Obama’s Speech to Kids: A different angle on the uproar
I agree with this article WHOLE HEARTEDLY. I have a rule at my house… unless there was a death in the family, you are running a fever, or you puke before you get on the bus… you are going to school. I can’t imagine letting my kids cut school just because I didn’t agree with something that might happen in the classroom.
DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH SCHOOL MY KIDS WOULD MISS?
by Joan Garry
Tuesday September 08, 2009, 10:22 AM
Seems to me that the folks who most need a speech with a message of personal responsibility are the parents who gave their kids permission to cut school today and miss Obama’s speech.
What’s the more mature move for a parent who doesn’t drink the Obama Kool Aid?
Send them to school and let them express their very own points of view after the speech – exerting their right to free speech and ensuring that their voices are heard? Or let them cut school?
This entire controversy, covered here at NJ.com by fellow blogger Joel Schwartzberg the other day – “Obama’s Speech To Students – What Should He Be Teaching.” occurred because some assumed that Obama’s speech would include partisan, even “socialist” statements. who have it a bit tougher and tells his own narrative to add authenticity. Yet again, a message in a genuine and inspirational speech that no one could take issue with. How inspiring. How spot on.
A quick read of the speech illustrates that he has put himself in the shoes of America’s school children, complete with references to Xbox. He put a mundane science assignment into the context of the window it might open. He reminded kids to look for mentors, to ask questions and reminded kids that without failures and setbacks, success is simply not possible.
He even focused on school kids
That’s what I thought until I received an email from a dear friend who is a middle school principal in Pennsylvania that gave me my “a-ha” moment.
Here’s what she said:
…The message behind his speech is all- purpose for children, but it does focus a little more on kids that may not have it easy, kids that will have to push through a lot, to even attend school, let alone learn. The crazy people who are protesting, at least some of them, won’t like that the speech focuses on the underprivileged, lest they be too inspired, and become too “uppity’…I do believe racism is behind it all… I rarely feel things this way, but in my gut, I think the thoughts behind all of this controversy are really very primitive.
Maybe the controversy will die quickly. Maybe Newt Gingrich and Laura Bush will lead the way in celebrating Obama’s efforts. More likely, cable news will find talking heads who will find something to take issue with.
And to be fair, even I have a few pieces of constructive commentary. I had really hoped that the President might quote Jamie Lee Curtis in Freaky Friday. Much to the chagrin of her daughter (Lindsay Lohan) , she dropped her to school every morning, yelling “Make Good Choices!”(clearly Lindsay Lohan wasn’t listening). I was hoping for some reference to not losing papers or finding them a week later crumpled up in a backpack.
Going a bit further, a mention about sports (read: exercise) might have been a good addition. And the idea of getting involved in an extracurricular activity is terrific but spelling out that it is in the service of working on a common goal with a team (read: community) might have been another good message.
OK, so I am nitpicking. But at least I am honest.
I’m with my old friend. The whole uproar feels more than just stupid. There’s a disturbing undercurrent in all this. Neal McCluskey, the associate director of Cato’s Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom was quoted on Fox News: “It (the speech) essentially tries to force kids to say the president and the presidency is inspiring and that’s very problematic.”
Try telling that to our founding fathers, Mr. McCluskey. I am pretty sure that they saw the president as a leader whose job was to inspire American citizens to be the best they can be. For ourselves, our family and for our country. Seems to me that this is exactly what Obama’s speech to kids was all about today.
Maybe, just maybe, what is problematic for you Mr. McCluskey, is when the eloquent and motivational words come from the mouth of this president.
Joan Garry can be found blogging regularly at www.joangarry.com and at The Huffington Post. She is a non-profit consultant, Democratic fundraiser and the former Executive Director of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation).