Over at QandO, MichaelW takes me to task for the post I wrote last night about the conservative apoplexy over President Obama’s planned speech to schoolchildren next Tuesday:
While I understand Doug’s disaffection with the Republican Party and its die-hard adherents (with good reason), I really don’t understand this line of attack. Is it really the same thing for a president to encourage kids to stay off of drugs as it is for a president to encourage school children to contemplate the many ways that they can fulfill the government’s wishes?
Well, because there’s no evidence that the speech on Tuesday will be anything nearly as partisan as many on the right seem to fear it will be. The White House’s own press release gives it a fairly innocuous description:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As children across America go back to school, President Obama will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of taking responsibility for their success in school on Tuesday, September 8th at 12:00 PM EDT at Wakefield High School in Arlington. In advance of this address, the Department of Education is providing resources developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion about persisting and succeeding in school. The speech will be broadcast live on www.WhiteHouse.gov and C-SPAN. The speech is open to pre-credentialed media.
So, if that’s all this speech is about — staying in school and doing your best — then what’s really so bad about it ? Many conservatives have complained, perhaps legitimately, about the materials that the Dept. of Education was providing to teachers to accompany the speech, but the most controversial part of hose materials has now been withdrawn:
In an acknowledgment that the Department of Education provided lesson plans written somewhat inartfully, surrounding the President Obama’s speech to students next Tuesday, the White House today announced that it had rewritten one of the sections in question.
President Obama will talk to students from Pre K thru 12th grade about personal responsibility and the importance of staying in school, White House aides said.
As one of the preparatory materials for teachers provided by the Department of Education, students had been asked to, “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. “
Today, after Republicans accused the White House of trying to indoctrinate school children with liberal propaganda the White House and the Department of Education changed the section to now read, “Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals.”
“We changed it to clarify the language so the intent is clear,” said White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor.
The idea, Vietor said, was that students should think of how they could help the President in terms of reducing the national dropout rate.
So, what’s the problem here ?