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UPDATED: Flap Continues: Rep. John Kline Asks Obama to Release His Remarks


Rep. John Kline, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, sent a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama to publicly release the text of his back-to-school address to kids, to be delivered next week. (According to this Washington Post story, Obama already had planned to do just that). UPDATE: And indeed, the White House said today that the text of the speech will be available on Monday at whitehouse.gov.

As you may know, some Texas districts have expressed qualms about letting kids listen, because of language in one of the lesson plans accompanying the speech that gave students suggestions for how they could "help" the president, prompting claims that the speech would politically indoctrinate kids.

Releasing the speech would allow parents to look at what Obama's message will be and decide whether or not they want their children to listen to the speech, Kline said.

Kline was joined by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., who heads up the House Republican Policy Committee.

Here's a bit of Kline's letter:

As you know, parents play a pivotal role in their children’s education. Just as parents are able to review a textbook before it is used or consider a planned field trip before children leave the classroom, public consideration of your remarks in advance of the live address would ensure parents can review them, make an informed decision about whether the material is appropriate for their children, and engage them accordingly.

What's your take on the politics at play here? And if you work in a school or district, have you heard concerns from parents?

Comments section is open!

UPDATE: Tom Horne, Arizona's superintendent of public instruction, put out his own statement, with an education-oriented critique of the speech and its lesson plans.

Here's a snippet from his statement:

The White House materials call for a worshipful, rather than critical approach to this speech. For example, the White House communication calls for the students to have 'notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on the board),' and for the students to discuss 'how will he inspire us,' among other things. ...In general, in keeping with good education practice, students should be taught to read and think critically about statements coming from politicians and historical figures.

And a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Education told my colleague, Catherine Gewertz, that his office has been getting calls, both from districts and the general public about the speech, including one woman who said she planned to keep her granddaughter home from school. District officials themselves are "getting swamped" with questions and comments, he said.


It is very disturbing to think that people are afraid to let their children listen to a brief message from the elected leader of our country and the free world. I would love to know if these people also have a vehement objection to the federal law forces schools to give military recruiters access to students. Which scenario will lead to the death of some of our children? These parents must not feel that they have much influence over their own children if they fear that a few minutes listening to the president could significantly change their child's system of belief.

The problem is that the president is highly partisan, which makes this a political rather than an educational speech. I think such a speech should rather be offered by the Secretary of Education.

It seems politically motivated by the parents, not the President.

It is politically motivated by the President! I do not agree with his politics, and would like the opportunity to discuss them with my children. While I agree that children should be exposed to views that are different than their parents, it is our obligation to have that conversation with our children on our time.

I think that no matter what, the parents should be able to view the speech BEFORE their children do. That way they are prepared, know what their child is being encourged to to, how to continue to teach their own beliefs to their children at home, and can thwart any political undertones if there are any. Parents can also use this tool to encourage their children to work hard at school if that is what the President is encouraging. I think we just want to know the exacts because there have been so many things done in politics (Both Parties) lately that make us uneasy and the Education System is not the place for politics.

Note of caution to all - Every innocent speech given by a politician has a political motive, otherwise they would not be spending their political time giving it! Parents have a valid concern over any speech, or for that matter, any material presented in a school setting that is mandated by the state or political party in power.

Notice that both extreme of the political spectrum try to couch their speech in general platitudes that sound fine, but overlay their own agenda. Read your history and you will note that most dictators come into power with a lot of good intentions and over time transform into believing that they know what is best for society and use all the tools available to obtain compliance (police, military, courts, financial, business, news, and education ( some call it propaganda). The other thing that the right/left tries to use is the need for service to country (the right - military; and the left - social service) which is "voluntary" but is actually coerced by the "state" as "your duty." Schools have become the primary battleground in trying to sway future citizens one way or the other by requiring "service projects" as condition for graduation, and captive audiences for military recruitment.

For those who think the whole thing is fine, and that parents are overreacting or using this for political games - ask yourself how you'd feel if it was George W Bush in the exact same scenario, and have the courage to answer honestly.

As for me, I don't want any president, regardless of jersey, speaking to my kids and having teachers follow up with "supporting" questions. If the president has something to say about hard work and achievement, put it on prime time so we can watch it together.

It's nothing but racism. Someone asked if I would be opposed to Bush making such a speech, why would I? It's their president speaking to them. Though I don't agree with anything that Bush did or represented, it would be ridiculous to try to keep him (THE PRESIDENT) from speaking without censoring him.
On the other hand, we need to clearly understand who these people are that object: they are racists, I'm beginning to believe they do not like democracy (fascists) unless they are in control of it (not democracy then is it?).

kamau mposi

it would make me much happier to see people in different venues having a discussion about what would be expected of our children on certain levels but not those in the political arena. commentary for example in education week would probably lend itself to much more insight.


As I understand it, George W. Bush, when he was president, did do the same thing and there was no uproar. Perhaps that speaks to the tactics of each political party.

I hope these objecting parents spend as much energy monitoring other messages that their children are receiving.

I agree with the Superintendent of Arizona schools that the workplan is worshipping what the president will say rather than let the children use critical thinking skills.

Posting what inspiration he gave me and what phrases were exceptional are not critical thinking.

by the way, parents have the right to opt out of military recruiters access.

Has our country degenerated into a partisan civil war. Will the left and right soon disolve our Union? President Bush gave similar speeches during his eight years and very little was made of it, now President Obama does the same, and its all politics. It's sad state when our great country has come to this.

Had Democrats in Congress and other elected Democratic Officials started a campaign to prevent President Bush from speaking to school children,which he did with great frequency, they would have been called totalitarians by right wing Republicans. This is clearly a partisan political attack and nothing more. Perhaps another reason is they do not want school children to see that we have an African American President. Heaven forbid that we embrace the diversity of our country.

the speech is about DROPOUT PREVENTION people. on what planet is that controversial???


Great comment!

It's a sad day when parents are afraid to allow their children to hear a speech given by the President of the United States. People must be losing their patriotism.

Could this be true? An elected representative now asking parents not to allow their children to listen to the president? What rock did Kline crawl from under? What gene is defective in is mind to model such disregard for the office of President? Does he not remember how much republicans excoriated anyone who tried to criticize George Bush? Kine is a frightening figure because he is an elected official. Please let me know how to work against his relection.

Linda/Retired Teacher,

It is my sincere hope that people lose their patriotism- if patriotism means worshipping the president and his imperial machine causing poverty at home and murder abroad. Oh, but if patriotism were only defined by honoring principles of liberty over nationalism, then maybe we would be getting somewhere.

In fact, secession may be the only way to put the monster back in check.


No, patriotism does not mean worshipping the president; it means respecting him as a symbol of our country.

Linda/Retired Teacher:

If only Maobama were a mere symbol I would not have a problem with it. And if it were 'my' country then no thug like Bush or Maobama would be allowed to pay off Wall Street and the Pentagon at the expense of the commoner. In fact, there would not be a mechanism like nationalist democracy to coerce subjects into forking over their consciences, labor and bodies.

The real symbol of the USA is blood soaked dollars. I urge you to wake up and stop believing in fairy tales about benign presidents. Are you really a teacher?!

Wow! I see a silver lining here. If the sociopathic wingnuts -- such as those who attempted to shout down, booed and heckled an Hispanic Bishop and a female cancer victim, among others, at a CT health care forum last night -- focus instead on this then we might get real health care reform with a public insurance option passed in Congress.

Mitchell Hirsch,

Your emotionalism is similiar to the opportunistic propaganda technique used by teacher unions to rationalize their union extortions: "It's for the children".

The anger being displayed at these town meeting events are a natural reaction of people who know that the government is trying to steal yet even more. Many protesters even know the evil arrogance embedded in the plan as advocated by Ezekiel Emanuel, that beast Rahm's brother. Emanuel has advocated special discrimination against the mentally infirm and other such eugenic rationing.

The United States health care situation is indeed a class structure. But this sorry development has evolved from the government's fostering of that cartel known as the AMA, nursing and other unions, Medicare/Medicaid, the formation of HMO's, HIPAA and other nonsense regulations, labor rationing in WWII, special dispensations for Big Pharma, and so on and on.

It is the lack of market in the US that has created great divides. Unions, government employees and other special groups get first class access in a way that drives up costs needlessly, while the non-politically favored get little or nothing, and meanwhile- some of the poor, who do get care, get it via the absolutely most expensive way possible.

It is important to understand the nature of opportunity costs in an analysis of socialized care.

In some ways, France is better. But France is cutting back on benefits- and does not have an Empire of blood to support (as much as before anyway). The corporatist socialized system in the US is failing to provide just like its cousin France's left wing option. All of the European systems are insolvent, ration care like during war time, and do not have completely socialized economies- meaning the parasitical health care system has a host.

The costs in France are not always directly related to health care. The creation of innovation and new jobs are where France pays heavily. It's a society prone to riot after riot as unions and other groups seek to protect their privileges via violence; and the underclass uses violence in seeking the same privilege.

Only the market can allocate capital rationally while keeping an eye on proper incentives and moral decency. This is the lesson that is not being taught in your wonderful government schools.

Does it cause you no alarm that Big Pharma has made backroom deals with Maobama and now supports health care "reform"? Have you done your homework, Mr. Hirsch?

Generally state standards that I have seen include one about evaluating primary sources and identifying various points of view. This speech seems to present a wonderful opportunity to work on that standard.

One would hope that teachers would develop their own lessons relating to the speech rather than simply use the press release. We all know how many "canned" lesson plans exist which present the view of the organization which designed them. Another opportunity to examine point of view in documents.

Use the opportunity do not reject it out of concerns about points of view.

How can we claim to teach respect and responsibility to our children when adults give the impression that the President of the United States has 'dangerous messages' for our children and youth? Who objects to "personal responsibility"? I would argue that the politicians making these claims are racist and mean spirited. You will recall that on Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush was in a classroom reading to a group of children - with the book upside down. Wasn't that misleading children??? Calm down people, we have REAL problems tosolve in education.

I question if there is a mediator in the world that can bring the far right and far left together on this or any issue facing this nation. The right views the left as wrong-headed and the left views the right as downright evil (or without compassion). While I know George W. spoke to individual schools and in classrooms where he accepted invites (as he was in a FL elem. school when aides informed him of the 9/11 attacks), I don't recall of him giving a nation-wide broadcast into our nation's schools. If this ever did occur, there was no advance PR, plug, or sample questions to discuss, and I know it was never promoted in our school. Call me a skeptic who thinks every politician has a political agenda, but is it possible the timing of this, only days prior to his nationally-televised chat to congress on health-care next week, is 100% coincidental?

Funny how there was no backlash from the rightwing broadcast media when President Bush addressed school children. President Obama, whether you voted for him or not, is the President. Hopefully, he will inspire, but I've never met a teenager when asked what was inspirational who felt "indoctrinated" by the question. They are always happy to tell you if they weren't inspired! I think the message of hard work and reaching your potential is very powerful, especially coming from the first African-American president in the U.S. And I hope it does inspire our youth and help make learning cool--not something to be ridiculted.

In the summer of 2008 I met a white couple from Namibia, a country north of South Africa. These people were very personable, but they were horrified at the thought of the United States having a black president. It seemed to be beyond their comprehension. I think that's what we're seeing here. Plain old racism.

President Obama, whether you voted for him or not, is the President. Hopefully, he will inspire, but I've never met a teenager when asked what was inspirational who felt "indoctrinated" by the question. They are always happy to tell you if they weren't inspired! I think the message of hard work and reaching your potential is very powerful, especially coming from the first African-American president in the U.S. And I hope it does inspire our youth and help make learning cool--not something to be ridiculted.

It is sad to see so many people upset about what I believe will be a motivational speech for students. It will be the first day of the academic year and a few words to put kids in the right frame of mind to be successful in their studies should not be a bad thing. It makes me wonder just how much these people really care about the importance of getting a good education.

The comment about "canned lessons" is useful. How many parents realize corporate entities, textbook publishers working with groups with various agenda, and advertising companies have access to their children at school as well as at home. The concern about a "photo op" or pep rally--politics and all--is sadly misplaced.

And is there no faith in the teachers who work in the contact zone with these children to help them feel part of a country where disagreement is brought out into the open and debated.

Yes, all Presidents are partisan. So if you agree with his brand of politics, it's a great idea to have our children listen to the leader of the free world. If you disagree, it's a dictator's propaganda speech. What a sad state of affairs that we have allowed ourselves to become so angry and cynical over the nation's president taking the opportunity to talk to young people.

Tom Horne blames the text, others blame the president. Where is your responsibility? As a teacher and parent it is my responsibility to ensure a critical view. Parents you are responsible for talking to your children, teachers must teach students to be critical readers. Tom Horne needs to take responsibility for his position and put out a lesson that goes after the speech to encourage critical discussions if he really believes the speech is about "worship". Instead he used it as a political blast against the president. Has anyone seen the ADE website or materials from the Arizona Department of Education. The picture of the one who wants to be "worshiped" is posted on it all.

hoosier educator - you are absolutely correct!

I don't remember any nation-wide broadcasts, or any lesson plans put out by a press office.

You are right in assuming a politician can't give a speech purely for it's good intention. Anyone who doubts that this is a political ploy just has to think - does the President have nothing better to do with his time, does his press office not have enough on their plate right now with health care? The ultimate goal may be more indoctrination of our children, or it may just be to cause a distraction from other concerns - what about the new law that will let the President take over the internet for example. Either way - it's still a political ploy.

There are several groups that ought to be ashamed of themselves here. Legislators, "conservative talk-show" hosts, political strategists (from both parties) and the President are all exploiting our kids for their own gain. Perhaps the President has great motives (likely not the others) but, when you begin to ask for allies of grade school kids, and you are partisan (as all these groups are) you are being exploitive. A simple "pep talk" doesn't ask kids how they can help your cause, and the President's press people know it. There is plenty of blame and shame to go around here!

Let's see... the message is asking students to work hard, set goals, take an active role in their education, and work toward graduation from high school! Which part of this do those ultra partisan individuals not want our youth to hear! Being in education for over 40 years I find the president's message extremely refreshing. Do these folks advocate anything contrary to these ideals? I sure hope not. Our country cannot sustain this bitter partisan wrangling that hopes to depose the current leader at the expense of destroying the union.

Remember, fear paralyzes people. The republican montra for as long as I can remember has been "be afraid". Obama inspired young people and moved them to action during his campaign. This fear over his speech is generated by the right to keep more of the young, educated youth from getting involved in anything the President has to say, political or not.
The fact is Obama's policy was accepted by those that voted for him (the majority) and those that disagree with it choose to label it extreme. It is a very sad day in America when parents encourage their children to disrespect the President (I suspect based on the color of his skin).

For those people who are in opposition: Base you opposition on the "sound American principles" you always seem to espouse (whenever it's in your best interest and your point of view and philosphy). We finally have a thoughtful, articulate person in the White House who is caring enough and has the vision enough to want to speak on the importance of our youth taking advantage of the educational opportunities available...and what do you do? and what is your response? Give me a break. Your hipocracy makes me want to puke. Let the man be President. Stop trying to micromanage. If you want to be president...then run for the office.

"Just as parents are able to review a textbook before it is used ..."

Really? I dare say that in most, if not all, states parents do not see textbooks before their children receive them. Witness the Texas Board of Education's Bible mandate -- most sane-thinking residents should been opposed to such language in their children's books!

As for "indoctrination," this type of hyperbole is what gives Republicans a bad name through the rest of the country.

I do agree that parents should have a conversation with their children regarding views that are different than their views and that should have already been done by now. The man is after all the President of the United States. If you are worried about what he will say, then you have real issues since your child is exposed to the beliefs and views of their teachers(they spend more time with them than anyone, parent included). Rep. McCotter, R-Mich., is a bit naive if he thinks that parents have the ability to review textbooks used in schools before they are implemented.

I don't think it would be good educational practice to take time in the school day for political purposes. I'm encouraging parents to call on their superintendents and principals NOT to take time for this propaganda, and if they decide to go ahead with it, then I think parents should suddenly remember that their child has a dentist's appointment during that time frame . . . or better yet, go to the classroom during the propaganda . . . I mean, speech . . . and be pro-active in the debriefing, showing the children how propaganda works and just who it is that is paying for everything that happens in the school day -- THEIR PARENTS and other taxpayers, not their teachers, and not even Obama! :>)

I am the Technology Director of a K-12 School District. I think a Presidential speech for students is fantastic. (I voted for Bush) My only problem is that if all the teachers want have their students watch it... it will bring the network down, and no one will see it. We may have to do a mix of Online and TV viewing. These historic moments are killing me.

As a parent, I worry everyday that some of the teachers my children have are conservative Republicans and I know they are sharing their views with my children indirectly or directly. And I know they hold a lot of sway with my children. However, I do not rush over to the school and pull my children out of their classrooms. Rather I discuss my own views and values with my children as much as I can. This my friends, is what it means to live in a free society. And I trust my children to consider all viewpoints and eventually decide for themselves where they stand politically. That's what makes me a liberal I suppose. The president is trying to send a message to students that education is important. Bush once joked that "he read one book" while he was a Yale whereas Cheney wrote one while he was a Yale. I found that joke to be offensive coming from the President. If we can't trust the President to speak appropriately to our children then I don't think we should trust anyone. I guess that's why so many conservatives do home schooling!

This is all politics from the fringe right in their attempt to paint anyone who disagrees as a "socialist." Someone needs to get a history book and get them the definition. The truth is that the president isn't particularly a classic liberal, but it's Clinton all over again. When you know that you can't win the debate, just disrupt and keep anyone else from talking, smear anyone with a different opinion, and concoct elaborate conspiracies to keep your disciples distracted from the facts.

Nah, don't let kids see a speech by the President of the United States on staying in school. Better to look at photos of the previous president reading a kids' book about goats to elementary school students (perhaps a little challenging for him as it may have been) while 9/11 takes place.

Is there a precedent for wholesale opposition to kids seeing a talk on education by a sitting US president? Only in a state filled with racists and other right-wing nut-jobs could something like this happen. Where's all that patriotic rhetoric about supporting the president we usually get from that quarter? Where are the Republican voices of outrage at an obvious attack on a sitting president for doing something proactive about kids dropping out of school?

The conspiracy-theory mentality coming out of Texas is particular sickening considering that it centers in Dallas, where JFK, also too different and too liberal for the lunatic fringe, was murdered.

Most of the country knows better. Texas is an embarrassment.

I am sure that racists would not want the president to speak to their children; however, I do not believe that all who object are racists. People who object to President Obama speaking to our children are either ignorant or afraid. They are ignorant to the fact that a growing number of our children need to be inspired by a strong leader, a growing number of our children need to hear from someone other than their parents, teachers and counselors that they need to rise to the challenge. I tell my students that they are our future, AND IT IS THE TRUTH! I think much of the fear is that he just might make a difference! Well, here is someone who has been trying to make a difference for 14 years, sometimes with more success than others, and I commend anyone who tries, especially the MAN we have chosen to be our LEADER!

I would have no objection to President Obama visiting schools from time to time and giving a speech. That kind of behavior has characterized other presidential as well as gubernatorial administrations. Two things disturb me about this speech. First is the fact that it is going out nationally and there has been a request from the White House to allow students to be excused from lessons during that time in order to hear the speech. The second concerns the nature of the accompanying materials, which seem to focus on Obama as the inspirer of ideas and to draw students' attention to his notable quotes. Somehow this smacks of behavior in other, more propagandistic countries where the "dear, great leader" is constantly honored. The role of education in a democracy is to instill critical thinking skills that enable citizens to challenge and evaluate information with which they are confronted. The materials accompanying the video do not encourage critical thinking, but imply uncritical acceptance of the material in the speech and go even farther by instilling an attitude of approbation and awe. This is not something we should encourage in a democracy.

All of this is really rather tragic, and does not bode well for America's near-term future. The rhetoric, the vocabulary, even the cadence of the radical right reveals its weakness. From my perspective, the radical right, which has grown in numbers in the last two or three decades, tries to pass itself off as conservative. Many may even believe themselves to be so. There is nothing conservative about the ranting of these people who appear to be filled with fear, and the natural outgrowth of fear, hate. George F. Will, William F. Buckley, even Ronald Reagan would, I suspect, feel more than a little uncomfortable with how far this movement has moved, perhaps without knowing it, closer and closer to fascism. (Please study fascism and its basic assumptions, as well as how it almost always rises to power.) But it is the hate that bothers me the most. In my entire life, I have not heard so large a number of Americans express the kind of hate this "movement" now considers "normal." God help us if this madness continues to spread. My only hope is that those who have not yet succumbed to this disfunctionality will be able to pull others back from the precipice of hate that I believe has a greater potential to destroy this country than all of the terrorist movements abroad.

I think that what is needed in this thread is a reference to the equivalent of Godwin's Law but instead of it referring to "Nazis" it should refer to "racism" (for now I'll call it The Illogical Law). It is impossible to have an intelligent debate/discussion with those who consistently proclaim that if you disagree with Obama that you are a racist.
As an educator and a parent I am not comfortable with a man who surrounds himself with eugenicists, 911 truthers, domestic terrorists, and Black Liberation Theologists addressing my children about anything. My distrust of Obama and his Machine have nothing to do with his race.
Additionally, the White House is releasing the text of the speech on Labor Day when the school's are closed and many families are celebrating the holiday. By releasing the text less than 24 hours before the speech and on a national holiday parents and educators will not have the time to review the speech and/or make decisions regarding their children or students watching the speech. Isn't one of the skills we want our children to learn in school the process of making short term and long term plans/goals?

So Arizona Superintendant of Public Instruction, Tom Horne, weighs in with his negative opinion regarding President Obama's yet to be given speech. Some may care to know that Tom Horne intends to run for either Attorney General or Governor of Arizona. He's speaking to the right wing faction in Arizona who will vote in his Republican primary.
That is really political.

The conservative “revolution” that has occurred since Gingrich and company ran the legislative board in 1994, hasn’t occurred in a vacuum. Conservatives by nature are gullible – they blindly choose to swallow the bile from their leaders with whom they share their narrow view of the world. I had great hope that Obama may somehow be able to close the gap between the hard left and the kooks on the right. As the 09 summer closes out, I have nearly given that hope away. Issue after issue has further fractured our country. Is there blame? In this case yes. The “conservatives” are still smarting over the last two national elections. They won’t rest until they regain power and control over the nation and the rest of the world. The “new “conservatism has little to do with family values, limited government, property ownership, personal freedom, and taxation – it’s all about power and control. Rather, what we are living through is a long period of hate, paranoia, and unbridled hypocrisy. Where are the good republicans? I’m afraid they are all dialed into Limbaugh, Hanity, Liddy, and their loyal followers. What’s missing? On the right it’s any accountability for what has happened during the past ten years. For the right it’s simply expedient to blame everything on people that don’t buy into their view of the world otherwise known to them as “liberals”. Further, the right wing kooks are not wired to hold two diametric differing arguments in their mind while attempting to problem solve. Their political and religious brains simply are not wired as critical thinking human beings. On the left, the prevailing attitude that some how, the right will exercise common sense and unity as one nation remains a pipe dream. The American hard right is cut out of the same cloth as the rest of the world’s religious and political zealots. They hold a separate reality – their own. Regarding the “debate” of the president speaking to America’s children; as I stated, the conservative revolution is not happening in a vacuum. We can all watch and listen to the American Hypocrites live, at any moment, during any day.

I agree students should be taught to read and think critically about statements coming from politicians and historical figures. But who is thinking 'critically' on this issue, are you taking on someone elses 'critical' thinking to save your brain cells? To say the Sec of Education should present this speech, how many adults even know who that is! Every child knows who the president is and should, at least, have some respect for his position and the role he plays in our country. As far as ranting that this is politically motivated, let's look at who is making this whole issue political. For what purpose has it become political. We are in a sad state of mind! A motivational speech on setting goals, working hard to achieve them and getting a good education is not political, it is inspiring. This is the first president in a long time that has a little bit of connection with education of the young child and is involved in his own children's education. That is refreshing to me.
I had to chuckle about hearing parents need to monitor what their children are being exposed to. I wonder if the parents that are up in arms allow their children to watch MTV, almost any day and early evening TV show, sitcoms, the raunchy movies and play the great video games of violence that are ever present. Is this what we would prefer influencing our children of today, I guess the President would be a much worse choice! I would then assume Michael Jackson would be a much better role model for our children also. Whoa, that's scary! Maybe we need to monitor what message parents are giving to their children, especially when they rely on someone elses 'critical' thinking skills, instead of thinking for themselves.
I look forward to my children hearing what the President has to say, whether or not I like his politics, his policies or his color. He is to be admired for his achievements.


And how is Obama different from Bush? Bush pushed prescription welfare, Iraq and statism- via building on Clinton's and Elder Bush's architecture. Obama, taking his cue, is pushing more socialist health care and has already ramped up the bloody crime of Afghanistan.

Meet the new boss. Same as the old Boss.

It's not as if he's privately taking aside a group of children to propagandize them. He is giving the speech to the entire country, all out in the open, to be discussed and criticized by all these childrens' families. Are these parents honestly too dumb to see what an opportunity that is to share and discuss their own values with their kids? Keeping them ignorant is not going to advance their abilities to look out for themselves in this world.

Thanks so much to all of you who have commented. I"m glad we've got a good debate going on at Politics K-12...keep it coming!

Ask not what your government can do for you, ask what you can do for the country...
In my 44 years, I have watched 9 Presidents speak to citizens of this country. I can't say I liked all of them, but they were my president. Was not Nixon my president, even after he was caught red handed in Watergate? Was not Clinton my president, after his impeachment? Obama is my president, our president, and we need to respect the office of president no matter what party we affiliate ourselves with. Obama has every right to speak to the children of this nation, encourage them to read instead of shooting each other, encourage them to make something of themselves, instead of making excuses.
The rabid right is convinced that they must confront the president with every breath in their bodies, even if it means that destroying the presidency destroys our country.
Anyone who thinks this is wrong headed to have the President speaking to children on the first day of school is showing their ugly scars of racist vile. Be a red blooded American, once in your life, support your president.

The speech is about personal responsibility, it's about staying in school and succeding. It's NOT about health care. There is nothing subversive about those values.

So what? Really, anyone who opposes allowing their children to see this speech ought to be homeschooling their children. (That would, of course, depend on whether or not their family could afford having one person home with the kids let alone be responsible for the child's education. Good luck with that, and more power to you if you already do that.) This is the president of the United States, freely elected and by a large enough majority so as to avoid any messy Supreme Court intervention. What you teach your children if you refuse to let them listen is that ignorance is a positive trait, something to be cultivated. You teach them that being single minded and parochial in your thinking is good enough. And you teach them that participation in civil discourse is not necessary to further the democracy. In short, you teach them about the dissolution of governmental institutions. Good for you. If the country goes to hell in a handbasket, I'll be able to hang the blame on all of you closed-minded, prejudicial (in the sense that you've already made up your mind and judge all other actions based on that prejudice) actions.

Oh, and if that's not enough for you, read the following. I pulled it from a comment on the New York Times of 9/3/09. It's from a reader named "Anita" in Ohio. This oughta shut all of you How- would-you-react-if-it-was-Bush people up:

"Check out this link: http://bushlibrary.tamu.edu

This is the official transcript of Pres. Bush's speech to school children on 10/1/91. It includes this quote:"Write me a letter-and I'm serious about this one-write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals." Aren't these the EXACT WORDS that got the Republicans all riled up when they appeared in the DOE's suggested lesson plan - the EXACT WORDS they pressured Obama into changing? Is the choice of this wording really just coincidental - or has Obama punked the Republicans by intentionally lifting Bush's exact words & using them in the materials provided to go along with his speech? So if these words represent "socialism" & "indocrination" when they are used by the black Democratic President - what did these very same words represent when they were spoken by Bush in 1991?"

Thank you, Garreth, for pulling that quote! I had the same thought when I first read of this uproar.

I also thought that the pre-K to 5th grade lesson plan suggestions to ask students how they plan to help "the president" was not necessarily literal, but a way for younger students to grapple with an abstract question. If I was asking a high school student a critical interpretation question about the speech, I might ask them to name ways they could help their country, or their community, but with younger students, sometimes the concept of 'country' is too big.

On a related note, almost all of my students have said that they are inspired by President Obama in so many ways. Some of them have said that they had never considered that a politician could be someone like them until Obama. I find all of the references to Hitler Youth nauseatingly offensive in their disregard for the reality of the lives of diverse Americans.

Let's keep it real. as a public educator of 39 years, there has never been a raised voice when other presidents gave messages to children. The reason for the discontent is because President Obama is black. Parents are teaching their children disrespect through their actions. I wonder if they turned off the tv during all of the messages of the past presidents. I don't think so. Children learn what they live. Good job parents. You are making sure that society has another generation of racists. I am sure most of the people who are raising all of the foolishness attend church regularly. Perhaps they should try reading the Bible instead. I salute President Obama for not being deterred in any way. Whatever he says or does will be an issue because of the color of his skin. Keep your head up, Mr. President and thank you for taking on this thankless job.

Racquel, Ivy, Marlene, Michael Paul, Linda/Retired Teacher, and...:

Where is your evidence of racism? This 'racism' charge is what you respond with when you have no argument. What a bunch of 'crying wolfers'.
I ask again, how is Obama any different from Bush II? (i.e. His cabinet was more diverse than Obama's btw.)

Is he repealing any of the executive grabs of power? No. Has he rolled back the wars of conquest and the military industrial complex? No.

I am proud of Americans standing up against the state's intrusions into childrens' lives. Besides, almost everywhere and at all times, government schools were instituted for manufacturing obedience to the governing elite. Are you Obamanaid drinkers going to challenge this historical reality too? Call it racist history even?

Again, one would expect a more intellectual conversation at this site compared to other blogs. Most of us commenting here would be educators, right? I can hardly tell the difference. Why are words like "monster" being used in this conversation? This is pretty sad.

I have more to say on this matter at www.drrosaire.wordpress.com

I'm disappointed that Az. always has to be on the side of Texas, Alabama, La., Ark. and the like. Let's move forward. I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the superintendent's apparent political comments. He could have expressed caution in a hundred different ways other than "worshipful" astutely appealing to the conservative state of Az. We need people interested in the education of our children not making political statements.


Would you prefer the following usage?:

"The actions of the executive branch of the United States government are monstrous, only to be outdone by the consequences."

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