President Obama and School Kids

In a KC Star piece titled Obama's speech to students an ugly political mess editorial writer Yael Abouhalkah echoes much of my sentiments over the presidents upcoming speech to the school children of our country.. here is what he said:
The Obama administration shares the blame for making his scheduled speech to K-12 students next Tuesday such an ugly mess.

Sure, the hyperpartisan reaction to it by conservatives and radio shock jocks has drawn the attention of many Americans. They are being told to oppose allowing Obama to shove his politics down their children's throats (which, by the way, isn't what's going to happen).

Now school boards and superintendents across the country are being pressured by right-wing groups to pull the plug on Obama's speech.

But Obama's education officials didn't help their cause by indicating that the speech would be a good occasion for students to outline how they could help Obama be a good president.

Or offer ways for Obama to help serve the nation.

Those suggestions -- now gone from the official website of next Tuesday's speech -- were wrongheaded.

Of course, the speech won't be about politics at all, and most people realize it.

It will be President Obama doing what he does best, trying to inspire young people to stay in school and do their best to get a good education.

Nothing wrong with that at all.

But the missteps by the Obama administration helped confuse the message.
I think that our school kids today so need some inspiration.. a lot of them dropout or are thrown out. Even our suburban KC schools have issues that require schools to have a police officer present during school hours. Lets all hope that the president's speech will help our kids.


  1. I think this article misrepresents the concern - it's with the curriculum that accompanies the speech, not the speech itself.

    I never thought that his speech was in and of itself going to be controversial.

    Working with high-risk kids though I can tell you this won't do one iota to help kids stay in school. What they need are mentors in the flesh, parents who are engaged, and schools that actually educate.

    They don't need another celebrity to look up to which I'm afraid this will be how it is viewed.

  2. Disagree with you that the issue is the curriculum Shane. Some are saying that his purpose in speaking is to indoctrinate the nation's children into his cult of progressivism.

    I think that he simply wants to challenge and inspire kids to do better.

    I applaud your efforts with high-risk kids. From your comment it is apparent that these kids you work with were not inspired by the president's election. Sad to hear.

  3. It just goes to show how deeply divided and mistrusting our country is. These same people who are having a cow about Obama encouraging kids to stay in school and to do critical thinking (the so-called "curriculum") would have been praising George W. Bush for doing the very same thing. The President can't give an inspirational speech to school children without people politicizing it. Sad.

    We do live in a society where celebrity culture has as much or more influence than parents in many cases. Kids are looking up to rappers, basketball players and reality TV stars as role models. Shouldn't they be able to look to the President as a role model? I just don't get it.

  4. Bob, I think you are approaching this with the assumption that his intention really are good. The body of his work has been deception and control. As shane clearly points out, it is more than a speech. It is about connecting service to a president and not a country. It is about putting his face out their as a father. It is about Obama Youth

  5. This is the first time an American president has addressed a captive school audience, so it seems a bit odd for everyone. They are also giving out "workbooks" which is frowned upon and turns it less into a speech about the importance of education, and more about politics and Obama--ABC news had a piece that, due to protests by conservatives, the WH changed wording of some questions: one question was about how they could help the president. They changed it to how the kids could achieve their long and short term goals. The WH back-peddled and said they wanted to make the meaning more clear, could kids help the president reduce high school drop-outs.(?) Not really the same subject. I think the question about setting goals is much more in tune with a speech that's supposed to be about education...don't you?
    Add to this the ridiculous celebrity "pledging to be a servant to the president (!?!?)" ad and the WH deserves all the backlash it gets.
    And, if GW, Clinton, Reagan, or any other president did this speech, they would have come under fire, too.
    Apparently, no one knows the text of the speech? So, no one can really say if it's political or not.

  6. "Of course, the speech won't be about politics at all, and most people realize it."

    Yes, _this time_. But this is just to get people used to the idea. Before long he will be giving speeches about the importance of the "right to privacy" and "making sure everyone gets an equal piece of the pie."

  7. Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't.

    If he was White, evangelical and had a Christian name, the people who hate him as he is would call him a patriot and God-sent. They would follow such a person no matter how arrogant and stupid he was, no matter how much he violated their constitutional rights, no matter how many war crimes he committed.

    Bigots be ashamed.

  8. Wow...that was a pretty bigoted statement you just made, Joe.

  9. I've heard Obama talk about education on a number of different occasions now and there is nothing he has said in my opinion that resembles the propaganda assertions and conerns by his critics. If anything, he sounds more like a conservative than most conservatives when it comes to education. As far as asking the children for suggestions I think that was simply an attempt to involve the children in some small way. I teach Civics and ask kids to write letters to government officials or fictious letters to the president from time to time to engage them and consider it a problem, only, if the teacher tries to direct the content and opinions of the students. There is no evidence to suggest Obama was going to use this opportunity to teach children socialism or left ideology and to suggest, imply, or assert otherwise is pure poppycock.

  10. Karen, I think the attacks on Obama are bigoted and I'm disappointed that so many Americans are acting this way. Obama doesn't want to control the minds of our children any more than he wants to create a death panel to eliminate the elderly and disabled.

    I can only believe that the people who believe such things are motivated by hatred. Hatred due to racism for some. Hatred do to an extreme ideological opinion for others.

    You can call these attacks "freedom of speech.". I'll call it bigotry of one sort or another.

  11. I agree, Joe. Actually, I was excited about the opportunity for a leap forward in race relations when Obama was elected. After having read his book (The Audacity of Hope) and realizing that even though he leans liberal, he really wants to do what's best for the country, not an ideology, I was hopeful for bipartisanship.

    I have to say that his election has brought out the best and the the worst in people. Maybe it's just because of the people I interact with. But, we seem to be even more deeply divided in some ways. While liberals and Democrats disagree with Bush on many things, for the most part he was not demonized. For many people everything Obama does is part of some subversive "commie" (yeah, someone on Facebook used that word with me yesterday) agenda. The man tries to make a speech to inspire school children to think critically and stay in school and he's flamed for it.

    Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Exactly right. I just hope he has thick skin and keeps on doing the right things.

  12. Actually, I was incorrect about Obama being the first president to speak to a captive audience. Reagan did, I think, and George H.W. the ridicule of the media; ABC and CBS wouldn't even televise it.
    GW hasn't been demonized? That is truly laughable. Your guys are in charge, they are now the ones on the chopping block. Get used to it. It's going to last at least another 3 years.Shoe's on the other foot now.
    Joe, I'm deeply offended by your bigoted comments and attacks toward white people and Christians. You wouldn't make these comments against other religions or races. However, I will defend your free speech rights to be as bigoted toward those you accuse the same.

  13. Some quotes: "I don't want our schools turned into some socialist movement" and "appalled that taxpayer dollars are being spent to spread President Obama's socialist ideology".

    Besides the fact that the President wants to tell kids to study hard, stay in school, wash their hands, etc. the fact is that these Obama haters are sad, pathetic sore losers. The word is not socialist, it's DEMOCRAT. It's what the vast majority of this country chose.

    These name-calling, fear-mongerers quoted are like the kids who weren't selected team captain and now want to take their ball and go home. Here's a newsflash: YOU LOST. If you want to win, run better candidates, have better ideas and produce better results.

  14. Ed...what was the real intent of the speech. I would have supported a Presidential speech to school children had it not contained "ways for children to help the president", I may have even supported it had they left these remarks in after they became public. It makes me wonder however if the President even reads his speeches before hand and believes in what they contain, or if he is just allowing someone to tell him what to say. If you want to say something, say it, stand up for your convictions, tell the truth. Nothing worse in my mind than a politician who wants to say or do something, then backtracks because it might make someone mad, you've been elected do what YOU think is right and let the chips fall where they may.

  15. The word isn't's fascism.
    Yes, our "team" lost. But I have never seen such sore winners in my life! You're gonna take the just get used to it. And, I have yet to see anything positive "produced."

  16. I don't expect anybody's first proposal to always be the perfect proposal. I wouldn't want my government or my manager at work to ignore feedback. So if Obama adjusts his speech, like every speech write has occasion to do, I don't have a problem with it.

    I don't expect everybody to agree with what Obama does as president but the way that many people are expressing their disapproval is unacceptable to me. He is being accused of attempting to brainwash our children, to create an army of children that will only be accountable to Obama, to apply pressure on the parents of the children. He has been likened to Hitler and Stalin.

    Such reactions are not reasonable. Such reactions are motivated by hate. If you hate Obama as a person, then you will disapprove of everything that he does. You can't admit that you disagree because you hate him but you must give a reason to defend your opposition - you can't just say "because." If you disagree with the content of an Obama proposal then you should be able to cite the content with which you disagree and justify your disagreement. If you disagree because you hate Obama, then you cannot provide a reason that you can defend. If you think that the proposal cannot be paid for then Obama or his supporters have an opportunity to provide evidence that it can be paid for. If on the other hand you disagree only because you hate Obama you can't defend your opposition in a rational way. If you hate him because he is Black, you can't admit it without disqualifying your opposition. You don't have facts to support your oppostion so you resort to making claims such as "he could create a death panel... he's trying to control our children... he's a socialist/communist/foreign agent/Muslim... he wants to force my church to marry gays and lesbians... he could legalize abortions by my dentist... if he permits homosexuality in the military, no decent person will want to serve and our military will consist only of queers."

    If your opposition to Obama or anybody else is rational then I'm all ears. If you just want to scream at me with an intimidating expression that our children will soon be a brown-shirted army for Obama, then I don't want to hear it.

  17. I have been preoccupied the last few days and am just now re-engaging in the conversation. I thought it might be helpful check Websters for a few of the words being bandied about:
    bigot: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
    socialism: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property; a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state.

    fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition

    Guess I do not find these pejorative terms to be helpful in discussion. I may be wrong, but if you call me a bigot, socialist or fascist it will probably inflame me and cause me to entrench even stronger in what I am believing. It will not foster helpful dialog.

    I have learned so much from many of you who have commented here. I feel that my understanding of so many issues has deepened. My positions on most issues have not greatly changed but I see many issues from a grayer perspective instead of my de facto balck/white view.

    I encourage us all to stay away from pejorative language when we debate and discuss issues. I believe that we can really learn from each other and that understanding can foster a bit of peace.. even if it is just one small bit of peace.

  18. Excellent recommendations Bob. If Obama's opposiion limits their statements to the facts then many of them will have nothing to say, i.e. death panel cannot be supported by fact.

    Bigot is THE appropriate term when referring to a person who "regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolence."

  19. Good recommendations, Bob. If they apply to everyone, but they never do. It's kind of funny to hear screamers telling folks to stop screaming.
    Comments against whites and Christians are bigoted. Pure and simple. I'm not even WASP or Anglo.
    Obama won, and he is not above being criticized, no matter how much anyone "disapproves." Fist pounding and temper-tantrums won't change it. Bush was demonized, Hitler-ized, and conspiracy-theorized. So was Clinton, Reagan, Carter. It's human nature. No emotion attached to this statement. It's just fact. But getting angry about it and making a big fuss is a great way to distract from the real issues, isn't it? It also keeps us from talking about the folks Obama surrounds himself Rangel and Geitner...guys in finance and tax who are above the law.
    When I put out my concerns about certain sections of HR3200, I got no response. All I've seen is patronization and name-calling "bigots, brown-shirts, morons, typical rightwing nutjob" etc. This is usually the result of not being able to come up with a sensible response. One woman sputtered: "Well...Sarah Palin is stupid!" LOL
    Misbehavior all around. I'm done here. If anyone wants to snark at me, you can email me.

  20. I like Obama, and in theory I think it an admirable thing to address the children of our country and give them a sense of civic pride, Bob, what makes me nervous about it is twofold.

    First, it is reminicent of communist/dictatorial indoctrinational practices - i.e. Castro, Jong-il. I know it's not entirely a reasonable fear, but there nonetheless.

    Second, during the campaigning and elections last year two of my kids picked up some verbage that shocked me - "If you don't vote for Obama, you're retarded." I don't tell my kids who I vote for or what political affiliation I have. I spend a great deal of time explaining the positive aspects of each candidate and the good they could do for our country and allow my kids to come to their own conclusion, teaching them to show the same respect for others. So this really made me upset. Obama is already very popular with the kids and I get concerned that they begin to idolize him. I worry about that with other social icons, too, but I have some control over their exposure as the school does not promote them either.

    Just FYI, I do remember that GW Bush planned something like this while I was in school and the Democrats were deeply opposed. He cancelled it.

  21. I meant GHW Bush - I'm not THAT young. :)

  22. I just listened to Obama's speech to the school children and I can't imagine how it could have been more appropriate. The people who opposes this speech should ask themselves if it is the speech or the speaker that they cannot accept.

  23. Back when he was elected, I hoped that someday he'd give a speech like this to the children of our country. So many of them are in desperate need of a role model like Obama who overcame adversity to reach the highest office in the land.

    Great job!

  24. I only caught a little bit since I was with special needs kids today. It was good.

  25. Well, I was admittedly nervous (mind you I am nervous about authority in general). My school district is airing it on Friday, but my little girl was home sick today, so we watched it in bed while eating leftover birthday cake. Great speech - really. I think it would be something I would definitely say myself put in the same position. I was especially impressed that, other than the subject matter, one might not suspect he was talking to kids. My daughter was inspired to do her best. It was about personal responsibility to oneself, one's family and to one's country by being the best person you can be. Very good.

  26. After reading and listening to the President's speech I feel I must say something. It was refreshing to hear a President of The United States tell our school children as well as their parents, that they are partially responsible for their educational (and by extension, lifelong) success. So let us hope that the political far left will finally, after hearing their President admit that there is such a thing as personal responsibility, stop their whining about poor little Johnny down the road who didn't have the same opportunities as little Jane on the same street did, and stop their coddling of people who use this excuse as an attempt to get away with the crimes they commit. It is personal responsibility people, it is about time it was recognized.

  27. Interesting perspective, Coach Scully. I'm pretty far left and I've never shied away from personal responsibility. And, it's not like this is the first time Obama has brought it up. But, I'm glad to see that some were (pleasantly) surprised that a man who could hold the philosophy that we are our brother's keepers also recognizes that the trials and challenges we all face do not absolve us of our personal responsibility for our own lives and should never serve as excuses to not do the best we can with the hand we are dealt.


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