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The Furor Over Obama Speech Rolls On

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You hoped, perhaps, that the brouhaha over President Obama's planned back-to-school speech would die a quiet and quick death? Sorry to disappoint you. It picked up speed yesterday (See this story by my colleague Dakarai Aarons).

Arizona Schools Superintendent Tom Horne* piled on, issuing a statement saying that the White House was encouraging schoolchildren to have a "worshipful" rather than a critical approach to the President's speech, scheduled for a live broadcast Sept. 8 from an Arlington, Va., high school. Some districts and schools decided to block or delay the broadcast of the speech.

Apparently, the classroom activities offered up by the White House—one set for elementary school students and one for middle and high school students—were a key flashpoint for conservatives who lit up the blogosphere and parents who queued up at school, district, and state department of education phone lines in various places yesterday.

The White House already skinned back on one of the activities in the elementary school classroom activities, which had suggested that the children write letters to themselves outlining ways they could help the president.

There could be a troubling (or reassuring) sense of balance in knowing that this outrage isn't just a conservative/Republican thing. As Dakarai's story points out, Democrats, too, went ballistic in 1991 when then-President George H.W. Bush gave a speech to students at a District of Columbia middle school. You can guess: using children as political pawns, blah, blah, blah.

But that was before the Internet and blogosphere gave news the acceleration power of a Southern California brush fire. On this round, tons of folks at schools, districts, and state offices got their fingers singed. The receptionist at the South Carolina Department of Education office, for instance, handled lots of irate people, department spokesman Pete Pillow told me, and they weren't assuaged once they were transferred to him, either. Because the department's position is that districts should decide how to handle the speech.

Perhaps those who thought this would be a straightforward civics exercise were a little naive.

*An earlier version of this blog post mistakenly identified Tom Horne as Arizona's governor. An alert reader brought this to our attention and we corrected it.

4 Comments

Noticed a typo. Mr. Horne isnt the governor of Arizona, he's the Superintendent of the state's Dept of Education

So it's not good for students in public school to watch the President of the United States give a speech urging them to take their education seriously (not to mention the role model he himself provides of the importance of education). Maybe the vocal opposition is afraid young people might listen and decide for themselves.

Hmmmmm..... like any video used in my classroom, I will watch the President's message, screen it, and decide whether, or not, it can be an asset to my curriculum and instructional strategies.

Thanks to President Obama and Secretary Duncan, my state has decided to force my hand when I create my Professional Growth Plan. I am mandated to state, in writing, that AT LEAST 60% of my 9th grade students will show learning gains on our annual state test.

The state board of education still has not developed a clear system of HOW that is going to be measured and/or if there will be consequences should I fall short of the 60% "personal goal." However, I must sign this document a week from now.

Additionally, my local school board has not negotiated in good faith and I am currently working without a contract. To make matters worse, the local board wants me to accept a 3-day furlough this school year to help ease budget problems. That's right... the students will have the same name of instructional days, but I will end up with three days LESS pay than last year.

But hey ! All 30 high school stadiums in our district hosted Friday night football under the lights this weekend.... at the district's expense.

Some President, eh?

How can we trust a man who says he has learned from studying past presidents? If that were the case, then he would know that bullying state governments into compliance by withholding money has never worked for ANY President. Particularly state legislatures filled with Republicans who are antagonistic to the current administration.

President Obama can not, by the stroke of a pen, change the mindset of communities whose citizens have abandoned their schools.

Stop burdening the teachers. Start burdening the parents who do not actively participate in their children's education.

Wow! Is this Red State, Blue State minutia getting to anyone beside me.

Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Sean Hannity, et al, can be proud of themselves for gouging out a greater fissure in the US political demographic.

Is this the President of the United States attempting to encourage America's school children to take responsibility for their futures or some side show huckster trying to lure some unsuspecting youngster into a side alley so he can abuse them?

Obama's speech to America's students on Tuesday is a real felony, at least in the eyes of the loony right.

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  • Paul Hoss: Wow! Is this Red State, Blue State minutia getting to read more
  • Rory Ty Sponsler: Hmmmmm..... like any video used in my classroom, I will read more
  • Renee / TeachMoore: So it's not good for students in public school to read more
  • Mustafa: Noticed a typo. Mr. Horne isnt the governor of Arizona, read more

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