Kids Should Listen to the U.S. President
Children should listen to the U.S. president. Period.
Notice I didn’t say “agree with” or “blindly follow.”
But the furor over a speech that President Obama plans to give Tuesday, live online at noon urging kids to take their education seriously, has overshadowed this point: Whatever the adults in the room think of a president’s policies, he is the president--and it is important that kids learn to respect the office and listen to the occupant.
Conservative critics of Obama are using the occasion of his speech to demonize him, saying he is really trying to indoctrinate kids. An inept attempt by the Department of Education to promote silly classroom activities linked to the speech gave these critics an opening to turn this episode into something it is not.
Some schools are now making arrangements for kids to watch during the school hours.
Others, including in Loudoun and Charles counties, are passing on the opportunity. The reasons vary; some schools can’t logistically get all students to watch online, while others don’t want them to.
The White House says the speech is not about policy or politics. Still some teachers are being required to get parental permission to allow their kids to watch the speech in class. There have even been calls by conservatives for parents to keep their kids home from schools that are showing the speech, because, apparently, it makes perfect sense to not allow your kid to go to school to watch a presidential speech about why it is important to go to school.
If schools can’t find the time or resources to let kids listen to the man with the biggest bullhorn in the United States tell them to stay in school and do their best because it matters for their future and the health of the American democratic experiment, then parents should let their kids see it later. Because he is the president, and has a message about staying in school.
Let’s turn this unfortunate episode into a lesson in civics education, which is so sorely lacking in this country that newly retired Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter recently said, “We know from survey results that two-thirds of people in the United States cannot even name all three branches of the national government. This is something to worry about.”
Indeed it is.
Let's give former Rep. Newt Gingrich, a conservative Republican from Georgia, the last word: “Why is it political for the president of the United States to discuss education?”
| September 4, 2009; 9:25 AM ET
Categories: Civics Education | Tags: civics education, obama, speech
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