Updated: Barack Obama, Pedagogue in Chief?

On September 8th President Obama plans on addressing students, K-12, on the importance of education.

Is this really the job of the president?  I don’t know about you, dear readers, but this strikes me as quite pointless and a little frightening.  Pointless because children should already be receiving this message at home and at their schools; the President of the United States has better things to do.  Frightening because Obama is going around parents and speaking directly to children; Orwell would be impressed.

I’m not one to let paranoia get the best of me.  But, I am not the only who feels a little creeped out.

Vodkapundit, Stephen Green, notes his objection by saying:

“It’s not mere education — it’s learnyness!

Now my son is young enough that he won’t be subjected to the President’s smiling face, dulcet tones, and calls to action. He won’t be pressured by his teachers or peers to go along or get with the program.

Your kids might not be so lucky.

In impossible times, the only way to be a responsible parent is to do the irresponsible thing. If my son were in a public school…

I’d call him in sick next Tuesday. I’d keep him home. I suggest you do so. I urge you to do so. If pressed, be honest about your reasons — but be reasonable about presenting them. Otherwise, don’t offer an explanation. Make it a silent protest.”

More sanguine, the Powerline crew calls it as they see it declaring the speech “Inexpressibly Lame“:

“Try to put yourself in the place of a high school student confronted with this ordeal. It’s worse than all of the lame “special events” I experienced in my school career, combined. It makes the grainy black and white filmstrip of lung cancer surgery that we had to watch back in the early 1960s–Don’t smoke!–look like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. The only possible reaction by any self-respecting American adolescent is rebellion. An hour of this stuff, and President Obama will be the least cool person on the planet. No, in the galaxy.”

The president’s speech on Tuesday won’t be the first time school children will be preached to by those who know better in the name of all that is good and right.  Like the Powerline post argues, most kids will ignore it or outright reject it.

Back in my high school days Channel One was pumped into every classroom.  Every day Lisa Ling, Serena Altschul, and Anderson Cooper brought us the injustices of the world while begging us to make a difference.  They didn’t connect with me then.  I doubt Obama will connect with kids now…but what if he does?

Final thought: What if, a few years ago, George Bush took 20 minutes to ask America’s children to study hard for their upcoming NCLB tests?  Would teacher’s unions and administrators be so blasé about having the president in their classrooms?

Michael adds: I’ll try to write more on this later, but outside of the issue of impressionable children being directly instructed to do something by the President, there are other authority problems. For example, the principals of schools here in South Dakota received an email encouraging participation in this viewing directly from the US Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan. Should not this information have gone to the State Secretary of Education and then be sent out by him, if warranted, to the principals?

Update: The following is a message sent from the Sioux Falls School District to parents:

Message sent – 9/3/2009
Presidential Address To Students
Good afternoon. This is the Sioux Falls School District.  We understand there has been dialogue across the nation and here at home regarding a webcast the President of the United States intends to deliver to school children on Tuesday, September 8th regarding the importance of education.  We wanted to take this opportunity to inform you of the long-standing protocol our District uses when deciding whether or not to view live broadcasts.  In each case, teachers evaluate the curriculum connection and determine whether or not the live broadcast fits into the scheduled lesson plans for the week.  This means that live broadcasts may be viewed by some students while others do not view the broadcasts during the school day.  The same protocol will be applied to President Obama’s address to school children.  As is the case with any curriculum activity, parents/guardians who have concerns regarding their child’s participation should contact their building principal to request an alternate activity.  Have a great evening.

4 thoughts on “Updated: Barack Obama, Pedagogue in Chief?

  1. This “controversy” seems really silly to me. Barack Obama is the President of the United States whether people like it or not. What’s wrong with him giving a “stay in school” message to our nation’s kids? And where was the uproar from parents when President George H. W. Bush was piped into classrooms by satellite for a “say no to drugs” message? Where was the outrage when President George W. Bush asked our contry’s schoolchildren to go around collecting coins for the children of Afghanistan? Where both of those attempts to brainwash our children?

    Once again, I say this whole thing is silly.

  2. Haggs, I wasn’t aware that George H.W. Bush similarly addressed students in 1991. Thanks for pointing it out.

    Regardless of who the president is my point still stands: it is inappropriate for the president to directly address children in this manner.

  3. So, you don’t think a President should be addressing children, no matter if they’re a Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative? Well, I’m not sure I agree, but at least your position is consistent. I personally think it’s nice for a President to address our nation’s youth, no matter what I think of their politics.

  4. When a president uses mass media to address our nation’s youth the president fails to truly connect with kids, but succeeds in sending a message to voters. I don’t want my kids to be political pawns. It’s cheap and degrading.

    With regard to Obama’s exhibition on Tuesday, I’m not so bothered with the message as I am with how it’s packaged. It’s the accompanying lesson plan: http://bit.ly/IbzJ3 and “I Pledge” video: http://bit.ly/3pjmEY that are unbecomming.

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