Tomorrow, President Obama will speak to the nation’s school children, presumably about setting education goals and staying in school. At least that is what the White House is saying.
This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation’s school children about persisting and succeeding in school. We encourage you to use this historic moment to help your students get focused and begin the school year strong. Letter from Secretary Arne Duncan to Principals
This historic moment. We are inviting students to become a part of history, much like when I was in school and the television cart was rolled in to watch the Challenger lift off. I don’t know why I exactly stumbled over that part of Duncan’s letter to principals. His job is PR for the program, but it still seems a bit over the top. Even if George Bush, Sr. hadn’t done it almost 20 years ago. The technology may be a bit different, but it appears that speech was about succeeding in school and was intended to address all students.
Both Bush’s went much further than Obama toward making our schools a national stage for federal education politics. Granted, Obama wishes to go further still, but the course has already been charted.
For twenty years, we steadily shift the power in education from the local community toward the federal government, and do nothing but occasionally grumble. The president makes a speech, however, and we call for a National Keep Your Child at Home Day. Suddenly, we’re worried about brainwashing in a “totalitarian-type telecast” befitting “banana dictators.”
Compared to the power we have willingly handed over (even demanded to be taken from us), I must agree with Joanne Jacobs on this one. What is so sinister?
This president has used more prime time press conferences and informercials than any previous president.
Even liberal bloggers can see a bit of public relations overkill in the speech and its pre-game show. Which brings us back to that word “historic” that made me choke on my coffee. But there’s more to it than just that.
Read the post over at American Elephant. How much of it really has to do with the speech? Not much. Instead, it is expressing general frustration over the direction the country is heading. It is a direction we have very little control over individually, but we certainly can pull our kids out of school for one day.
Education has been moving toward national standards and centralized control for my entire life. Finally, some people are standing up and saying “Enough.” Unfortunately, it is an insignificant gesture aimed at an irrelevant event.
Incidentally, I do believe it is important to listen to the President so I’d like to invite you to discuss the speech here tomorrow. We’ll be doing some warm up activities I’ll share here for discussion before viewing the video. I have an appointment so will be watching it after the copy is made available, but feel free to share your thoughts!