Thursday, September 03, 2009

"You are your child's moral tutor, not that shady lawyer from Chicago."

So says Tammy Bruce regarding the September 8th speech Obama plans on giving to our nation's school children:

President Barack Obama's plans for a televised back-to-school address to students next week are drawing fire from some conservatives, who say he's just trying to indoctrinate them to his political beliefs.

In the Sept. 8 speech, Obama will challenge students to work hard, set goals for their education and take responsibility for their learning, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in a letter to principals.

The Education Department is encouraging teachers to create lesson plans around the speech, using materials provided on the department website, that urge students to learn about Obama and other presidents.

"He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens," Duncan said in a press release.

Okay, this is just creepy--Obama is the first president to come in and give a speech directly to school children. This Hugo Chavez wannabe is really working overtime to get the American people riled up. Some conservatives and others are calling for parents to have their kids skip this day at school.

What do you think?

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Blogger Cham said...

President Obama can't be the first president to be giving a speech to school children. I think this is an excellent learning opportunity, this will be the first time in the children's lives a politician will throw a bunch of bs at them. Afterward they can all have a discussion with their classmates on the playground about what was the truth and what wasn't. That's what I usually do anyway when forced to listen to any politician.

Of course, the small children probably won't be sending the politician hate mail like I do for taking up my valuable time. But they can't have everything. They can learn to do that later.

7:09 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Donna said...

I am not sure what I think but I do know that President Obama is not the first President to give a speech directly to school age children. George H W Bush gave one.,311009

7:30 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Personally, the idea of someone telling children across the country that they are responsible for their own future and should work hard in school to possibly advance in life disgusts me. Who does this Obama think he is?

All presidential speeches -- no, all speeches by any politician -- should be rated TV-MA and only watched by adults.

(Your website comment posting doesn't seem to allow a sarcasm tag, but there should be one for this comment.)

7:32 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Helen said...

Cham and Donna,

Yes, other presidents have given individual talks to children but they went to the classroom themselves and talked with kids --the Politico article points out that this is the first time a president has ever given a speech addressed directly to students--and the fact that it is televised into the classroom is suspect. If Bush pumped in a show to all kids that was mandatory about the Iraq war,etc, people would be outraged.

8:15 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Trust said...

This is probably just the tip of the iceberg.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan was featured in the Illinois Times last week. He is on record as saying he supports longer days, longer weeks, and longer years in school. Most kids are in school 5 days a week, 9 months a year. Not only does he want the school day longer, he wants kids in school 6 days a week, 11 months a year. That scares me.

8:28 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I'm not going to be happy until we completely eliminate playtime.

Kids should be strapped into their protective helmets at birth, then given a rigorous schedule of math class, piano lessons, computer learning and character building. Enough already with the happy fun time.

8:37 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger smitty1e said...

I think that the US Annenberg Challenge is going to cost the Community Organizer in Chief close to double digits in popularity, by the time the dust settles.

9:54 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Ern said...

What do I think?

I think that this is completely unjustified. I'm paying taxes so that the children will learn, not so that they can listen to politicians.

On the other hand, I think that parents who care so little that they put their children in public schools (using the term "school" very loosely) should have expected this sort of thing, based on what our public schools have become over the past forty-five years or so.

On the third hand, I think that the federal government has no business having anything to do with education, at least at the elementary and high-school levels.

On whatever hand comes next, I do wish that people would stop attributing the behavior of the empty suit in the White House to the fact that he came from Chicago. I've lived in Chicago, and it's much better run and far more pleasant than most other American cities. There are plenty of things not to like about the way that Richard J. Daley ran the city and the way that Richard M. Daley runs it now, but, bad weather and all, I'd much rather live there than in, for example, San Francisco, Atlanta, Portland, or Boston.

Cham -

Some of us liked our math classes and music lessons (it wasn't piano for me).

10:26 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Thom said...

I see little difference between this and some of the other moral issues being taught in schools, frankly. As with anything else, I'll have to be a responsible adult and make sure I have a talk with my kids afterward about what they were told, what they learned, and whether or not it contradicts anything I have taught them, just like I would after they have a sex ed lecture.

It's not like there is nothing you can do about it, folks. They are YOUR kids. You have the final word when they come home. Talk to them.

10:44 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger JAL said...

My daughter graduated in 2008 so I will miss this opportunity to keep her home on September 8.

Of course in some northern states they aren't in school until Sept 9....

But then you have the president's Prime Time address to Congress September 9. I hope some of the networks have the sense not to waste their minutes on it.

And don't you love the lesson plans? Don't forget to have them do one of those word cloud thingeys ...

10:56 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Ralph said...

When is he going to address the large welfare class about the same ideas?

How does personal responsiblity and hard work fit in with advocating belonging to a union where differentiation isn't allowed.

He is a collectivist, and they don't really buy into the exceptionalism argument. It is just a way for him to get his foot in the door with the youth, as all power grabbers do.

As Thomas Sowell said, electing him was the point of no return.

11:16 AM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger geekWithA.45 said...

When I was a kid, it would have been integrated into the unit we did in 3rd grade on propaganda. ;)

That being said, Obama's incredibly unwise to do this, I see it as akin to juggling grenades with rusty pins. He'll be watched like a hawk, and if he strays even slightly from the most vanilla banalities, it'll haunt him and cost him and his party. Of course, as another commenter mentions, the overall context cannot be discounter, and he'll not be held accountable for the overzealous actions of his followers..

12:46 PM, September 03, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It isn't that big of a deal. He is just cementing his place in history as the face of Big Brother. What he says doesn't really matter. Children don't listen to politicians. What this really is is a chance for teachers in every subject to monopolize the curriculum with about 3 days of Obamacentric propaganda. Conservatives don't seem to have a problem with that so their kids will all be back in class for it.

12:52 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Most kids are in school 5 days a week, 9 months a year. Not only does he want the school day longer, he wants kids in school 6 days a week, 11 months a year. That scares me.

Have you talked to a school-aged kid lately? They're blithering idiots. I was talking with the 13-year old sister of a friend the other day about the politics and history of America (a subject that she has some interest in) and was shocked at how incredibly ignorant she actually was about American history and politics. Why she was so incredibly ignorant about US politics and history became clear at one point during the conversation - which was when she told me that she never learned any of the things that I told her from her teachers. And what were some of those things that I had told her? Well, they weren't state secrets. They were historical facts:

- Washington owned slaves (something that she didn't know) and chose not to free them when he had many opportunities to do so (such as when he was in Philadelphia after the Attorney General told him that his slaves might have the opportunity to free themselves under a PA state law allowing them their freedom after being in the state for 6 continuous months, at which point he sent them back to Mt. Vernon so as to deprive them of that opportunity);

- That there was a massive slave revolt against the French in Haiti, where slavery existed in a particularly heinous form, which, along with the American and French revolutions, was one of the single most important political events in world history of that time (Haiti was the most important colony in the New World, producing more sugar than all the British Caribbean islands put together and accounting for 40% of France's overseas trade; the loss of it was an important factor in Napoleon's decision to sell the Louisiana territory to the US) and for which Washington sent hundreds of thousands of dollars (a huge amount at that time, but trivial in comparison to the US's debt to France) to France as part of the effort to aid the French in quelling the revolt for fear that blacks in the US might get a bright idea;

- Northern and western states like Oregon, California, Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio had Black Codes, some of which were written into their state constitutions, that, among other things: forbade blacks from entering the state; required, as a prerequisite for living in their state, that they provide papers showing proof of their freedom and post a bond with a price as high as $1,000 (an obscene amount for blacks in those days) as a guarantee of their good behavior; forbade them from owning real estate, entering into contracts, or bringing lawsuits; forbade them from testifying in cases where white men were parties; forbade them from being a part of militias; forbade them from marrying; and forbade them from attending the same schools of whites.

These were all things that she should have known as 5th and 6th grade was when the local school system teaches Revolutionary-era and early American history. These are all things that significantly changed her views about what she was taught in her school and is causing her to question virtually everything else that she's been taught in her classes by the court historians and court socialist studies teachers. I have, much to her mother's and history and socialist studies teachers' chagrin, become her de facto history and socialist studies tutor.

Should kids spend more time in school? I certainly don't think that they need to be spending more time in their history and socialist studies classes. I don't think that I'd even object to those classes being dropped altogether. Those programs are simply being used as indoctrination tools, IMO. What's more, those classes are already being taught in colleges. Schools could make much better use of the time (like by teaching arts, maths, and sciences) that they're spending on indoctrinating kids into believing that early America was a time of wonderfulness where pink unicorns had free reign and where everyone was happy, happy, happy.

1:04 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

And don't you love the lesson plans? Don't forget to have them do one of those word cloud thingeys ...

Speaking of lesson plans, how about this one, taken directly from the Pre-K to 6th grade "Menu of Classroom Activities" letter to schools from the DoE:

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?

Imagine the opportunities for teachers to shove their (in some some sense, state-mandated (public school (including university-level) teachers have to swear an oath to the federal government as a pre-condition of their employment (at least in my state they do))) political bias down students' throats. Are teachers likely to explain to kids that it's important to listen to what the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor, say because that's a good way to learn how to lie and knowing how to lie is a precondition of holding office? Probably not. Because it's fun, in a cynical kind of way, to compare their words to their actions just to see how hypocritical they actually are? Probably not. Because it's good to at least know in advance how they plan to violate your rights? Probably not. In all likelihood, what kids will be taught is that it's good to listen to what they have to say because without doing so they (the kids) won't know what to do with themselves; because elected officials give meaning to everyone's lives (or something to that effect); because elected officials have all the answers (because the discovery of truth is a democratic process).

Frankly, I'm almost sad that I don't have a kid that I can at least keep home from school in protest. I almost think it might be worth it to skip my classes on Tuesday and try to go to my friend's sister's class so that I can do a little brainwashing of my own. While I don't think this is going to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, it definitely is unprecedented, in this country, on this scale (I am definitely reminded of various authoritarian regimes' efforts to brainwash their citizens by broadcasting their messages of communism and fear over loudspeakers, in schools (Enver Hoxha of Albania comes to mind), and on televisions).

1:04 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

shocked at how incredibly ignorant she actually was about American history and politics

That's the whole idea: it makes it easier down the road to accept new programming when they don't have any critical thinking skills and/or knowledge of past events.

(Actually, our human nature makes it easy to believe that history begins on the day of our birth, and that we "invent" everything.)

1:22 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Fen said...

"...and remember, if you hear Mommy or Daddy saying something fishy about Me, contact"

2:48 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'm almost worried that my 12 yo son will say something anti-Obama, like I and his father are, and then be ostracized by the mostly liberal teachers & admin. Teachers can make a kids life hell if they want to. I personally don't think its just about the kids, I think its a political maneuver.

3:46 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

As I've posted elsewhere, this is a wonderful day for parents to schedule a parental attendance day. Be there, watch the teacher and you can even provide counter-political rebuttal if warranted.

4:29 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Brian Puccio --

"Personally, the idea of someone telling children across the country that they are responsible for their own future and should work hard in school to possibly advance in life disgusts me."

You got that speech content from where?

4:30 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Something I think most people, even on the right, don't understand here is the influence that people with "good intentions" can have on kids, especially people who are in a position of power and respect.

The worry here isn't a pap-speech, it's that an assumption of the entire leftist worldview will be embedded in Obama's message and that he will issue a call to action to your kids.

When I was a kid, Nickelodeon ran comparison coverage between Clinton and Bush. I wanted to vote for Bill Clinton at the age of nine because Nickelodeon told me that Al Gore wanted to protect the environment (and Bush wanted to deregulate for big corporations, you know, the guys who pollute). I wanted the good person to win!

I learned that wasting water was destroying the planet, that one day we might run out of fresh drinking water. So I hassled my parents to turn off the faucets when they were brushing their teeth -- just like my educators told me to -- because saving the planet was good!

To this day I compulsively cut the plastic rings drinks sometimes come in because as a kid I saw pictures of ducks and geese wrapped up in them. Saving ducks is good!

Good vs bad. Emotional thinking, rather than logical thinking, appeals to kids and comes naturally to them.

This stuff works, folks, and it's hard to counter.

4:31 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Here's how it could turn out:

"Hello, I'm President Obama. It's my privilege to help make our country a better place. That's what we do in Washington every day: find ways to make your lives better, to help your parents, your grandparents, to save the environment, help the sick and the homeless, ensure everyone has a job and a home.

"You can help too. What you do matters. What do you think you can do to help our country be a better place? How can you help your parents? What can your class do to help?

Try explaining to a child that equality and helping people are bad.

This stuff breeds little leftists. Ask yourself, what do you hear leftists talk about? Peace and justice. Equality for everyone. Saving the earth. Emotional, moral values, but not thinking ones. The "how" is always assumed in the message, in the worldview.

And this is exactly the worldview hidden in what your children hear.

Nobody really knows what Obama will say, but I worry.

I don't think pulling kids out for this will help (for various reasons), but I think having illusions about the message your kids might get is dangerous.

4:36 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

I think Olig's idea is a good one. Rather than sulking and pulling your kids out of the classroom, show up and offer a counter point to the entire class. Get some discussion going. I think this is an incredible teachable moment here.

4:41 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Obernai said...

This whole idea is likely based on the Annenberg challenge as one poster mentioned earlier. It is a bit creepy too, very big-brotherish. Regardless of what he says, this is a great opportunity to continue the rhetoric and avoid doing something constructive. maybe he is running out of adult audiences that are polling well, so he is now turning to the kids???

Fortunately, my kids go to a Catholic school and they are not participating. Actually, the school does not have the technical ability to broadcast to the classrooms. I spoke to the principal and she is taping it (VCR) and will offer the tape to teachers to use excerpts in lessons, etc.

AND I have looked over the website materials. What a true waste of time for these kids. They need to be doing math, science, fact-based history, reading literature. Not serving as another audience for President Narcissist.

4:44 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

fact-based history.

Boy, that's a loaded assumption...

5:17 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

my children`s grandfather told my youngest boy that castro worked 16 hours a day so that his people could have a wonderful place to live and work...and that workers design things like road graders that re-pave our roads.


so i have to contradict thier mother`s father as he spouts collectivist twaddle to a ten-year-old.

and now obama will have at your children too.

go to class with your kids and contradict him as he speaks, otherwise he will be believed without reservation by children and act unconciously years from now when it`s time for them to try to think for themselves.

my youngest came home in tears one day because he was told by his teacher that our pollution is drowning polar bears.

thanks freaking liar.

socialists such as teachers feed at the tax trough and so they have to play such propaganda to pre-teens and arrested-developement types such as political science freshmen.

there is no end to the intellectual`s hatred of america, it is highly profitable.

check out naom chomskey and his sock-puppet, michael moore...and see how some bite the hand that feeds.

5:22 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

I'd love to avoid sounding like a broken record, but:
How do we combat emotional feel-good politics espoused to our kids?

Explaining how government welfare, for example, keeps Indian tribes poor and slothful is pretty dry conversation for a kid.
[ See an infuriating John Stossel segment on this. ]

On the other hand, "protect the environment", "equality for everyone", "help the sick", etc. are easy, short soundbites that jive very well with a kid's understanding of right and wrong.

7:07 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Cham said...

Chris: I don't think kids are as dumb as you think. If you take the time to think your position through and use examples, junior may just get it.

7:13 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger DADvocate said...

My kids are old enough and know enough to recognize Obama for what he is. Over the years, I've helped them to recognize propaganda and why leftist ideas don't work and are unfair.

I'm looking forward to discussing this with them also, if it's actually broadcast in their schools.

24 hours and I haven't found a woman to support me for the rest of my life, yet. Oh, well.

8:16 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

my 13 year old asked his science teacher two questions that i suggested he ask.

1) what is the greenhouse gas that comprises 85% of the total greenhouse gas volume on the planet?

and 2) what is the greatest contributer to heating the surface of the planet?

the teacher failed to answer both questions correctly.

the answer to #1 is water vapour from natural evaporation. and the answer to #2 is.......the sun.

9:15 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Adults are tuning him out, so now he is going to try to snow the kids.

11:14 PM, September 03, 2009  
Blogger Verbosity Dogood said...

I see 2 basic problems...1st regarding the instructions to the teachers, 2nd with Obama himself. First, the instructions...

"The Education Department is encouraging teachers to create lesson plans around the speech, using materials provided on the department website, that urge students to learn about Obama and other presidents."

WTF?? A couple of points. The Edu Dept. doesn't educate anyone. The 10th Amendment reserves the educational issue to the states by virtue of it not being enumerated. So having a political arm of Obama (Edu Dept) 'encourage' lesson plans (I wonder if there aren't implied threats to funding) to learn about Obama comes close to crossing that line.

But more importantly, I think any rational reader knows the politics of teachers and the teachers' letting the unions create lesson plans will likely focus on a certain point-of-view. But letting his union agents do the individual 'lesson plans' gives him plausible deniability. It's pretty odious, ans certainly manipulative.

And regarding Obama himself, there are a few things. One I'm going to say is pretty rough, but accurate, I think, and the other is a bit more obvious.

"He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens," Duncan said in a press release."

I also think a secondary purpose of this is to seem wise and 'lordly' to generate some capital ahead of the upcoming health care fight.

Okay, the inflammatory part. I know I'm not the only one to say this but the model for acquiring power from a 'free' populace is Hitler & the Nazis. The model (very briefly) is capitalize on general anger, usually economic, by providing scapegoats (Nazis - Jews; Obama - $200k & up earners/insurance co's, etc). Control the media & what people hear (Nazis has J. Goebbels; Obama has NBC, ABC, CBS, CNBS, NYT, WP, Edu unions, etc). Then brainwash and create an indoctrinated youth (Nazis - Hitler youth; Obama starting with this). Is this a stretch to suggest? I don't think so. I think he's starting to wake to the prospect he may have to have more incrementalism in his goals than his ego would prefer.

10:14 AM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

we are in interesting times.

i see people in canada wearing pictures of his shiny smug face like he`s our president.

i wonder if my kids will be forced to sit through his broadcast.

worker`s paradise.

11:38 AM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger Unknown said...

Cham: I think there's merit to that argument for older kids.

My concern is that this process starts when kids start watching TV as tots, and in preschool, and kindergarten, when they're much more in-tune with emotional explanations. They root in kids' minds and don't just go away.

I absolutely agree that a concerted effort can turn it around as kids grow up. Parents can gradually insert reason into what they teach their kids.

Unfortunately, so can the other side. In school I remember learning about the late 1800s: child labor, dangerous working conditions (factories, coal mines), long working hours. We were taught (fact) that the government came in and regulated, with the assertion that companies would never have done so. Emotion followed from the assertion; we came to our own conclusions, unstated by the teacher, but obvious to everyone.

I took a lot away from that; it fueled the ingrained (emotional) hatred of corporations with facts that backed me up. I told my parents that I thought my teachers understood and knew better than they did, because, well, I was a young teenager, and teachers are certified to know this stuff, right?

Both sides can play facts, especially when facts back up the underlying emotional argument. I worry that leftists have a head start on ingraining emotional arguments in our kids from a very young age. That's why I and others worry about our schools leaning one way or the other. And that's why I worry what Obama will say.

1:17 PM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

I'd love to avoid sounding like a broken record, but:
How do we combat emotional feel-good politics espoused to our kids?

By not discussing current events with them in the first place. Kids shouldn't have an opinion on current events because they simply don't have the foundation upon which to base their opinions. Sure, they can have an opinion, but it's not going to be based upon any of their own beliefs but rather upon what is told to them by others (whether by yourself, by teachers, by entertainers, or by politicians). Give them a foundation upon which to build their opinions and then let them come to them naturally. As has been noted, it's nice to say certain things are good or bad to do, but the questions of why or how probably aren't going to be able to be answered by kids. You're telling them as a parent what is or is not good or bad to do is absolutely no better than a teacher, entertainer, or politician doing the same thing. You're just as guilty of indoctrination as they are.

So, what is a good way to combat indoctrination of all kinds? Information. Present as much information to them as possible. Give them as much information on the pros and cons, both from advocates' and opponents' POVs, of as many positions as possible and let them make their own decisions (gasp!). It may well be that they might take a position that is contrary to yours, but at least it will be a thought-out position that they've come to on their own rather than one that's simply handed to them by yourself, a teacher, an entertainer, or some politicians (because, again, it's all propaganda and indoctrination).

Of course, based upon what I've seen here and elsewhere, I don't think many people are going to be paying much attention to me. People whose plans are to withhold as much information about their opponents views are not, IMO, doing their kids any favors. A much better approach would be to go with their kids to class, or, if that's impossible, to send them to class with a voice recorder or video camera, so that they could present an opposing viewpoint to their kids. A much better approach would be to discuss openly and honestly with their kids the pros and cons of every position (as every position has pros and cons) so that the kids can understand how complex any decision is. But, that's not what many people are interested in. Many people are apparently interested only in presenting their viewpoints so that they can raise little carbon copies of themselves.

4:33 PM, September 04, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

to call our commander in chief
a Chavez is both dumb and very insulting. If you have a point to make, try to do so without demeaning low -life insults.

5:01 PM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger Dr.D said...

Fred, you might think calling the CiC a Chavez is dumb and insulting, but the Obama himself has indicated that he thinks Chavez is an OK guy, someone that we should respect and look up to, so why not? This is just following suit. Now the fact that we all see right through that is what you object to, but Obama himself is the problem.

5:25 PM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

how is obama different from chavez?

6:01 PM, September 04, 2009  
Blogger Dr.Alistair said...

hmmm, i guess that would be your answer then.....

6:31 PM, September 08, 2009  

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