Claude Cartaginese

Obama Prepares to Talk to your Children

Posted on September 7 2009 1:25 am
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The bottom line is we need the president of the United States of America to use his bully pulpit to talk to kids about the importance of education and to help inspire kids–Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers

It has come as quite a surprise to Randi Weingarten, the leftist National Education Association and teachers unions, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the White House that not all parents are willing to toe the Democratic Party line when it comes to President Barack Obama using his “bully pulpit” to speak to America’s children on Tuesday.

In fact, as Fox News reports, some parents and school districts are downright outraged. Many parents, already subject to the whims of leftist schoolteachers, administrators and unions do not want their children–a captive audience–to be forced to watch an 18 minute speech from a far-left president without the benefit of knowing its contents in advance.

Even worse, what has really raised the ire of parents is the distribution of so-called “teachers manuals” containing post-speech “lesson plans” to be assigned to students, an unprecedented exploitation of administrative authority reminiscent of techniques used in the Soviet Union, China and North Korea, where schoolchildren were/are required to write letters to “Dear Leader.”

From the manual:

As the President speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note-taking graphic organizer such as a Cluster Web, or students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children can draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:

What is the President trying to tell me?

What is the President asking me to do?

What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?

Parts of this “manual” bordered on hero worship and were so partisan that the administration was forced to re-write entire passages, which Secretary Duncan explained away simply by characterizing the offending passages as just being “poorly written.”

ARNE DUNCAN: We just clarified that to say write a letter about your own goals and what you’re going to do to achieve those goals. So again it’s really about personal responsibility and being accountable, setting real goals and having the work ethic to see them through.

Duncan and others not understanding the backlash is bad enough, but even worse is the admission that they don’t care about the dissenters or their opinions. Dissenters are being dismissed as being childish and silly:

ARNE DUNCAN: [the furor surrounding the speech is] just silly. They can go to school. They can not watch. It’s just, you know, going [to be] an 18-minute speech.

ARNE DUNCAN: I frankly don’t pay any attention to [the criticism].

Presidential Spokesman ROBERT GIBBS: 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.

And yet, this scheduled “mass counseling” type session scheduled by the president is not something we usually see in democratic societies.

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.”

Glenn Beck and others have suggested that parents keep their children home for the day in order to avoid any coercion.

This is not an unreasonable suggestion.

Parents should have the opportunity to watch the talk first, allowing them to make the determination as to whether it’s something they want their children to see or not.

And for those who don’t believe that students are coerced in school, put yourself in the place of this young supporter of John McCain being browbeaten by her Obama activist teacher:

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