The First Draft: Backlash against Obama’s classroom message

September 4, 2009

OBAMA/What could be more mainstream than the president of the United States addressing the country’s school kids on their first day in class after the Labor Day weekend? That must have been what White House officials were thinking when they set up a speech by Barack Obama for next Tuesday.

The theme, according to the presidential Web site, couldn’t be blander: work hard, be responsible and stay in school. Even the White House recognized the possibly low excitement level of the subject and in addition to a video promo by the president, there’s also one featuring NASCAR drivers, urging students and their parents to tune in.

BUSH EDUCATIONThat’s not how some parents — and political conservatives — saw it, especially in Texas.

Houston radio station KTRH made it the question of the day: “How do you feel about President Obama’s plan to speak directly to school children in an address next week?” Some parents worried the speech would be laced with politics and others were concerned that it hadn’t been reviewed by the state board of education, according to a front-page New York Times story. CNN’s morning news headline on the subject read, “Obama talk to my kids? No thanks!”

UPDATE: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs responding to the controversy says: “I think we’ve reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can’t tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school.”

At issue for some was a line in government materials made available to teachers that suggested students write themselves a letter asking what they could do to help the president. That was later deleted. Material from the Department of Education now suggests asking older students:

“Why does President Obama want to speak with us today?    
How will he inspire us?   
How will he challenge us?  
What might he say?”

CLINTONPresidents talking to students is nothing new. In fact, the classroom photo op is a staple of American political life. So why has this speech hit such a nerve? Is it the times? It it the economic climate? Is it a new turn in U.S. attitudes toward Barack Obama? Or something else altogether?

Let us know what you think.

Photo credits: REUTERS/Larry Downing (President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle at Capital City Public Charter School, Washington, February 3, 2009)

REUTERS/Win McNamee (President George W. Bush reads at Nalle Elementary School, Washington, February 9, 2001)

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (President Bill Clinton reads to children at the White House, December 19, 2000)

79 comments

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When I was a kid, we went on classtrips, watched newsreels, and occasionally had a vistor speak to us about “whatever”. Some of these events were more interesting than others; what they all had in common was, they were “experiences”, that helped us to become aware of the world that exists beyond our “parents homes”. We were encouraged to write about them, discuss them, and debate them.It was a great way to expose children, and get them thinking “rationally”.So lets embrace this event. Tell your kids to watch and listen to the president, and afterwards ask them what they got out of it.Make it a “dinner-time discussion”. They and you will become a better person.

Posted by peter | Report as abusive

It’s just pissy, small minded, hardcore Republicans still brooding about losing the election. They want their children to be just as pissy and small minded as they are so God forbid they let someone articulate and intelligent have a moment to talk to them. Not everything in this world is about politics, people. You’re just being asinine.

Posted by Travis | Report as abusive

It shows how desperately the right-wing is grasping at straws to politicize everything on the most petty level in a futile attempt to discredit the President!

Posted by Makeda Palmer | Report as abusive

This is mainstream? Would it be considered mainstream if Bush wanted to address the children in schools? If it were so mainstream, why is Obama the first to try to do this? Is he the only president who cares about schools? Or is he rather the only one so arrogant as to try to divide this nation eith his ego?The NEA , etc. would NEVER permitted it to be done by a republican, and that is a good thing. Why not address families, at home? Better yet, why not stop trying to be loved and start doing his job as Chief Executive Officer?This is a political stunt only a moron would embrace.T.J.Fod

Posted by T.J. Fod | Report as abusive

T.J. Fod. Obama is not the first one. Both Reagan and Bush Sr. addressed school children. Please feel free to criticize Obama when the situation merits it or after you’ve considered it thoughtfully. But please get your facts straight first.

Posted by Armani | Report as abusive

Really, Where was President Bush the on 9/11/2001? I thought that he was in a Florida classroom.

Posted by T. Laurent | Report as abusive

I suppose it was a “political stunt” when President Bush addressed kids, indoctrination when Barbara Bush encouraged kids to stay in school, and manipulation when President Reagan told our kinds in school to say no to drugs.”The NEA, etc.” didn’t stop those events and it didn’t seem to kill anyone. Get over yourselves.

Posted by Albert | Report as abusive

I really don’t understand this. Where were all the conservatives (forgive me if this is not an issue for you) when ‘No Child Left Behind’ was dictated to our schools? A program severely underfunded and causing huge problems and financial failure for school districts all over America. And to the parents that don’t think the President of the United States of America should be allowed to address their children without their presence/guidance: I suggest- home schooling, removing or limiting your child’s access to the internet,attending school with your child every day, allow only supervised visits with friends; basically censor your child’s every contact with other human beings because they might not share your ideology.Just as children have the right to refuse to say the Pledge in schools they should have the right to here a positive message about education from this elected leader of our nation. I was not a big fan of President Bush but total support his right, when in office, to do the same.And back to ‘No Child Left Behind’, classrooms are now completely focused on teaching standardized TESTs not actually educating children and instructing them in ways to become productive members of society.I work in the sool system, but I am not a teacher, and I am not part of any union. I see kids graduate that can barely read, can’t spell or balance a check book. So how has the government helped?

T.J. Fod,You are exactly right…Except for one thing… Obama is not the first to try this.Bush Sr., Reagan, Hitler, Mao, Kim Jong Il, Chavez… the list is a long one, but not a group I would like to be associated with myself.

Posted by Jake | Report as abusive

Keep politics out of classroom. This is Orwellian at best, and for sure a poor taste attempt to brian wash innocent kids. This is what Hitler when he adressed Hitler Yugen did. Nothing says that liberal cannot be a dictator. Protect our Democracy vote him out. This is not 50′s anymore, we don’t need governement father figure.”Obama Leave the Kids Alone!”

Posted by Stan K | Report as abusive

Can Obama speak to the kids? Sure. Why aren’t the parents allowed to hear what he has to say, though, so they can discuss it with their children?I sure hope he encourages the kids to work hard, stay in school, etc, etc…but from past experience, I’m pretty sure it’s a power trip to tell the kids how to walk, talk, and chew gum HIS way.

Posted by Lady | Report as abusive

Another “heads-up” issue is the materials suggested for use with the presentation are not neutral –”Arizona State School Superintendent Tom Horne complained the White House curriculum materials advocated watching the speech in a worshipful manner. Rep. John Kline, R.-Minn., pushed the White House to release the speech beforehand so parents could decide whether they wanted children to view it. The sharpest complaint came from Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer, who said the speech was an attempt to spread a socialist ideology.”

T.J.Obama is not the first President to address the nation.http://www.politifact.com/truth-o -meter/statements/2009/sep/03/arne-dunca n/barack-obama-not-first-president-addre ss-school-ch/In 1991, George Bush spoke to kids across the county (and yes the Dems did protest). Its important to get the facts straight.Personally, I think it is great when any President (Dem or Rep) takes the time to speak to our children and inspire them to stay in school and achieve their potential.

Posted by Trey | Report as abusive

Bust 41 did this and the democrats protested that it was a political campaign! A classic example which i think applies here is the Hollywood distortion of”Robin Hood ” he robbed the rich to feed the poor i actually lived for a while near Sherwood Forest,the guy robbed everybody he was an indiscriminate murder and thief. the democrats think they have this moral dispensation to do likewise to share the wealth ,but people are reading behind the scenes by Obamas choice of”merry men” and people are concerned.that is why they are suspicious of the whitehouses motives and their activities.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

I am absolutely against this. Very “Hitleresque.” Seems like propoganda to me. My child will NOT be in class during that time period.

Posted by Lane | Report as abusive

I heard about this yesterday from some people worried he would try to brainwash kids into loving his healthcare program, which would influence their parents. I thought that was the most rediculous thing I’d ever heard.Even if his message does contain some politics, it seems like that’d be a good way for parents to discuss their opinions with their kids whether they agreed or not.

Mr. Ford, you are the perfect example of why the children of today should be given this speech. Its obvious you don’t pay attention, read or comprehend very well. President Obama isn’t the first President to do a speech of this sort. Just about every President has…including your beloved Republicans. This has nothing to do with a political agenda, its to encourage and uplift todays youth. Our President and past Presidents are a perfect example of overcoming, determination, dedication, and belief. People like yourself are trying to find every and anything wrong with what President Obama is trying to accomplish, which is get this country back in tip-top shape. I don’t agree with everything he does nor have I with any of our past Presidents. Did you question President Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., or Reagan when they gave basically the same speeches. It amazes me that none of the questions that are being imposed on President Obama(only in office 9 months), were asked when President Bush was in office. Is it that you’ve learned from the mistakes by the former President( in office for 2 terms), to ask this questions or is it that you and all the republican coherts are as you, Hannity, Beck, and Rush would say, are “UN-AMERICAN”!!! Im a proud American that has supported this country and fought for this country since I was 18yrs old (proud US Marine). It sickens me to come home to our beloved USA and find that we the people are just as divided and even more ignorant than ever. The patches on my uniform do not say republican or democrat. It says “United States of America”. The key word being “United”. Are we?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive

It’s not the idea of the president speaking to children and encouraging them to stay in school that is offensive. That’s fine. It’s the ‘how can you SERVE’ your president. It’s the lesson plans attached suggesting posting quotes from Obama to inspire students and encouraging students to read about Obama.. why is it ‘about’ him? That’s the nationalistic/idolistic idea that parents find objectionable. Our country isn’t about allegiance to a PERSON but to ideas of freedom, working hard, opportunity, and service to our COUNTRY. Not a person.

Posted by jl | Report as abusive

I’m sorry,It’s very “Hitleresque” to say “stay in School?”

Posted by David | Report as abusive

The far right is out to get Obama on anything he does and to divide this Country.Time to shine a light on these extremists.There is a related post at iamsoannoyed.com/?page_id=588

Posted by carly | Report as abusive

Yeah! We have a leader who is giving positive encouragement and helping kids to understand they are an important part of our community.

Posted by Mrs. McD | Report as abusive

Without commenting on the acceptability or unacceptability of President Obama’s address to school children, I note your article states that the Department of Education suggests the following questions:“Why does President Obama want to speak with us today?How will he inspire us?How will he challenge us?What might he say?”These questions are obviously intended to be asked before the President’s address. They are not thought-provoking questions. They are propagandic lead in questions intended to slant the listener’s attitude to believe that the President’s address WILL “…inspire… [and] challenge” the listener. These questions imply that the President will inspire and challenge the listener before the address is ever made, when in fact he may do both or neither of these things. They are clear indications of what the students must listen for and possibly infer or create from listening to the President’s address.This address would be better broadcast to students in the home on TV or radio – at multiple times to increase accessibility – with no testing preconditions set; appropriate parental involvement and discussion regarding the contents of the address; and only then (possibly) with some in-school post-address discussion to permit students to express their interpretations of the value and content of what was stated by the President.We know from experience that political speech can be very distorted (it usually is) unless it is attended to very carefully. I would feel more comfortable if the student’s parents or guardian(s) were able to discuss the address with the student before the school does. In any event, DO NOT ask the students what they will hear before they hear it, unless they are also given a crystal ball and a pack of tarot cards to accomapny the questions.

Posted by Gary Ness | Report as abusive

How shameful of US citizens to slander the president’s speech… before he’s even had a chance to speak! If he had already gaffed or insulted the voting public, or had the chance to make terrible announcements, I could understand outrage. But, he hasn’t said word one, yet.This might just be partisan politics.Or, it might be partisan politics and racism. Are we afraid of a well spoken black president telling our children (and showing them by example) how hard work in school can lead to great things?

Posted by jh | Report as abusive

“It’s the ‘how can you SERVE’ your president.”Excuse me, but it never said SERVE.The text you’re sampling said”Write letters to themselves about what they can do to HELP the president.” As in, “HELP the President by reducing the National Dropout Rate.”Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/090 9/26744_Page2.html#ixzz0Q9YrEGoc“You guys can just take anything out of context and spin it into whatever episode of X-Files you missed last week.If Obama exhorts children to be kind to their mommies, no doubt some critics will denounce him for trying to control family life.

Posted by David | Report as abusive

In 1988, President Reagan spoke to students nationwide via C-SPAN telecast. Among other things, he talked about his positions on political issues of the day. Three years later, President Bush addressed school kids in a speech broadcast live to school classrooms nationwide. Among other things, he promoted his own administration’s education policies.President Obama wants to deliver a message to students next week emphasizing hard work, encouraging young people to do their best in school. The temper tantrum the right is throwing in response only helps reinforce how far gone 21st-century conservatives really are.This is no small, isolated fit, thrown by random nutjobs. There is a coordinated national effort from the right to either keep children at home so they can’t hear their president’s pro-education message, or demanding that local schools block the message altogether.I can appreciate there’s a question of whether the Department of Education erred in the wording of one sentence in the supplementary materials. It’s reasonable to think officials should have been more cautious.But that’s not what this is about. The administration has since not only edited the supplementary materials, but has offered to make the text of the address available in advance, just so everyone can see how innocuous it is. It’s made no difference. Conservatives don’t want school kids to hear a message from their president. Those who claim superiority on American patriotism have decided to throw yet another tantrum over the idea that the president of the United States might encourage young people to do well in schools.This is what American politics has come to in 2009.

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

Thanks Mark! You’ve said what is keeping me awake at night. What I see as two polorizing groups (republicians and democrats) really do not represent the majority of Americians but we are forced to one side or the other because they are in power. Our country has to come togather as a country and truly lift up all it’s citizenswith the best wages and work conditions, healthcare, education, food safety and clean enviroments. Just working on these things would fix most of our problems.I see Obama working on what matters including trying pull us back togather as a country by reminding us that we are the people for the people and by the people each one of us has a part to play right down to the youngest.

Posted by Mrs. McD | Report as abusive

To the Loudoun County Public School Board (VA)Dr. Hatrick,Today I am ashamed of our school system’s decision to prohibit the students from listening to the president of the United States talk about the importance of education of the first day of school because of a loud minority of parents who do not want their children to hear the speech because of their negative opinions of President Obama. I think the decision to not allow the students to hear the president was politically motivated. You make it seem like President Obama is a negative influence. This country is too polarized. We are all American citizens and we all have the same president.I am particularly saddened by it because African American high school students would be very positively affected to see an African American president talking to them about education. Instead of being proud that you stood up for the students rights, you let a minority take away their rights because of fear, prejudice, and hatred of our president.Please reverse your decision and let the students who do not want to hear the speech stay home or go to the auditorium. Otherwise you have created a situation where Obama is seen as doing something evil that students need to be protected from.

Posted by Anne Hall | Report as abusive

It seems to me that this tragic debate and hard words pivot on what different people believe the President MIGHT say in his planned address, and how the schools MIGHT or MIGHT NOT spin the contents of the address. However, it has correctly been observed that no one has heard the words yet. So the argument comes down to what people believe the President might or might not say, and how he will or will not say it.Isn’t the solution to this matter to broadcast the President’s address to the nation as a whole first, so parents have the opportunity to discuss with their children what the President has actually said after he says it? The students can then participate in a legitimate in-school discussion of their understanding of the President’s words after their parents have had the opportunity to explain their understanding of what was said to their children.Will parents put their own spin on what the President says? Of course. That is because each adult has the right to believe whether what is said is right or wrong, and know that what is not said may be as important as what is said. It is the right – I believe the responsibility – of all parents to teach their children what the adult believes to be the correct view of politics, law, and modern social science. Similarly, the schools have the right to discuss with students, I hope in a respectful manner, anything said by the country’s Commander in Chief and Executive Officer.Let the parents vet the material with their children first, then the students can participate in a discussion (not a “test”) at school that truly reflects the actual contents of the speech and the beliefs of their parents. That is valid and valuable education in social science, law, and politics. Doesn’t that negate any value of the current debate?

Posted by Gary Ness | Report as abusive

maybe it is the fact that these children are a captive audience. if you or i don’t like what the president is saying we can turn him off or walk away.his socialistic policies are scary for a country that has always prided itself on freedom.it is easy to brainwash children.if he wants to address children do it at night when a parent can sit with the child and if they don’t like it shut it off.it is not that he wants to address our children it is the way he wants to do it.we have taken god out of our schools lets take polictics out of it also

Posted by nora deaver | Report as abusive

As a Texan I can say that this is purely and simply racism. I cannot imagine that anyone would have kicked up such a fuss about “W” speaking to school children. I’m ashamed to say that the vast majority of my home state is racist, though they would vow otherwise.

Posted by Barbara | Report as abusive

You ask…”So why has this speech hit such a nerve? Is it the times? It it the economic climate? Is it a new turn in U.S. attitudes toward Barack Obama? Or something else altogether?”Why is everyone afraid to say what all this anti-Obama backlash is really about…. I am not African American….but let’s face facts…. We have a long way to go in our country in acceptance of others and it is obvious that some people just can’t get over that we have an African American President…Why all the backlash….. RACISM!!!!

Posted by Helen | Report as abusive

This an indication of Obama further encroaching on states’ authority over education. People already idolize and glorify Obama, now our kids? This is not about Obama telling our kids “work hard and stay in school”; this is about him being invasive and taking over, and promoting his socialist agenda. His speech was originally planned to discuss how America’s youth could assist the needs of the President, and now it was altered to address personal education goals. He’s had to alter the Health Reform and now his speech to the kids because he knows we are not stupid, we know his intentions. The government is taking over a major American car company (GM), taking over health care, and you’ll see, eventually taking over states’ authority over education.

Posted by sandyMe | Report as abusive

RIDICULOUS!This one word epitomizes racist attitudes in the US!Instead of applauding the President on finding the time of day – to convey the same message that he and his wife will convey to their own children – to the children of the US – critics will take any occasion to shoot down his good intentions!Come on “Redneck US” – grow up and get with it!

Posted by Iag Raynid | Report as abusive

As a Canadian watching the silly debate over this speech to school children I continue to be increasingly happy that I live where I live. Though Canadian politics at times polarizes us here, we would never think of preventing the leader of our country addressing our school children. This intrinsic message from Obama is meant to improve the soaring dropout rates in your country’s education system. Put your politics aside and do something that will help your country grow rather than cannibalizing each other with your petty politics.

Posted by Craig | Report as abusive

The GOP should just reinvent itself as a sensible group with a moral obligation to people and not their politically charged agendas.Let our president, as past presidents have done, address the children of this nation. I can guarantee you that some of the folks that are so against their children seeing his speech, have no problem showing their children hours of mind melting TV on a daily basis.

Posted by Addison | Report as abusive

It is interesting to me that so many people are saying that those who are opposing the President speaking to our children are only opposing because they are racists. I didn’t see those that opposed President Bush’s speech to school children in 1991 called racist???

The reaction of some people to the President’s desire to encourage and motivate the our nation’s students is just ridiculous. Plain and simple.For years U.S. students have faltered behind their counterparts in European and Asian nations. Test scores are abyssmal. Dropout rates continue to increase. College admittance and retention rates continue to decline.We all, as parents, educators, political leaders, and citizens, are expected to do our part in producing a literate workforce and productive citizenry…why, pray-tell, should the President be exempt?

Posted by just_the_facts | Report as abusive

Republicans are ridiculous. They continually stir the pot, which promotes unrest in their own country and they should be careful what they reap. Do they WANT rioting in our streets like other countries, or do they want to cool it and get out a majority vote in the next election. If they win next time, believe me, as a Democrat I will support my president regardless of his/her political affliation. THAT is the American way. I won’t be sending hate emails to 50 of my “closest friends” as has been the way of the Republicans going on the last two years. Get over it! Write your Congressman or your Senator if you don’t like the way things are going, but I don’t want your unsolicited email intended to whip people into a frenzy. This is not some 3rd world country. Stand up and be adults without a mean heart for once.

It is a problem when the president wishes to address the school children nationally. All other presidents use this as a “photo op” to show how they communicate with children, or by reading a childrens book to grade school children. This is the greatest of “photo ops” – nationally televised for all school children and the president is not reading a book, he’s giving a speech – a speech we only have his office stating what the speech is about – no pre-release of the speech for review. This is where the problem lies!

Posted by Jennifer Lewis | Report as abusive

There are so many contemporary issues in education in the United States that it is hard to keep up with all of them. The fact is the quality of education has gone down hill and American students have fallen behind that of other countries students. These children and young adults will be running this country not in 20 or 30 years from now, but as soon as they are eligible to vote. Some of these students will be involved in politics of America in the next few years. It’s imperative that these students, these future participants in American Democracy, be as educated about the world around them and where we as a human race have come from, so they can shape where we are going.It’s great that President Obama, as other presidents have done in the past, is addressing some issues. This brings education issues to the attention of America, especially when people that are opposed to President Obama do things to get the attention of the different media organizations.Let the debate continue. Let us all get involved in turning around the quality of education in America so our children are well prepared to shape the future of our country, and with the cooperation of other countries, that of the worlds.

Posted by Max Babineau | Report as abusive

Please. After viewing the “I Pledge” video again and seeing the indoctrination theme mingled in with some good things I say no. In 1991 George H.W. Bush, President 41, addressed the children and told them to stay in school and don’t do drugs and the Democrats Tom Daschle said “A Free Political message.”So what has changed besides the Political Party?

Posted by Elazarus | Report as abusive

P.S. He is talking to the children in New York, L.A., Philadelphia, Washington D.C. etc….but his own children are in Private School and they don’t get to see the message.Is there a double standard here?

Posted by ELazarus | Report as abusive

He’s a very un-American President, maybe that’s why people don’t want him talking to their kids.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

A valid question has been raised regarding which education system the President may address, if any one in particular will be singled out (as in the type of school which his own children attend). It will be interesting to hear if he touches any of the following:(1) Will he encourage children who are being home schooled to work hard in learning with their parents?(2) Will he encourage children in parochial schools?(3) Will he encourage children in private but secular schools?(4) Will he encourage students who attend public schools where physical danger is a day-to-day reality and guns, drugs and gang recruitment thrive? (These are not uncommon by the way, and the school is almost always immune from suit for any injuries arising from legally-required attendance at such schools).(5) Will he encourage students who have already left school to return or pursue and stay in vocational education programs, or to consider vocational education as an option if they cannot for any reason successfully complete public school?(6) Will he encourage handicapped students to remain in school if appropriate special education accommodations are not available or inadequate?Frankly, if President Obama’s address touches on all these points, I will be impressed and doubt if he will have the time to do much politicizing. If he doesn’t show some understanding of these different types of school “systems” in our country, then he runs the risk of leaving out a great number of children and casting an air of hopelessness on some of them.

Posted by Gary Ness | Report as abusive

Regan, Bush, Clinton, Obama – whoever.Enough is enough.I want the federal government OUT of my school district.The Executive branch of the federal government has no business whatsoever in my local school district.My local school board is answerable to the local taxpayers – not to Washington.It’s high time that the people who can’t see what’s wrong with any President or the federal government meddling in school curriculum take a trip back to 9th grade civics class.

I am not sure I would trust anything this president has to say to children……

Posted by bonnie pearson | Report as abusive

Brava, Granny Miller!I was reluctant to bring the constitutional issue up; but since you did I would be honored to ride on your coattails. The federal government in fact has no right to participate in any way in public schools. Since no such right is specifically enumerated in the constitution, it is by constitutional authority a right that is reserved exclusively to the states or the people. Even the US Department of Education is a blatant attempt to assert federal control over rights that the federal government does not possess.It goes without saying that the massive federal bureaucracy has little or no real understanding of the educational conditions or needs of our children in the real world, at the local level where education really occurs. That being said, if the President’s message goes any further than saying “study well and do your best,” then he will have pushed the constitutional line further again toward depriving the states and the people of the rights that are granted them by their creator (which, for those who may have forgotten, is where our rights originate… the federal government does not give them to us).

Posted by Gary Ness | Report as abusive

Wasn’t GW in a classroom on 09/11/01 reading a book upside down?The people who are complaining that they do not want their children to be spoken to by the president of the United States are nothing but anti-american. If it was the other way around and the democrats were boycotting a sitting president you can they would be labeled traitors, communists, or worse.Get a grip people.

Posted by John K - LI NY | Report as abusive

It’s pretty obvious what is motivating these parents to reject Obama’s visit. He’s a lawyer. He’s the president of the United Statesbut the real issue is that he’s BLACK.Suddenly people “want their country back!” (as if it has been taken away)and reject the inspiration that a visit from the nation’s president may give their children.Selfish, bigoted, mean spirited parents.Imagine if liberals had done the same thing when warmongering, lying about WMD’s, a true failure as a president, George Bush, Jr. visited their child’s school.The ignorance and racism is not surprising, but who so these people think they’re fooling? This has nothing to do with politics.

Posted by Jon G. | Report as abusive

As an American citizen living in Canada, I have been given the rare privilege of being able to view my fellow Americans through the eyes of another country. I am incredibly proud that we elected Obama as President and am appalled at the shocking way people are responding to him. The Town Meeting debacles regarding Health Care discussions and now this overreaction to a simple speech to our students by a sitting President have made me ashamed of our childishness. McCarthyism is still alive and well in some parts of the U.S.!

Posted by Ruth Iverson | Report as abusive

That’s because McCarthy was right.

Posted by Connie | Report as abusive

By the way, since the issue of federal rights over states rights has already come up (alhough it digresses slightly from the topic at hand) the federal government has NO rights when it comes to my health care either. None. nada. zip.

Posted by Gary Ness | Report as abusive

It is interesting to me that so many people are saying that those who are opposing the President speaking to our children are only opposing because they are racists. I didn’t see those that opposed President Bush’s speech to school children in 1991 called racist.

Most of the recent protests against Obama basically show how uneducated, uninformed, and prejudiced many Americans are.Apparently these people have forgotten the mess that Bush got us into, the fraudulent election in 2000, the unnecessary war in Iraq, which has killed thousands of American soldiers,etc.These people’s actions are only going to contribute to this country’s deterioration and will eventually turn us into something close to a third-world country.Wake up!

Posted by marc | Report as abusive

All the misinformation, hypocrisy and hair-splitting on this non-issue is truly remarkable. For those who are clamoring for the federal govt to “stay out of your school district” are you also willing to forgo the federal funds your district receives via contitutionally provided state funding?For those wondering which districts the President wil be addressing and whether his message will be inclusive of private, parochial and home schooled students, “nationally televised” means just that that, anyone in the “nation” interested in tuning into C-SPAN during air-time or going on the internet are included.The President’s message is a generic one directed at ALL students that is meant to encourage them to “work hard” and be “responsible.” What is so conspiratorial about that? Give me a break. Can we just get over ourselves and focus on the REAL issues?By the way,HR 3200, all 1017 pages of the health reform bill passed by the House Committe of Ways and Means, is available online for anyone who cares to inform themselves on one such REAL issue.

Posted by just_the_facts | Report as abusive

I really can’t believe anyone thinks it inappropriate for the President of the US to address school children, to inspire them to achieve great things in their lives. He’s President of the US for crying out loud. It’s just that simple. Let him inspire the kids. When I was a student we listened attentively to ex-drug addicts tell us to be smart and live a good life. And you people are afraid of giving the President an audience with our children??Luckily, the children of our country are already inspired by Obama, and he doesn’t really need a special speech to affect that goal.What the kids will wonder, though, is why the grown-ups wouldn’t let the President talk to them…

Posted by SP | Report as abusive

I finally understand the furor after talking to a friend. Obama is super-popular among young people. Even little kids like and gravitate towards his charm. What better person to encourage them to work hard in school?Unless you are afraid that these kids will grow up to become voters that might not support you cause because they have been ‘indoctrinated.’ Parents live in fear that their children will not follow after them. And this fear often drives the kids away. If I was a 10th grader and my mom kept me home to prevent me from hearing Obama speak, the first place I go is youtube to get the illicit video (Study hard and do well in school). Maybe we’ll be lucky and studying will become the rebellious thing to do. What does this say about the parents?

Posted by reno | Report as abusive

You don’t want the federal government in your schools, well I don’t want the federal government telling me I can’t marry someone of the same sex!

Posted by John K -LI NY | Report as abusive

It is rather amazing that people in the US object so vehemently to their children encouraging their children, when they don’t seem to object to all the horrible programs their children watch on TV. An example would be shows like “Family Guy” or allowing them to idolize players in the NFL that kill dogs or are arrested and still allowed to play for millions of dollars a year. We in America think that is fine and allow our children to have those people as role models, however, we will fight like hell to prevent a positive message from a sitting president. WOW! We need to get a grip, America.

Posted by Del | Report as abusive

Regarding the previous comment by just_the_facts, to the effect that “For those who are clamoring for the federal govt to “stay out of your school district” are you also willing to forgo the federal funds your district receives via contitutionally provided state funding?”I fail to understand the relevance of this remark as it pertains to the President making an address intended to encourage school children in their education, which I believe is intself a good thing. Beats a football player on steroids lecturing on the issue.However, I believe the federal funds just_the_facts refers to are not arbitrarily printed as free money… Those funds reflect tax/fee/other revenue source (other people’s money) that the federal government has forced Americans to pay, and has now chosen to dole it back to the states or the people (at no more than 25 cents on the dollar) as blackmail to make the states toe the line in following federal social, educational and other miscellaneous mandates.Many people believe that those “federal funds your district receives” would have been better spent if left in the hands of the states or school districts in the first place rather than filtered through an aditional layer of Government that is only able to give out funds by constantly finding sources of new revenue. That’s called a “ponzi scheme.”

Posted by Gary Ness | Report as abusive

I’m sorry marc, but we can go around and around when it comes to fraudulent elections (MN Franken), so I won’t even open that can of worms.I’d be curious to hear some basis for this statement of yours:”Most of the recent protests against Obama basically show how uneducated, uninformed, and prejudiced many Americans are.”I could make a very strong case for the same, replacing ‘protests against’ with ‘rallies for.’ I hope you are reasonable enough to accept this as true, and recognize the uneducated and uninformed on your side as well (note: I’m assuming ‘your side’ here). Let’s be honest, if there weren’t wackos on each team, what would be left for the media to report?As far as presidents speaking to schools goes, I have no inherent problem. However, because of the extreme passion on both sides of the current health care debate, people are a bit more on edge than usual when it comes to political speaking events, and this has to be a factor contributing to the controversy. I will say, it’s hard to blame people for being a little concerned; Have you seen a speech of his in the last three months that hasn’t been pure agenda promotion and persuasion? Granted, that’s a large part of his job, but it’s hard for many people to imagine him simply speaking on the value of studying hard and being involved in extra-curricular activities (which may very well be his intention, I have no idea.)To conclude, I’ll borrow from marc’s post yet again:”These people’s actions are only going to contribute to this country’s deterioration and will eventually turn us into something close to a third-world country.”Only this time, ‘These people’ are our leaders in Washington (both left and right) who seem dead-set on bankrupting our country. To me, they are a much bigger risk than some protester at a town hall meeting.Happy Labor Day all!B

Posted by bmann | Report as abusive

I think many people may see President Obama as an ideologue or at least as another very liberal person with good intentions who wants to fix everything by throwing more money at it. This is what we\’ve tried to do with our medical system in the past. It has consistently made things worse. We don\’t need more health care. The cost now is astronomical. Way to much is being spent on preventable diseases like diabetes.We need prevention of disease through a healthy food supply, clean air, and clean water. That builds good immune systems. We need education on how to eat well apparently. We need the FDA to do a good job of defining what healthy food actually is. And we need a way for kids to have access to that food. We seem to have food corporations and pharmaceutical companies way to involved in government food and drug policies.

Posted by Keith Lyons | Report as abusive

It’s beyond my rational belief that there is so much time and energy devoted to the screaming whine of those who are threatened by the possibility that their children may hear something from the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES that will scar, scare, or otherwise harm their children. Certainly, it will be far different than they’re likely to hear in their homes, and that, as I see it, would be a seriously positive improvement in their lives.He’s our President, for God’ sake, not a dictator, a monarch, nor a socialist. He brings to our country the most diversified opportunity for ALL Americans to hear and see what the American agenda should be: encouraging all races, religions, nationalities, and citizens to bring learning, opportunities, and pride to bear for us all.Time to get those narrow-minded panties untwisted and move on!!!!

Where were all of these activists when the federal government imposed “The Chicken Fat” song on an entire generation of American school children? During the Kennedy administration, the President’s Council on Physical Fitness created this official workout song, sung by an insanefully cheerful Robert Preston, and distributed it to gym teachers who forced their impressionable pupils to do pushups and jumping jacks and arm circles in time to the music. The tune still haunts me. But a look at the national waistline suggests we did manage to overcome the brainwashing.

Posted by Jane | Report as abusive

@Gary Ness,I absolutley agree that the President’s impending speech has no bearing on the 8% the feds currently contribute to funding local school districts. I was Simply pointing out the unreasonableness of decrying federal involvement in matters of public education, particularly when the mission of the US Dept. of Education clearly states its primary function is to:”promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.”(source: US Dept of Education http://www.ed.gov/about/landing.jhtml?sr c=gu)Simply put, political preferences aside, whether you voted for the guy or not, this President every before and after him, had/has an obligation to contribute to the fulfillment of this goal. A 15-20 minute speech won’t fix years of a troubled system, but I do agree it most definitely “Beats a football player on steroids lecturing on the issue” ;)Enjoy the long weekend!

Posted by just_the_facts | Report as abusive

typos…ugghh”this president AND every ONE before and after him, had/has an obligation…”

Posted by just_the_facts | Report as abusive

All the Obama naysayers out there need to get over themselves. Find your inner peace. Let it go. Just cannot admit that he is doing as well (maybe better) than any other Pres out there.

Posted by Elly | Report as abusive

This is the problem with American education; Not so much the teachers, or failing systems, but DUMB PARENTS.What parent in their right mind is actually thinking that President Obama would try to influence a FIFTH GRADER to support the health care reform issue? Please. Give him credit for being intelligent enough to know that children that age don’t even understand what’s going on (frankly, most of the protesting adults don’t either). This issue is so ridiculous, I can’t even believe it’s true.The parents that have stated their “fears” for what the president might inoculate into the minds of their precious young are cloaking their real fears and thoughts with supposed concern over congressional issues at hand. Under that thin veil, however, lies the ugly truth they would never want to admit to themselves or anybody else: they don’t want a brilliant Black man encouraging their son or daughter to work hard because how, then, are they to continue feeding them lies about minorities and their worthlessness to this country? How are they going to perpetuate the thought that minorities are treated the way they are treated in America because they are lazy and they bring it upon themselves? How are they going to sustain their argument that Obama single handedly destroyed the country’s financial stability (before he took office) and was the worst president this country has ever had if, God-forbid, their child looks up to him?I’m not jumping on the “if you speak against President Obama you’re a racist” bandwagon here, but the question is simply this: What other reason/excuse would you have for not wanting your child to watch him offer an encouraging, non-political message that is meant to inspire and assist them with placing importance on educational goals?To think, we presumed the “hard” part was actually getting him into office….

Posted by Kellee | Report as abusive

There are always going to be those people who like to stir up drama and make a big deal out of something. Why they do it, I don’t know.

Posted by frogfly | Report as abusive

So Obama wants to address America’s schoolkids next week, and the bat guano has hit the fan. The conservative crazies are screaming that he wants to indoctrinate America’s children into his Communist Hitler Youth so all concerned parents should keep their children home so they don’t get Teh Brainwashed by his seductive liberal wiles. Or something.As best as anyone can tell, Obama’s subversive join-me-and-we-can-rule-the-universe-tog ether message is something along the lines of “Stay in school, study hard, drink your milk, don’t do drugs” – it’s like an afterschool special without the goofy plot and stilted line readings. But the wingnuts are flipping out like Obama’s the Pied Piper of Berlingrad come to drown their children in the river Wiser.Setting aside the ludicrous notion that conservatives are infuriated that an excessively-pigmented Democratic president is the one delivering this alarming message to the impressionable youth of America, I can think of only two rational explanations for the uproar:1) 3,000 Americans died when the tough-on-terror-est president ever read “My Pet Goat” (upside down!) to just one room of schoolkids. Who knows what kind of terrible tragedy might befall us if a terrorist-loving Islamo-communo-fascist is allowed to address millions of them? One can only conclude that Obama has grown tired of waiting for his death panels and wants to start killing off honest, hardworking Americans right now.2) Education and learning are un-American. After all, if our children apply themselves to their studies, they might become too clever and knowledgeable to fall for lies and talking points, making them totally unsuitable as voters. Worse yet, they might even become so capable that they start taking job opportunities away from the people who should rightly inherit them!Either way, Obama’s insidious address is clearly a menace that must be stopped at all costs. Or at least get rebutted by Bobby Jindal.

Posted by Eli | Report as abusive

Boogey boogey!That’s what this is all about. Create a boogey man, and beat him. Really, that’s all the republicans can do right now. He’s going to pull the plug on Grandma! Stop him! He’s lying about raising taxes on Middle class, stop him! He wants to turn your kid into a Socialist, stop him! Obama never was going to do any of these things, but if Republicans can make you believe he was, and he doesn’t, they claim they stopped him when he was never going to do what they say he was going to.

Posted by TDG | Report as abusive

TDG, unfortunately the people he has surrounded himself with through out his political career, are capable of, and have advocated doing exactly what you say he is not about.You are a sum of the people you hang out with,and he will not get away from this projection irrespective what you or any other of his surrogates suggest, the mold is set.He is who he recommends he is Van Jones.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

After the President of the United States speaks to school children about the value of education, Republicans will make opposing comments extolling ignorance.See:http://notionscapital.word press.com/2009/09/04/obamas-dangerous-me ssage-to-our-children/

The type of people opposed to Obama’s speech are the same people who aren’t receptive to learning that their past republican heroes did the very same thing. If anything, I’ve seen parents using their hapless children as political tools:http://www.coffeesee.com/2009/09/0 6/politicizing-our-kids/

One of the suggested questions that could be asked of Obama as outlined in that Dept. of Education document is “What would you like to tell the president?”.Is there a teacher and classroom out there that would unanimously tell Obama “release your birth certificate”?If they could ask this, then I might approve of Resident Obama speaking to my son. Otherwise, thanks but no thanks.

I wouldn’t want my children looking up to Obama, McCain, Bush, Clinton… Any of them except perhaps Ron Paul! I would not want my children to grow up being inspired by Obama and furthering their interests by studying his ideals and adopting his mind set. Obama is no friend to America’s freedom nor is he a friend to our Constitution which he is sworn to defend with the BEST of his abilities. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” That’s what our country needs, someone who will live up to the oath fully. Obama is a horribly bad example of what the President of the United States of America should be.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Perhaps some of you conservatives should read this.http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/09  /07/laura.bush/index.html

Posted by Eric H | Report as abusive

[...] are some excerpts from the comments section of a Reuters article about the speech [sic]. “I would not want my children to grow up being inspired by Obama and [...]

Eric. That’s the great thing about the Bush’s, they are hospital and never talk negatively about anyone. President Bush was like that, regardless of the attacks against him, throughout his presidency. They are decent people who are not like the liberal left who make personal attacks at every opportunity to force their agenda and discredit any conservative.I applaud Laura Bush (always have). She isn’t a Hillary Clinton or Michelle Obama who talk down America and Americans. Mrs. Bush is a class act.Undoubtedly she does not agree with everything, but she knows firsthand the demands of the president of the United States and will not denigrate the position like those on the left have, time and time again…

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Our school here in IL chose not to air the speech. There was small demonstration but it was done in good taste and there were no major incidents.Personally, after reading the speech and it turned out harmless, it’s okay that he spoke to the nation yeaterday…However, after I voted NO that I would rather not have my kids daily education interupted in on line poll. One of my old high school aquaintances made what I thought was disturbing remark on my facebaook page:”I just finished watching the speech with my 8 year old and afterwards he asked me if he could go read for an extra half hour to become a better student. Can you believe the nerve of the president to encourage this type of behavior in my eight year old. Should we hang him or lynch him? Get a life Mike!”Gee, I guess if you’re a parent that relies on a politician to motivate your kids then you’re also the one’s that are first in line for the hand out… My kids don’t need ANY politician to motivate them. They have their Mom, me and their TEACHERS to do that. If their teachers cann’t do it, then they need to find another profession… “Weel, the world needs ditch diggers too…” Judge Smails ~ CaddyshackAfter I removed him from what I thought was my “friend” list he messaged me: “No big loss for me! I hope you enjoy your right wing racist life!”Good choice of words in a “friendly debate” I thought…Why is it that the Left always turn a friendly debate into personal attacks?Signed,”the God fearing, bible clutching, gun toting, right wing racist”

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

[...] Obama gave classroom addresses, not once, but twice. Some schools made his address mandatory [...]

[...] Obama gave classroom addresses, not once, but twice. Some schools made his address mandatory [...]