Friday, September 4, 2009

On the Back to School Message of the President

President Obama has scheduled an address to children on the importance of working hard and doing their best as the new school year kicks off for much of the country on Tuesday, September 8.

Much to my consternation, Conservatives have decided to take offense.

They are accusing the President of attempting to "indoctrinate" the nation's children.

Apparently some of the critics of the idea think the President will try to sell his economic plan and his hopes for health care reform to the captive audience while he speaks.


Does anyone think the kids would even listen if he were to start talking economics and health care? Do they know any children at all?

In localities all around the country, teachers are being told not to show the speech to their students because it is being viewed as "political."


Since when did working hard and valuing an education become a political message?

Given the craziness that seems to have gripped many of the otherwise rational citizens of our nation, you would think I would be getting used to this topsy turvy world by now.

I admit, though, that I am really struggling with this one.

We have our first ever African American President who is where he is in large part because of his access to an education that he has used to help him reach the highest office in the land.

He has repeatedly mentioned the importance of his getting a good education as a contributing factor of his success.

We know from his election night speech and his Inaugural speech and his dozens of other speeches that he has a gift for oratory that can uplift and inspire his listeners.

For many children of color or children from low income families or children from single-parent homes who have never considered that THEY might ever become president, his message could easily be a powerful motivator.

And why wouldn't we want to motivate our kids to work hard, do their best, value their education, respect their teachers and the opportunities available to them?

This is indoctrination? This is political?


This from the same folks who, not so long ago, insisted on forcing teens to watch Channel One's morning version of the daily news and the accompanying advertisements? Where was the outrage about indoctrination then?

Let's not forget that President Obama is the President of the United States. Having an opportunity to address the children of the nation in order to encourage them to work hard and do their best is a privilege that goes along with the job.

President Reagan did it and it was okay.

President George H. W. Bush did it and it was okay.

I would think we would want to use any and all methods we can to start kids off on a positive note with a view of what their education can mean to them or what they can do if they just put their minds up to it.

I would think we would want to use any and all methods we can to start kids off with the intention that they are going to do well, set goals, and finish school.

But instead, there are those who would teach our students to disrespect not only their President, but the office of president.

So much for Civics 101.