How crazy can it get?

President Obama plans a routine speech to students on Tuesday about studying and working hard in school. It will be broadcast on C-SPAN and the White House Web site. None of this is controversial stuff.

But to those living in the shadows of the far right, this is dangerous … Some claim the president is going to indoctrinate — that’s one of the right’s favorite words — students. Many school district officials say they have received e-mails of complaint that some describe as “way out there.” The outcry was such that the Randolph school district sent out this missive:

Dear Parent/Guardian,

Randolph Township Schools have received calls about President Obama’s planned speech on Tues., Sept. 8 to students in schools across America.

As we understand from media and other reports, the president’s remarks are aimed at school children and focus on asking students to take responsibility for their learning and challenging them to set personal goals (please see the web site for more specific information).

Parents have been asking whether this speech will be required viewing.

In response, Superintendent Owen Snyder has directed all school principals to notify teachers that if they are planning to use the president’s speech as part of a lesson, they are to make sure that parents are informed in writing and that parents are given some means of “opting out.” Also, students should be afforded alternate lessons.

The district is not advocating any political stance on this matter.


About fsnowflack
Fred Snowflack was editorial page editor and a political columnist for the Daily Record of Morristown for almost 12 years. He has won numerous awards for editorial and column writing from the New Jersey Press Association and has written a blog on county and state politics for the last three years. He lives in Ledgewood in Morris County.

8 Responses to How crazy can it get?

  1. P says:

    I agree that there is nothing sinister or improper about our president stressing the importance of education. For the most part the WSJ’s Editorial Page also agreed with you. I’m note sure that their one issue, when taken in context of the whole list of suggested activities, rises to the level of “aggrandizing”

    A Teachable Moment
    Obama isn’t ‘indoctrinating’ kids.

    President Obama’s plan to speak to America’s schoolchildren next Tuesday has some Republicans in an uproar. “As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology,” thunders Jim Greer, chairman of Florida’s Republican Party, in a press release. “President Obama has turned to American’s children to spread his liberal lies, indoctrinating American’s [sic] youngest children before they have a chance to decide for themselves.” Columnists who spy a conspiracy behind every Democrat are also spreading alarm.

    This is overwrought, to say the least. According to the Education Department’s Web site, Mr. Obama “will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning”—hardly the stuff of the Communist Manifesto or even the Democratic Party platform. America’s children are not so vulnerable that we need to slap an NC-17 rating on Presidential speeches. Given how many minority children struggle in school, a pep talk from the first African-American President could even do some good.

    On the other hand, the Department of Education goes a little too far in its lesson plans for teachers to use in conjunction with the speech—especially the one for grades 7 through 12. Before the speech, teachers are urged to use “notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education” and to “brainstorm” with students about the question “How will he inspire us?” Suggested topics for postspeech discussion include “What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech?” and “What is President Obama inspiring you to do?”

    This seems to cross the line between respecting the office and aggrandizing the man who currently holds it. As the President and his speechwriters prepare for school on Tuesday, we hope they will be more circumspect than the education bureaucracy.

    Printed in The Wall Street Journal, page A16

    And the DOE’s resource doc –

    Judge for yourself.

  2. Terry McKenna says:

    the president is both head of government and head of state. his speaking to kids at the beginning of the school year seems completely reasonable. that the right is reacting only confirms that these complainers represent the lunatic fringe, with an emphasis on lunatic.

  3. hogwash says:

    There you go again Fred not giving all the facts, a good article would have noted the work items that were to be done after the president laid the ground work. Write a letter to yourself asking what you can do to help the president, what is the president asking me to do is he asking others to help. Than when the country rises up in protest the work items are omitted. Just a little pep talk or a call to help him spread his propaganda.

    Why is it always ok for liberals to do this but when the right does it is brain washing?

  4. hogwash says:

    The WSJ article is bigoted. I would venture to say that there are far more white kids having trouble in school. Stop the minority bashing and look at all the Asians that are graduating from high school and are getting the big scholarships to the best Colleges and Universities. The Minority vs. White America is only another part of Obama’s divisive policies.

  5. SolomonDrek says:

    I like the part about parental notification as if these kids will be exposed to some kind of X-rated porn flick.

    Reminds me of Assemblyman (soon-to-be State Senator) Mike Doherty advocating parental notification of school trips to the state capital that kids might be exposed to homosexual conduct in the bathroom as a result of the state’s nondiscrimination policies.

  6. Dan Grant says:

    What seems to be lost in the hysteria of the Right is that this is the President of All of the United States and the Commander in Chief of our Armed Forces. That these people would show such little respect for the democratic principles that this country was founded on and teach their own children that disrespect shows how far the Right has fallen. That Superintendants and worse School Boards who are elected bodies would buckle to this kind of reaction is downright unAmerican. These parents who want to keep their children away from contact with the President ought to think twice and if they want to then take them out of school don’t prevent real American Children from having this opportunity. President Obama wants to stress the importance of education. Reagan and Bush 1 addressed students and those two talked tax policy so this is nothing new. The only new thing here is that the Right wing is unhinged and school adminstrations are hiding under their desks.

  7. Hogwash11 says:

    Bob it was the same with Bush only differance is he was not your choice for President, and you might have been doing the name calling.

  8. Pravelon says:

    Judging from the posts in the Home Page news carousel on this same topic, it can’t get crazy enough—at least in Morris County. Local public schools allow everything from nutritional disinformation to magic clowns to parade their wares during student assemblies. Even the clip of “W,” looking like a deer in the headlights, reading to a group of elementary school kids after being informed that the nation was just attacked, didn’t prompt as much response. Sounds like the right is really scared of something….

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