Friday, September 4, 2009

Why isn't this a non-issue?

Emily said it so well and so succinctly that I feel like I shouldn't post about it at all, but I can't stop thinking about it. It seems so patently ridiculous.

(Plus, posting about it here may help me keep it off of Facebook, and we all know I've caused enough of a stir with my liberal politics on Facebook lately)

What are people so afraid of in the President's planned speech to school children this Tuesday? (Honestly, if you can help me understand, please do. Because the whole indoctrination in 10 minutes argument is completely lost on me. And do people REALLY think that President Obama is so stupid as to use this time to try to further the political divide?)

My child is in second grade, and I don't know if they plan to show the speech in her small private school. I hope they do. I do know that people are planning to pull their children out of the local public schools on Tuesday because they will be showing it.

Really? You'll pull your kid out of school because otherwise they will hear the democratically elected president of our country talk for ten minutes about the importance of eduction?

I've tried to understand what they are afraid of. I've followed the links people have put up on Facebook. But it's all inflammatory nonsense. Irresponsible reporting (like giving the "I pledge" video as an example of what the kids will see on Tuesday. That video was an inaugural gift to the President, and not produced by the White House, and not intended for display in school. Although, frankly, I thought it was quite good. )

Here's what I think. Not allowing your child to watch the speech speaks only to your own fear and paranoia, and teaches your child that you believe he or she is incapable of thinking for themselves. It teaches them that you have no respect for Office of President. It teaches them that a differing point of view is dangerous. It shows your belief that 10 minutes of the president talking and perhaps a follow-up discussion in class will undermine any values you have taught at home.

The president wants to encourage our children to do well in school. What is wrong with that? I did not like George W. Bush as a president, I think he made horrible decisions and will go down in history as one of the worst presidents ever. But if he had made a speech to school children about the importance of school? It would not have OCCURRED to me to pull my child out of class. Because he was the PRESIDENT.

I want to teach my child to respect the Office of the President. I want to teach my child that I respect people I disagree with. I want to teach my child that we can discuss things. I want to teach my child that I'm not afraid to let her decide for herself. I want to teach my child that I do not make decisions based on fear and misinformation.

Plus, you know... education. It's a good thing.

(please feel free to disagree with me... just do so respectfully)


Monday starts our Monday Mission. Your Mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write a post in the style of a letter to a teacher. "Dear Mrs. G.... please teach our children to respect the president by showing his speech in class. Thank you, Respectfully, Painted Maypole"


kayerj said...

would that Mrs. G be our Mary (of Them's my Sentiments)? I've had her in the back of my mind as I've been thinking about my letter for monday. You make a valid point about respecting the office. I don't facebook and I watch very little news--but there does seem to be a general sense of panic among parents. I think it speaks to the mental state of citizens in America. They just aren't sure who really leads this country, and who they should trust. I think the media keeps us confused, always second guessing and criticizing the powers that be.

Chrissy said...

I've been following along with this "controversy", too, and I cannot for the life of me understand it. I am a pretty conservative Christian who mostly votes Republican, and I can't imagine being in an uproar about this. It is a speech to kids from the President. WHY is this a big deal? I didn't vote for Obama, but my kids have watched the debates, his acceptance speech, his inaugural speech, and will watch any speech he makes in primetime, so why not this one? Why would I want to shield them from this? What could he possibly say that would potentially damage them enough to merit taking them out of school?

I have a lot of ultra-conservative friends on FB who have been posting against Obama from the get-go (many of them have been unfriended by now because it just gets annoying), and I have read the articles and watched the videos just to try to get a sense of understanding. It continues to elude me.

Magpie said...

It is simply mind boggling.

Melissa said...

Disagree? Sweetie, I linked to you. You rock! See ya Monday. :)

Jen said...

I am beyond words on this. I'm so sick of the overblown protests of each little move.

flutter said...

I'm no fan of Obama and I see no problem with the address. He's the president, it's not like it's going to be 20 minutes of pron or something.

I highly doubt he'll say anything controversial or inappropriate. Seems like the accounts of people freaking out are overblown as well. Gotta sell newspapers, I guess.

Anjali said...

I got a notice from school yesterday. They are NOT showing him at our school. And I am royally pissed off.

MARY G said...

Mrs G isn't me in this case; but if it were, the kids would be glued to their seats while the President spoke.
Pres. Obama is a walking advertisement for where education can take you. In my (Canadian) view, people should be making sure their kids see and hear him. That some people choose to use their children and their children's well-being as a weapon to oppose a fundamentally decent man trying to do the right thing is just plain horrible, not to mention stupid, short-sighted and mean. I hate to think how the kids are being brought up.
Good post, Maypole! And right on.

Ambassador said...

OK, my guess is that the folks freaking out over this are the same ones who pulled their kids out of school and made them stand outside in protest earlier year, holding signs reading "Don't Tax My Legos"...but were actually among the group of citizens who received tax CUTS this year. Aaaarrrrghghg!! (beats head on wall)

Rima said...


This is the stuff that makes my blood positively BOIL. I'm really hoping it's just a handful of people getting their panties in a knot over it and the media is just blowing it out of proportion? Maybe? Hopefully?

Anonymous said...

AMEN SISTA!!!!! I don't know if my sons will get to see the address live (the district copped out and left it up to each individual teacher), but you better believe that we will watch it that night and talk about it. They're 8 and 5. I refuse to allow the schools to hamper their education.

Kyla said...

Yes, you hit the nail on the head with "inflammatory nonsense".

Woman in a Window said...

Really? People were reacting that way? Huh. I don't really understand the turn against Obama. Seems like just a few short months ago when he was being revered as a demi-god. Very, very strange.

All of your arguments seem pretty bang on to me!

le35 said...

OK, so I'm a bit late on the comment for this one since things have already happened today, but being the conservative that I am, I am really worried about Obama, and having seen some things that I consider less than ethical (but let's face it, I'm not sure that an ethical President could get elected in this country right now) I went to the Department of Education's website and read up on the speech. The speech in and of itself didn't seem so bad. It was the list of "suggested classroom activities" that went along with the speech that sort of made the hairs at the back of my neck stand on end.

Here is a quote, copied directly from the word document provided from the department of Ed website. When I went to provide the link, I couldn't find it again, but I luckily haven't shut down my computer in a few days, so I have 20 open IE windows, and the Prek-6 (read only) department of ed document open.

• 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 could 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?

I really don't want my kid listening to the President of the United states in the same vein as they would a prophet. I want them to listen to any politician, republican or democrat, supposedly conservative or supposedly liberal with the plan to keep an open mind. If I want my kid to think, What is he trying to tell me to do? What is he asking me to do? How can I help him? I'm hoping that my child will be listening to a prophet for that type of talk. Anyhow, I didn't have to worry about it. They didn't show it in my daughter's school today.

painted maypole said...

le35 - Thanks for your thoughtful response.

I'm wondering what problems you have with President Obama's ethics. As far as I can tell, he's been far more ethical than any president we've had in the past 2 decades.

And I disagree that we should only be asking "What is he trying to tell me?" and "What is he asking me to do?" of prophets. We should be asking it of every message we receive, whether it be from the President of the United States or from the commercial for the latest product. It's part of critical thinking. Once you know what the intended message is, THEN you can decide if you agree with it or not. The response might be "The president is asking me to commit myself to working hard and staying in school, but I don't agree that that's a good thing and this is why..." Yes, the curriculum came from an assumption that the kids would respond favorably, but it did not disallow them to respond in another way.

Mrs4444 said...

I agree one hundred percent, and I'm a Conservative. My students and I listened to it today, and I thought it was terrific. I thought the classroom activities were great, too. The people who protested were behaving embarrassingly; going off without having a clue what they were talking about.

Louise said...

While my cynical nature has a hard time believing any politician does anything for purely wholesome reasons, regardless of whether or not the motive was ulterior, the message was not harmful. I read the entire thing so I did not miss something. It did not have things in it I heard would be there. I do not know if that is because those statements were removed due to public outcry or if hysterical people over-reacted and made up things. To the hysterics in this case, I say, "People like you are the reason there are democrats." To those who think Obama can do no wrong, I say, "People like you are the reason I will never be a democrat." What you said in a comment about critical thinking is key. I believe too much of America, both left and right, cannot think critically and have horribly closed minds when it comes to viewpoints not their own.

Back to the classroom. Does anyone really think prohibiting something will mean the children do not learn about it or see it for themselves some other way? Making a big deal about it will only drive them to NEED to see it. Then when they do, they'll wonder why people made such a big deal. They'll embrace the other side just because there is no sense in the prohibition. I strive, STRIVE to educate my daughter when she asks questions, but let her develop her own opinions. I give her my best judgment of why one side or another believes what they do, but try diligently to not influence her with my opinions. Which are only opinions. Not the gospel truth as many like to believe their opinions are.

imbeingheldhostage said...

missed it. missed it all-- only I kept seeing things on facebook, but my internet accessibility was VERY limited while we were away. In hindsight, I don't know what all the hype was about-- but of course, I saw the speach long before I heard the squawk.

Run ANC said...

Wow, head in the sand here. I had no idea this was going on. Why on earth would you prevent a child from seeing the message? Especially going to the lengths of pulling them out of school?? Ridiculous. This is assuming that children have no brains. Better to let them see the message and discuss what issues you have with it later. How can anyone learn critical thinking when they are never asked to think critically?