per GA DOE via press release from State Sen. John Douglas who is my State Sen.) and I don’t feel my son needed to miss a whole day of school for a 15-20 minute speech. If the speech would have contained the President’s ideological views then I would have preferred him to not watch the speech as in the words of my son “I just don’t believe what he does about politics”.

      I have to say after reading the speech, I think it is very well put and glad to see that the President finally did put politics to the side for a moment and use his talent as giving speeches in a very positive way for the school children. I do however think that the speech/tone could have been different if there had not been the questions leading up to the speech.

      • eschristian says:

        One other thing – the reason for concern by many parents was the fear that our children would be subject to what you can see in this video:

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=51kAw4OTlA0

        Which in the video there are many great goals in there but pledging to be a “servant to” Obama (or any person or anything other than God) – I think not!!!

        I am glad I reserved judgment on the speech until I read it, I am glad there was concern voiced and that the President did not take the path towards making this political and actually was an American President to all children that day and will deliver a non-partisan message of positivity to our children.

      • Rick Day says:

        You said: I do however think that the speech/tone could have been different if there had not been the questions leading up to the speech.

        Doug, you ‘think’ this way because of a reason. You, sir, have been in politics too long if ‘objection!’ is your default setting on anything that does not have an (R) after it.

        In the real world, we call your reaction “knee-jerk”. Not very professional, IMHO

        • Doug Deal says:

          Rick, you have not put a noun against a verb in your life to do anything other than play the part of a partisan. I criticize both sides, and politicians are people I neither trust or worship, no matter what letter is next to their name.

          I said I understand why they do not trust the current buffoon in chief, and it is clear blind partisans such as you would be jumping down the buffoon in chief ca. 2001-2009, if he attempted the same thing.

          Politicians need to stay out of the schools, and if they want to send “a special message to children”, pay for an infomercial in the early afternoon on television and not use the fact that they have a captive audience in our government school system which offers free airtime.

    • ByteMe says:

      One wonders what the address would be if it wasn’t for the outrage.

      Ah, found the phrase I was looking for. Can’t take credit, which belongs with Josh Marshall:

      “Post wingnut ergo propter wingnut.”

    • rugby says:

      He hasn’t been in office for a year and we can say conclusively that “they cannot be trusted to live up to the things they committed themselves to during the campaign”?

      Really?

  3. slyram says:

    Icarus: I wrote on my little blog today about Thomas L. Friedman’s comments on the speech on Meet the Press yesterday. As a non-parent, I respectfully reserve commentary about this matter but I wonder if most parents really know the lyrics of the tunes in the kids Ipods, Touch or whatever they are using these days. But, a sitting American president is a bigger concern. As a matter of fact, those same parents should listen to the foul language some coaches and players use on the practice field and in locker room.

  4. South Fulton Guy says:

    Icarus,

    Since we only see the post outrage text, we’ll never know how important the outrage was in toning the original speech down.

    If schools can exclude the bible based on a false interpretation of establishment clause in the constitution claiming it calls for a separation of church and state*, at the very least parents should be able to opt out just as they can with sex education.

    The real concern is really the union teacher led discussions and the kool-aide they will pass out after the speech. Wise parents have already talked to their children about this and a host of liberal threats to inoculate them in advance.

    *The Establishment Clause was intended to prohibit the federal government from declaring and financially supporting a national religion, such as existed in many other countries like “Mother England” at the time of our nation’s founding.

    • ByteMe says:

      It’s called a “disprovable projection”. Basically, project your biggest fears at what “might” happen, assume it’s true, and then when you scream in outrage that it might happen and it doesn’t, you claim you had something to do with it.

      He gave a similar speech during the campaign. The fringe is growing more pathetic even as they grow more noisy.

      • Doug Deal says:

        The fringe is growing more pathetic even as they grow more noisy.

        Yes you are. Swap the names Obama and Bush and you would be screaming from the rooftops.

        Politicians should stay the heck out of our schools. They are one small step above NAMBLA in how much I trust them with my child.

        • ByteMe says:

          Actually, you’re wrong. But if it doesn’t match your ideological thoughts about me, you can go ahead and think you’re right.

          My view was that Bush was the “lesser of two lessers” in both of his election wins. I didn’t think he was anything more than someone overmatched for the position. His performance only confirmed my view (and pretty much became the view of about 75% of the country). I never worried about whether his evangelical views about Rand or Jesus would be pushed on my kids or that he was evil incarnate. That’s just stuff crazy people think.

          As for your level of trust in other people, that’s your problem to deal with. And your kids’, I guess.

          • Doug Deal says:

            Actually, you’re wrong. But if it doesn’t match your ideological thoughts about me, you can go ahead and think you’re right.

            Sure I am. Nice try.

          • ByteMe says:

            You should worry about Obama going off the released speech, as he does pretty regularly. He even did it in his speech today.

            Enjoy the rest of your evening, Doug.

        • No, the idea is to put more politicians IN schools. It is the way you go about it. Make every elected office holder substitute teach one day a month in their district’s most at-risk public schools, and I think most of the hackery about education policy will quiet down considerably.

        • Rick Day says:

          bit if selective memory there, doug.

          what those Democrats are saying is ‘woah woah now…he just got here, give him a chance to f-up BEFORE you start wailing’

          what Republicans were saying 6 years ago is ‘shut up hippy. Support your POTUS or you hate America and support the terrorists’

          you can not substitute Bush with Obama for at LEAST a year, really more like 2 years. Why the lack of patience? Do you really buy all that ‘socialist’ crap? Are you REALLY that non-partisan? Must I throw down the Ace of Race™ on you for lack of a better excuse for your position?

    • Sorry for the tangent, I just can’t stand the perpetration of this myth.

      Which Bible should we keep in schools, then, the Protestant or Catholic? What about the Torah or Koran? God may be a one-stop shop in most households, but as a Catholic who grew up in the Deep South, I can tell you from experience it ain’t that easy.

      My Mom always tells me about the need to put prayer back in school. I tell her that if she can sell the Hail, Mary to the majority Protestant population of the county she lives in, then I’ll concede the point.

      The SCOTUS decision that most people think “removed” the Bible from schools was Abington vs. Schempp in 1963. While that decision forbade the teaching OF religion, it protected the teaching ABOUT religion. Teachers, school administrators and the like are frightened that the mere mention of religion and the appearance of favoring one over any other will bring litigation, as it has done so often, not so much from atheists and agnostics, but from rival Christian sects.

      The “outrage” over a “stay in school” speech only encourages a wide seperation to continue.

      Well, that and the fact that our schools have enough trouble teaching English and Math. I’m not sure we could trust them, as is, to include any sort of teaching ABOUT religion into the curriculum.

  5. joe says:

    Are you teaching them that they should respect authority as long as it is authority you agree with?

    Or, are you teaching them civil disobedience in the manner of Gandhi, King, Mandela, Thoreau, and countless others?

  6. Game Fan says:

    My question is why there’s so much hand wringing over the parents who would like to pull their kids out of school? How is this harming YOU???????

    • ByteMe says:

      Whether you like it — or believe it — or not, encouraging and promoting stupidity hurts us all. If we only reacted to things that harmed us directly, then child endangerment laws wouldn’t exist.

          • Game Fan says:

            Collectivism, as in “stupidity hurts us all”

            (Only if you’ve imbibed the collectivist Kool-Aid)

            If you’re an individualist, then you’ll find you have a full plate taking care of yourself and fending off the overbearing politicians and bureaucrats.

          • Game Fan says:

            In the political context I usually refer to the “collectivist” as someone who can’t contemplate the idea of fixing society’s problems without the middlemen (politicians and bureaucrats) whearas the individualist is very likely to have strong ties to society and not necessarily some type of outcast or isolationist.

        • What, pray tell, would you call the opposition overdrive whenever “The One” is mentioned?

          I’ve seen an awful lot of wacky things from the left in my time, but if Pres. Obama got on TV and asked everyone to get dressed before leaving the house tomorrow, there’d be a lot of nekkid people in the carpool lanes around Atlanta.

  7. seenbetrdayz says:

    These kids had better stay in school. Low income drop-outs will never be able to pay off our nation’s debt.

  8. Progressive Dem says:

    This “pre-action” to the education speech is an indication of how visceral the opposition and how their logic is completely undisciplined. It magnifies the wing-nut light that is burning brighter and brighter among conservatives. Most Americans see the intolerance of conservatives to Obama’s speech as a complete and utter over-reaction to an apple pie speech. Pick your battles because you are undercutting your credibility with this stupidity. You don’t have to accept Obama’s political philosophy to appreciate the fact that despite a difficult childhood, he has become a successful adult through education and hard work. Just like many other people who started with little and who have achieved, he could have something valuable to teach. I didn’t agree with Reagan or either Bush on many things, but I accept them as decent human beings. They may have been seriously misguided, but they loved their country and tried to do the best they could. If you can’t see that in Obama, too; then you are probably not grounded in reality.

  9. GOPGeorgia says:

    I have read the speech and don’t have a problem with most of it. I also think that if many others had not voiced concerns, we would have a different speech.

    The original language was rumored to contain a phrase such as “how can you help the President?” The “I pledge” video, contains a lot of nice ideas until they start pledging to support President Obama. It’s a subtle indoctrination, or maybe not so subtle if you are paying attention.

    I think any President talking about education in general is a good thing. However, will the average child benefit by knowing how he got up at 4:30 AM to study? Would the message be just a strong and meaningful with out knowing he went to school in Indonesia ? Some may say these are good examples, but I think it would be fine without them. If those little horn blowing references weren’t there, I’d be even better with it.

    The 15 minutes on the speech is not what bothers a friend of mine (who has kids in school, I have none.), it’s the focus that will come after that. If the class work associated with the speech is optional, then it’s a great day. If it’s just a “how can I support the President rally” in disguise, that’s what people have issues with.

    http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/academic/bts.html

  10. Kellie says:

    The speech is really too long for young kids. It should be about 10 minutes not 25.
    As far as the content, it’s fine.

  11. John Konop says:

    What I find most bizarre is Kathy Cox not supporting a stay in school speech with the drop out rate spiraling out of control under her watch!

    AJC-Georgia loses track of thousands of students each year, suggesting the dropout rate may be higher and the graduation rate lower than the state has reported, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution analysis found.
    Last year, school staff marked more than 25,000 students as transferring to other Georgia public schools, but no school reported them as transferring in, the AJC’s analysis of enrollment data shows.
    State officials said their records confirm the mismatch. After the newspaper asked where the students went, the state searched further using student names — which are not public information — and other personal details.
    That search located 7,100 of the missing transfers in Georgia schools, state education spokesman Dana Tofig wrote in an e-mailed statement. The state does not know where an additional 19,500 went, but believes other coding errors occurred, he wrote. Some are dropouts but others are not, he said.
    State officials have touted their statewide student tracking system as among the more advanced in the country. The missing transfers, however, are only the most recent students caught in an informational black hole due to coding errors.

    Read more

    http://www.ajc.com/metro/content/metro/stories//2009/06/07/georgia_dropout_rate.html

    • Icarus says:

      Normally, John, you’re on the side of Kathy leaving the local districts alone and letting them decide what’s best.

      Now Kathy does just that and you jump down her throat?

      This thread isn’t about Kathy, and at the end of the day, it’s not about Obama, either.

      • John Konop says:

        Icarus

        Kathy Cox should allow local districts to have their own choice on this matter. But as State School Superintendent she should promote stay in school message especially with her dismal record via drop outs!

  12. Rick Day says:

    I was hoping this would happen. Now I see the Foamers™ lament change from, ‘what part of this speech do we not want our children to hear”, to “but perhaps maybe there MIGHT be ‘follow up socialist training”.

    You guys are sputtering. Literally you are EATING YOUR YOUNG.

    This is one of the most well written posts PP has spewed. I shall steal it and place it on my blog.

    Well Done!

  13. South Fulton Guy says:

    When Bush spoke to students, Democrats investigated, held hearings

    By: Byron York
    Chief Political Correspondent
    09/08/09 7:11 AM EDT

    The controversy over President Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush’s speech — they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.

    Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president’s school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president’s political benefit. “The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props,” the Post reported.

    With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students,” said Richard Gephardt, then the House Majority Leader. “And the president should be doing more about education than saying, ‘Lights, camera, action.'”

    Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush’s appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. “The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC,” Ford began. “As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event.”

    Unfortunately for Ford, the General Accounting Office concluded that the Bush administration had not acted improperly. “The speech itself and the use of the department’s funds to support it, including the cost of the production contract, appear to be legal,” the GAO wrote in a letter to Chairman Ford. “The speech also does not appear to have violated the restrictions on the use of appropriations for publicity and propaganda.”

    That didn’t stop Democratic allies from taking their own shots at Bush. The National Education Association denounced the speech, saying it “cannot endorse a president who spends $26,000 of taxpayers’ money on a staged media event at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C. — while cutting school lunch funds for our neediest youngsters.”

    Lost in all the denouncing and investigating was the fact that Bush’s speech itself, like Obama’s today, was entirely unremarkable. “Block out the kids who think it’s not cool to be smart,” the president told students. “If someone goofs off today, are they cool? Are they still cool years from now, when they’re stuck in a dead end job. Don’t let peer pressure stand between you and your dreams.

    http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/When-Bush-spoke-to-students-Democrats-investigated-held-hearings-57694347.html

    • ByteMe says:

      Sounds like the controversy back then was who was paying for it, White House or DofEd. Not quite the same thing as the Socialist-in-Chief being criticized before speaking to the kids because he might advance his marxist socialist naziist agenda of staying in school and being responsible for your actions.

    • Holly says:

      So, because Democrats did it, Republicans should do it, too? I don’t ever like that kind of argument. The hysteria was unwarranted in 1991, and it was unwarranted in 2009.

      • South Fulton Guy says:

        Holly,

        I just posted the article without any comment. Please don’t interpret my posting into a justification statement that I did not make. You should take that up with Byron York who wrote the article….thanks

        • Icarus says:

          And you’ve just demonstrated why we’re not big fans of cut & paste around here.

          Make your own arguments, don’t try to make anyone guess your point by posting someone else’s views. It confuses and detracts from the overall discussion.

          If Byron York wants to join in the discussion to make a point, he’s free to join in.

  14. benevolus says:

    I just feel kind of sad (and maybe a little frightened) for the parents who are so insecure that they feel that one 15 minute speech by the President could overcome all their parental influence and all their nurturing and teaching and support.

    I guess you could say that the kids are constantly under assault from a variety of different inputs, but aren’t they supposed to learn to “respectfully disagree” at some point? Aren’t they supposed to learn to question why they should believe one thing and not another? Isn’t “protecting” them from people with contrasting views (The President!) a very poor lesson in behavior? It’s the equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and going “nananananana”. It’s a teachable moment, but your kids can’t learn much if you’ve buried their heads in sand.

    • ByteMe says:

      Aren’t they supposed to learn to question why they should believe one thing and not another?

      Next thing you know, they’ll be questioning their parents about why they think things that aren’t true. And then who knows… this could lead to… dancing!

      I gotta cut loose….

  15. aquaman says:

    55 (now 56) posts on this nonsense. Do what we will do this evening. Talk it over with the one remaining child in high school. Did you hear it; what did you think; what was the class discussion; etc. Then explain that the president is way way left from our view of how the world should look and move on to the next topic; like what’s for dinner.

  16. Lone Star Georgian says:

    My mother would not have even talked it over with me. She taught me our beliefs about moral issues, but never likened them to politics. It was up to me to interpret how our morals played into politics. It turns out that we did it the same way, but she didn’t have to “shove it down my throat”. I just came to that conclusion on my own.

    It’s interesting to me that so many parents who are concerned about having ideology crammed into their kids brains don’t mind doing it themselves. Part of the reason many kids don’t do well in school is because they never learn to think for themselves. How many people do we all know who are Republicans or Democrats, but can’t articulate a reason why? To me, that’s much scarier than having the president talk to kids.

    Provide kids the tools and the moral foundations, but don’t tell them what they have to believe about taxes. Encourage them to form their own conclusions so they learn to defend them.

    • ByteMe says:

      The goat clearly frightened him, because it took him nearly 15 minutes to get out of his seat. His stillness kept the goat from noticing him.

  17. Doug Deal says:

    On tour selling our future down the river with yet another one of his big government “conservative” solutions.

    So you agree with me that Presidents should stay away from school children?

Comments are closed.