School districts from Maryland to Texas are fielding angry complaints from parents opposed to President Barack Obama’s back-to-school address Tuesday – forcing districts to find ways to shield students from the speech as conservative opposition to Obama spills into the nation’s classrooms.
The White House says Obama’s address is a sort of pep talk for the nation’s schoolchildren. But conservative commentators have criticized Obama for trying to “indoctrinate” students to his liberal beliefs, and some parents call it an improper mix of politics and education.
“The gist is, ‘I want to see what the president has to say before you expose it to my child.’ Another said, ‘This is Marxist propaganda.’ They are very hostile,” said Patricia O’Neill, a Democrat who is vice president of the Montgomery County School Board, in a district that borders Washington, D.C. “I think it’s disturbing that people don’t want to hear the president, but we live in a diverse society.”
The White House has since announced that the text of the speech will be released to the public on Monday, but somehow I don’t think that’s going to satisfy many people:
Some parents said they were concerned because the speech had not been screened for political content. Nor, they said, had it been reviewed by the State Board of Education and local school boards, which, under state law, must approve the curriculum.
“The thing that concerned me most about it was it seemed like a direct channel from the president of the United States into the classroom, to my child,” said Brett Curtiss, an engineer from Pearland, Tex., who said he would keep his three children home.
“I don’t want our schools turned over to some socialist movement.”
In Texas, calls and e-mail messages flooded into the offices of many local school officials. “I didn’t get a positive call all day,” said Susan Dacus, a spokeswoman for the Wylie Independent School District outside Dallas.
School officials in Wylie decided to record the speech, review it and then let individual teachers show it, offering students the opportunity to avoid listening if they wished.
In Houston, teachers have been asked to tell parents if they intend to show the speech and the schools will provide an alternative class for those whose parents object, a spokesman for the district, Lee Vela, said.
Meanwhile, as we go into a holiday weekend, there’s no sign that this faux controversy is going away any time soon.
Michelle Malkin certainly isn’t letting up:
Obama served with Weather Underground terrorist and neighbor Bill Ayers on the Chicago Annenberg Challenge education initiative. Downplaying academic achievement in favor of left-wing radical activism in the public schools is rooted in Ayers’ pedagogical philosophy. Obama served as the program’s first chairman of the board, while Ayers steered its curricular policy. The two oversaw grants to welfare rights enterprise ACORN and to avowed communist Michael Klonsky — a close pal of Ayers and member of the militant Students for a Democratic Society. SDS served as a precursor to the violent Weather Underground organization.
As investigative journalist Stanley Kurtz reported, Klonsky and Ayers teamed up on the so-called “small schools movement” to steer schoolchildren away from core academics to left-wing politicking on issues of “inequity, war and violence.”
A cadre of like-minded educators and national service administrators across the country share the same core commitment to transforming themselves from imparters of knowledge to transformers of society. The “change” agenda trains students to think only about what they should do for Obama — and rarely to contemplate how his powers and ambitions should be limited and restrained.
Bruce McQuain, meanwhile, seems bothered by the fact that Obama is going over the parent’s heads, or behind their backs, to speak to children directly:
[T]his is about a president presuming to speak directly to our children without our permission. It’s not so much about the message, it’s the presumption. To me that’s a presumption which he has no right to make. If he wants to speak to the nation on national TV I, as an adult, have the ability to choose whether or not to watch him or instead a Braves’ game. If he wants to talk about education and address children, I’ll put mine in front of the TV if I think what he’ll have to say is useful and necessary. That’s a parent’s job and a politician – any politician – presuming he is above such parental control or choice is just flat wrong.
Lastly, many of the objections haven’t been focused on the speech but the fact that this is an organized event with a lesson plan that, until the outcry, had some portions where were obviously political. And that’s the opinion of more than just conservatives (the White House dropped some of those more obvious portions from the lesson plan).
The one problem I have with Bruce’s first point is that I don’t remember anything like the furor we’re seeing today when President Reagan directly addressed schoolchildren in 1988, or when President George H.W. Bush did in 1989 and again in 1991. If it’s okay then, why isn’t it okay now ?
As to the second point, well, I’ve looked over the lesson plan, and other than thinking that most kids are probably going to find it incredibly boring, I really don’t see what the big deal is:
And I’d have another question for Michelle Malkin and the others who are so panicked over this — if a President speaking to schoolchildren is unacceptable, then what do you think about a President reading them The Pet Goat ?
I’m just sayin’