May 24, 2024

New 4th Period Teacher: President Obama

Obama Walks

It’s not the first time that a President has addressed public school kids.  When President George W. Bush was in office he addressed public school children from a high school setting, encouraging them to study hard and get good grades.

The message isn’t all bad.  We have sports stars, actors, and other people on the television and in print ads encouraging children to do their best.

So what has everyone so riled up about President Obama addressing children this time?1

I believe that it’s the current political climate, the idea that the schools are supposed to be under state/local jurisdiction, and the fact that it is a closed environment.

Political Climate

We live in a very hostile political climate.  Not only is the person that disagrees with you wrong, but they’re threatening to destroy your way of life—or worse, kill you.  They are evil, and you can’t separate the person from the ideology, policies and ideas.

This means that whoever is the President, the opposing party is not going to want that person to speak to children, because it might mean that the child may actually look up to that person/party and question the party out of power.

And to a degree, they have a right to be concerned.  Whereas there’s nothing wrong in respecting the office or having pride in the country, children often don’t have the background to differentiate or weigh different ideas.  It’s easier and simpler to be behind what a parent or President says, so that if the President were to have a good speech in a school setting, then that might transfer into support for him in different speeches in different settings.

I don’t believe that there has to be time for a rebuttal—like some have suggested—but I do believe that if you’re going to have elected leaders address bodies of children like this that you should have different and varied ones.  I would think it would be a great civics lesson if the representatives (local, state and federal) would routinely visit the schools to encourage the students academics.

If it were something that was integrated into the classrooms that attached to a class on politics, then it would make sense, but that would also bring up the juristictional issue.

States and Local Governments are Supposed to Be In Charge

One of the last vestiges of States Rights is the education system.  Though a lot of their power has been eroded, States are supposed to be in charge of education.  Meaning that they control what should be learned, whether there should be stickers in science textbooks, etc.

The federal government has tried to take control2 of the school in various different ways.  To have the President have the power to interrupt the school day, suggest curriculum to talk about what he’s going to say, and to not have his speech checked means that he’s stepping on a lot of toes.

We’re supposed to judge him by his intent, not by what he actually does.  However, he seems to not understand that people like having authority over their section of the world, and you should treat them with respect.

Closed Environment

The worst part, for me, is that this is a captive audience.  It’s not like there’s an option to get out (though some schools are creating one) and the reasons for leaving such an assembly?  Hard to justify.

I left a few assemblies in my high school days, but I had good reasons—I like to keep my ability to hear, I don’t support the homosexual agenda, and I don’t think I needed any more sex ed, thank-you-very-much.

Those that are not aware of what’s going on can go in and simply hear another personality telling them to study hard.  Not necessarily a bad thing, but something that I can understand parents having problems with.

What do you think?  Is it something that we should just consider the chance for kids to hear from their President, or is it something that he should have avoided?

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  1. Some Parents Oppose Obama School Speech []
  2. And when I say this, it’s not because I don’t believe they were well intentioned.  In order to attempt to help schools increase the proficiency of the children that come through them, the federal government created “No Child Left Behind” which gave the Federal Government more power over rewarding schools.  In every one of these things, the Federal Government has a choice: Take power away and poorly manage the situation, or find a solution that allows choice and free market values and watch the people fix their own situation.  The current health care bill is yet another example. []

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