Obama’s Address to our Schoolchildren

Well, today is the day that President Obama will speak directly to our children in schools.  I have put an article from the Bozeman Daily Chronicle that ran on Sunday below and here.  I think it gives a good back and forth of both viewpoints.  Also, here is a link to our friend over at 2 Helena Handbaskets and her take on the issue.

I am torn on the issue, I know that the speech is not political, but I still had two issues with the speech.  The first was fixed after the administration pulled out of the curriculum the “what I can do to help the President.”  That was inappropriate, it should be “what I can do to help the country,” and I’m glad it was yanked.

I think it’s a good thing the President wants to address our children about their education goals and show the importance of this, but I think it should be done while the children are at home.  It is something they should watch and discuss with their parents.  People always talk about the importance of parents getting involved, well this would have been a perfect opportunity.

Obama school address stirs controversy in Bozeman

By DANIEL PERSON Chronicle Staff Writer

Some Bozeman parents critical of President Barack Obama say they intend to pull their children out of class Tuesday when the Bozeman School District airs a presidential message urging American children to work hard and stay in school.

The White House says the video, which will be broadcast nationwide at 10 a.m. Mountain Time Tuesday, will be a strictly nonpolitical message from the nation’s leader, who has a considerable stake in the public school system via the U.S. Department of Education and billions of dollars of federal school funding.

While some school districts in the country have decided not to air the 15-20 minute segment, the Bozeman School District is encouraging teachers to participate in what Superintendent Kirk Miller called a “historic event” in a memo posted on the district’s Web site.

Miller said the speech, as described by the Department of Education, follows the school district’s guidelines for guest speakers.

“We reviewed (the address) based on the merits – valuing education, giving it your best,” Miller told the Chronicle. “Those types of principles are certainly valuable for all students and they’re being delivered by the president of our country.

“I see that as a positive, not a negative,” the superintendent said.

However, to his surprise, some people in the community have objected to showing the address, he said. Between 20 and 35 people have called his office since word of the address spread on Thursday, saying they are concerned that the address is politicizing school.

In response, the school district has drawn up an “opt-out” notification form to allow parents to take their students out of class during the address.

One parent planning on intervening on at some level is Sherry Coffin, whose son is a sophomore at Bozeman High School.

She said she is not sure whether she will keep him out of school for the address, the whole day or accompany him “and take good notes.”

Coffin’s objections to Obama are many, she said. In her view, the president has “rushed to dismantle the country, and its Constitution, the very country he was elected to lead and the very document he swore to uphold.” She called Tuesday’s broadcast “pure propaganda.”

The exact wording of the address has not been released, but its aim is to challenge students to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for their learning.

Obama is also expected to call on students, parents and educators to share responsibility for every child’s education “so they can complete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding lives and productive lives as American citizens,” according to the Bozeman School District.

Coffin said it is not Obama’s place to “lecture” her children “on their educational goals.”

“That’s my job, not the government’s job,” she said.

She also said Obama’s smoking habit and admitted drug use makes him a bad role model for kids.

But not everyone feels that way.

“He’s the leader of our government and our school system is part of our system of government,” said Donna Swarthout, who has two children in Longfellow School and one child in Sacajawea Middle School. “I think it’s important as the head of our government to address the schools in our country.”

Swarthout said that it is important teachers have the right to not show the address if they decide it is inappropriate, based on the advanced copy of the speech expected to be available on Monday. However, she said she is hopeful it will be positive.

“I hope he will say something inspirational that will light them on fire for the school year that has just begun,” she said.

George H.W. Bush made a similar address to school in 1991. That speech, made during an election year, caused similar outcry.

While the Bozeman administrators are recommending teachers participate in the address, they are staying neutral on the accompanying curriculum the Department of Education has drawn up, Miller said.

The curriculum, including classroom activities to do after the address, has caused controversy on its own. People objected to one activity that asked students what they could do to help the president. The administration has since pulled that question.

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1 Comment

  1. SUGGESTION TO THE RIGHT WING:

    Just sit back and relax, folks. Barack Obama is only performing a routine presidential duty that has been performed by presidents for generations. There’s nothing to be afraid of. He’s not trying to turn your babies into mini Marxists. This isn’t the Trotsky For Toddlers program. The president of the United States merely wants to have a heart to heart talk with the children of America about the importance of a good education, that’s all. I promise you, we Progressives do not believe in evil, subliminal messages. Chill out!

    STNERAP RUOY LLIK – NERDLIHC

    Just kidding.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan
    Goshen, NY


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