Yikes! A Speech!!

Next Tuesday is Pres. Obama’s speech to children, urging them to stay in school and read books and, for all I know, brush their teeth. It’s about that controversial…or so you’d think.

But of course, nothing is uncontroversial in these hyper-umbrage-taking days, so we’re hearing from some parents and school administrators and concerned citizens that this is wasting “valuable” school time and amounts to “brainwashing.” They’re treating the speech like it’s a heroin demo for first time users.

Can we please calm down? This is our President, the guy we elected to lead and inspire our nation, and here is his stated agenda for the speech (outlined on the U.S. Dept. of Education website): He hopes to encourage students to “work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.” The only thing kids are really in danger of is hitting their heads on the desks when they fall asleep.

One radio talk show host (the avatar of all things rational, of course) was quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

Uh, sir? Obama is talking to kids in their classrooms, not in a bathroom stall at Great Adventure. And if we stop talking to our neighbors AND listening to our President, this is just one weird, sad, crazy country that needs to be less totally paranoid about everything and everyone.

 But I guess we sort of knew that. — Lenore

103 Responses

  1. The amount of craziness this is generating is sheerly depressing. Presidents have addressed students before, and this is a nice, appropriate topic. I understand it was Democrats going nuts inappropriately when Bush Sr. did it, but still, this is ridiculous. It’s just a speech about working hard in school. I kind of thought we all wanted our kids brainwashed to achieve.

  2. Trying to “protect” kids from hearing a message from their president?? People ought to be embarrassed to suggest a thing like that. That’s truly inane.

  3. Guess is was OK for Bush and Reagan to chat to the kids.

  4. Well said Lenore!

    I was struck by the exact same quote, and did think basically the same as you. It’s a whole class supervised by their regular teacher, watching a streamed speech – not President Obama taking individual kids aside in person for grilling or indoctrination. At the moment, I believe that’s a British plan, and one that I would not be surprised to hear was supported by the same people who are fear mongering about this speech.

    I wrote a related post. Would be pleased if you’d visit http://www.schoolsout.blogalogues.com/back-to-school/obama-speech-controversy


  5. I’m less concerned about what the President might say than I am about the curriculum so helpfully provided by the White House. “Do good in school, kids!” is a great message. “Come up with 12 ideas for helping the president” is a waste of school time, and I’d rather my kid learned about birds and bugs and climbed a few trees instead. Kids, I believe, should remain as politically inactive as possible.

  6. What’s the difference between coming up with ideas for the president and “asking what you can do for your country,” other than phrasology?

  7. That loud banging sound you heard was my head striking my desk. This is insane. I may not have loved the idea of President Bush making his school address in ’01 asking kids to back the invasion of Afghanistan, but not once would I consider arguing that he has no right to address children in schools. Why? Because he was the President of the United States and what do we send children to school for if not to expose them to differing ideas so they can learn to think for themselves and develop their own well-thought opinions?

    Oh, wait, no – we send kids to school to teach them how to memorize and regurgitate facts and take tests without bothering to teach them about complicated things like context, pros and cons because silly things like that will just muddle their heads and make them “difficult.”

    A lot has been said about this overreaction being due to racism, and while I’m sure that’s part of the reason for some people, what’s more troubling to me is the underlying strain of anti-intellectualism present in these reactions, which seem to boil down to “I don’t want my kids exposed to something that might make them think differently than I want them to!” It’s not much of a leap from there to “I don’t want my kids exposed to ANYTHING that will make them think differently than I want” and that is disheartening, maddening, and dangerous. That’s the kind of mentality that ultimately hurts our ability to provide a good enough education for children so that they will be able to survive as adults in an increasingly global and competitive workplace and world, and ultimately, isn’t that what any parent wants for their children?

    It horrified me during the election that opposition to President Obama seemed just as based on his intelligence and educational background as it was on his race and political affiliation. Since when did a good education, an open & inquisitive mind and sharp intelligence become undesirable traits in “the average American?” The President wants to encourage children to stay in school, work hard, take responsibility for their actions and value their education? Ye gods, that’s not American, he must be trying to turn them into Commie automatons!

    Even if President Obama uses the opportunity to push his political agenda (which I would be just as uncomfortable with as I was with former President Bush), so what? Why not look at it as an opportunity to discuss the difference between his views/ideas and yours with your kids? Why not encourage them to ask questions and possibly learn more about why you disagree with him beyond “He’s a Democrat and I’m not” type arguments? Are the parents howling about this upcoming speech really that afraid that their oppositional positions are so flimsy that their kids will begin to disagree with them after a single speech?

  8. What I don’t understand is… here we have an example of a man, who literally got to the top of the job ladder, while started with nothing.

    He was poor, he didn’t have a father, his mother died early, and he somehow went to Harvard Law, got through school, became a Constitutional Law Professor, a senator, and the US President.

    … This is a story of INSPIRATION that all parents should proudly point to and tell their kids, “See, in America, anything is possible. Sky is the limit! So, stay in school, do your best, that could be you one day.”

    Why are they freaked out? Is it because they can’t have an uppity nig*r addressing their kids?

  9. And I may be wrong, but I believe they’ve scrapped the “come up with ways you can help President Obama” part of the speech. I can see where the sentiment was coming from if it was meant to be a JFK “ask not what your country can do for you” moment, but it was silly and poorly phrased, and as someone in the comments pointed out, ultimately a waste of time and pointless exercise. The kids will benefit more from the opportunity to discuss the importance of education in building a successful future for themselves as adults.

  10. Drew – i think teaching community and political involvement and personal responsibility for one’s neighborhood and country is a critically valuable tool in any kind of democratic society.

  11. Yes, but I think that the curriculum was way too focused on the person of the President rather than being focused more generally on ideas. I understand that the White House has toned it down a bit, but the fact that it was in there at all indicates a bit of tone-deafness on the part of this administration — and not for the first time, sadly.

    It was that series of questions: What does the President want me to do? How can I help the President? Why should I listen to the President? All that line of questioning is way too centered on the President himself rather than the ideals of community service.

    A nice idea poorly executed, I guess. And that’s the most charitable thing I can say about it. : )

  12. I think it has a lot to do with parents trying to control every aspect of their children’s lives. We talk to our kids about politics. We tell them our views and that its okay to disagree with us. They are 7 and 10. They know who their elected officials are. They go with us to vote. They know it is important. They also know we won’t freak if they express an opinion different from ours. Last election, for the first time in our kids’ memories, we had mom and dad voting differently. Dinner table discussion was lively! The kids split on it, too, and it was all civil. Anyway, I know there are parents who don’t want schools or teachers making ANY decisions without parental oversight. I think it has a lot to do with that. I prefer to have less to do with school than more. I have other worries. School is handling itself pretty well.

    BTW, in 5th grade our teachers dragged in TVs and made us watch Nixon resign. (In KY we start school in August.) It was a snore to us, but I can say I can remember it happening. And there was no prior letter of explanation to our parents. It was history in the making, and it’s an elementary school teacher’s prerogative to teach social studies and current events.

    As the for lesson plan, it looked hastily pulled together, but as someone who has created things like that in support of instructional programming, I can tell you its done all the time to facilitate conversation and critical thinking so that viewing is active rather than passive. Sometimes teachers need the extra resources, sometimes they don’t. It’s up to them.

  13. “I think it has a lot to do with that. I prefer to have less to do with school than more. I have other worries. School is handling itself pretty well.” That sounds cavalier. I didn’t mean it to be. I just mean that I like our teachers and they are trustworthy. I can deal with them being in charge of school hours. 😉

  14. @ Delphine

    It’s enough to make you wonder if his story is exactly why the pundits & conservative politicians are all up in arms over this. It’s one thing to SAY that with enough hard work, anything is possible for anyone in America, but apparently it’s entirely different when actually confronted by an example of that ideal who happens to be from opposition. He’s inspiring, all right – just to the wrong “kind” of people!

  15. Well said, Lenore. And, so what if he does ask what they can do to help the president, their country, their neighbors. Is character building now part of the pre-commie curriculum?! Simmer down, people.

  16. Do I think children should watch the speech? Yes, and so should parents and then there should be dialog between the parents and children about what was heard. Do I like President Obama and his policies? No. Do I believe that he will use this opportunity to promote other ideals than just learning and education? Yes, but listening to someone else’s ideas gives you the opportunity to discuss them and discuss your own ideas countering those false ideas.

    Most of all though, I believe that I am responsible for raising, educating, and yes, indoctrinating my children as are other parents. (If I don’t someone else will) If a parent feels that something may be said that will lead their children astray or may cause strife with with what they are trying to teach their children they have every right to prevent their child from participating in it.

  17. Sorry. I completely disagree. Not only do I feel this is poorly timed in a controversial time period of his presidency, but to have essays about ‘what can they do to help the president?” and ‘What do I think the President wants from me” and What words has the president said that means the most to me’ and are asked to “build background knowledge about the president of the United States by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama.” or ” to recall “other historic moments” when the president spoke to the nation.”
    One persons quote that sounded alarms to me was, “This essentially tries to force kids to say this president and this presidency is inspiring, and that’s very problematic.” My home does not support socialism. We feel that it is our duty to be as self sufficient as possible. We also feel that he has surrounded himself with a few racist nuts and wonder aloud if that’s who he tends to agree with deep inside. What happens if a child were to disagree with him to a Pro Obama teacher? Could this turn into a school problem? What about the situation in reverse? People seem to be VERY pro and con at this time. I have to say again, I feel the timing is very poor and this could wait until the dust settles a bit.

  18. @ Patsy –

    I don’t think you were being cavalier – it’s actually refreshing to hear a parent express that kind of casual confidence in her kid’s school. 😉

    I remember in grade school & junior high, we spent class time watching the presidential debates so that we could have class discussions about the issues raised. There was definitely A LOT of arguing going on (and it’s amusing to look back on how deep we got into it as 4th graders), but I think our teachers did us an enormous service by encouraging that sort of discussion without attempting to squelch differing opinions.

  19. I’ve signed the permission form for my 14 year old to watch the President’s speech. Amazing what schools will do to CYA!

  20. This may lead to a greater discussion, in fact. That there’s a difference between being a helicopter parent (which we discourage) and being a parent exercising discernment (which I hope we all can encourage). It’s a fine line, but I recognize it exists.

  21. This is just American politics being ugly. If it’s “our” President it’s patriotic. If it’s “their” President it’s subversive.

    And hey–our kids have been back in school for weeks… what about the ever shrinking summer vacation?

  22. Obama is talking to kids on TV. George Bush famously took a long time to excuse himself from a classroom when we were under attack in 2001.

    We followed current events and learned civics when I was young. Judging from the town hall meetings on health care, I think the parents could learn something.

  23. “My home does not support socialism. We feel that it is our duty to be as self sufficient as possible.”

    You do realize that our school system, the one your kids are going to, is ‘socialized’? Unless I’m mistaken and you’re sending them to a private school.

  24. @ Timmy Mac – There is a huge difference between asking what you can do for your country and asking what you can do for the President.

    We are a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. Our “leaders” were not set in place to be rulers but servants. Yes, the talk-shows like to err on the side of extravagance, but if you listen to more than the sound bites, the real issue comes about when the White House is encouraging teachers to plan lessons about how children can help serve the president. In the other controversial “I Pledge” video that is going around – the one with all the celebrities – one of them pledges to serve Barack Obama. That to me is the scariest bit. It shows that we have lost site of what makes this country great… that our leaders serve US, not the other way around. It’s what keeps us from being ruled, protects our freedoms. Serve your country, yes. Do for your country, yes. Serve your neighbor, absolutely. But DO NOT worship and serve politicians. Demand from them truth, ethics, restraint and responsibility, and then look behind the soundbites to determine if that’s really what you’re getting (in most cases, on both sides of the aisle, you’re not).

    I don’t have school aged children yet, but I wouldn’t keep them home from school for the speech. In the spirit of free-range children, I would discuss BOTH sides of the issues with them, and why there is a controversy, and ask them to form their own opinions. Based on my own experiences in school, however, I don’t expect teachers to be able to present any material at this time in an unbiased manner, and I worry about those kids (on either side) whose opinions differ from their teacher’s.

  25. “the guy we elected to lead and inspire our nation”

    Actually, we elect a president to perform a few, specific political tasks laid out in the Constitution. We didn’t elect a Daddy-in-Chief.

    I’m all for discussing politics and current events in class. If it’s the day after President Obama’s next State of the Union address, I think it’s great for teachers to do a lesson on it during social studies.

    But giving the State of the Union is part of the president’s job; telling America’s schoolkids to do their homework is not. Isn’t that supposed to be our job?

  26. We are FAR from perfect, but I gotta be honest here – crap like this makes me glad I live north of the border.

    As a fairly well informed and politically tuned in citizen, I don’t even know the name of our Prime Minister’s WIFE, let alone care how fantastic her arms look in a dress.

    And if our leader wants to speak to my children, I’d probably even let HIM do it in a bathroom stall at Grand Adventure.

  27. Rich, my hat is off to you!

    I was reading about a Canadian man on an American radio show who was adding to all this hype, and the first thing that came to my mind was, “So what, you never took advantage of our free health care?”

    Socialized education doesn’t seem to be an issue for anybody, so why is socialized health care? And why turn an elected leader into a devil because he supports something that you don’t agree with?

    Ruby, still shaking her head at all this goin’ on….

  28. I agree that the problem is with the curriculum as it was originally put forth, not with the idea of the president speaking to children.

    Political discussions, especially in the upper grades, could certainly be a good thing, but it is too easy for one or two students to get railroaded by others, especially if the teacher doesn’t keep his or her personally opinions out of it. I think off-the-cuff discussions on topics like this should be avoided in the classroom. If the students study an issue and then debate it, great. People need a chance to research both sides of an issue before they start debating it, or at least understand what their own position is and why. That’s a lot to ask from a fifth grader, and there are plenty of high school students who could benefit from more research before trashing other people’s opinions.

    And I might point out that it’s people who don’t bother to understand both sides of an issue who start throwing out unsubstantiated claims of racism.

  29. >>>> My home does not support socialism. We feel that it is our duty to be as self sufficient as possible.

    Then you ought not to be concerned. You’re homeschooling, right? And you’ve certainly called your local police and fire districts to let them know you won’t be requiring their services either, yes? Oh, and you’re paying for the care and services for your elderly relatives too? Cool.

  30. kelsomom – “poorly timed in a controversial time period of his presidency”? It’s scheduled to occur at the beginning of the school year when pretty much every school in the country is officially in session again, for the first time during his presidency. I think that’s a perfect time to address students about setting goals for themselves. Should we only address students when there’s no other difficult legislation or governing happening?

    Drew – seeing as how it’s a spech being given by an individual, I don’t see a problem with questions like “what does he want us to do?” as that’s a basic comprehension question. I can see where How can I help/Why should I listen could be abused and used to put him on a pedestal rather than emphasize he is a representative of the people at large. Much of that would come down to how the teacher handles the discussion. I would be personally inclined to take such questions as a springboard for how listening to this advice could improve our communities and personal lives, and the theme of “How can I help” has been pervasive throughout his campagin and presidency – the persistent request for feedback from the populace includes asking for differing opinions and new ideas. I’d jump right on to encouraging kids to suggest their [potentially controversial or differing] thoughts, opinions, and ideas to their reps (including the president) so that they’re used to it by the time they can vote. It’d be a great way to start a classroom discussion of differing opinions and offer an opportunity to teach holding civilized, rational discussion and finding mutually beneficial resolutions.

  31. “This essentially tries to force kids to say this president and this presidency is inspiring, and that’s very problematic.”

    I do agree that kids not being comfortable with their own opinion is a problem. I’m a little more concerned with kids feeling comfortable expressing more controlversial opinions, such as their sexual orientation (assuming older kids here) or their religion (or lack thereof). These are things where the kid not in lock step can face some extreme opposition.

  32. Oh, socialized education is an issue for me. 😉 One reason I homeschool. If I could opt out of social security, I would in a second (crazy Ponzi scheme that it is.)

    Anyway, this still bemuses me. I understand not liking the president’s cult of personality, and wishing he’d go work on something else and stop showing up on TV every other day (or hearing about his wife’s arms and such :D). I also understand that there are a good number of people who believe that the federal government has no business in education (and I agree).

    On the other hand, it strikes me as a really bizarre place to draw a line. I mean, they know less about their kids’ teachers and what they say every day… and no one is going to release a transcript of the teachers’ daily remarks for you to go over and discuss with your kids.

    I think it’s just more of a fear that this is going to become a regular occurrence (like Obama’s primetime spots) and they want to push back before it gets to that point.

    Hmmm. Here’s a metaphor. Imagine that it was, instead, the pope wanting to address kids. Some people would freak out about church & state and such. But other people would say — he’s an important leader, and he’s just telling them to say no to drugs and go to school.

    Anyway, rant at me if you want. I’m just an actual non-partisan (I don’t like either party) sitting on the sidelines with a lot of contacts in “both camps”. 😉

  33. I’d like to define my view of socialism. Socialism is when we sit back and let the government tell us what is right for us without boundries. Socialism is when not only can anyone receive a free ride, but also when you expect a free ride. Socialism is when ‘we the people’ have no say and how our elected leaders stop having to account for their actions. Socialism is when the government tells us what our children will and won’t believe about the world.
    I don’t consider public school ‘socialism’, but I do consider it a welfare-ism. Anyone who works or owns property supports it. I, myself, payout 50% of my property taxes to it. (And yes, my grandchildren go to private school and we pay for that too) I also pay out for my local fire department. Why wouldn’t I call them if needed? Do I pay in only for those on welfare? Isn’t that what we ALL pay our taxes for? To pool it all together for better services? Not free services?
    Support my folks? Why would I, they are fine and traveling around the country and have taken care for their own future after working hard all their lives.
    And sometimes when you disagree with someone, maybe you just simply disagree with them and the color of their skin doesn’t change your mind (as it shouldn’t).

  34. Did this “write an essay about how you can help the president” assignment every actually exist, or is that one of the half-truths spread by anti-Obama media? Because, really, the president can’t give an assignment to the entire nation. A teacher can, and maybe a teacher did or well, but that’s absolutely different than the president assigning a topic. Please, what’s he going to do, spend the next three years grading everyone’s essay?

    I think it’s ridiculous, anti-intellectual, and racist. And MFA Grad if “like” existed in this forum like it does on Facebook, I would “like” your entire quote.

  35. These same parents had absolutely no problem when it was Bush Sr. (or any other Republican president) doing the same thing.

  36. Well, technically, socialism is just the opposite of capitalism, so if you use a public school instead of a private school, you are buying into a socialized system. Just as socialized healthcare would be one you pay for out of taxes. Anything you pay for out of taxes is socialized, because it’s not fee-for-service. Socialism is an economic method. Your definition of socialism would fit most facist dictatorships.

  37. Lenore,

    The president’s address to school kids causes concern for the same reasons public vs private vs homeschooling education has been controversial.

    The reason you wrote Free Range Kids was because you disagreed with loving parents who thought it just made sense to “be careful.” Right? But as you know, “the devil is in the details”…not in the big picture that Looks Like Truth.

    Many well-meaning teachers and doctors for the last 20 years have assumed putting certain children on psych meds was just “common sense,” if you loved and cared about the well-being of your child. But, now more and more professionals understand that that’s not a simple issue. Few things are as simple as they appear to be.

  38. It’s interesting that in Canada, the big debate is over allowing pay for service health care as an alternative, and yet nobody minds having private schools as an alternative.

    Here we’re freaked out about a single payer option, even though we, for the most part, don’t mind single payer schools, police, fire etc. In some restricted cases we have pay for service police (private security).

    I just don’t see how the world will end if we have single payer,and if you can afford it, you can pay for better service on your own. I know some people feel it’s unfair to pay taxes for something they don’t plan to use, but that’s the ‘society’ part.

    @kelsomom. sonya’s right, your definition of socialism threw me. Most of what you express concern over has nothing to do with socialism per se.

  39. Kelsomom, your definition of ‘socialism’ is inaccurate in just about every single way. For starters, socialism is not a political system, it is an economic one. Maybe you’re thinking of Fascism? But your definition doesn’t really work for Fascism either. That, to me, is proof enough that the schools need to spend MORE time on both civics and history.

  40. Kelsomom, it could also quite easily be argued that each of the things you said socialism is applies to the public school system. So you might want to rethink that.

  41. My objection, as a teacher, is not with school children listening to a speech by the president, but to the original curriculum given. I agree with what Drew said, it was way to focused on the person of the president.

    And Delphine, I really believe your accusations are out of line and unfounded. I have to say that I hate that whenever anyone disagrees with anything the Obama administration does or says someone must automatically accuse them of racism. If we really want to teach our kids a valuable lesson, it’s that we can disagree without bringing color into it.

  42. I think what irks me most about this conversation and others going on is that everyone has somehow assumed that Obama is a socialist. When did that happen? Obama is a Democrat, and a moderate one at that. He did not run for the Socialist party. Some people need to go back to school so they can learn what socialism is.

    “Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, worker or public ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation. Contrary to popular belief, socialism is not a political system; it is an economic system distinct from capitalism.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism

    I am so sick of this. And I am very disappointed in my fellow citizens right now. I didn’t like 8 years of Bush, but I still respected the office of the president and that he held it. That is the American way, as far as I am concerned.

  43. I’m not concerned about Obama speaking to students, but I am concerned about him wanting it to be mandatory, and including lesson plans! The new plans are better than the original ones, but I still feel like he’s trying to make himself into a figure everyone looks up to. That’s fine, but let the kids form their opinions on their own, without being guided towards the “correct” opinion.
    I’m not too fond of him, but I wouldn’t want schools to prevent students from hearing what he has to say. At the same time, I don’t think it should be mandatory either. If I were still a student and was required to listen to the speech and lesson plan I would be pissed. If they gave me a choice of listening without the lesson plan, I would gladly choose to listen and construct my own opinion on the subject and Obama himself.

  44. Progressboink, there was NEVER any mention of making it mandatory. You have been misinformed. The lesson plan is also a suggestion, much like the lesson plan put out by Pres Bush during his administration. Apparently all Presidents like to think that their biographies would be of interest to school children…who knew?

  45. JFK says “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” and everyone’s like cool. Obama asks the children of the US to think the same thing and it’s a problem? Just everyone chill out-a lot.

  46. I agree with Maureen (and others) that my objection is not with the speech, but with the original curriculum. Now that the curriculum has been changed, I don’t see an objection to that, either. Even had they let it stand, though, it would not have been a world-shattering event. Suppose your child brought home an assignment with those questions in it- What can you do for the president? What has the president said that inspires you? Etc. Suppose you’re a complete conservative who did not vote for the man and don’t like anything about him and have taught your children to feel the same way? This assignment gives you a chance to discuss with your child- how do you express that you don’t feel it’s your duty as an individual to do anything for the president as another individual? What has he said that’s admirable? Just because you don’t care for him, don’t automatically assume that he has nothing of value to say, or if your child feels that nothing of value was said, help him express that!

    My child isn’t old enough to be affected by this, but if he were, I’d sign the slip and be ready at home to talk about what he’d seen and heard respectfully and with as little political bias as possible. I didn’t vote for President Obama to inspire and lead us. I didn’t vote for him at all. I do respect the office and the majority vote. I feel like refusing to hear him and refusing to let our kids hear him a) makes conservatives look like idiots stomping their feet because they didn’t win and b) teaches our children to be close-minded and only hear what they want to hear.

  47. Kelsomom … the basic problem is … you don’t get to have “your” definition of socialism. There is one definition of socialism and yours is not it. Here’s one that is fairly universal taken from Wikipedia – Socialism refers to various theories of economic organization advocating state, worker or public ownership and administration of the means of production and allocation of resources, and a society characterized by equal access to resources for all individuals with an egalitarian method of compensation. Contrary to popular belief, socialism is not a political system; it is an economic system distinct from capitalism.

    As you can see, this looks an awful lot like the public school system that I’d be willing to bet your children went to. If you want to include the private schools you are sending your grandchildren to then you are participating in Social Democracy (see Wikipedia for a standard definition).

    Socialism has become a bogeyman of the right … but it’s really nothing to be frightened of and we here in the US have been drinking that milk since the turn of the 19th century. I hope you enjoy yours!

  48. Hmmm. Here’s a metaphor. Imagine that it was, instead, the pope wanting to address kids. Some people would freak out about church & state and such. But other people would say — he’s an important leader, and he’s just telling them to say no to drugs and go to school.

    The difference is that the Pope is not connected to this country and the President is. That’s such a crucial difference that I cannot BELIEVE you missed it. You may have a point, but it’s entirely hidden by your illogic.

  49. I think it’s important to point out at this point that this has absolutely NOTHING to do with Free Range. It’s Lenore’s site and she can post on anything she likes, but it’s not more or less Free Range to have one position or the other about this.

    Carry on!

  50. But free range parents are going to let their children hear ALL KINDS OF OPINIONS, not just the ones at home.
    Only people who are afraid that their own beliefs are too weak to stand up to scrutiny should worry about a short address from someone they disagree with.

  51. I really liked Tana’s 2nd paragraph above. As a progressive, I doubt our ballots would look anything alike, but she described how I and my family survived the Bush years. I do disagree with pentamom. This issue is about FRK as I understand it. It is just as sad to raise kids in a bubble to protect them from overhyped fears of physical danger as it is to raise them in an intellectual bubble where they can only experience that which their parents agree.

    It is a big world out there with lots of economic theories, philosophies, values, and theologies most of which have been here been a part of American culture for a very long time. Somehow children need to understand that their classmates and neighbors may believe and have values different than what they see and hear at home. They need to learn to understand, work with, and have compassion for everyone. I didn’t isolate and try to control what my children thought and they grew to be curious, bright, and developed strong values and relationships. We still enjoy challenging, sometimes agreeing, and often debating each other during family dinners and thus teaching each other about ourselves and our lives. What fun!

  52. Shannon – “what irks me most about this conversation and others going on is that everyone has somehow assumed that Obama is a socialist. When did that happen? Obama is a Democrat, and a moderate one at that.”

    Though this is off topic, I just had to question you on your take that President Obama is a moderate Democrat? On what measure? Even if you don’t categorize him as a socialist, and only went by your only pure form of measurement (his voting record), he was the most liberal senator in the senate. He speaks VERY moderately, but his actions never quite matched that. Which is fine, if what your wanting is someone very to the left (and I’m not saying socialist). It’s just that people who thought they were getting a moderate president may be shocked to find out that he’s very much to the left, and has never really been great at bridging the divide, other than just with words. Which is why us true moderates are not flocking toward any bi-partisanship.

    Incidentally, I was not a huge fan of Bush. But if we’re going to be truly intellectually honest and moderate, you have to agree that even though you (and I) may have been polite and respected the office of president, a vast majority of people on the left did not.

  53. I’m not convinced that my initial reaction to the objections being raised about President Obama’s speech to the nation’s schoolchildren was totally wrong, but if it was, the idiotic responses given against the idea of a “public option” in the health-care insurance matter bear most of the blame. Making outright lies, such as the creation of “death panels,” the inclusion of illegal aliens, and the coverage of abortion costs has the same affect as the fabled crying of “Wolf!” Now everything from the opposition is immediately suspect, tainted with doubt and disingenuosness. Obviously, some of the opposition is genuine, but with so many responses having the appearance of coming from the same “talking points” memo, it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

  54. MFA: See Richard Hofstatder’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.

    Delphine, MFA: More Harry Potter analogies: remember the “theory” put forth by the Ministry in Deathly Hallows that Muggleborns got their powers by stealing magic from pureblood wizards? Enough people subscribed to it to make life pretty miserable (and sometimes deadly) for Muggleborns. None of those people knew the real reason why Tom Riddle hated Muggles so much (Harry was the only one who knew the real story at the time), so they weren’t just going along with him out of intimidation.

    Rooting for the underdog is an American tradition in name far more than deed. In reality, we pile loads of unearned respect on the rich and famous and resent those who are worse off than us (I suspect it’s because we subconsciously fear that we could wind up like them). And Obama’s background (like Clinton’s before him) is radically different than most of the pundit class’s. He doesn’t fit in with them, and that naturally breeds resentment.

    Various: in the USA, “socialism” generally refers to the same concept that kids refer to when they talk about “cooties.” It has nothing to do with the dictionary definition of the term. Although comparing political ideologies between countries is fraught with peril and often downright misleading, suffice it to say that in most Western European countries, a politician with Obama’s overall political philosophy would generally be regarded as center-right to right (note that the Conservative parties in both Canada and the UK are actually to the left of a fair chunk of the Democratic party in the US).

    The only holder of national office in America who identifies himself as a socialist is Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT). He’d be regarded as a moderate in most democratic countries outside the US.

    Maureen: While there certainly have been some people making unjustified accusations of racism, it’s rather hard to think of alternative explanations when “disagreeing with anything the Obama administration does or says” takes the form of asserting that he was not legitimately elected or taking umbrage (Umbridge?) at proposals that he’s never made, that he’s specifically disavowed, and that would not have a snowball’s chance in hell of making it through Congress.

    Note that I spend quite a bit of time on Daily Kos, and there’s plenty of dissatisfaction there with Obama, most of it coming from the left. You won’t find too many people who think that everything he says is sacred. I certainly have a lot of problems with his positions on matters related to civil liberties (though anybody else who does and didn’t also have at least as many problems with Bush’s positions on those matters is a hypocrite).

  55. The first report I heard about this said he controversy was caused by an assignment which, as others have stated above, asked students to write down ways they could help the president. While I agree that it’s good to encourage civic envolvement, I do think this wording goes a bit beyond that.

    More recently I heard on NPR that the wording was “how can you help the president achieve his goals for education?” I guess I can understand people still being nervous about that, but I have a bit less sympathy.

    However since the whitehouse agreed, and changed the text concerned, I don’t get what all the fuss is about.

    Actually I do, unfortuonatly. There is so much fear of this president that anything he does is assumed to have evil motives. And I’m not even sure I can condemn this suspicion, because I felt exactly the same way about Bush. Of course I think it’s different, because I think I’m right. Would I have yanked my hypothetical kids out of school if Bush wanted to give a school talk? No, but I damn well would have had a sitdown with them about anything he said.

  56. Rich,

    Just reading you’re earlier reflections about arguing over allowing private health services vs private schools. In my experience it is difficult to compare the two because:

    a) few people can afford private schooling, whereas a larger portion of the public can access private health services either by paying out of pocket or through group medical insurance (no such insurance exists for education, to my knowledge);

    b) while the choice to opt for private schools or home-based education is offered & indeed protected by law, our laws do forbid most for-pay health services;

    c) private health care options and brain drain have already created shortage of resources in the public system that is felt every day by the average user. We are beginning to see two tiers of health care in which the privileged jump to the head of the line while the less privileged sometimes wait too long for necessary services. Such an effect has not been felt in private education because of lower accessibility & the fact that many private schools are government subsidized in exchange for offering essentially the same curriculum. If the same phenomenon were to occur with education, it is likely private education would cause a flap here too.


  57. silvermine, Uly: The legal problem with public schools showing a televised address by the Pope is that unless those schools allowed every single religious leader and atheism advocate to do the same thing (likely logistically impossible), it would amount to a government agency picking and choosing in religious matters, something that’s an absolute no-no for a government agency.

    Ruby: To amplify, in much of Canada private, even religious, schools receive substantial government subsidies and have for a long time. That was the key factor in the decision several years ago that a Catholic high school couldn’t forbid a male student from bringing a male date to the prom; that decision has been greatly misrepresented by the American religious right.

  58. Ruby (I lived in Canada for over 25 years btw)

    “private health care options and brain drain have already created shortage of resources in the public system that is felt every day by the average user”

    Exactly. You could let rich people pay to get to the head of the line, and use that money to support the system. But instead they come down and support the US system. I guess we make up for it by buying your prescription drugs.

    My point is simply that instead of being open to options, people freak out about boogie men (“Two Tier Healthcare” and “Socialized Medicine”).

    Al Franken explains it better than I. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCNs7Zpqo98

  59. I don’t have any problem with the useless, trite information President Obama will deliver, but, personally, I hope that we can raise our kids so they don’t believe that we elect a President to “lead and inspire our nation.” We’re supposed to elect a President to preside over the Congress, to make sure they’re doing they’re job, and to appoint judges to the Supreme Court.

    We don’t need leaders to inspire us. We only need to have an efficient, honest government while we lead and inspire ourselves.

  60. See the trouble is, Mr Obama can pronounce ‘nuclear’ – and he probably knows how to spell ‘potatoes’ too. That’s got to be dangerous, right?
    In Australia we let our politicians free-range … we figure it’s kinder that way. You can’t keep them out of the schools round here. I don’t think we even have a Secret Service (unless it’s so secret they don’t tell us) – but I’m with Lenore, the main risk for the kids with our Prime MInister would be the same – heads hitting the desk.
    We even let the Pope talk to people when he was here for World Youth Day, and a lot of them weren’t Catholic or anything. The Pope before this one even danced with our young people back in the 80s. I don’t think it made any of them German or Polish though.
    Seriously, though, I find the comment about kids remaining politically inactive a bit worrying. I believe in educating kids right from the start about the democratic process and the political to-ing and fro-ing. I was giving out how-to-vote cards from the time I was an infant myself – as a matter of interest, for the opposite party to the one I currently support, because in my family we had robust arguments about politics, and we got to develop our own opinions.

  61. I think kids hates speech.

  62. LJM: I’m afraid that that bit about electing the President to “preside over the Congress, to make sure they’re (assuming that refers to Congress) doing they’re (sic) job” is straight out of one of those “history according to college freshmen” books.

  63. Maybe it’s just me, but I’d feel perfectly at ease to have George W. and/or Obama sit down and talk to my kids about …anything! I certainly don’t agree with all of their political positions, but I trust their judgement when it comes to conversing with children. Lest we forget, they’re fathers, and pretty good ones from what I see and read. Where is all of this fear coming from??

  64. That this is a “controversy” is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard. Talk about polarizing America. It isn’t about protecting children. It isn’t that “the President” is talking to children about “staying in school”. It’s about hating what one individual does because he represents the “other” party, and no matter WHAT he does, it wouldn’t be ok.

  65. “it is too easy for one or two students to get railroaded by others, especially if the teacher doesn’t keep his or her personally opinions out of it. I think off-the-cuff discussions on topics like this should be avoided in the classroom.”

    This is precisely why this *is* a great topic for Free Range Parents.

    God help your child get through life, if you really think his or her ego will be so deeply scarred by being “railroaded” by other kids in class. First, being an educator, I highly doubt kids care this much about this topic; you are thinking like a very politicized adult. Second, kids get “railroaded” by other kids all the time, whenever they hold the minority opinion about anything (though I’m not sure what the “minority” opinion would be here: no, we shouldn’t work hard and stay in school?). Is your child that much of a delicate gentle flower? Why do parents feel so disempowered? Do you really think a boring speech by the president is undoing everything you say to your children at home?

    Let’s start finding out the political background of every “don’t do drugs” speaker who comes to the school, and if they disagree with any part of my political agenda, I’m pulling my kids from the speech. It’s my right!!!!! Ugh…..

    My kids go to school and make pledges of allegiance “to God” and listen to their very Christian teachers and classmates talk about all sorts of things that we don’t believe in. (We live in a very religious, conservative area.) I think it is good for them to know that not everyone shares our views, but they can still play nicely on the playground, little league, birthday parties, etc. We teach them at home that their parents have different beliefs and that when they grow up they get to decide for themselves what they believe.

    “I’d like to define my view of socialism. Socialism is when we sit back and let the government tell us what is right for us without boundries.”

    That is not the definition of socialism. You can’t just make up your own definitions of words and then try to scare people with them. What you are describing is civic laziness—you know, like just exempting yourself from everything that you disagree with.

    @progressboink, at no time was this speech *ever* mandatory nor were the lesson plans. Have you ever taught a class? Sometimes it’s helpful for overworked teachers to get lesson planning ideas. They do not have to use them. My goodness, do we really not even trust our own teachers to do their jobs? I am so sick of everyone in this country assuming that being a teacher is the easiest thing possible, so we can all just homeschool our own kids. Sure, they won’t learn about anything or anyone who disagrees with them, but their education will still be the envy of the world. We should fear for our children—not when it comes to being indoctrinated into “socialism”—but when it comes to trying to make a country work when so many children were educated on an ad hoc basis at home.

    @LJM, the Constitution does not say anything about the president making sure Congress does their jobs.

  66. I am amazed at the responses to Obama’s presentation. . . “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.” ??????? And this man has the power of the airwaves in his hands? Children should not be tauhgt anything about politics??? Wow!

    Too often, democracy’s main attraction is the generosity with which it allows its citizens the freedom to express, without reservation or censure, his/her ignorance.

  67. Patsy – I do all the same things with my kids. Why shouldn’t kids learn about politics and about how their government works and what their role in it will be? My 11yo loves politics. She reads all about the candidates and usually knows more than I do. This last election she chose to support Hillary and then switched to Palin. (Yes, she knows Palin was not running for President but she is 11 and didn’t really care, she loved her.) She had heard me numerously debate with freinds about the candidate I was behind and we had talked about it. She still went her own way. Drew, how could her learning how to be a responsible voter be a bad thing?

    As for this post, I too could not believe the uproar about this. I don’t believe politics should be taught in school or church but I seriously doubt he’s going to go in there and start pushing his own agenda or anything. He’s simply talking about education and how important it is. Why does anyone care? I almost wish my kids could hear the speech.

  68. You people are so ass backwards. You preach every day about more freedom for your children but at the same time you support a president who wants to turn this country into a socialist nation with less and less freedom. I don’t get it.

  69. I don’t have a problem with the President addressing school children or with my children having different political opinions than I do. What I find frightening is an administration that is clearly trying to control what the American public thinks.

    ‘We have the best medical care in the world.’
    No. We don’t.

    ‘Most Americans are satisfied with their current health plans.’
    No. They aren’t.

    ‘The economy is beginning to recover.’
    Tell that to all the people whose homes were foreclosed or who lost their jobs this month.

    ‘The stimulus package is working.’
    For whom?

    I’ve noticed it more than ever this year, that our government is spewing these platitudes to try to make us all think everything is just fine when it’s not.

    Let the President address our nation’s youth. Fine. I plan to make sure my kids know the difference between fact and fiction before they hear any political figure speak.

  70. The far right has lost all perspective. They carry photos of Obama made up to look like Hitler. They accuse Obama, who had a white mother, of being a racist and hating whites. They believe that Obama has been involved in a conspiracy since birth to hide his so-called Kenyan citizenship, despite hard evidence to the contrary. They make up out of thin air death panels and get a large number of people to believe that our Congress would actually pass a law supporting euthanasia of the elderly and mentally deficient. They say things like “you support a president who wants to turn this country into a socialist nation with less and less freedom”. If you came up to me and said that Jesus rode a dinosaur or aliens had a pool party at your house last night, I would treat your statements with just as much seriousness, i.e., none.

  71. Karli–Obama’s record so far as President shows just how centrist he really is.
    A far left liberal would have: Ended DADT. Shut down Gitmo. Pulled immediately out of Iraq (and probably Afghanistan too). Came out on the side of gay marriage. Rolled back the Patriot Act. Released CIA torture info. Rolled back Bush Tax cuts. Pushed for Single Payer. Pushed for torture investigations.

    Most true liberals I know are actually pretty disappointed with Obama’s insistence on being centrist. It’s only the right wing that characterizes him as ‘the most liberal’.

    As for JenC, “What I find frightening is an administration that is clearly trying to control what the American public thinks.” You’re confusing the White House with FOX news. Your first two quotes are straight from the Republican talking points. As far as the economy recovering, there ARE signs (increased home sales for one), but of course they’re mixed. As far as the stimulus package ‘working’, even Rupert Murdoch’s WSJ admits that there has been some positive development from the reinvestment act.

    You seem to be confusing “saying things I don’t agree with” with “try to control what I think”. Not to put too fine a point on it, but ALL politicians make statements of how they see things…does that mean they’re trying to ‘control what you think’? Only if you’re very simple minded and believe everything you hear.

  72. @ Sharon – Thank you for “liking” my quote. 🙂

    @ ebohlman – I’ll just have to add that title to my ever-growing list of books to read. I have to say, the downside to being raised with a love of education is my Pavolov’s Dog-like response in which I tend to plunk down $$ when told about a good book (even when I do have a library card – what can I say, I’m impatient when it comes to waiting for books).

    There’s a wide range of opinions on this topic, but I’m at least heartened to see that there have been quite a few responses here indicating that despite not having voted for President Obama or agreeing with his policies, there are parents who don’t have an inclination to yank their kids from school or protest the speech because they know that no matter what is said, they can and will talk to their kids about the subject in their own home as well after it’s done. It’s a refreshing, level-headed reaction, considering the vast amount of crazy I’ve been seeing in the responses to this story on other news sites.

    As for the constant misunderstanding/misuse of the term “socialism” since the run-up to the election… I think Webster’s Dictionary may have to add a further definition to the term, indicating that in the vernacular, “socialism” is used to designate any policy/proposition not suggested by the right wing conservatives in order to inspire fear through conjuring an association with the US’s past conflicts with competing political/social ideologies and/or foreign antagonists, rather than as a reference to an actual economic system of principles that conflict with free market capitalism. If you’re going to throw around political, social or economic terms as pejoratives, at least make sure you’re using the right one within the correct context.

    And whoever pointed out that by screaming about anything and everything that Obama does, regardless of whether criticism is warranted or not (and even though I voted for the man, there is definitely plenty to criticize), it only hurts the opposition by making them seem reactionary and frankly nuts – BINGO! Someone needs to read these guys the story of Peter and the Wolf again.

  73. Pardon – I meant “Pavlov’s Dog.”

  74. I really wish people would stop generalizing what the conservatives think. As a conservative, very few of you have hit at all on my beliefs. I do not go around speaking for liberals or anyone else and I would like the same courtesy.
    I would have no problem with the President addressing my children about education. I am not afraid of them being brainwashed because I have raised them to form their own opinions not blindly be led by other people. They have seen me question my pastor about statements he preached and such, that’s part of life. I have no problem with them being swayed by a politician because again, they are their own people. I can guide them in the direction I think they should go but at some point I have to let them think for themselves.

  75. @MaeMae, if you are tired of people generalizing what conservatives think, then maybe you should start with the loud mouth talk radio hosts and their ilk who presume to speak for you. I didn’t post a thing about what “conservatives think.” I live in a conservative area, and I know people here who run the spectrum from complete libertarians to those who essentially want a kind of theocracy. Both groups could be construed as conservative, but those are very different governing philosophies. The problem is that the people who speak the loudest on the right often deliberately and erroneously attempt to fuse these opposing views and make it seem as if all conservatives believe in such paradoxical, conflicting beliefs. The major conservative political party in this country has consistently tried to force together a completely laissez-faire philosophy with a philosophy that attempts to legislate a specific morality. I think it’s hardly fair to blame people who are more liberal for this. In other words, when the people who purport to represent you can clearly delineate between fascism and socialism, it will be a bit easier for me to accept your criticisms about how those in your political spectrum are discussed.

  76. @MaeMae–and seriously, I think it is really commendable for you to feel this way about the president speaking to schoolchildren. I frequently have to do the same thing when our local politicians come to the schools. I think the reason this is a pertinent free range topic is because the furor over this issue indicates people’s fear that their children can’t do anything for themselves. That fear goes from suspecting that their children can’t play in the yard to suspecting that their children can’t think for themselves.

  77. Mae Mae I really appreciate your letter and how you are raising your children. Couldn’t agree more except I am a progressive who is disappointed ih Obama for being such a centrist. May be we really can all get along at some basic levels. While I am into FRK to understand the parenting styles effecting my grandchildren,s generation, I can’t imagine ever wanting my kids when young or my grandkids now to miss a speech directed to them by an elected POTUS from any party. It will make for some fun lively discussion by all at our next family get together.

  78. @elsj – I guess the difference between us is that I would not listen to a “liberal” commentator and then assume every other “liberal” would agree with everything said by that one person.

  79. “…Republicans are keeping their children out of school on Tuesday in protest. The kids have now voted Obama as the Best President Ever!”
    (Conan O Brian, The Tonight Show Friday night)

  80. Hahaha. I love Conan! Who would pull their kids out of school for this? And I say that as a conservative who did not vote for the man. Let him speak.

  81. Thanks, Harmil2! And, eslj, I agree with your second post to me and thank you for the kind words.

  82. I apologize for not reading all the comments before now and posting so much but…

    eslj, I homeschool my children and I teach them opposing views all the time. As I have stated I am a conservative Christian but I have taught my children about evolution and the Big Bang Theory. We have also studied many different religions through our history studies. They know that there are many different beliefs and views in this world. The goal of education, IMO, should be to give them all the information and let them research it to find out which theory, religion, etc. makes sense to them. I teach them science that the world believes disproves the Bible and then we discuss whether it does or not. Again, I wish you would take the time to speak to people individually instead of making assumptions based on a group we are in.

  83. I do not go around speaking for liberals or anyone else and I would like the same courtesy.

    As a liberal, I gotta say that I hear a lot of conservatives online spouting off about “liberals this” and “liberals that” as though we’re one homogenous mass that wants to EAT THEIR BABBIES!!!!

    I keep reminding myself that those probably are just the loud annoying ones that even the rest of the conservatives don’t like. I’ll make you a deal though – it’s unlikely that the loud annoying conservatives will listen to a liberal like me, and it’s pretty unlikely that the loud annoying liberals will listen to a conservative like you, right? Maaaaaybe we should make a pact that we’ll tell our ostensible “own” group to shut up if they’re being loud and making us look bad – and we’ll ignore the others because, seriously, it doesn’t help 😦 I’ll agree if you will. Confrontation is my middle name!

  84. @MaeMae, I know this will sound snarky, but I sincerely mean this: I bet I know more homeschoolers than you do, and *you’re* a homeschooler! As I said, I live in a very conservative part of the country where many, many, many people homeschool. It’s great that you teach opposing views to your kids. That’s important. Still, I didn’t judge anyone homeschool parent personally. What I said–and what I believe–is that there is a presumption implicit in homeschooling that anyone can become a teacher and that getting in-depth training or experience teaching groups of kids is not as important as having the right “values.” The idea is that anyone can be a teacher, and that you don’t need to go to school or really do anything specialized to become one. I see this in liberal homeschooling parents I know (who have pulled their kids from our school district because of all of the Christian shenanigans) and the conservative parents I know (who think that a homosexual agenda is trying to take over our classrooms). I think it is symptomatic of the decline in our civic culture that people do not even trust schools do their jobs anymore (or more accurately, that people are not willing to work with schools to help them do their jobs), and I would say that to anyone who homeschools, regardless of their political or religious persuasion. Implicit in the whole endeavor is that schools somehow control young people, and that family life somehow is not as strong as that institutional culture. I just don’t believe that and think that the message is very damaging to young people. I know this is off-topic and not really pertinent to this post. But, as an educator in a very home-school-oriented region, it is near and dear to my heart and mind, and I can’t let it go unremarked upon. Besides, I felt like you misunderstood me to be making judgments only about conservative homeschoolers. But I do not mean anything political by it at all and wanted to make that clear.

  85. Thank you for the clarification and to an extent I did misunderstand you. The reason I chose to homeschool is because I do not think any child needs to be in a classroom all day, five days a week. It has nothing to do with the teachers (although nothing beats the one-on-one attention that homeschoolers get.) My children get their work done in 2-4 hours a day and are then free to explore their own interests and to just be children.I also enjoy the flexibility that it allows. If we stay out late at a friends house I don’t have to worry about rushing the kids home and to bed. I can just enjoy myself. I know they will have to adhere to schedules but why at 5 yso? Plus, I believe that being involved in their community on a daily basis teaches more than being in a room with peers of all the same age. Life experience is priceless, IMO. I respect teachers greatly and give them props as I could never do their job. Fortunately, homeschooling puts the responsibility on the child and not the parent. BTW, I have many close friends that are teachers and none of them are insulted by my decision.

  86. “But free range parents are going to let their children hear ALL KINDS OF OPINIONS, not just the ones at home.”

    My impression that Free Range isn’t anything about your philosophy of how your kids should be taught different beliefs. It’s about whether you physically tie them down or give them freedom. Parenting philosophies about teaching beliefs are another subject ENTIRELY, and shouldn’t be mixed up with parenting philosophies about letting them play outside or go to sleepovers.

    “Only people who are afraid that their own beliefs are too weak to stand up to scrutiny should worry about a short address from someone they disagree with.”

    That strikes me as too broad a statement. Surely there are SOME things you would find it abhorrent if someone else taught it to your kids, regardless of how firmly you held your own. To accuse all parents who believe that there should be some limits or regulations on what their kids are taught by others of being uncertain in their beliefs is going too far.

    I am not saying this situation falls into that category, but I just don’t believe that the definition of Free Range necessarily implies a laissez-faire approach to what your kids are taught.

  87. “The idea is that anyone can be a teacher, and that you don’t need to go to school or really do anything specialized to become one.”

    Is this necessarily false? Is it so obviously true that it can be raised as a criticism of homeschooling without proving the opposite proposition — that you really DO need to go to school or really do anything specialized to teach a small number of children in a home environment?

  88. I don’t want to be rude or anything but doesn’t your constitution include freedom of speech? Should that not apply to your president the same way it applies to anyone else? Maybe I’m missing something here but I don’t see how hearing from their president and doing follow up work on it will hurt any kids. To me it sounds like the questions are asking kids to state their opinions. And no one is even saying that teacher have to use these ideas. The world is a very said place when people don’t trust their elected leaders to address their children. At least you get to vote for the person. We vote for the party and have to choose between our local member (who may be awesome) and the person that may be put in power for the country if we vote for that party.

  89. Thank you, pentamom. I hear this so much and the funny thing is that I have friends who are teachers and even they don’t believe that statement. What I’ve been told is that most of their classes to become a teacher focused on managing a large class, how to make lesson plans and so on. Very few teachers actually have advanced degrees specifically in what they are teaching. So what is the difference between a parent studying on a course to teach it and a teacher studying up on a course to teach it? In fact, one might even say that homeschooling parents have it a little tougher because not only do we teach all subjects but our grades keep changing whereas most teachers usually teach the same subject for the same grade year after year. Not to downplay the role teachers play but the fact that homeschool students regularly score higher on state tests than their public school counterparts suggests that most parents are managing just fine.

  90. This is so ridiculous, I don’t even have a response. I was hoping you would bring up all the craziness.

    Seriously, if you’re that concerned then just make sure to talk to your kid after and un-brainwash them!

  91. Melissa — freedom of speech is *very* important. People can say what they think without being arrested by the thought police. However, that does not mean they have the right to a platform to speak on (for example, a newspaper can choose to run your opinion or not, a TV station does not have to allow you your own show, etc.) and you also have to right to compel other people to listen to you. Because they have freedom, too. 🙂

    As an example, racist skinheads are allowed to parade through town (not that I think that has ever happened, mind you 😀 — but it did some years back in a little town in Illinois). However, in my area, if you post a sign against door-to-door solicitation, anyone who still tries to knock your door and sell you something can in fact be fined.

  92. Mom pretty much left me to my own devices, though she was at home always and there if I needed her. She was a bit bohemian and raised me with the radical notion that I was a PERSON. In this debate about the President’s speech, I’ll bet few parents have asked their kids if they WANT to hear what he has to say. Honestly, this has turned into a joke. Most of the speech will likely be very “snooze-worthy.”

  93. I understand that some schools are taking a wait-and-see approach. Don’t watch the live broadcast, but if some teachers want to play the recording for their classes after they’ve had a chance to see the speech and determine its suitability for the curriculum, that’s fine. I like that concept: teachers evaluating educational materials before using them.

  94. […] Yikes! A Speech!! Next Tuesday is Pres. Obama’s speech to children, urging them to stay in school and read books and, for all I know, […] […]

  95. My personal issue is, I think Obama (the person) is a narcissistic boob who can’t get enough of seeing and hearing himself on television. Also, I believe he and his staff are creating a cult of personality. The speech – it’s a good message, and because he is the president, my kids will watch it. And we’ll discuss it – it will be a good segway into a discussion about totalitarianism.

  96. “You people are so ass backwards. You preach every day about more freedom for your children but at the same time you support a president who wants to turn this country into a socialist nation with less and less freedom”

    I think the fact that there are so many responses to this thread is testament to the fact that ‘Free Rangers’ are not united in political view.

    As for ‘less freedom’, what? I honestly can’t think of any he has removed or proposed removing. Other than the freedom to not have healthcare. Honesty, I can live without that one, just like I can live without the freedom to drive 200mph. Although we still have DOMA and PATRIOT to name a few. I think it’s the nature of people in government to think they know what’s best for us, and that applies equally to both wings.

    What I find amusing is that people attribute so much to our Presidents. I’ve heard our latest two both compared to the same totalitarian mass murdering German dictator. The hyperbole is truly astounding!

    “I think Obama (the person) is a narcissistic boob who can’t get enough of seeing and hearing himself on television.”

    I thought that was a job requirement.

    While you’re on your segue, make sure you discuss “If a people are so likely to be opposed to something the government does that it must be kept secret from the people, is really really in the best interest of the people?” Might want to include Watergate and Iran Contra as examples. I don’t mean to pick on one ‘side’ and I don’t think it’s a forgone conclusion. I think it’s an important ethical question. If we really ‘know’ what’s best for someone, should we do it for them even if they don’t want it?

  97. ebohlman,

    I make poor arguments frequently, but if you’re going to say the equivalent of, “that argument is bad,” you might consider saying why or how. You could be right, but as you left it, there’s no way to know. Pointing out typos doesn’t really count.

    I certainly didn’t mean for my primitive description to encompass all of the President’s responsibilities and powers as described by the Constitution, only that things like leading and/or inspiring U.S. citizens is nowhere to be found in that document.

  98. the speech that obama gave was very interesting in what it left out. without the uproar before the speech, there would have been even more outrage. there were lesson plans drawn up and attempts to reach out directly to public school students for political purposes. it was right to object.

  99. My kids brought home a permission slip today, a sort of permission slip that was more of a nonpermission slip. It stated that they were going to let the kids watch the Obama speech and I was to sign the “permission slip” only if I did not want my kids to see it.

  100. idaho beef, do you have a link to support your assertions that “there were lesson plans drawn up and attempts to reach out directly to public school students for political purposes?”

  101. My political POV is Classical Liberal/Libertarian. As a matter of principle, I do not object to any President (POTUS) exerting his prerogatives to speak publicly to any group. I DO often object to the POTUS’s message. He and I have a protected right to political expression.

    MY strong-willed daughter (14 going on 23) is expressing an interesting mixture of idealism and often hard-nosed, clear-eyed realism. I will have to ask her for her impressions of Pres. Obama and Obamacare.

  102. i work for a school district, a large suburban one with a mostly conservative bent. this was absolutely the worst week we’ve
    ever had here — our parents completely lost their minds. for
    the first few days, it was anti-obama calls from people actually
    yelling at us and demanding that their children be
    protected from this indoctrination (into what, the red army?),
    then the next few days were pro-obama calls from people
    yelling at us for infringing on their kids’ right to see the
    president’s speech. the vitriol from both sides was about
    equal. ultimately, few of our schools showed it if any, because
    it was left as a school-based choice and most principals were
    too chicken to show it, even with permission slips. we were
    all so depressed and cynical by the end of that week, no
    matter where we were on the political spectrum. i am amazed
    at the level of hysteria, hostility and ignorance out there, on
    both sides of the coin.

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