I can’t help but be bemused from the safe distance of Sydney Australia at our American friends sometimes. Take the heat that has apparently been generated by the President’s coming address to school students. To be fair, the same bewilderment is shared by many Americans — for example Does President Obama Want to Brainwash Our Kids? on God’s Politics, an evangelical site.
I suppose I’m asking for trouble by going here, but could someone explain to me the current controversy surrounding President Obama’s speech to American public school students on Tuesday? I’m serious. At first I thought the whole thing was just a minor stink, but as I’ve been reading posts on the Web and around the blogosphere, I’m realizing that this is major stuff. And as I look at some of the conversations happening among my friends and acquaintances on Facebook, I’m a little taken aback to find that some folks are actually afraid that their children will somehow be brainwashed or corrupted by whatever “hidden socialist messages” Obama will be delivering during his pep talk on the importance of education.
I know that there was initially concern about the wording of some classroom activities that the Obama administration was encouraging educators to use with their students during and after the speech, but my understanding is that the administration corrected the problem areas and that it will even post the speech at the White House Web site on Monday so parents and teachers can read it beforehand. Nevertheless, some parents and school districts are still making noise. The Valley View School District here in Illinois, where my two children are students, announced on Thursday that it would not allow its kids to watch the speech, and other districts are leaving it to individual teachers to make the call. Personally, I would’ve loved for this to be a part of my kids’ classroom activities next Tuesday, and I would’ve looked forward to chatting with them that evening about what they heard…
That seems eminently sensible and even-handed to me. As one commenter says: “If parents or school officials are upset about the very fact that the President will address school kids then I think they have their Obama-sensitivity meters set a little to high. Recent presidents have all taken time to address school kids. It’s a piece of harmless, fluffy American tradition.” But then you have people who will tell you Obama is a fascist, a socialist, even the Antichrist. None of those particular bits of hyperbole seem terribly likely to me, whether one likes or loathes the man – a matter of opinion of course. And it is fair to say the left – or some of them – would also have been muttering or screaming if GWB had elected to do the same.
Seems to me that parents scared of their children being brainwashed by a pep talk have little faith in themselves or their children.
Kevin Rudd Twitters the kids, and others, on a daily basis. You’ll be pleased to know he enjoyed the footie on Friday night…
See also Silly Stuff posted by Len in Texas.
Len in Texas has followed up with Back to school remarks:
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event
September 8, 2009
The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning…