Were Conservatives Overreacting on Obama’s Speech to Schoolkids?

This past Wednesday, I heard that President Obama would be giving a speech to grade school children and the first thought that came to my mind was:  Is he going to somehow encourage kids to encourage their parents to support his healthcare reform bill?

I thought of that because it seemed to have sprung out of nowhere while we’re in the middle of a heated healthcare debate and Obama would be giving this speech to schoolkids a day before his televised address on healthcare in a rare joint session of Congress.

The U.S. Dept. of Education submitted a lesson plan for teachers to use to prepare students before the president’s speech and follow-up activities after it.  The item of concern for conservatives from the original lesson plan was that teachers can make students “write a letter to themselves about what they can do to help the president.”  In addition on how they can help Obama, it also states that teachers are to “make students accountable to their goals” on how they can help the president.  (Emphasis added.)  And again, lets be mindful that this classroom activity will take place a day before Obama’s televised address to Congress on his healthcare reform bill.

Other activities in the lesson plan includes telling students to write down what the President is asking them to do.  Now doesn’t this sound like the Obama Administration is prepping kids to encourage their parents to support his healthcare bill?

What I find most disturbing from the original lesson plan is not how kids can help the president, but the statement:

“Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress or the governor?  Why is what they say important?” (Emphasis added.)

For some reason, when I read that statement, my mind quickly wandered to Hilter.  Let’s be clear, I am in no way comparing Obama to Hitler, but imagine if Germany’s Dept. of Education asked teachers to ask grade school students why they should be listening to Hitler.  How scary would that be?

I understand that children should grow up to be respectful of other people, including elected officials, but it is not for teachers to ask students why we should listen to, say for example, Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneger when he said let’s release 10,000 prisoners into the streets of Los Angeles.  Instead, students should be taught to question why are we going to be releasing the prisoners and propose alternative solutions.

John F. Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” It is up to teachers to empower students to be involved in community for the people, not for the sake of helping elected officials and growing government because democracy can only continue when the press and the people do their job of questioning our elected officials and holding them accountable.

After the public outcry over the possible indoctrination of schoolkids of Obama’s “socialist” agenda, the Dept. of Education has since revised the lesson plan to clearly state that kids will be asked to write out their long-term and short-term academic goals and how they can help themselves rather than how they can help the President.  Also, the Obama Administration will release the text of his speech on Monday to ease the mind of parents.

I can see why parents who do not agree with Obama are concerned, but I also don’t think there is much to be worried about.  I vaguely remember writing a letter to the president in 5th grade.  I can’t even remember why we did that or what I wrote about.  I don’t even know who the president was at that time. (Ok, I just looked it up.  It was Ronald Reagan.)  I also remembered an assemblyman speaking at my middle school or high school.  I think he spoke about how bills were passed, and he did say that if we had any problems, we could write to him.  Even in my 12th grade Government class, we analyzed a bunch of political cartoons of our choice that I can’t even remember anything of.

I believe the media does more brainwashing than schools.

So parents, I understand your fears, but I don’t think there is much to be worried about.  There’s always such a thing as de-programming your kids once they get home from school that day. : )

Also, please watch/read this from NewsBusters.org:
MSNBC’s Shuster Compares Obama Speech Controversy to Nancy Reagan’s ‘Just Say No’

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