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Author: toni

~ 09/08/09


This weekend, I received an email from my daughter’s school. This is what it said:


Dear Parents,
On Tuesday, September 8th, President Obama will be delivering a speech on the importance of education to students across the United States. The website for the U.S., which is Department of Education has more information.

Please let me know if you do NOT want your child to view the speech. We will provide an alternate activity for them.


Are you kidding me?!?  Why, yes. Please have my child sit in a room fingerpainting instead of listening to our President talk to her about the importance of an education to her future and the future of our country!

Wow. When did a “pep talk” on staying in school become controversial?

Okay. I understand about parents wanting to be the final arbiters about what their kids are exposed to. And it wasn’t a bad idea for Obama to release the contents of the speech for parents to look over prior to their kids hearing it. After all, when they did a STRANGER DANGER presentation for the kids at my daughter’s school, I went to a “preview night” to hear exactly what they were going to present and how. My concern being that my daughter was going to hear about things (frightening things) that hadn’t, as yet, crossed her innocent 5 year-old mind.

Ultimately, I decided it was more important for her to be AWARE of the danger, than to protect her from knowing that it existed.

So anyway, after reading the contents of Obama’s speech, I was shocked to learn that there were school districts in 6 states (Texas, Illinois, Virginia, Wisconsin, Missouri and Minnesota) that weren’t showing the speech at all. Shocked that there were protesters outside the Virginia school where Obama was giving the speech. Shocked to receive the email from my daughter’s school.

I mean, have YOU read the speech? I have.

And even after having read it, there are people out there who are finding all manner of hidden agendas in the speech. I’ve read some of those people’s arguments. And you know what, if you look hard enough, sure, you can find the Virgin Mary on a piece of toast. People see what they WANT to see.

But I personally didn’t see a speech rife with political innuendo – pushing diversity, race baiting and chock full of shameless self-promotion by secretly announcing a bid for a second term – as some have accused Obama of doing.

Know what I found? I found a very HEARTFELT and INSPIRATIONAL speech directed to kids who probably need a few words of encouragement. Kids out there who are at a disadvantage (and there are a lot of them). Kids who don’t have parents who guide and encourage them and tell them they can make something of their lives. Kids who feel that their future has been set by the life they were born into. Kids who have given up on themselves.

If even a handful of these kids’ lives are touched and changed by this speech it will have been worth it.

Look, I live in an affluent neighborhood. A neighborhood where parents are extremely (probably too much so) involved in their kids’ lives and education. Kids here don’t need to be encouraged to go to college. It’s practically pre-ordained from birth. It doesn’t mean they, too, won’t benefit by hearing from their President the importance of staying in school, of working hard to make their lives and our country a better place. I mean, how cool is that? Your President talking to you?

And yet, there a thousands of kids who will never hear this speech.

In the end, know what it all is? Political gamesmanship. Fighting between Republicans and Democrats. Tit for tat. Because truth be told, when Bush gave a speech to school kids in 1991, the Democrats were in an uproar.

In fact, the House Majority leader at the time, Dick Gephardt (D-Mo.), said “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students.”

And today, we see the payback. Sigh.

Will there ever be a day when the best interest of our children, of the American people in general, takes precedence over the interests of politicians and political parties?

An optimist would say YES. What do YOU THINK?



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  1. This has been a very sad day for me. I live in a suburb of Kansas City and have spent most of the day emailing my kids’ schools and the district about how they should be ashamed and embarrassed. How could they make my kids go to endless fundraising assemblies, DARE programs and more, and not have them hear our PRESIDENT’S speech – a speech that was only positive and had no political agenda. What does that teach them about respect?
    Thanks for sharing your comments as I sit here wondering what is wrong with the world.
    By the way, I am Ann Kim’s sister-in-law and she shared your blog with me. I look forward to keeping up with your posts.

    Comment by fazorsky — September 8, 2009 @ 3:36 pm

  2. Thanks for your comment, Fazorsky. Sadly, I have learned that they only showed the speech to the 5th and 6th graders in our school. My daughter in 2nd grade did not hear it. Guess I’ll just have to play it for her off Youtube. Truly, what is happening to this country?

    Comment by toni — September 8, 2009 @ 4:05 pm

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