Monday, September 07, 2009

Presidential address....

I have always been pleased with how well our schools keep us informed with what is happening with our students. We have a website, we get recorded messages from the principals, notes come home, they work hard at keeping parents 'in the loop'. I do not expect them to let me know every little thing~~that is impractical. I do not receive calls about the news stories Michaela watches on Channel One news once a day and the teachers do not contact us if they are going to speak about 'moral' issues~~it is expected when we send our children out 'into the world' they are going to be exposed to many different ideas. With that being said, I believe that if we can reasonably avoid exposure to 'evils', it is our responsibility as parents to do so. So, when I received phone calls from both schools last week talking about a speech to school age children by President Obama and the right to have my children 'opt out' of listening to it, I became concerned about the content that was going to be discussed. And I began what I do when I do not know something, I began to research.

Let me first say that I am NOT a political person. I do not follow politics, I do not talk about politics, I do not even vote. My purpose in researching was not to exonerate President Obama from 'evildoing'. I am not a supporter of many of Obama's policies. I do not think he is the 'salvation' for America but because of these opinions my research was not done to find fault in him; to find a socialist agenda. My purpose was simply to find out the content of the speech and to determine, as a parent, if it posed a threat to my children.

As I began reading various write~ups about the Presidential address, I was faced with words like indoctrination and brainwashing. Accusations of a political agenda and recruitment for his army were expressed. There were even some comparing the goal of the speech to that of Nazi campaign in Germany! The hysteria was prevalent. As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education - it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Steve Russell. "This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq." Many of the opinions I was reading were just that, opinions. They were based on the biases of the 'ultra-conservatives'(as they were referred to as}not from fact. The speech's benefits were being clouded by the allegations of Obama's agenda for our country~~not from actual knowledge of the speech's content.

As I searched more, I went to the Department of Education's website and I read the information sent to the teachers as suggestions for student involvement before, during and after the speech~~~extension lessons. What I found was:
  • This public address was a collaboration between the White House AND the Department of Education.
Just as the DOE has guidelines for our nation's curriculum, so too did they have guidelines for the Presidential speech.
  • There is precedence for Presidential speeches being given to school age children. In 1991, President Bush addressed students concerning the "Just say no to drugs' campaign."
As I was not in school in 1991 nor did I have children attending public school, I do not know if there was the same level of hysteria. I am doubting that there was.
  • The speech will last 15 to 20 minutes, it has been edited, and ALL will have access to the speech, as well as the classroom activities suggestions BEFORE the students view President Obama's speech.
Critics are particularly upset about lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans, available online, originally recommended having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."

There is no opportunity for indoctrination and brainwashing~~the words spoken and the lesson plans are available NOW!
  • The viewing of the speech IS NOT mandatory~~many parents, teachers, and school districts have chosen to not participate.
If there was a socialist agenda, would it not have been made mandatory for ALL to watch? Wouldn't the content have been concealed until the exact time of the speech?

Many I spoke to felt it was wrong for the government to 'go around the parents'. It should be their decision as to whether or not their children view the speech~~and they are right, it is their decision. But why such an uproar about THIS speech. Do these same parents feel the teachers should call every time they are going to give advice to our children? Would there be "opting out' if the school administrator was going to stand before the school and encourage effort and diligence in our school work? If not for the school administrator, than why for the President of the United States? Hopefully, we as parents have created a firm foundation of beliefs, have taught our children to think for themselves, and have an open line of communication with them. I would be truly distressed if I thought that a 15 minute speech could undo any influence I have with my children.

Whether or not we support Obama, we must respect the office he holds. As Christians we are commanded to adhere to the authority in the land~~~13Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. 15For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. 16Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God. 17Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. {I Peter 2:13-17} What lessons are we teaching our children by our refusal to listen to a public service message given by the President? Is dictating non-involvement teaching our children that they do not have to respect those in authority?

When we research a topic we must be aware that there are always at least two sides to consider. We must remember that for any topic one can always find information and statistics to support it. It is when we base our beliefs on that limited knowledge that mass hysteria is created.

So what have I concluded? That it is a speech being given by the President of the United States. It is a speech encouraging our children to put their best efforts into their school work. It is a speech expressing the importance of educational goals. It is a speech with the educational success of our children at the heart of it. It is a speech trying to instill the same educational values parents, teachers, and administrators attempt to instill daily.

It is a speech. Simply. A speech.