POTUS speaks to CH/C school children

Priscilla Murphy's picture

From Saturday's Herald-Sun/CHH:  "President Obama's plan to give a televised speech to the nation's students Tuesday might be causing a ruckus in some locales....
But Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Neil Pedersen has sent a note encouraging principals and teachers to make Obama's speech available to students Tuesday at noon if schedules permit.
Obama plans to urge students to work hard, set goals and to take responsibility for their educations. President George H.W. Bush gave a similar back-to-school address in 1991 and so did President Ronald Reagan before him.
"

No single episode has spotlighted the crazed, anti-Obama monomania of Republicans as well as this one.  There's such a stunning lack of acknowledgment of their own inconsistency that we could stand in awe if it weren't part of a larger, yet more irrational and predatory mindset. 

There's no question that if the shoe were on the other foot -- if Democrats had criticized a Bush or Reagan "indoctrination" of their school children and tried to prevent them from hearing the President's speech -- Republicans would have howled about the lack of patriotism and near-treasonous lack of respect for The Office of The President.

It's tempting to thank Sup. Pedersen for taking at least an "encouraging" stand, but it's idiotic that he should have been called upon to do so in the first place.  I remember toasting Pres. Eisenhower with a glass of milk in 1st grade.  Clearly, that "indoctrination" failed with me, but I did remember honoring the Presidency.

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OCS take a less enlightened position

Unfortunately, the Orange County School system has taken a less enlightened position on the speech. Per their website:

    "Please note that this address is an optional instructional activity.

     A parent or guardian has the option of not allowing their child to

     watch the address and participate in the activities.  For those

     students who do not participate, supervision will be provided at

     each school."

Will this policy apply to other speakers that a school may bring in? Will I have the right as a parent to demand that my child opt out of a controversial subject matter because the teacher may have an opposing viewpoint?   It seems OCS has not thought through the implications of its opt out policy.

Catherine DeVine's picture

He can do better

Thanks for the scoop, Mike.  I was satisfied in advance that this would be a perfectly acceptable back-to-school message, but I'm disappointed to see that the speech is too long and loaded with platitudes. Blah blah blah.  

Mark Marcoplos's picture

This one is teed up for Obama

But will he hit back at the sleazy manipulators who are behind this move? With each passing day, as the bs mounts, I wonder when will the Obama administration do the proper and strategic thing and hit back hard at these scumbags?

How much can a parent control information?

I don't get it.  The wingnuts are against the president speaking to their elementary school kids because he might fill them full of liberal stuff.  What do they want to do, follow their kids to school every day to monitor and control every single interaction that their kids have with any human being in the school?  A typical grade school has 600 kids and maybe 40 faculty and staff.  The kids talk to everyone, thousands of interactions each day.  Eventually the parents have to trust someone, including their own kids, to accept or reject the information thrown at them, based on their value system.Kids know how to reject stuff, to separate noise from reality.  By the time a kid reaches 18, he has seen 20,000 murders on TV, but he doesn't grow up to be Jack the Ripper.  

I'm with Newt Gingrich

... in calling shenanigans on the complaints.  I agree with Newt, this is all ridiculous.  There's nothing bad in the speech (although the kids will tune it out, it's very poorly written/targeted), and the Education Department edited their 'instructions' which were what began the hullabaloo anyway.Matter of fact, the is the FIRST productive, positive thing I've seen come from this President so far.   Hopefully this will be the start of his eventual move towards the center, and an end to the divisiveness.

Priscilla Murphy's picture

Lizard brain thinking

Again, would a statement such as OC school system's have been tolerated for one second were Bush still in office?   We would have been deluged with accusations of typical OC liberal "thought police," etc. etc.The intensity (e.g., N&O blog) is truly astonishing.  So is the inability of Obama's administration and the Democrats to respond to and neutralize the opposition's effectiveness, on this and on the health care reform bill.  Have seen not one ad supporting reform.  Have heard not any retort that "shielding" our kids from a Presidential speech is anti-democratic (with a small D). I search for explanations beyond the consummate and focused PR skill of the conservative political machinery, which has obviously tapped into something frighteningly powerful.   And also beyond the dis-organizational deathwish Democrats seem to have when the chips are down.  Old news - so old, in fact, that you'd think the cycle between the two woud be decaying by now, which is what I foolishly thought happened in the 2008 election.  And although racism has to be playing a role here, the pattern is too familiar from history (Carter, Clinton) to suggest it's the core problem.I was noticing how little has been discussed about the NATO attack in Afghanistan, and I had an unoriginal thought:  Maybe those most fearful of -- and energized by! -- external threats have turned their energies inward, on ourselves, because the nature of the outside threat is too confusing, too diffuse, too difficult to define and target. We have no idea who or what is "out there" trying to ruin our lives now; but by jiminy, if someone says a socialist is trying to infiltrate our health care and our schools, now THAT we know how to deal with.  There's something dismayingly "hypothalamus" ("lizard brain") about all this.

Brooks Rainey Pearson's picture

I failed to be indoctrinated

I recall watching taped speeches by both George Bush and Raegan when I was in elementary school, and I remember Nancy Raegan coming onto Diff'rent Strokes to tell me to Just Say No.  I still turned out a liberal Democrat.  I think some of these parents need to get honest and admit that they do not fear a socialist.  They fear a black man in a position of power.  How long will we give these people a platform from which to spew their nonsense?  He is the President of the United States of America and he has a message to deliver to the school children of America.  Period.  

CW Stanford

... did not watch the speech with the rest of Orange County Schools
because of technical issues, but they were set to watch it yesterday
morning.

gercohen's picture

Saul Alinsky spoke at my high school

This is a true story. I was a fairly conservative Republican high school senior in a then Republican town in a northeastern state until my high school had Saul Alinsky speak to an assembly at my high school gym. I changed my political thinking 180 degrees after that speech. So don't laugh at the idea that one speaker in a school can have an effect. I think President Obama was also strongly influenced by Alinsky's community organizing methods and theories.   On the other hand, Obama's speech was really pablum.

James Barrett's picture

interesting!

I've been involved in our local Alinsky-trained group (to publicly launch with a new name next month) and can understand how moving that can be.  They challenge us from a faith perspective (which today we'd also usually equate with conservative) to make the world a better place locally.  It is hard not to be energized by the posssibilities when one of the good organizers gets a group fired up.

Priscilla Murphy's picture

Fully scripted protest

Spoke to someone in the administration of a large school district in a neighboring county, who said that the wording of every protest and every request to excuse children from hearing the President's address was, word-by-word, exactly the same.  Not paraphrasing the same sentiment; precisely the same wording throughout.  Before the internet, interest groups would rally letter-writing campaigns by sending out multiple copies of the same letter with a space for a signature.  Obviously, that effort was limited by paper and postage costs, and it also meant that recipients became jaded about being flooded with such obviously carbon-copy protests.  The internet has overcome those constraints, and you'd think it would encourage people to at least change some wording.  But no, and somehow the obvious orchestration of this particular 'movement' doesn't get reported on by the "old" media or even the new media.  Anyone know or guess where the archetypal letter might have originated?  Are we back at "Freedom Works"? 

Priscilla Murphy's picture

And once again, a year later

School districts - notably in Texas, Indiana, Florida, and ?Ohio? - again offered parents the choice of "opting out" of having their children hear the President's back-to-school speech.  And once again, I am convinced that were this to occur during a Bush or Reagan administration, any school offering such an option would have had the Conservative Hellfire and Wrath rain down upon them for near-treason or, at the very least, failure to respect The Office of The President.