school walkout

Why we should listen to the president

Like I mentioned yesterday, I will be watching President Obama’s speech to America’s school children with my children later today.  We have little ones around here, so we’ll be using the elementary lesson plans, legal or not. Actually, we’ll be focusing specifically on this question, because it fits perfectly with some ongoing conversations we have been having around here:

Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?  Classroom Activities, Pre-K-6 (pdf)

I’ll let you know my children’s answers to that later, after I ask them, but here are mine:

I.  I’m Christian, and the bible is pretty clear:

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake:  whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.  For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:  As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.  –1Peter 2:13-16 (KJV)

I consider myself blessed to live in a nation whose ordinances allow me considerable liberty to express my disagreement with established authority, but I try very hard to apply this verse especially to my discussions:  “For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men…” By well doing hearts and minds are changed, not by inflammatory rhetoric.

II.  These are our elected leaders, and our responsibility as citizens is pretty clear.

The Salvation of the state is watchfulness in the citizen.  –Hartley Burr Alexander, inscribed on the Nebraska State Capitol Building

If we do not listen, we cannot know, and if we do not know, we cannot act.  Listening precedes all useful action, something I fear some may be forgetting.

Please share your thoughts on the prepared speech, the speech as it is delivered and the accompanying lesson plans.  If you had the stage, what would you tell America’s youth?  And what have you told your own children?

On Obama’s “indoctrination” speech

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?

It certainly isn’t because he’s black, so why the uproar?  Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with something My Domestic Church quipped.

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.

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!