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Obama Addresses Students – Oh no!

President Barack Obama Today, President Obama is going to give a “Back to School” address to students across America. The speech is intended to be about the importance of education and taking control of your own education… and the benefits that can result from that.

However, what should be a simple, straightforward address to students has been attacked and demonized by many who don’t want their children hearing the president speak… for various reasons. There have been claims that his speech is unprecedented (it isn’t) or that it will try to indoctrinate children into becoming little socialists (it won’t) or that it undermines parental authority (it doesn’t).

It was well known in advance that the speech was to focus on the importance of education, but the vociferous opponents of the president cried wolf yet again and spread their alarmist rhetoric, claiming that there was a conspiracy afoot and our children were in danger of being insta-brainwashed by a 15-minute speech.

As White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “I think we’ve reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can’t tell kids in school to study hard and stay in school.”

Here are some excerpts from the comments section of a Reuters article about the speech [sic].

“I would not want my children to grow up being inspired by Obama and furthering their interests by studying his ideals and adopting his mind set. Obama is no friend to America’s freedom nor is he a friend to our Constitution which he is sworn to defend with the BEST of his abilities.”

“I am not sure I would trust anything this president has to say to children.”

“He’s a very un-American President, maybe that’s why people don’t want him talking to their kids.”

“This is not about Obama telling our kids “work hard and stay in school”; this is about him being invasive and taking over, and promoting his socialist agenda.”

“we have taken god out of our schools lets take polictics out of it also”

Thankfully, most of the comments to the article were either in support of the speech or in support of clear thinking about the issue itself, something the opponents seem to be abundantly lacking.

I know a few people personally who oppose the speech and combining that with the tone and content of many of the comments I’ve read, there seem to be two common characteristics; very right-wing views and very religious views.

Perhaps the outrage comes from Obama’s public acknowledgement of religious views other than Christian ones. Perhaps the outrage is that, due to the incredible increase in the partisan divide that occurred over the past 8-12 years, many people can’t seem to see anything good coming from their political opponents. However, the dissent, hateful rhetoric, misinformation, and blind outrage seem to have reached a crescendo this year. Obama-haters see conspiracy around every corner. They rage about information received in bogus chain emails. They rant against anything, regardless of benefit, proposed by their enemies.

They fume and froth and sputter with righteous indignation over things like… like… the president giving a speech to students about the importance of education.

Here is a link to the text of the speech released by the White House. Here is a link to the Department of Education page about the speech. There’s nothing sinister here. There’s nothing controversial. Sorry… nothing that should be controversial. It’s just as announced… a speech about the importance of education and taking control of your own education. Study hard. Stay in school. Do your best. You can do it.

To oppose that is absurdity of the highest order.


  1. Nate says:

    I suppose some people would rather have President Bush promote education. Although I certainly do not like him or his political agendas, I would be happy to have him promote education. Heck, I would be happy with anyone promoting education…well, except maybe someone who is intoxicated…wait, maybe that does rule out President Bush…

    Anyway, thanks for spewing out one fine piece of commentary Dan!!!!

    1. Dan says:

      I agree about the promotion of education.

      I think it’s a benefit for anyone in a position of authority to talk about the importance of education to kids… be it parents, teachers, or politicians. Heck, even Mickey Mouse and Hannah Montana can promote education! 😉

  2. Joanne says:

    Excellent essay, and the President’s speech was equally worthwhile. We teachers need every voice we can muster to convince today’s kids of the value of education. I loved his comment that they won’t all grow up to be NBA players, rappers, or reality TV stars despite what TV suggests. It’s time for the rational among us to stop the nonsense and get back to the business of this country’s day-to-day survival.

    1. Dan says:

      Thanks, Joanne. It’s nice to hear that from a teacher. 🙂

      I get frustrated with the frequent anti-intellectualism of the right-wing. Denouncing a pro-education speech from the president just seems ludicrous.

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