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Why I Don't Want the Obama Speech Shown in Other Schools

As I have said, I am happy President Obama has decided to deliver a back-to-school message Tuesday at Wakefield High, an A-plus school in Arlington County. I just wish the White House hadn't suggested that students at other schools across the nation watch it, for a reason I have not heard much in the increasingly heated political debate over the announcement.

I don't think the speech is an effort to "spread President Obama's socialist ideology," as charged by Jim Greer, chairman of the Florida Republican Party. I don't think it will turn its young viewers into guinea pigs, as columnist Michelle Malkin said. I do think it poses logistical difficulties, as many schools have complained, but that does not go far enough in identifying the problem.

The speech will take up class time. American children need every available minute for learning. They are not getting it, and watching the president's speech won't help.

I know Tuesday will be in many cases the first day of school, where there are traditionally many interruptions. That is part of my point. We have come to accept breaks in the learning day---assemblies, morning announcements, home room periods, parties, early dismissal for sports, even TV news shows. The teachers who have influenced me are convinced they are a waste of time. Why aren't teachers allowed to start teaching as soon as students arrive, that first day and all days after?

Our most effective schools have shown that unleashing the creative spark of teachers is key to raising student achievement. The fuel for that flame is more time. Many well-meaning adults who visit schools, like sports celebrities, campaigning politicians and entertainment acts, think they are helping students by taking a few minutes to share their wisdom and their talent. But unless their visits have been woven into a well-thought-out lesson plan, they are rarely useful.

If the president of the United States shows up at a school, as Obama will do at Wakefield, that is different. I also think class can be interrupted to view events certain to make the history books, like the landing on the moon or the inauguration of the first black president. But for most people, watching Obama on TV Tuesday can be done when students get home. Some channels will rerun it. Anyway, I think his speech would work better as an educational exercise in its written form, giving teachers a chance to have students edit it or reply to it. That will mean more writing time, essential if they are going to learn to handle words as well as Obama does.

Growing numbers of teachers have told me they wish there were fewer interruptions in their day. It is hard to buck the old traditions, particularly when we are talking about the president. But other than the lucky kids at Wakefield, I hope that when he starts talking on Tuesday, America's schoolchildren will be listening to their teachers, not him.

By Jay Mathews  | September 4, 2009; 5:30 PM ET
 
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Comments

Oh, please. Having the President speak to kids, especially the younger ones, as they begin their school year is special event. We are Americans, we are proud of our country and having the President, whoever he or she might be, tell the kids to study hard and work towards their goals so the country can be proud of them is an interruption worth having.

Posted by: jim11 | September 4, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

You have got to be kidding me? What else will you kill? Book fairs, field trips, student romances, day dreaming, doodling, athletic events and Saturday?

A few minutes out of one morning isn't going to cause someone who was going to be Einstien to end up flipping burgers.

Posted by: omelas | September 4, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Taking up class time? That's about as lame an excuse as any I've heard. 20 minutes of class time listening to the president might make a difference in some kids lives. In poor urban schools in particular, having a black man say study and work hard is critical. The radical right just can't stand the man and have learned that the louder they are, the more the media will cover their complaints, regardless of how baseless their claims are. But I think most reasonable people see throught it though, and all of this crazy talk from the right will make it increasingly irrelevant, even more than it currently is. The crazies are bringing down the GOP. In that sense, I don't mind what they are doing.

Posted by: kgriffin63 | September 4, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

It's more false accusation that the president is not honorable - the right wing politics of false accusation has gone to far. There will be a back lash. Who wants these disrespectful zealots in charge again. Especially when we recount what they did last time.

Posted by: ryan_heart | September 4, 2009 6:10 PM | Report abuse

God forbid that the Democrats have freedom of speech! Both Reagan and Bush did this exact same thing WITHOUT Democrats trying to prevent it. Conversely let us remember Bush's "Free Speech Zones"

Quarantining dissent
How the Secret Service protects Bush from free speech

James Bovard

Sunday, January 4, 2004

"When President Bush travels around the United States, the Secret Service visits the location ahead of time and orders local police to set up "free speech zones" or "protest zones," where people opposed to Bush policies (and sometimes sign-carrying supporters) are quarantined. These zones routinely succeed in keeping protesters out of presidential sight and outside the view of media covering the event.

When Bush went to the Pittsburgh area on Labor Day 2002, 65-year-old retired steel worker Bill Neel was there to greet him with a sign proclaiming, "The Bush family must surely love the poor, they made so many of us."

The local police, at the Secret Service's behest, set up a "designated free-speech zone" on a baseball field surrounded by a chain-link fence a third of a mile from the location of Bush's speech..."

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2004/01/04/INGPQ40MB81.DTL&type=printable

Posted by: rrowleyarizona | September 4, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

This commentary by Jay Matthews is one of the most ridiculous contortions of rationalization I have ever seen.
I went to school back when the USA was a leader in education, and not the joke of the world - but even then far more time was wasted by teachers each year talking about what they had for breakfast than the time it will take for the President to speak. What is your real agenda Matthews???

Posted by: plaza04433 | September 4, 2009 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Waaa waa waaa, more crying from republican overgrown babies. I sure wouldn't want that drug addict Rush Limbaugh talking to kids.

Posted by: member8 | September 4, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Great comment jim11. You make a lot more sense than Jay M.

Posted by: billwan | September 4, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Mr Mathews. This essay demonstrates that the right wing elements in this country will resort to even the most ridiculous bold-faced claims. A pep talk to American students by the President of the United States is not only NOT an interruption of the children's education, it is PART of citizenship education. In fact, I think it would be a good idea to institute this procedure on an annual basis, no matter who the President du jour is.

But as for yourself...why don't you just tell the truth?

Posted by: Larry11215 | September 4, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I am happy to see that many folks thought this was silly. If the US education system is riding on 1-2 hours and these 1-2 hours are so important that students can't participate then Democracy is lost. I am amazed at the lengths that people will go to bring down this country, stopping children from learning in name of learning is a new level of Orwellian cynicism.

Posted by: ThePBear | September 4, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

what a load of horse hockey. what would you rather want.... a pep talk from the prez or just have him read My Pet Goat.

Posted by: d5post | September 4, 2009 6:20 PM | Report abuse

I am a teacher, and we've been in school for two weeks already. I have been trying to figure out how I'm supposed to deal with one class being behind all the others because of the timing of the speech.
Believe me - when you have 150 students and seven classes and are expected to "leap tall buildings in a single bound," every minute counts!

Posted by: alisonk59 | September 4, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

These comments, well meant, show how big the problem is. So many people think they have the words that will change these kids' lives. So they come to the schools and speak. Their motives are good, but they have not spent as much time as I have talking to teachers about what such interruptions actually do to their school day. Plaza04433 is right. There were plenty of schools in my day, and plenty now, that waste lots of time. We can't afford that any more. In the most effective urban schools, where they have shown their students can learn a great deal if they use their time carefully, this is an old way of thinking, a notion that such kids can't really learn that much, so why worry? It is time for posters to actually visit these schools, talk to these teachers and think about what they have seen. The president understands this. It is entirely appropriate for him to visit schools, and talk to kids. He doesn't do it that often. But his staff's decision to try to interrrupt the school days of all the other schools, when those students can read the speech or see it at night, doesn't make sense.

Posted by: Jay Mathews | September 4, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jay?

Maybe there's a reason you haven't heard much talk about YOUR objection to having Obama's speech televised to other schools?

Your thinking may be original, but so is most fiction.

Posted by: st50taw | September 4, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Cheney ( the Nazi ), Limbaugh ( The Drug Addict ), Palin ( the sex-queen ), Gingrich ( the Liar ) and most of all Fox News( their screams of hate ) are all on TV now. The so called Born-Again-Christians worship these people, if this trash is good enough for the Right Wing Conservative Republicans to watch, I'm sure they'd have a very up-lifting experience watching a "TRUE" President, one who was "ELECTED" by the people & not appointed. It's about time these kooks get a wake up call to the real world.

Posted by: wasaUFO | September 4, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

I can't believe the Post actually published this. "Losing 20 minutes" is the complaint? Seriously? I'd be embarrassed for my fellow left wingers if anyone on our side had proffered the same argument against George W. Bush in 2001.

An American president wants to give American kids a pep talk before starting the new school year. That's dangerous? Have the detractors looked at the state of education in the US recently? A little encouragement is the absolute least Obama can do.

I continue to be amazed at the ridiculousness of the discourse in this country. Maybe we all deserve a major power decline,

Posted by: jwervel16 | September 4, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Over react much. If conservatives spent HALF, maybe even 1/4 of the time. they spend over reacting to everything under the sun they would find a decent leader to lead their party. If it was a Republican in office giving this speech they wouldn't be over reacting AND the liberal sect wouldn't care either. I'm a moderate but these kind of over reacting and obessions about the stupidest things make me want to go out and join the Democratic party. This is also a perfect example of the socalism arguement is inane - Conservatives can't even allow their children to listen to a speech about EDUCATION because it is from the President of a different party because they want everyone to be brainwashed to believe what they believe.

Posted by: faith2003 | September 4, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

What is happening to this country? People who during the last Presidential election claimed to be the "real patriots" now object to the President addressing schoolchildren on the need to study diligently and work hard to achieve one's goals. And this from a President who did exactly that, not from some babied rich kid fratboy trading on his family name.

Eight years of Bush led me vote for a Democrat; less than one year of GOP opposition to fulfilling the needs of this country has insured I will never vote Republican again.

Posted by: joachim1 | September 4, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

I am amazed at how angry republicans remain over losing the election, finding fault in everything the President says or does, twisting his words, etc. What a bunch of sore losers. That's what this is about; nothing else.

Posted by: leralph | September 4, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

"The speech will take up class time"? "watching Obama on TV Tuesday can be done when students get home"? this argument is hard to believe.

obama's speech would absolutely be an effective use of whatever class time it consumes. it almost certainly would not displace anything critical -- as mr. mathews helpfully points out, in most places tuesday will be the first day of school.

more importantly, a direct appeal by obama to the nation's schoolchildren to invest themselves in their education could have impact. he is the public figure that young people admire most, with incomparably greater influence in this area than any "sports celebrities, campaigning politicians [or] entertainment acts".

perhaps there is a place to argue against class interruptions. it is not here.

the negative response to obama's speech is awful in the case of those painting him as subversive. in the case of mr. mathews, it is just silly.

Posted by: zhu_rongji | September 4, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

"But his staff's decision to try to interrrupt the school days of all the other schools, when those students can read the speech or see it at night, doesn't make sense."
*******************************************
If the President thought the kids parents would have their kids watch and then discuss it with them, he might go along with you.

Fat chance that would happen. Too many families would be watching reality TV shows or, God forbid, Glenn Beck.

Posted by: st50taw | September 4, 2009 6:31 PM | Report abuse

That is weak. School can be disrupted by a thousand different things. A talk by our President is not disrupting at all. I here all the comments way and why not. Did any columnist every think that this is the first black American President. And would it not be great if the little black childern could look up and say he is the President. Now if they were ever looking for a roll model that is about as good as it gets.

Posted by: rutoft64 | September 4, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

"The speech will take up class time. American children need every available minute for learning."

You, sir, are an idiot. There was a time when we required half a brain before allowing someone to take a podium and address the rest of us. Now, with the internet, it appears everyone has a podium.

Again, sir, you are a blithering idiot. Thank god you are not addressing our school children.

Posted by: plasmatron | September 4, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Jay your reaction was identical to mine. Wonderful that Wakefield has woven a Presidential visit into the building's schedule. Not wonderful to ask all other schools and grades to passively watch the tube for 20 minutes. If the speech is made available teachers can weave it into instruction at the appropriate time.
I'm a former classroom teacher and administrator and I notice that the only self-identified teacher had similar concerns. The content of the President's speech isn't really the issue, the disruption is. Anyone who is dealing with a block or modified-block schedule knows what a ripple effect this will have on overscheduled teachers AND students.

Posted by: novaescapee | September 4, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

The President is "writing-the-book" on a new way to achieve political action in the U.S.: speak to the nation's young people, young people who will then feel more politically powerful and begin to question their politically recalcitrant, excuse-making parents. It's breathtakingly ingenious and I salute Obama.

Posted by: chris3 | September 4, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

i cannot believe the utter stupidity of the parents and school administrations that do not want to allow obama to talk to their kids. do the people in this country really believe the garbage that the party of nothing and do-nothing (the republicans) spout every day of the week??? obviously. and, frankly, i feel sorry for them as i would feel sorry for any other dumb animal. these morons should get a life.

Posted by: dibick99 | September 4, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Having children write "how President Obama inspires me" and "What can I do to help President Obama" is just plain weird. Downright creepy. I can't believe this is what our Department of Education spent the month of August dreaming up.

He can definitely give a speech about staying in school, etc. But not everyone is inspired by President Obama. Many families supported John McCain and were disappointed he wasn't elected. Are these families now to believe they are being FORCED to be inspired by the current president?

Creepy. Really weird. I think Obama should know better.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | September 4, 2009 6:43 PM | Report abuse

What a silly article. What a whitewash. What cowardice and deceit.

Jay.....if you really don't want President Obama, we'll take him up in Canada. We like super intelligent, secure, rational, interesting, vibrant people. I'm sure the likes of Ms. Dysfunctional (Sarah Palin and her grifter family) or the highly ethical druggy Rush Lowbrow or the dignified ("Shut Up") Willy O'Reilly or the pasty-faced weakling Bilious Beck will suit the needs of these idiotic and petty people who really just cannot admit to themselves that they do not want a black man in a position of power higher than their own.

It really is time to get on with life, grow up and work together. The past 8 years have done severe damage and it really is time to lick the wounds and pull yourself up by the bootstraps and face forward to a better and more enlightened future. Don't deny your children anything based on your own pettiness, bigotry and immaturity.

Posted by: 10emlet | September 4, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

If that 15 minutes is so precious, kids should go to school year round, have their cell phones taken away, be made to turn off the TV, do their homework and read a book now and then. And quit coddling all the crybaby parents who constantly question the authority of the teachers and principals. Maybe if students watch Obama's speech next week, more citizens will be able to answer this question:

"Who is the President of the United States."

Posted by: minimlst | September 4, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

Unbelieveable. The President of the United States would like to talk to America's children about the importance of getting an education and staying in school and some members of the rightwing think that's a 'political' speech that's preaching 'socialism'to our children? I guess scoring political points is more important to them than seeing that all of our children reach their full educational potential? I wonder where all these 'concerned' parents were when Presidents Reagan and Bush (41) spoke to America's school children? Where were their objections then?

Posted by: laSerenissima2003 | September 4, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

This could be a time for students to tap their own minds as to what might help to make this world a better place.
Instead the sons and daughters of Satan have vilified what appears to be a president speaking as a father-figure to his own children (Ah, there is the problem), to encourage them to do their best. My advice to Mr. Obama, is to say what you are going to say, and them that refuse to allow their children to see it, is ok as well. Thank God for freedom of choice. I have to ask the question, however, how diligent are these parents about the violent blood curdling video games, full of gun-toting maniacal killers, and the movies that justify violence and adultery, that families can no longer enjoy together, the porn that freely flows across too many computer monitors, the derogatory language and inuendos spoken even during prime time television, not to mention the mind-forming images on billboards, etc. The even more horrific result of their familial indoctrination, is that they are making robotic proselytes out of their own children, who will not be able to think for themselves any more than their parents; but will follow blindly the so-called Right wing (who are acting very wrong these days), and will have a hard time separating fact from drummed-up overeactive, overdulgent scare tactics. If they were honest, they would tell their children why they hate Obama; and it has nothing to do with politics.

Posted by: saveoursouls | September 4, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh,puleeze. Nothing happens on the first day of school, ever. And in most of the country, school started last week or even earlier.

Posted by: gfreader | September 4, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

When I was in fifth grade in 1965, Miss Krell insisted on bringing a television into the classroom to watch of all things, THE WORLD SERIES! She was a big woman as well a huge baseball fan and there was no way any administrator was going to stop her. Sandy Koufax, Harmon Killibrew...thank you Miss Krell and RIP.

Posted by: blarsen1 | September 4, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Anything the president does is political. Presidents have made speeches at schools before but none has tried to capture an audience of ALL of the nations’ students before Obama.
The administration has already admitted that the hand out documentation could be misinterpreted (translation: politically biased) and was “inartfully” (translation: we got caught and did not fool them) worded. It was a deliberate attempt to further an agenda. (Most likely capture voters for the 2010 and 2012 elections)
The fact that the hand-out documentation has already been revised makes it obvious that is was deliberate. Since there was no good excuse a quick revision was the best alternative. It makes it however undisputable that there was more to it than telling the students to work hard and finish their education.

The Obama administration’s “message of hope” has now become a “message of” Fear”
Some people might agree with the Obama policies but many people now live in fear for what he might do next to destroy this country.

It is sad that someone who entered the presidential office with so much promise to do good for the nation has in less than one 9 months destroyed it all because of an unprecedented amounts of lies, distortions and effort to turn America into a socialistic country. (Transparency in the Obama administration is less than Mississippi river mud.)

If that all had been made clear during the campaign, it would be fair and expected.
Since that was not disclosed it is a case of mass deception. The Obama administration has lost all credibility and is now viewed by many not as the great hope it once represented but as an enemy of the country. The personnel choices have been riddled with problems and have also send the trust in Obama and his government into a nosedive.

The Obama campaign and his subsequent actions as president have made it clear that we need “TRUTH IN POLITICAL ADVERTISING” more than anything else. Our current political campaigning system of “MAY THE BETTER LIAR WIN” is not conducive to a good government. The minimum we need is a system that gives the voters a fair chance to make the right decision and really know what they vote for.

This applies to all politicians, not just Obama. Some are just better at misleading than others.

Posted by: duif100 | September 4, 2009 7:09 PM | Report abuse

I am a public educator; I teach high school in northern Virginia. I was surprised when I received an email from our principal telling us not to show the president's "back to school" speech live because of broadband issues, but it really didn't concern me as I wasn't planning on showing it during my class anyway. Today I became suspicious when we received another building-wide email forbidding anyone to show the video without submitting plans to the administration showing how the video tied into the curriculum and lesson plans. We were also told that we need to let parents know when we were to show the video and to provide an "opt out" plan for students not allowed to view the speech. This is really scary to me! Heaven forbid that we would want to watch OUR president presenting our students with a positive message concerning education! For the first time in a long time we have a president who really values education for all and is willing to put the money where his mouth is. I am disheartened when I read or hear all the lies that are circulating about President Obama at this time.

Posted by: victorialynn | September 4, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

This article? FAIL.

Most of my fellow commenters have already eloquently represented my other thoughts on this nonsense.

Posted by: neko4 | September 4, 2009 7:13 PM | Report abuse

I'm astonished by the lack of imagination and empathy in the notion that schoolchildren haven't the time to hear this President encourage them to stay in school. When it comes to inspiring students to work hard and learn, even good teachers need all the help they can get. The idea that a speech from a role model like President Obama is just another "interruption" suggests a disturbing insularity in our educational establishment.

Posted by: bobdecker | September 4, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Last school year, I tutored American History to four 8th-grade future Obamas at our local public school. The enthusiasm of teachers and students in that school at the election and inauguration of President Obama was wonderful to behold; and I could discuss black slavery from its recognition by our Constitution through its abolition via our bloodiest war, without (as a white septuagenarian) feeling uneasy. Since President Obama is the greatest public speaker since Reagan, I believe that students of all races will be inspired, as I was by his inaugural address. Throughout my life, I have observed the degradation of American character nurtured by prejudices in the home, but had hoped that as the older bigots and rationalizers died off, we might begin another "era of good feeling"; I am becoming less optimistic.

Posted by: stassen | September 4, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

"CLASS STRUGGLE" says it all.
Can you say "Marxist Catchphrase"
from the annals of 20th Century
Communist Propaganda? Can you say
direct of quote of Marx, Lenin,
Stalin, Mao and Castro?

Posted by: iamredwolf | September 4, 2009 7:17 PM | Report abuse


Let me get this right - schools are shutting down an opportunity for their kids to see a living president give a speech directed at them. In the eighth grade, we were bored watching a speech by Jimmy Carter. We mostly noticed that he added an extra R to say "Worshington." At least these kids won't be bored. They will go in with a study question, "should schools ban speech because their administrator's politics may differ." What a crock.

Posted by: miraweb | September 4, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

"The speech will take up class time. American children need every available minute for learning."

Give me a break, you moron.

Posted by: skrut003 | September 4, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Class time? What about the time I wasted reading this ridiculous article?

Posted by: pavrerichard | September 4, 2009 7:27 PM | Report abuse

Comments from readers of your blog are interesting. Most of them are rabid Republican haters and forget that almost 50% of voters are Independents and Independents dislike politicizing children for any "agenda".

Posted by: dodavatar | September 4, 2009 7:29 PM | Report abuse

What a loser you are. He's black, he's here and he isn't going anywhere. Why don't you focus on not being such a boring, pathetic shlep, intead of whipping up peonic schemes to hide your racism? The President of the Moron club called; he wants his reason for living back.

Posted by: davis_renee | September 4, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

I believe all you people whining about right wing propaganda and accusing Jay Matthews of publishing the same don't know whereof you speak. I have read Mr. Matthews' columns from time to time for a number of years, and even met him once and corresponded with him about a particular issue. My impression is that he has one consuming passion, and that is education. But the label "right winger" or "republican overgrown baby" hardly fits. I'm a conservative, a social conservative, a right winger if you please, and I generally know one when I see one. And as earnest as Mr. Matthews' is about education, I don't believe he is at the same place in the political spectrum as I. I think those of you who are railing against Mr. Matthews as a conservative and asking him "what is your real agenda" are making the same mistake as that made by Hillary Clinton when she denied that her husband had been involved with Monica Lewinsky and attributed the allegations that he had to a "vast right wing conspiracy." Liberals have very little connection with reality.

Posted by: dcsuburb | September 4, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Um, Mr. Mathews, were you at all concerned when Dan Quayle taught kids to spell potatoe - I mean potato - I mean...?? Really - 20 minutes. Really? Take kids away from class to hear the duly elected Prez. of the US speak. Really? What kool-aid cup are you drinking from?

Posted by: harpmary_2000 | September 4, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jay Matthews - the so called expert on eduction.

Have you ever taught a single figgin class?

Just what we need - somebody with fundamentally flawed metrics for measuring school performance and all of a sudden he's an expert. The statistical significance of your "best high school" rating methodology has more holes than Swiss cheese.

Jay if you're worried about the kids not getting enough classroom time - how about you pick up a teaching certificate and get in there help. You're what we call in the neighborhood as a real putz.

Posted by: go2goal | September 4, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight. You think 20 minutes with the teacher is more valuable than 20 minutes with the President of this country? Perhaps the president at the time you were in school SHOULD have given a speech like this, you might have gotten yourself a real education.

Posted by: Durlabhji | September 4, 2009 7:34 PM | Report abuse

The President of the United States wants to have 20 minutes to speak to school children and you call it a distraction. What a profoundly petty and arrogant man you are.

Posted by: tfspa | September 4, 2009 7:35 PM | Report abuse

This whole issue is just sickening. Let's accelerate the decline of this great country with trivial, partisan nonsense like this. If those "anti-socialists" really were true to their positions, you would hear them calling for the dismantling of the Veteran's Administration, Social Security and Medicare, but for all their loudmouth criticism of one American helping another, they certainly won't give up their entitlements. Sickening, this pseudo "debate" lately over phony issues. Sickening!

Posted by: Evan.Rosenberg@Gmail.Com | September 4, 2009 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Jay has cast his lot with the dittoheads. Time to retire, Jay.

Posted by: imback | September 4, 2009 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Matthews:

You must be kidding. Children in school don't have the time to listen to the President?

Let me suggest you are wasting a great deal of time, yours and others, by writing this drivel.

Posted by: aghastinsantafe | September 4, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Matthews, your article is a poorly disguised attempt to make yourself look politically unbiased.

Posted by: Tobejuan | September 4, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Common folks, every day at school, kids have to say prayers to motherland (you know, asking a god who has never been seen or felt for protection), but "god forbid", not even once to listen to the very earthly and real president... That's very Republican to me.

Posted by: gherota | September 4, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Oh Please,

The educational experience of having the President of the United States of America speak to young students far out-weighs a few moments not spent on ABCs and what not. Think of the countless hours our children spend on the lunch line, in the bathroom, lining up for recess, gym, library and fire drills! Go stick your head in the sand and we'll kick you in the a$$ when it's all over so as not to offend your pathetic excuse for political partisan hatred. Have a nice day! HAHAHAHA!

Posted by: kenalexruss | September 4, 2009 7:41 PM | Report abuse

dcsuburb wrote:
"I think those of you who are railing against Mr. Matthews as a conservative.."
Nope, we are saying he is a twit for making such a bone-headed argument.

What percentage of all the time in a school year is 20 min?? Jeez, get a grip.

Posted by: plaza04433 | September 4, 2009 7:42 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: dodavatar
Comments from readers of your blog are interesting. Most of them are rabid Republican haters and forget that almost 50% of voters are Independents and Independents dislike politicizing children for any "agenda".
------

No, child, most of the people responding here have common sense and know the only political agenda going on here is coming from a very hateful right wing.

Posted by: tfspa | September 4, 2009 7:43 PM | Report abuse

How much of the media is still being paid by Right-Wing "Think" Tanks? I can't think of any other reason why Mr. Matthews would write such a logically-tortured article.

Posted by: insanediego | September 4, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

The children would love to remember a time when the President of the United states talked to them directly .... And YOU are an OLD Kill-Joy!!!!!

Posted by: tardigrades | September 4, 2009 7:44 PM | Report abuse

blah blah blah ba blah.
televise the speech.

Posted by: jerrykolbe | September 4, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

It is very scary that something so American as Free Speech is being pushed back on with a cult-like approach, of expose followers to only one message....never let the followers hear anything contrary What are these people afraid of? The President speaking to us is a privilege and part of our Citizenship I am appalled by this thinly disguised act of the right wing to try and divide America when we most need to join together We have terrible problems in our Country and we need everyone pulling together and focused Shame on the far right

Posted by: zelleroni2 | September 4, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

Seriously? That's the worst reason I've heard so far. I'm a teacher and I'm so excited to see this speech. Most of the kids at school are excited too. The president wants to talk to them?! They're honored. Why would you want to take away this special moment from them. Many of them will probably remember this for the rest of thier lives. The schools where I work will air it as convenient to the schedule and will give parents the opportunity to opt out if they want. I don't see why a whole district would need to make the decision to not show it at all.

Posted by: rrap1 | September 4, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

What is wrong with the President addressing the kids on the first day of school? Reagan did it, Bush I did it, and there was no commotion whatsoever at that time.

This is just another distraction brought on by the wing-nuts. Let the kids hear their president. The first day of school is usually light on academics anyhow, so it is the ideal time.

Kids today need as many positive role models as they can have...and someone who worked his way up can surely inspire some child who feels he or she can never make it. Let them believe they can and they will.

Posted by: soccermama | September 4, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Propaganda

There you go, freedom of speech

Posted by: freeamerican2 | September 4, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Matthews -
I'm sure you have a valid point about class interruptions, but this is the President of the United States urging students to stay in school and study hard so that they can change their circumstances as did he. I'm sorry, but reading his speech is not the same as hearing and seeing it - especially if you can't read.
Put on your dunce cap and go to the corner, be quiet, listen and learn.

Posted by: FadingFast | September 4, 2009 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Since when is a live speech from a US President not considered a "learning" experience and a good civic assignment for our US students? I wish that when I was a kid our President had taken some time to speak to us. That would have been a memory to cherish.

Posted by: inewsmaster | September 4, 2009 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Matthews thinks his readers are idiots. This is absolutely the lamest attempt to rationalize a right-wing lunatic opinion I've seen.

Posted by: sfreader | September 4, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

What an honor for school children, to have the US President taking time to speak to them. I'm a retired school teacher, and I would have loved to have Pres. Obama speak to my classes. When I was in fifth grade, we watched speakers of import, and it didn't hamper our learning but increased it. Our parents taught us respect for our President, not this vicious criticism. I hope the whiners and gripers get a life.

Posted by: lschunk | September 4, 2009 7:49 PM | Report abuse

I am a 62 year old engineering manager and hard core republican. Kids need motivation a lot more than an extra half hour of spacing out during another boring lecture. If nothing else, the Pres is an excellent speaker and very motivational. Let’s make sure that we don’t make us conservatives look stupid with inane comments like yours,

Posted by: trees12 | September 4, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

From all that I have read about Obama's speech, his message will be very close to what Sir Ken Robinson has written in his marvelous book, "The Element." For the best 20 minutes you will ever spend online, watch Robinson's TED talk about how schools kill creativity -- http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html -- and you will immediately see the shortfall in Mathews' argument.

Posted by: kidvidkid | September 4, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

This is the most ridiculous commentary I've read about the President's speech yet. Losing 20 minutes of class time to listen to our leader speak? Mr. Mathews, you should be ashamed of yourself for attributing your name to this lame piece of journalism.

Posted by: BBlitzz | September 4, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

"Anyway, I think his speech would work better as an educational exercise in its written form, giving teachers a chance to have students edit it or reply to it."

This is exactly what needs to not be done. Education isn't being very creative and isn't about learning anymore. It's about making everything a chore and focusing on a test at the end of the year so the teachers can get paid.

When I interned at an Elementary school, the whole day was revolved around what would be on the test at the end of the year. It was all read this and memorize that. Education is boring, it's a chore, it's not about learning anything but memorizing. You are suggesting continuing this by turning a speech that is meant to be heard into a chore to read about.

"That will mean more writing time, essential if they are going to learn to handle words as well as Obama does."

In this case children learn better by example, not reading about it later.

Posted by: kdgarrett | September 4, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Come to think of it, now I know why, as a 50 year old, that I'm not filthy rich and amazingly successful.

It's because when I was 10, they pulled me out of class and dragged me to an assembly of the entire school and forced me to watch a man walk on the moon for an hour.
That must have been the hour when they teach you how to become filthy rich and amazingly successful.

Sadly, I remember that day clearly and how it kept me interested in science until, let's see, oh, yeah, right now. But it cost me the opportunity to become filthy rich and amazingly successful.

An that bonehead mother of mine actually woke up my brother and me in the middle of the night to go outside and look at a lunar eclipse a few times. And meteor showers.

If she hadn't done that, I would have got enough beauty sleep to turn out better looking than Brad Pitt or Tom Cruise or...

Those two ruined my life.

Hey Mr. Matthews, you're right! Don't let those little kids look up from their books for one second. That'll give them insight into what it's like to work for an American corporation.

Now THAT'LL prepare them for success!

Posted by: member8 | September 4, 2009 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Where were you educated? Clearly, your teachers did not plan lessons well enough to instill basic understanding and a sense of what provides true inspiration & empowerment in their students. A speech from the president is just that- inspiration & empowerment- and will make ALL the difference in many students' lives. You need to go back to school and start with a clean slate; this time-around, you just might have the opportunity to experience a true education... your chances are always 50/50.

Posted by: svbaptista | September 4, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse


Any speech made by the President of the United States, particularly this one, can hardly be referred to as an "interruption".

Posted by: mchampion | September 4, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Republicans have lost their minds. There is no other explanation. Birthers and Deathers and Schoolers. These people are not of sound mind.

Posted by: NotNowMooky | September 4, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

If there's one thing I take from this, it's a new argument against prayer in school: It's a waste of students' time!

Posted by: KevinLamkin | September 4, 2009 7:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama is our President. He is trying to fix the "bad" things done to this country by "you know who". Don't be so bitter because he is actually doing a good job. Push any fears and hate aside and let the good President be. Stop Hating!!!

Posted by: valerie14 | September 4, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Poor argument. I'm a teacher. Our mandated curricular times are interrupted all day long with sports, art, music, assemblies, parties, field trips, show-and-tell stories, fire drills, computer labs, sick kids, class clowns... you name it. We score in the 90th percentile every year. A quality education is a messy, beautiful thing that is much, much more than state, or federally-mandated curricula.

Put your politics down and take a second to let our kids witness some history.

Posted by: humboldthousehead | September 4, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

What could be more useful than a direct presidential statement about individual responsibility? What more inspirational for those weighed down low on the economic scale? And what more valuable for diminishing persistent racial issues?
I do not believe Mr Mathews has any problem at all with this last issue, but I do believe that some people's opposition to the president's speaking is because they cannot accept having a black man as president and they emphatically do not want their children to see such a circumstance as acceptable.
We have a president who has been a Constitutional scholar, and it has been too long since we have had a president who even considered the Constitution valuable rather than an impediment. Having the president speak directly to students about issues of personal and civic reponsibility, not about debatable matters of policy, is a wonderful idea.
The hazard comes neither with the loss of 20 minutes class time nor with this president but with the coming of presidents like the prior who do not cherish constitutional constraints.

Posted by: wp18 | September 4, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Believe me, as an elementary teacher, we are under extreme pressure to use every second of every day to teach every student the essentials (standards)... it's called 10 on 10 (ten minutes of teaching for ten minutes of student attendance)... it's all part of the NO Child Left Behind Act ... so, I have to agree with Mr. Mathews... sorry, Mr. President, but first graders need to learn to read and write, and it's my job to do it.

Posted by: deetheo53 | September 4, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

What a stupid posting. I truly can't understand how anyone can have a problem with a US President giving a positive message to kids about education, staying, in school, etc. Reagan did this. Bush 1 did this. I would be fine if Bush II did this too. I have a 9 year old daughter and she thinks its "cool" that the President is talking to kids. Her friends have said that too. It will be memorable for the kids - and that's the whole point. Just as Ronald Reagan or George Bush would be to speak to the kids. Because their President is speaking to them.

If it's a logistical challenge to get kids to watch on TV at a particular school, then just don't do it. There is no test on the contents of the speech when it is done.

The far right has taken it to a new level. Let's protest a President for talking to kids about the importance of education and staying in school.

Posted by: rdtg | September 4, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Argh! My child's education is constantly on the firing line. Not only do they have useless daily recess and these irritating fire drills; now she has to sit through fifteen minutes of encouragement from the leader of the free world? This time could be better spent learning about applicable things like geometry and abstinence.

Posted by: slugfish | September 4, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Jay Matthews is a major disappointment. To suggest that an hour of class instruction is more important than hearing the President of the US on one of the key issues of the last 40 years would be laughable if it were not representative of the poor state of journalism in the US. What a sad day for the press.
Dr STM, Newtown, PA

Posted by: DrSTMosley | September 4, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

WOW,MOMMIE AND DADDY HAS BEEN WATCHING TOO MUCH FOX NEWS....I feel sorry for your little children as they have to hear you rant about Obama....You're going to make them not want to grow up to be the President of the United States.Instead of stuffing negative thoughts in their heads why don't any of you ask your child if they would like to hear what the president have to say?YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED,IF YOU HADN'T ALREADY TALKED AROUND THEM LIKE SOME OF YOU ARE COMMENTING ON HERE.I know you think he's stupid but dont get it twisted,you're upset that he's not just letting the good ole boys tell him how to do his job.You have 3 1/2 years to put up with him,have a beer,calm down so you can be here and take care of your children instead of having a stroke or heart attack about what Obama is doing or not doing.

Posted by: imjustnoisy | September 4, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

It is really time the Washington Post stops giving the braindead space.

Posted by: timebanded | September 4, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

All of the ad hominem attacks are unnecessary. The man is entitled to voicing his opinion without assassination. I would think at least a school could play such a memorable speech in the lunch room as an endlessly repeating loop for at least a day, and maybe all week.

Posted by: ewkewk | September 4, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

You are 100% correct. The sound bites of our times are nothing more than distractions from the real work of learning. Perhaps we should allow the kids to twitter their homework to a computer that automatically grades them with a A+ for vapid meaninglessness that attracts the eyeballs of the masses regardless of truth because that is what will make you money fame and attention...and that is what we all really crave. So twitter away your young lives and learn nothing, because you won't need it to succeed in the world we are sowing for you now. The conservatives are right for ALL the WRONG reasons.

Posted by: jamesgp | September 4, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

I hope every student listens to the President's message and is inspired to be just a little better. No child should be left behind.

Posted by: forrestdoyle | September 4, 2009 7:58 PM | Report abuse

Jay, your arguments are inconsistent: kids know that LIVE television is special. Each kid would know that the President was taking the time to speak directly to him or her, the same effect as the personal appearance you say would be fine.

Instead, those kids will miss a wonderful oppurtunity due to hateful partisanship--THAT should have been your story if you genuinely care about them.

As for the haters and screamers: they're not worried about socialist propaganda--they're afraid their kids might see Obama isn't the devil at all.

Horrors!

Posted by: Lou3 | September 4, 2009 7:59 PM | Report abuse

Same people here complaining and crying, never had a problem with republican president speech or what is even worse a white president speech. The point is they got one of these problems, now which one, its hard to tell. Making stuff up just tell us how ignorant, stupid and hatefull people can be just to make point, although there's no any whatsoever. President taking time to speak only to kids starting school; WE SHOULD ALL BE THANKFULL FOR THAT, ESPECIALY IN THIS TOUGH TIME. Either send your kids to private school or your own home schooling and make them watch FOX News whole day if you want, OR SHUT THE HELL UP.

Posted by: BOBSTERII | September 4, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Mathews?

"The speech will take up class time." ????

You have posted a thinly veiled "I hate Obama" screed above How long will it take for the students to get to the assembly area at Wakefield High School, then settle in, listen to the speech, then get to their next classroom? I figure (at a minimum) 10 minutes for getting to the assembly area, 5 minutes to settle in, and 10 after the speech. That's 25 minutes, plus a 20-25 minute speech, and we're discussing almost an hour.

So Wakefield students can easily spend an hour for the 'honor' of having the President speak to them live and in person (without disrupting their class schedule??), but other schools can't get the benefit of seeing and hearing the President on television for 20-30 minutes because "The speech will take up class time" ????

Did you, or anyone else on the right-wing, ever hear of, let alone think about, let alone study, the term 'logic' and it's application, as in logical argument? It's obvious you haven't.

Posted by: critter69 | September 4, 2009 8:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Mr. Mathews. Do you yourself not see the lack of journalistic importance in your text?

The only hope I have hear is that it was deadline and you really had to do this on the fly.

Maybe renegotiate your terms so that the WaPo bosses allow you to first run things past a mixed panel next time before pressing the "Dispatch" button.

Peace, brother.

Posted by: tommywestlaw | September 4, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

The howler monkeys just start whooping it up at the first call to whoop. OK, howlers, on his worst day Obama could not inflict the loss of lives, property, civil liberties, and basic decency this country inflicted and experienced while being supported by the howler monkeys. The outcry over Obama's speech is just getting a bit too far out on the fringe of rationality heading toward lunacy.

Posted by: vickie105 | September 4, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse


Your logic escapes me. Having the President talk directly to kids about school would make an excellent jumping off point for any good teacher to spend a few minutes encouraging kids to take charge of their own learning, to do the work so they can succeed, etc. Think, too, of what it would mean to so many Black kids who may not othewise have such a worthy role model to inspire them. Far better that the President talks to them than a basketball player.

Posted by: kathrowe40 | September 4, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Just another right-wing kook babbling on and on....Vote the right wingers out!

Posted by: member8 | September 4, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Under your logic, we should get rid of civics lessons and government classes in school as well. The speech is an opportunity for teachers to engage students and discuss with them the role of the President in our society. It is hardly a waste of time or a harmful distraction.

Posted by: RHedrick1 | September 4, 2009 8:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: skrut003 "The speech will take up class time. American children need every available minute for learning."
Give me a break, you moron.

***

For Pete's sake, that is exactly what Mr. Mathews is saying. Stop focusing on the fact he's saying schools should not broadcast Obama's speech. What I believe he is saying is that THERE ARE TOO MANY INTERRUPTIONS IN THE SCHOOL YEAR. The grand picture is at issue here, not just this one speech. I received a wonderful education, from a private high school, where you were in classes like history, math and English from 8am until 3pm. We did not stop for many assemblies, parties, television shows, career days, and all these other excuses that under-funded and over-burdened schools use today as filler for real education. The great teachers and the great school systems are few and far between, and even the good ones are hampered by things like standardized testing and being required to broadcast shows. I'm not saying listening to important speeches or evaluating school systems with tests are evil and should be banished; I'm saying that children have far too many distractions and do not spend enough time on creative and fundamental subjects.

All of you, liberals and conservatives, that get on these websites and blast hate and filth (Sarah Palin as a "sex-queen"? give me a break) just make me so tired.

How are these angry comments on this page any different than what people scream at town hall meetings? Everyone grow up and LISTEN TO EACH OTHER, then THINK about what was said BEFORE opening your mouth to reply.

Now I'm going to sit back and watch all of you try to outdo each other coming up with what you think are witty (meaning degrading and hateful) replies.

Posted by: karebear15 | September 4, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

Jay Matthews may have a real problem.
Why don't you go ahead and homeschool your kids, Jay. Teach them all about whatever planet you came from.

Posted by: oobflyer | September 4, 2009 8:04 PM | Report abuse

I think the dictator should speak.

Posted by: djohnson7077 | September 4, 2009 8:06 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: slugfish | September 4, 2009 7:56 PM
This time could be better spent learning about applicable things like geometry and abstinence.
====='
Fifteen minutes you say? Perhaps someone named slug anything would need absolutely every possible moment at school receiving instruction. Abstinence? Teach them what sort of abstinence? Anyhow, schools can never supplant the character and morals a child lives and is taught at home.

Posted by: vickie105 | September 4, 2009 8:07 PM | Report abuse

If this offering by The Washington Post's expert on education is illustrative of his opinions as to what is wrong with our educational system, the only excuse the editors have for printing it is that it supports their and their bosses agenda. These moguls do not want the common people to be able to think for themselves. Thge masses are easier to control when they do not know what is being planned for them.

Posted by: marrobcastle | September 4, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

On a cold January day in third grade a long time ago, my petite teacher dragged a monstrous black and white tv into our classroom and invited the other third grade class to watch with us. Never having seen TV at school, we sat in awed silence as John F. Kennedy uttered the immortal words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." A waste of time? Those minutes watching our president changed my life, and the lives of countless others forever. I am a teacher myself now, in my 36th year. One thing I have learned is that knowledge does not only come from sitting in a class reading from a book or listening to a lecture, regardless of the age of the student. Many things contribute to developing well-taught students, many of which involve what others might describe as "a waste of time" - arts, music, volunteerism, stopping and smelling the roses, and yes, even bake sales. Mr. Mathews, you appear not to understand much about education.

Posted by: jrt1337 | September 4, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Wow!

Mr. Obama is our president. Not just the Democratic president, ALL OF US!
Those kids too.

Remeber civics? The kids are learning civics.

And from the responses I've seen from the Right I think they're learning about bigotry in America circa 2009 too.

Posted by: Kev11721 | September 4, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

I am sixties guy who went to college during the radical sixties and we are fighters. I have had enough of the Pseudo Christian Right Republicans. I support the President, a Public option and He has a right to speak to the students of the United States. Democrates and Independents are ready to hit the streets in protest and it will make the town hall, screaming know nothing Republicans look like a kindergarten class. We are ready to strike out on the issues the majority supported in the last election.

Posted by: pjwchitown | September 4, 2009 8:13 PM | Report abuse

alisonk59 complains that she will be behind in her other six classes. Apparently Alison doesn't teach math. The loss is about 8 seconds per day for the rest of the school year. I am a teacher and I've dealt with far worse. Perhaps Alison is incompetent. More likely, she is, like Jay, just a Republican who hates the president. Jay and Alison should both take some college level classes in mathematical logic.

Posted by: gascat5 | September 4, 2009 8:14 PM | Report abuse

Have news columns become personal blogs now? Isn't a reporter's job to REPORT, not post their pathetic little opinions? Everyone knows this isn't about Health Care, everyone knows this isn't about "indoctrination." This is all about hate for our president, and right-wingers are going to oppose everything he says, and they're not going to be happy until they can make elections happen again. This is pathetic and ridiculous. None of these people were complaining when Bush gave HIS speech to their children back in 1991. What's so different now? It's Obama; the embodiment of their loss, and they will attempt to villify him all the way. I was reading that some birthers were actually arguing that Obama should pull down his pants to show us whether he's cut or not? Because then that would "prove" that he was really born in the US? Are they kidding! Even if Obama was cut, they'd say it's "proof" that he's really "Muslim," because that's just the kind of hateful people they are. Obama is the president. Deal with it.

Posted by: kogejoe | September 4, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

The problem isn't the time spent watching the speech; it's the indoctrination that will surely follow led by the generally partial teachers in this country. I can just imagine the "unbiased" discussion that will follow extolling this loser of a president and his policies ! If a person isn't allowed to even say a silent prayer in these places this bias shouldn't be forced on their impressionable minds either !

Posted by: gjdagis | September 4, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Showing up at a school first day back sends a positive message about how much the current President values education. That's a darn fine lesson to learn Day 1.

Strikes me that Obama's the first to do that.

Given the impact, I'd run the risk of him turning my little Rosebud into a 'pinko' in 15 minutes.

Posted by: keviquin | September 4, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Okay, yes...the teachers need more time, but you are talking about in each and every school day. A small amount of time for the President to speak to our struggling children, a word of encouragement from the leader of their nation is NOT going to hurt or hinder the children's learning time in school. I remember how much I would loved to have met the President when I was a child in grade school. To have a special time if even on a big screen in the auditorium with the President would have been a big deal to me. He is someone for all our children to aspire to. From a working professional with three grade school children and future teacher.

Posted by: jpark9 | September 4, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

This has got to be the lamest repuglican view I have heard in a couple of weeks! You guys really need to try harder on you reasons! These are the same people who want to push their mythological sky gods on you and in the schools. The repuglicans are grasping now they know nobody but the nut cases listen to them. That's why they keep coming up with these newspaper tabloid stories! Grow up, you lost the election run with Bobby and Palin in 2012, they are sure winners!

Posted by: writedave | September 4, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama is increasingly inserting himself and his ideaology into every fact of our lives. He has not right- he's not God, he's merely the man we elected Presdent. Start acting like the President and stop playing God.

Posted by: sandynh | September 4, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Oh God. Three minutes of my life I will never get back and I need every minute of it. Twenty minutes taken away from these kids will destroy their education? This is the last time I ever read an article by Mr Mathews. It is amazing how ever since the Post started letting it's writers blog, the amount of nonsense they have spewed. Most seem to be hardcore Republican who think Obama is not a US citizen.

Posted by: RickJohnson621 | September 4, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I don't really agree with having a President talk to all school children.

Obama in the past has shown subtle subliminal manipulation tools.
A) Presidential Seal before being elected President.
B) Not wearing flag pin early on to garner liberal base support
C) Bill O'Reilly interview being done in a submissive position to subliminally show to the audience how he submits to a white man.
B,C are my opinions.

David Axelrod is an expert at imagery and has used it in the past. I don't like having children potentially exposed to subliminal messaging.

Posted by: steviek2000 | September 4, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Jay,

This isn't even laughable, it's just sad.

Grow up, dude. Seriously.

Posted by: daggrr | September 4, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

This is a ridiculous article

Posted by: Support_president | September 4, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Jay the president of the United States is a Black man. Get used to it.

America, (the country with the Black leader) love it or leave it.

Either Obama is your president (and those kids too) or you're not an American. They SHOULD be listening to what their president has to say to them.


Reagan spoke to school kids, so did Bush I. Bush II read them "My Pet Goat". Now all of a sudden Mathews and his ilk feel there isn't enough time in these kid's school day for the most powerful man in the world to talk directly to them. Oh B.S.

Everyone knows what your REAL problem is. And it's not a time issue.

The ironic thing is, by making Obama forbidden, he'll become irresistible to school kids.

Posted by: Kev11721 | September 4, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU Mr. Mathews. As a teacher, I can tell you that you are absolutely right in your comments. It is amazing to me how many people disregard the actual opinions of teachers; I wouldn't presume to tell the WaPo readers how to do their jobs simply because I'm a bank customer, or a patient, or in some way interact with their profession, but everyone who has ever been to school considers themselves an expert in education.

The students could easily have watched this video at home and even discussed it with their parents or guardians. They would be just as motivated (or not) and I would have that time to make sure my students who are struggling or having difficulty. Does 20 minutes matter? Absolutely.

The point isn't that the President's speech does not have value; it's that it could occur later and still have value.

If it's worth interrupting the class day, let us test it the same way any good teacher tests instruction strategies. Find a measurable, objective way to measure the improvement and change in student attitudes before watching, and then after watching. If his speech changes students' behavior and results in an increase in learning, as measured objectively, then it was worthwhile.

If not, then it wasn't. We rob our children of their futures if we can't justify the time spent on anything in the classroom. It may be fun, it may feel good, it may make the children happy, but if it doesn't result in increased learning, we have failed.

Posted by: missyb1 | September 4, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Please, stop it! Mr. Jay Mathews, education columnist for the Washington Post. Your readers, assuredly live in the same USA as you do. Since his inauguration, President Obama has met with your kind of obstructionism from the right; i.e. the "I want him to fail" group of obstructionist. Block him here, obstruct there. When previously, I ask you Mr. Mathews, when have you taken any affirmative action for the American school children to have more available minutes for learning.

You can argue all you wish, making your well reasoned and thoughtful positions on “Why I Don’t Want the Obama Speech Shown in Other Schools,” but we read you (between the lines) loud and clear. The ink in your column isn't black enough to cover your far right hateful, vindictive, vengefulness against the 44th President of the United States. Rest assured however the history books will include you and the other dissidents, who in 21st century America, continued to sound inharmonious tones of discord in America.

Comparing the President of the United States to sport celebrities, campaigning politicians, and entertainment acts; makes me not only wonder about your credentials, but you national allegiance. As for me, I want the Obama speech to be presented not only to the fortunate kids at Wakefield High, but to students at other schools all across the nation.

Posted by: lbencali | September 4, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHA WHAT A JOKE,THE DUMBEST EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE WORLD AND YOU ARE TELLING THE KIDS CANT TAKE TIME TO LISTEN TO THE PRESIDENT TALK BECAUSE IT WILL INTERRUPT THE LEARNING? SPARE ME,IF ANYTHING,THIS PRESIDENCY WILL ONLY MAKE THE KIDS SMARTER BY ACTUALLY PAYING ATTENTION TO KIDS WHICH ALMOST NO PRESIDENT DOES,ALL PRESIDENTS IN PAST IGNORE THE EDUCATION SYSTEM,CUT JOBS,CUT FUNDING,SENDING THEM TO WAR INSTEAD OF COLLEGE,MAKING AMERICAN KIDS DUMBER THAN THEY ALREADY ARE COMPARED TO REST OF THE WORLD...DO US A FAVOR AND KEEP YOUR KIDS STUPID BUT I WANT PROGRESS,LET OBAMA SPEAK AND GET US AHEAD FOR ONCE,GEEZ

Posted by: twoo | September 4, 2009 8:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: steviek2000
" I don't like having children potentially exposed to subliminal messaging."

Fine. Let your kid borrow your tin foil hat when he goes to school.


Posted by: plaza04433 | September 4, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

THis is one of the silliest editorials I have read in a long time. A speech from the President of the United States, and a President who happens to be extremely popular with young people in the US, is a waste of class time!? I happen to have been a fairly good student (ended up at and Ivy League School) but there were many many times when I wondered about whether all the time spent in school, when I would rather have been out discovering things on my own (and girls of course, always the girls). My motivation was in hearing about people like Einstein, and the fact that any astronaut had to have a science or engineering degree, or the defference given to some wise old highly educated man or woman. Today kids see Brittany Spears or some ball player or actor who's only reaon for going to college (if they did) was to get some playing time before going pro, and that is not much motivation to stay in school.

Having the most powerful man on earth, who also can throw a decent 3 pointer, and knows how to speak and has renewed the respect of the US all over the world, deliver a speech on why kids should stay in school, see,s an incredible use of time that would otherwise be spent with many kids staring out windows wishing they could go outside and play.

Just an aside. I once missed an entire week of school during my senior

Posted by: bjuhasz | September 4, 2009 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Vermin. The ignorant, right-wing, religious nutcase, birthers, deathers, greedbaggers, gun toters --- the entire Republican base --- are vermin.

That these stupid, stupid people with their hatred way too deep to be anything but pure racism, could have any say of any kind in any public forum is repulsive.

All I can say to any kids who are forbidden by their parents to attend a class where the president will speak ... run! Run! Run for you lives, your brains, your future in the 21st century. Start planning right now for your escape from your crazy, ignorant parents as soon as you are old enough. In the meantime, get ALL your information from the library or newspapers...anybody but your mom and dad.

Posted by: Casey1 | September 4, 2009 8:24 PM | Report abuse

I would be so ashamed to play politics for every human thing President Obama does for our kids. No matter what he does some right wing fool starts talking negatively about his agenda. Funny no one ever made such a big thing out of Bush going to speak to kids and he and Cheney are the kings of torture?? This kind of non sense is starting to make me feel like throwing up!!

All I can say is the Republicans really need to find something legitimate to bash him about or the right wing should just leave it alone.

I voted for him and I am one proud American for doing what should have been done years ago and that is my personal effort to try and even the playing field so all American's voices can be heard. I wish my grand children could have any President promote education personally to them!

Posted by: rsn2000 | September 4, 2009 8:26 PM | Report abuse

What next?
Cancel Christmas?

Posted by: GAPascarzi | September 4, 2009 8:27 PM | Report abuse

Does Jay Matthews actually make money writing this nonsense? If so, where do I sign up?

One can argue that the White House blew the PR on this early on, but the suggestion that the non-learning that goes on in schools every day (e.g., coloring in a map of Europe, as my 9th grade daughter did yesterday) is more important than hearing from our President is laughable.

Posted by: californiapolicywonk | September 4, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

I would be so ashamed to play politics for every human thing President Obama does for our kids. No matter what he does some right wing fool starts talking negatively about his agenda. Funny no one ever made such a big thing out of Bush going to speak to kids and he and Cheney are the kings of torture?? This kind of non sense is starting to make me feel like throwing up!!

All I can say is the Republicans really need to find something legitimate to bash him about or the right wing should just leave it alone.

I voted for him and I am one proud American for doing what should have been done years ago and that is my personal effort to try and even the playing field so all American's voices can be heard. I wish my grand children could have any President promote education personally to them!

Posted by: rsn2000 | September 4, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Jay's wiser-than-thou arrogance is painful to read. My wife is a teacher, and I hear about bureaucratic interruptions all the time. However, she will be glad to show the presidential pep talk Tuesday. (It might not happen though because her classroom this year is a temporary without a TV and an iffy WIFI.)

Posted by: imback | September 4, 2009 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Hmm... When I was in grade school, a visit from President Eisenhower would have been both an honor AND educational. What a ridiculous commentary.

The Washington Post was perhaps the most admired newspaper in the world when Woodward and Berstein broke the Watergate story 1972 then continued following up with the scandal until Nixon's resignation in 1974. However, "journalists" like Jay Mathews do nothing to embellish WP's image today. And to think he's the education columnist!

Posted by: dbrands | September 4, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

I am forever amazed the media give time and space to idiots like this. I can't recall a time in history. Are the going for "Equal time"? If so, so-called conservatives have monopolized media 10 to 1.

Posted by: Nogero | September 4, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

What's that foul smell? It's the ugly, ugly reek of racism

Posted by: bitterhop | September 4, 2009 8:34 PM | Report abuse

On 9/11 Bush learned about the attack on the World Trade Center before meeting with children and reading "My Pet Goat". Imagine the conservative outrage if Obama did this. For starters these wing nuts would be claiming he was teaching children bestiality. The Black guy won, get over it.

Posted by: jojo22 | September 4, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: missyb1
"It may be fun, it may feel good, it may make the children happy, but if it doesn't result in increased learning, we have failed."

Great. So get rid of sports, art and music.

In a study released Sept. 13 2005 on the the Paris-based Organization for Cooperation and Development, it was revealed that among adults 25 to 34, the United States is No. 9 among industrialized nations in the share of its population that has at least a high school degree. In the share of its population within the same age group holding a college degree, the United States ranks seventh.

As few as 20 years ago, it ranked first in both evaluations.

Please comeback and tell us all about your outcome tests when we get back into 1st place again like we use to be.

Posted by: plaza04433 | September 4, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Parents, you can't keep your children from facing or knowing the truth. You ought to teach them how to think for themselves. However, judging by the way some of you (parents) acted on tv during the townhalls, you ought to just keep them away from the tv set altogether. Except, oh they live with you and they know you already. Well now, I guess that why the rebellious voting youth of this generation put Obama over the top and in the White House. Never has so many youth voted in a presidential election. I guess they don't believe the lies and the hypocrites in their own homes. If the children acted in school the same way some parents acted in townhalls and on tv, then people would be calling for disciplinary action from the national guard. By the way, I guess no more visits from local politicans period in any schools. But lets not stop there. No more visits from soldiers, policemen, fireman, atheletes, entertainers, etc.

Posted by: MILLER123 | September 4, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

The uproar is simple to explain . . . many people simply don't trust the President and they don't want him "talking" to their children when they are not present.

Posted by: dromedary72000 | September 4, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

The more these silly ultra right-winger's open their mouths to speak, the crazier they seem.
Jay Mathews is right up there with bozos like Pastor Steve Anderson, who says he prays that Obama with die of brain cancer like Ted Kennedy.
Keep making yourselves look stupid, and you will lose all credibility. Assuming you had any to begin with.

The Washington Post should be ashamed to employ this light weight boy scout.

Posted by: lacooper68 | September 4, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

This is a little hard to take Jay.
You've been at the GOP Kool-Aid obviously and you had a little more than was wise.
You need a reality check as most of the comments indicate. You are out of touch with most of us suffering through reading your "Story".
When I was a child an address from the president would have been the ultimate excitement for me and I would have hung on every word he said. Maybe this is what the GOP is worried about.
I applaud our president and support him during these trying times of GOP harassment and dishonesty.

Posted by: realneil | September 4, 2009 8:41 PM | Report abuse

This is a teachable moment for kids - regardless of political outlook, having the President talk to students in our schools about his ideals and what he wants the children of our country to be able to accomplish is an opportunity to actually stimulate some thought and discussion on a day which traditionally NOTHING gets done

Posted by: loaf667 | September 4, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

"The Washington Post should be ashamed to employ this light weight boy scout."

Not a suprise that they do given they also employ right-wing thugs that have outed CIA agents.

Posted by: jojo22 | September 4, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

People like Jay disgust me. What a joke. The schools in the country are pathetic because of all the ideological obstructionism so-called family-valued parents have put forth. I'm thrilled that Obama wants to address kids away from their brain-washing parents. The GOP and their adherents (read "Jay")keep racing to the bottom but never seem to cease going lower. What a group!

Posted by: rob15 | September 4, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem is not a study hard and get somewhere speech of the president (Though many of us would really like to know where he got the money for that A 1, top drawer, first class education he got).

It's the materials that go with the speech for the teachers to use and the President's lead-in for the tinsel town folks and their "Pledges". Now those are NOT role models anyone with brains would want their children following. Their lives are mostly a mess by reasonable people's standards. I am certainly NOT interested in having Demi Moore talking to my grandsons, thank you very much.

Posted by: OregonStorm | September 4, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Look, if former Pres GW had wanted to do the same thing there would have been some anti-war protests I am sure, but, there are efforts underway nation wide to have schools ban the speech. This is censorship and quite sadly, typical of the fascists that are running the Republocult party. Whats next, burning his books?

Posted by: rkerg | September 4, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

Since the republicants don't want any part of compromising to make this country better, looks like in 2010 the USA'll just have to vote the rest of them out of office and replace them with true patriots that WILL put the country's future ahead of their own self interest. And I think it's time for reporters to start digging in Cheney's financials and see just how much his friends and family have got in kickbacks from Halliburton over the last 6 years... stop letting him distract from that with the obvious misdirection about torture & terrorists.

Posted by: Darr247 | September 4, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

This commentary is quite possibly the stupidest rationale I've ever heard. I used to be at a school that had horrible math scores. The school board, in their genius, came up with a solution that was so ingenious I'm surprised they didn't copyright it. They increased the class time for math. That was such a brilliant stroke of genius. Three years and countless hours of math later and the math scores have......surprise, surprise decreased. Brilliant! The issue isn't that teachers need more time, they need more quality time. If the interruption is planned, then any well-organized teacher will be able to modify the lesson plan to accommodate. It is the unplanned interruptions that cause the problems. Besides the interruptions are just a symptom of a larger problem. The problem is we're a country that doesn't value education....PERIOD! Even the school administrators themselves don't value what is going on in the classroom. If they did, there would be stricter guidelines regarding class interruptions. Until we as a society truly begin to support and appreciate that learning is a life long pursuit, we're doomed to follow the plight of all empires that fell before us. Can someone please wake America up? The rest of world is basking in our self-inflicted destruction. What a shame.

Posted by: ibanezagraz | September 4, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

The biggest problem is not a study hard and get somewhere speech of the president (Though many of us would really like to know where he got the money for that A 1, top drawer, first class education he got).

It's the materials that go with the speech for the teachers to use and the President's lead-in for the tinsel town folks and their "Pledges". Now those are NOT role models anyone with brains would want their children following. Their lives are mostly a mess by reasonable people's standards. I am certainly NOT interested in having Demi Moore talking to my grandsons, thank you very much.

Posted by: OregonStorm | September 4, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

What is wrong with us? I have read quite a few of the comments and some of them are just mean and vicious. Aren't we better than this? I have no problem with Obama giving a speech to our children. I received a letter today from my daughter's school saying we could keep her home on Tuesday to listen to the speech or we could go on-line later and listen to it. I will say that I don't remember any other time that a letter has come home announcing a president will speak and giving us the option to stay home and listen - that's a first. But we've had a lot of first recently.

Actually I think it would be good for everyone who has written a comment to GO to school - maybe kindergarten - and perhaps Obama could give a basic lesson in manners and how to get along. I think that's taught in kindergarten. Name calling? Come on...

This is going to sound really trite and I'm sure someone will find a reason to hate me and say bad things about me (I don't care), but I think if we spent more time praying for our President and our country we would all be a lot better off.

Thanks for reading my comment!!

Posted by: WonderfleeMade | September 4, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Jay Matthews is probably a special kind of guy, and may have come to think that he's paid to come up with novel, and rather brilliant takes on important issues. But he's not.

Posted by: dreevesx | September 4, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Principal: "You know Mr. Overworked, I didn't see the improvement I was expecting in your class this year."

Mr. Overworked: (Sigh) "Me too, boss. I would have had them all at or above grade level if it weren't for that Obama speech at the beginning of the year. If I could only have that 20 minutes back..."

"I mean, who does he think he is? The leader of the free world? The first Black president? Why does he think we're impressed by that? Why does he think we want him talking to our kids when we can't bear to see him on TV with that Presidential seal behind him? If I let my kids look up to a black man, where does that leave them...and where does that leave me? It's unnatural!"

Principal: ....

Principal: ....

Principal: ....

Principal: "You know I'm Black, right?"

Posted by: hype1 | September 4, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

One thing I have noticed not mentioned in any of the comments is that it seems that a lot of the complaints started because of a suggested post-viewing activity. I wish I could find a reliable article that explains that part of the problem.

Now, as to Jay's comment about the "20 minutes that will be lost". I am a high school government teacher & I wish that was my biggest problem with showing the speech to my students. I just wish I had access to reliable technology in order to view this speech either live or later. The only TV station that I have found listed for broadcast is C-SPAN which is not a station available in my rural area (I live in New Mexico)-- if I could I would tape it at home & show it when we study the executive branch (we do not have access to any TV broadcasts at our school -- cable or satellite). The next option is to watch it via a computer using live-stream video. Because our tech. department has blocked those applications I can't show it live or later (getting sites unblocked is a major ordeal & even then we can't rely on the work being done on time.) The justification for the blocks -- to avoid students accessing inappropriate/obscene material.

So Jay, be glad that you will have the opportunity to decide for yourself whether to watch the speech or not, because a lot of us won't.

Posted by: Gofer | September 4, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

What in God's name are you talking about Jay? You gonna complain about assemblies too? And the right wing nutjobs are just laughable. They ruined the country cheering on the Bush administration, excusing illegality. Now they expect intelligent people to believe Obama will brainwash their children. Its time to stop tolerating the nutjobs and call them what they are, nutjobs, and then ignore them.

And Jay, get back to what you do best and stop writing silly article like this to try to increase your hit rate. Its not a good example, you know, for the kids...

Posted by: Fate1 | September 4, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

This is just disgusting !!!! What are these people thinking? This is the President of the United states! Parents and educators alike should be excited that President Obama will deliver a sign of encouragement to all our children. Oh! I forgot our kids don't need encouragement. We're all doing such a fine job.....Where do we rank among the industrialized nations? I'm starting to wonder why I defended my country for twenty years.....This isn't what I expected.

Posted by: Sailor54 | September 4, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

That is a bad excuse for not having the President televised and shown to the nation's students. Regardless of Jay Mathews' opinion in this column, a 20-minute speech from Barack Obama to the youth of this nation would inspire millions of the nation's students to stay in school and study hard.

Any reasonable thinking person has to wonder whether Jay Mathews' commentary here is yet another example of how the Washington Post is not representative of how the majority of Americans feel.

Jay Mathews' piece also is just another example of how the so-called liberal media yet again makes excuses and uses tortured logic for the incredibly partisan and ridiculous positions espoused by the Republican Party.

I was a Republican until year 1992 then the GOP started to veer off to the far right with the crazies. Extensive media consolidation since 1984 and pressure from advertisers has taken formerly mainstream publications such as the Washington Post off to the crazy positions taken by the rightwing. Media figures find it difficult to be fired in this country for being too biased in favor of the reactionaries (i.e. Lou Dobbs, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, et al) but there are numerous examples of media figures who have lost their jobs over the last 20 years for having a progressive viewpoint (e.g. Bill Moyers, Dan Froomkin, Dan Rather, and many others).

Stop pretending to be unbiased, Washington Post. You are far to the right in favor of those who go to war unnecessarily (e.g. Iraq), would wiretap Americans without a warrant (as Dick Cheney ordered), outted CIA agents for political purposes (as Karl Rove and Scooter Libby did to Valerie Plame Wilson), etc.

Posted by: TEDinTampa | September 4, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Van Jones: Only ‘Suburban White Kids’ Shoot Up Schools

December 2, 2005: "You've never seen a Columbine done by a black child. Never. They always say, 'We can't believe it happened here. We can't believe it's these suburban white kids.' It's only them. Now, a black kid might shoot another black kid. He's not going to shoot up the whole school."

this is the type of people that obama has as his czars?...why should i let this idiot speak to my child when he supports people with this attitude....why did van jones fail to mention who shoots up citys and neighborhoods?

Posted by: JWx2 | September 4, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

dromedary72000 wrote: "The uproar is simple to explain . . . many people simply don't trust the President and they don't want him "talking" to their children when they are not present."

Hmmm, I had my daughter watch every Bush speech since, as I told her, its history. She's 17 now and thinks Bush ruined the country. She loves Obama.

So, if you want to shield you children from one man's words feel free. Just know that they will, one day, make up their own minds. And once they find out you've not been straight with them, they won't be kind.

Posted by: Fate1 | September 4, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

"So, if you want to shield you children from one man's words feel free. Just know that they will, one day, make up their own minds. And once they find out you've not been straight with them, they won't be kind."

Well said, Fate1.

Posted by: lacooper68 | September 4, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

The fear and hatred are hard to ignore, Jay. The petite teacher who wielded a TV? The disruption of that day taught me that JFK was not the evil representative of the Pope I was taught (by classmates' parents) to fear... Another President- FDR- taught over the living room airways, "The only thing you have to fear is fear itself." AND NOTHING TOPS THE FEAR-DRIVEN ANGER OF THIS HOUR . It is a poison in our hearts. Would we have a war of seceding states sort it out? We, vermin-pinkos-fascists-progressives-everyone have ONE HEART. Do not break it with fear of our President or anyone else. Be wise, instead. Use support, not rancor. Use reason, not separation. Use wit, not ridicule. Use love, not fear, AND USE OUR ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE OUR TRUE NATURE, not ANGER until our dangers and differences become less of a priority and allow us into a newly, MUTUALLY FREE, intelligent (once again) land of the consciously determined.

Posted by: angelique1 | September 4, 2009 9:26 PM | Report abuse

I teach first grade (previously taught fourth and fifth) at a Title 1 school in the suburbs. My school has worked hard to minimize interruptions to our day so that we can focus on instruction. we no longer have a morning news show, assemblies are rare, and we value every minute we have with students.

That said, we are certainly showing this speech on Tuesday. It is a fabulous experience for our students to see the president speak to them. If you are looking for a place to watch the speech, Jay, I'd love to have you join my first graders.

Posted by: Jenny04 | September 4, 2009 9:42 PM | Report abuse

Not since Joesph Stalin had kiddies bounce on his knees have children been exposed to a America hating Marxist.

Obama, ever the narcissist, needs attention from a large audience. American adults are sick of seeing and hearing from this self-important public servant, so Obama turns to America's children to re-inflate his very much deflated ego.

Posted by: sperrico | September 4, 2009 9:46 PM | Report abuse

As a very veteran teacher, I would so much rather use the time to show the President's speech and discuss it, than to dismiss kids for the football game.

The teachers who are freaking about "my curriculum," "my time," and "my responsibilities," have forgotten what education is about - THE STUDENTS, not YOU. Good teachers are able to connect important events to all standarda.

Those who are protesting the President's speach to students are easy to spot. They are the ones who want their underlings to be as uninformed and undereducated as possible so they can continue to control them. While I would love to feel sorry for these people - because they have been mislead and misinformed - a part of me is happy that, after all is said and done, those of us who are educated and intelligent will be leading this country.

"Class struggle" indeed!!

Posted by: Patricia12 | September 4, 2009 9:47 PM | Report abuse

Couldn't agree more Jay, cut out the interruptions and feel good stuff and let the kids learn. Why doesn't he speak at dinner time and ask the parents to make the kids watch.

Posted by: rvpregister | September 4, 2009 9:50 PM | Report abuse

This must be a very slow news day in Washington. I still remember being allowed to watch the Kennedy/Nixon debate in (boarding) high school, a remarkable experience. Jay's lack of critical thinking highlights the shortcomings of his education.

Posted by: RandolphMitchell | September 4, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Jay, an "education" columnist? Really?? This absurd rhetoric is precisely what's WRONG with this country! Enough is Enough! The outright LYING and fear-mongering has got to stop! We have a very serious problem with ignorance and corruption in this country (especially in the South!). Watching "adults" obnoxiously screaming out at town hall meetings - - behaving like rabid children, ignorantly protesting against their own best interests... is certainly proof! Anyone who would denounce granting students the opportunity and HONOR of watching the President advocate education, and inspire academic achievement, is truly the equivalent of a domestic terrorist.
Jay Mathews, YOU are an embarrassment to America and a sorry excuse of a human being!

Posted by: bonvivant2 | September 4, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

The White House will be releasing the content of President Obama's education speech prior to the airing in the nation's public schools. I have homeschooled for the past five years. Civics and politics have been an integral part of our curriculum. I believe that we do not give our young people enough credit. At least mine have been taught from a very young age to think for themselves and question everything. I trust that they can listen to a speech by our president without being indoctrinated into "Obama's zombie brigade." As A better lesson perhaps would be to end the crazy rumors, theories, conspiracies and outright lies that have been circulating since before Obama was elected. He is, after all, our president, and for that he deserves our respect.

By the way, Obama is certainly not the first to address the nation's children. In fact, he is just one of many: George H. Bush, Ronald Regan and FDR. My point, expose our children to many points of view because the truth can always be found somewhere in the middle.

Posted by: DESALVO37 | September 4, 2009 10:14 PM | Report abuse

Oh, for the love of Pete. The address is taking place at NOON, when many students are at lunch anyway. Mr. Matthews, you obviously don't spend as much time in school as you should, or you'd be aware that this is a blip on the school calendar and in the school-day schedule. We have interruptions for far more mundane and completely worthless activities daily--it's "picture day", or "crazy hat and hair day" or a "code red" drill or a "bus evacuation drill" or a "Walk for the Homeless". This is an address by the President of the nation. As such, it deserves to be given some respect.

Posted by: notation | September 4, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

Hmmm, let's do some math here:

President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) 'takes up' (let's say) 25 minutes of class time. Well, gee, that's 25 minutes that the teacher will never get back!!!!!!!

But let's say that President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) encourages most students to study their homework just five more minutes after every other class day. Most school districts have a 180-day school year, so that means the students will study about 450 minutes more per school year (90 x 5 = 450) than they do now.

Let's say that those extra 5 minutes of homework every other class day means that the teacher will have to spend just ONE less minute each day in the classroom teaching something that the school children learned by those extra minutes spent studying their homework. Why, that means that the teacher will gain 180 minutes per year.

So the students spend 450 more minutes studying their homework, and the teacher gains 180 more minutes of class time to teach - that means the 25 minutes invested at the beginning of the year would equal 630 more minutes of LEARNING by the school children. Take off the 25 minutes, and we're still at more than 600 minutes, or the equivalent of AT LEAST two classroom days, not counting what the school children actually learned.

Anyone see any fallacy in my math calculations above?

And President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) just might encourage the school children to study MORE than 5 minutes every other school day. What if President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) encouraged the school children to study 5 minutes EVERY class day? Or maybe 6 or 7 minutes?

Or President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) just might be able to encourage someone to stay in school, rather than drop out.

But wait, if President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) does that, who will McDonald's and other fast food places hire to flip the burgers at minimum wage?

NOW I see why so many are against this speech! It will mean openings for more illegals to take the minimum wage jobs, because the students might just learn enough to get a better job than being a burger flipper!!

Yeah, that's the ticket!!! That's why Mr. Mathews (and other people) is afraid of President Obama (yes, the President of the entire United States of America) giving a speech that many school children would be able to see in real time.

Posted by: critter69 | September 4, 2009 10:52 PM | Report abuse

I've almost reached saturation in being appalled. I don't know whether to laugh or cry, but I will say that the very ones who need to hear a President of the US talk to them are the children of some of these people getting their 5 minutes on TV complaining about their children being indoctrinated. What Pres. Obama should tell the children is that if they study hard, turn the TV off and stay in school, they won't grow up to be ignorant rednecks like their parents.

Posted by: SusanSC | September 4, 2009 11:28 PM | Report abuse

Methinks the Washington Post needs a new Education Columnist; this guy flunked critical thinking 101.

I was forced, in Texas in 1968 as a 4th grader, to watch the presidential election at school. We sat there for hours. This was before the press was prevented from predicting winners prior to the polls closing. Despite Nixon winning (and what 9 year old really understands the significance of this anyway?), it was a surprisingly good civics lesson. Watching the president speak - particularly a literate, coherent, and intelligent president - will provide only good and positive influences to our children. Mine will be sitting and listening on Tuesday. The ones who don't will be more likely to be serving them burgers later on in life.

Posted by: MosEisley | September 4, 2009 11:34 PM | Report abuse

For me, Tuesday will be the 11th day of school and I am hoping to spend 20 minutes of it watching Obama's speech.
Hopefully I will get something out of it unlike the kids who are getting pulled out by their parents.
Also, in regards to the article, it is usually best to ease into the school year, get to know your classmates, and not start cramming our brains from the first minute.

Posted by: hml31 | September 4, 2009 11:39 PM | Report abuse

I'll be showing it, but I teach Government. However, I need to give you props Jay. Your justification is the only one with any legitimacy at all. All this ideology crap is idiotic. But forcing teachers to adjust yet again to another distraction is a problem.
Great job keeping the issue relevant.

Posted by: CoachBrown | September 5, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse

Take up class time, eh? That is a stupid rationale because it is so idealistic. In reality, public schools do nothing but waste time these days. It doesn't matter if they listen to Obama's pep talk or not.

In case you haven't been paying attention to the public school scene in the past decade or two, the public schools are now run and controlled entirely by the kids, whom the teachers work very hard to please.

My concern about Obama's sudden interest in the kids is, what exactly does the Prez want the kids to be learning in schools these days?

Lessons about Muslim tolerance, perhaps? About how CAIR is a good organization to get involved in, perhaps? Lessons about how brilliant Marx was? New ways to interpret the US Constitution? (Social studies teachers beware, something is rotten in Denmark...)

If Obama wants to waste his time repeating the same old song and dance teachers entertain kids with all day, every day in school, why doesn't he just resign and become a schoolteacher?

He can teach the kids all about whatever he thinks they should know.

Public schools are a complete joke in the USA these days. So what if Obama wants to make more of a joke out of them?

The kids don't care, as long as they keep getting something for nothing.


Posted by: mock1ngb1rd | September 5, 2009 4:43 AM | Report abuse

Dear Jay,

Congratulations! This has got to be your best attempt yet at making yourself look like an absolute imbecile. Keep practicing like this and one day you'll join the ranks of the all-time right-wing morons you idolize so much. While you're still an amateur, this article has definitely moved you up one notch! Maybe soon you'll get that sought after recognition! Soon you'll be able to shake the urine drops off your favorite Republican's weenie when he's finished evacuating his bladder! Keep up the good work! OK, I know, you really wrote this article to cleverly point out the absurdity of those "other" Republicans who feel the sentiments this article poorly conveys. I hope you have no children, and if you do, I hope they violate every lesson you taught/teach them out of spite of you having fathered them. Have a nicey ;)

Posted by: kenalexruss | September 5, 2009 5:07 AM | Report abuse

Two more observations:
1. The President's speech is aimed at a high school audience. Does anyone see an issue with airing the same comments for an elementary-level audience?- and
2. I think the time may have come to apply the Post's name disclosure policy to online comments. I cannot believe the bile and ridicule being dumped on nonconformist, unorthodox speech. If some of the above respondents weren't able to hide behind screen names perhaps they'd have to craft a more civil argument. Unbelievable.

Posted by: novaescapee | September 5, 2009 7:19 AM | Report abuse

If you really think that class time loss is the most important factor here, you need to check on the teachers who "influenced" you toward the end of the school year. I'll bet you'll see more than one of them showing a movie or conducting some busy work. With testing over with and paperwork to finish, the teachers look for any kind of extra time during this period.

Further, the educational experience is the entire day, not the specifics of a subject and the points of the curricula. Children who are interrupted learn to deal with interruptions. Tell me you don't have interruptions in your life, Mathews. Did you learn how to deal with this by reformulating right-wing arguments to look plausible? There are other indications in your piece that indicate you don't learn from experience.

Posted by: lontjr | September 5, 2009 8:14 AM | Report abuse

RACISM PURE RACISM

And its works only because enough are still racist.

Never in the history of this country have citizens objected to their president speaking to school children.

racist haters at work

Posted by: dutchess2 | September 5, 2009 8:58 AM | Report abuse

alisonk59 said: I am a teacher, and we've been in school for two weeks already. I have been trying to figure out how I'm supposed to deal with one class being behind all the others because of the timing of the speech.

Alisonk59, You deal with it the same way you do when you have an assembly or pep rally. It's very common to have one class behind the others, and then you use your experience to bring that one class up to speed.

One way to do this is to teach across the content area. Use part of a day (longer for your classes that are 1 day "ahead", and shorter for your class that viewed the speech instead of having your lesson) and incorporate your content area and the speech. Since you are a teacher, I am sure you are already doing lessons like this anyway.

Posted by: david_in_taipei1 | September 5, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

This is my second attempt to respond, and if the first goes through sorry for repeating some of the thoughts.

First, I honestly feel your editorial was beyond silly. Did you complain about the loss of class time when Reagan or Bush 1 did the same thing?

You bemoan people like the President who you say feel they know all there is to know about education, and what can fix it, yet have not talked to teachers as you have. Well, clearly your discussions with them haven't paid off. This is what would be called an enhancement, or a teachable moment, not an interruption. The true interruptions are pep rallys, discipline issues, kids leaving class to go to doctor appointments and the like.

You also claim that it would be better if the teachers simply used the written speech versus seeing him orally present the speech. All teachers not only teach their curriculum but essential language arts skills as well. These skills include discourse and oral presentations. MLK's I Have a Dream speech, JFK's Ask Not What your Country Can do For You, FDR's Pearl Harbor, and Bush's speech at the site of the World Trade Center were all wonderful because of how they were presented. They are not as wonderful simply in written form. In order for students to truly understand President Obama's mastery with words, as you put it, it behooves the teacher to have both the oral and written format.

I would love it if speeches like those I mentioned, and many others, would be studied more. Perhaps than we could stop idolizing/watching all of the current talking heads who simply shout out slogans, sayings, stupid inanities, none of which are backed up with facts.

He is OUR President. Why are people acting as if he will discuss issues other than education, studying hard etc.? It is scary to think that those views (that fear the supposed Marxist speech) now have been given prominence. School districts and principals are acknowledging the idiocy by saying people can opt out. Opt out of hearing the President speak? When they allowed previous administrations to do the same thing?? You have given another reason to those who tell their children that they need to view the President's speech prior to them deciding whether or not to send their kid to school, as if he is some criminal or evil doer. Instead of educating and promoting education, you have promoted fear, and ignorance.

You may think you are discussing classroom interuptions, but you are not. You are adding another spark that will ignite the arson that is taking place. The arson that takes a speech meant to encourage students to stay in school, and ignites the idiocy of birthers, deathers, and tenthers.

Posted by: researcher2 | September 5, 2009 10:40 AM | Report abuse

what this is all about is that we have an black President, an some of you don't think that it is right or injust for our President to say anything on any subject. The truth of the matter is know one is saying anything about the mess that your former President bush has done to get us into this mess, the fact that bush send hundreds of troops to the front line to fight battles that were train in two ,three months,an you have soilders that had years of training .An the fact that he creative 9-11 for his own personaly gain,millions of lives have been lost for the gain of bush an he's gotten away with it this far.It took 8 years to get us inthis mess, an President Obama is trying to turn things around for us, we should let him do his job.Why is it that you can address bush as President,an address( President Obama),as Barack Obama

Posted by: mwoffo5 | September 5, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

what this is all about is that we have an black President, an some of you don't think that it is right or injust for our President to say anything on any subject. The truth of the matter is know one is saying anything about the mess that your former President bush has done to get us into this mess, the fact that bush send hundreds of troops to the front line to fight battles that were train in two ,three months,an you have soilders that had years of training .An the fact that he creative 9-11 for his own personaly gain,millions of lives have been lost for the gain of bush an he's gotten away with it this far.It took 8 years to get us inthis mess, an President Obama is trying to turn things around for us, we should let him do his job.Why is it that you can address bush as President,an address( President Obama),as Barack Obama

Posted by: mwoffo5 | September 5, 2009 12:17 PM | Report abuse

I am a split voter, i have deep confusion, is the republican party sending a message, IF WE CANNOT HAVE CONTROL WE WILL BRING DOWN THEM WHO ARE, IF WE BRING DOWN THE UNITED STATES WITH THEM, SO BE IT.

my days of a split ticket are over...

Posted by: dv1236 | September 5, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

I cannot believe the bile and venom spewed forth here. I try each year to teach my students to have civil discourse - to respond respectfully to people who present a position different from their own.
Forgive me for thinking I might be entering into a civil discussion here. My mistake.

Posted by: alisonk59 | September 5, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

The fear and hatred are hard to ignore, Jay. That petite teacher who wielded a TV to show a president's speech? The disruption of that day taught me that JFK was not the evil representative of the Pope I was taught (by classmates' parents) to fear... Another President- FDR- taught over the living room airways, "The only thing you have to fear is fear itself." AND NOTHING TOPS THE FEAR-DRIVEN ANGER OF THIS HOUR . It is a poison in our hearts. Would we have a battle over seceding states sort it out? We, "vermin-pinkos-fascists-progressives"-everyone have ONE HEART. Do not break it with fear of our President of of ANYONE!. Be wise, instead. Use support, not rancor. Use reason, not separation. Use wit, not ridicule. Use love, not fear, AND USE OUR ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE OUR TRUE NATURE (ability to govern ourselves with love), not ANGER until our dangers and differences become less of a priority and allow us into a newly, mutually free, intelligent (once again) land of the conscious.


Posted by: angelique1 | September 5, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

I believe in mass-communication as an effective method of teaching, or getting a message across. However, this only applies to like-classes, ie 50 4th grade classes or 50 6th grade classes or 50 8th grade classes. To mix 2nd graders with 8th
is a waste of time...either for the 2nd graders or the 8th graders, or other dis-similar groups. Whom is the President going to speak to?
Carmine41328

Posted by: ccifaldi | September 5, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I am a teacher at Wakefield High School and I am honored and proud to have President Obama speak from our school. I am also proud to live in a country where people are free to disagree and to express their divergent opinions. Jay Mathews is a tireless advocate for young people, for educators and for improving the standard of education in this country for all children. Though I disagree with his position on this issue, I respect his right to speak and I honor his opinion. What I AM appalled by is the namecalling and hate-speak that has become so commonplace in this country. That every disagreement becomes a personal attack and an assault on a person's character is shameful and sad to me. I do not envy the job that President Obama faces every day but I am grateful that a man of such integrity and substance is at the helm of this very damaged vessel.

Posted by: woodstock132 | September 5, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

As a special education teacher, I hope my students get to see the President's speech next week. We have already started school, so that argument's moot...and so is your argument, Mr. Mathews.
While I agree that there are many time wasters during the school day, a 20-minute speech by the President of the United States is NOT one of them, especially a speech where he is talking about the importance of education.
By the way, your point about the speech working "better as an educational exercise in its written form, giving teachers a chance to have students edit it or reply to it" is also moot, for many students, who need to hear what they read, with proper cadence and emphasis modeled for them. Who better to do this than the President of the United States, one of the best orators we have heard in a long time?

Posted by: JustUs5 | September 5, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

My spouse's teaching school year will not have started yet when President Obama gives his speech. However, the school still thinks it will be important and useful that the kids see it, so we are making a strong effort to record it and show it to them in a few days when their school year DOES begin. I'm sorry to hear that you can't see the value in our first Black president encouraging children to stay in school and strive, even at the cost of a small disruption to schedules; we, and the school's administration, certainly do.

Posted by: member8 | September 5, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

First off, there are a whole lot of extremely ignorant posts in this thread.

Mr. Matthews isn't saying in this article that 20 minutes out of the school year is unrecoverable, but is instead saying that this type of interruption is too common in schools, and the President shouldn't be supporting this culture of waste.

Anybody that thinks that watching the president on a TV talk to some other students in Virginia is going to be "inspirational" for your typical 14 year old is a dreamer.

Sure watching the speech in Civics or History class can make sense, and even a good English teacher can construct a good lesson around it, but there are things my Geometry students need to learn, and unless Obama is planning on giving students a speech about using the Pythagorean theorem to find the distance between two points on the Cartesian Plane, I'm leaving the TV off.

Posted by: someguy100 | September 5, 2009 11:45 PM | Report abuse

Oh also
http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/washingtonpost/access/74741197.html?dids=74741197:74741197&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Oct+3%2C+1991&author=Kenneth+J.+Cooper%3BEric+Pianin&pub=The+Washington+Post+%28pre-1997+Fulltext%29&edition=&startpage=a.14&desc=Funding+of+Bush+Speech+Draws+Fire%3B+Democrat+Calls+Education+Broadcast+Paid+Political+Advertising%27

So yeah, in 1991, Democrats said the exact same things about Bush 41 Giving an Education Speech.

Posted by: someguy100 | September 5, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

So, someguy, if it's not YOUR subject, it couldn't possibly be important? If it's not math, it doesn't count? Great thinking.

I'd say the ignorant shoe fits you pretty well.

Posted by: notation | September 5, 2009 11:53 PM | Report abuse

No, because the speech is not relevant to the STUDENT's subject, not only will it not help them do what they are trying to do, it will actively undermine their efforts.

If you want students to check out of school, the best way to do it is to make school feel like a waste of their time. Watching the President tell them something they already know sounds like a great way to do this.

Posted by: someguy100 | September 6, 2009 10:49 AM | Report abuse

I think you are wrong in objecting to the speech by Pres. Obama. His speech hopefully will remind students especially Latino, African American, and Asian students the path to achievement like Obama's is intricately connected with excelling in school. The inauguration was exciting, but, I think it can only help to remind students that the path to this success starts with engaging with their academic studies. With the high drop out rate among all students but particular among Latinos and African Americans, this speech is not only important but critical if it reaches even just a few. While setting free the creativity of teachers is important, it is also important to remind potential drop-outs that there is reason to complete their education and education is for them as well.

Posted by: linnily | September 6, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Anyone suggesting that an intelligent, nonpartisan talk from the President of the United States is, to borrow from the most recent Bush administration, unpatriotic.

Now GW Bush talking to the students could have been an issue just on the basis of his failing basic grammar and usage, and sentence structure knowledge. But because he was a Republican? No, that would not have been an issue as long as he followed the same ground rules his father followed when he did this.

I think it can safely be said that the hate mongers falling off the right edge are really more of a danger to the longterm health of our nation than any foreign terrorist.

Posted by: streff | September 6, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

Someguy sez: No, because the speech is not relevant to the STUDENT's subject,

Who are YOU to decide what is relevant for every student? Anyone who is truly interested in the STUDENT, the whole student, and not just in the subject he happens to teach, wouldn't assume any such thing.

Posted by: notation | September 6, 2009 6:41 PM | Report abuse

obviously a phrase was left out...

Anyone suggesting that an intelligent, nonpartisan talk from the President of the United States is in some way a bad thing is, to borrow from the most recent Bush administration, unpatriotic.

Now GW Bush talking to the students could have been an issue just on the basis of his failing basic grammar and usage, and sentence structure knowledge. But because he was a Republican? No, that would not have been an issue as long as he followed the same ground rules his father followed when he did this.

I think it can safely be said that the hate mongers falling off the right edge are really more of a danger to the longterm health of our nation than any foreign terrorist.

Posted by: streff | September 6, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

Why is ther republican party such cry babies.They have to suck ti up and leave the president alone. Its good that president Obama is coming to WHS. Im happy i get to see him on tuesday. I GO TO WAKFIELD HIGH SCHOOL!!
Everybody is excited to see him!

Posted by: LIL503 | September 6, 2009 9:51 PM | Report abuse

I think it's unfortunate that listening to the President of the United States is not considered "learning."

Actually this whole hullabaloo is a good example of how low our learning standards have become in the last few years. It used to be that we had a very broad definition of learning; it could be the learning that takes place when a child grasps the meaning of multiplication, or it could mean the learning that takes place when he visits a museum and notices the work of different artists. Now the most narrow of definitions is being used in many schools so that "learning" is confused with low-level skill acquisition. Hence a handwriting lesson might be considered "learning" but listening to the President of the United States would be a "distraction."

I feel certain that we are headed in the wrong direction in education.

Posted by: Linda/RetiredTeacher | September 6, 2009 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I understand all the previous comments, the people writing the previous comments don't really understand how much instructional time is routinely missed. I believe when the President of the United States speaks to children live then the time is valid. I'm an American History teacher and I wonder if the public realizes how our history and government classes have been reduced in time spent to teach and learn. I see the President's speech as a history lesson. Go Obama...!!!

Posted by: mooreregina | September 7, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

As a veteran high school social studies teacher, voter for Obama (and Gore and Kerry), and child & grandchild of Democratic Party leaders, I couldn't agree more with Mr. Matthews. At my school in Northern Virginia we were told Friday afternoon that we were going to be showing the speech live and that all students would watch it (unless their parents opted them out). Aside from the fact that 1/3 of the students (including all those taking social studies classes that period) will be at lunch during the speech, and as a result probably not paying attention anyway. The rest of the students will be in classes where the speech will be unrelated to the curriculum in any more than a tangential way and the teachers will probably turn it on and then play on the internet for 20 minutes. There will be no meaningful immediate follow up because the Chemistry/Trig/PE/Shop teacher really needs to take the time to focus on Chemistry/Trig/PE/Shop. Oh and did I mention the periods were already going to be shortened because we have a pep rally 3rd period. Oh and did I also mention that because we're on a block schedule we only see the students every other day so every minute does matter.

But the thing that does get me is that we are required by federal law to have a special lesson on the Constitution on September 17th for Constitution Day (if we have the lesson at any other time we can lose our federal funds, which means students on free and reduced price lunch wouldn't get fed). Why couldn't our esteemed President (who is also a professor of Constitutional Law) have done this on Constitution Day and we could've killed two birds with one stone. Just saying.

Posted by: Rob63 | September 7, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh Please, give me a break! Who do you really think you are fooling with this 'lame' excuse as to why you don't feel the time to hear President Obama speak to the students is too much time to give....I 'betcha' I know what political party you belong to & what 'town-hall' you 'may' have attended...a picture also keeps coming to mind about the kind of church you 'may' attend...state your real reason for your objections & stop with your false concern about time taken away from students...

Posted by: pattyg77 | September 7, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Based on all the preparation and promotional videos that we have seen from the White House, this speech and their request to have it broadcast live to classrooms was clearly planned weeks if not months in advance. I don't think it is too much to ask of the President to let school systems know well in advance that he would be speaking to students - that way teachers could be adequately prepared to make it a learning experience rather than a sit, watch, and return to class experience. School days are well planned with schedules that exist for a reason - so teachers and students have the best chance to make the best use of their time together. This interruption would be perfectly fine and a good use of time if there had been two weeks notice so schools could develop lessons before the speech and have meaningful ways to follow up afterwards. I voted for Obama, and I support him, but this was not handled properly and next year at the start of the year, I hope he provides appropriate notice to schools and teachers.

Posted by: jw5555 | September 7, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

To pattyg77: Please check me out. You will be surprised.
To jw5555: you make an excellent point, which I wish I had thought of. The best teachers I know welcome visitors and changes of routine, like field trips, but only because they have planned far ahead to make sure students have acquired the factual knowledge and conceptual understanding to fully appreciate what they are going to see and hear. An earlier warning by the White House would have helped a lot. I hope other well-meaning officials who think they have something to say to students will do it the way you suggest.

Posted by: jaymathews | September 7, 2009 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Ha, ha, ha! I can't type a response because I'm laughing too much. Well, if they don't have time the first day of class then I'm sure Obama's webcast will be available 24/7 on YouTube ...

Posted by: FellowTraveler | September 7, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

"The speech will take up class time. American children need every available minute for learning. They are not getting it, and watching the president's speech won't help."

This is the wimpiest argument I have yet heard about why students throughout the nation shouldn't hear President Obama's address.

Just who set up the "study halls," and "morning announcements" and other time-wasters? Well, folks, it was educators themselves, most of whom could use a good kick in the butt to get down and get serious and demand the best from their students, which all too few do.

And how can anyone in his right mind put a speech by the president into the same, Silly-Time Basket as these other needless time periods that disrupt ongoing education? How can this Mathews so trivialize the president's intention and message?

Easy question, easy answer. He doesn't want him at Wakefield High, an A-plus school in Arlington County, Obama's choice from which to deliver his message, but Mathews can't let himself say that, so he lavishes his concern on "other schools."

Not only "other schools," but Wakefield, as well, can take the time to benefit from Obama's message of encouragement to every student in every school on our national map who is allowed to hear him:

Work hard. Prize what you learn. Do your best. Stay in school.

This is a time waster, Jay Mathews? You haven't heard it discussed much because it's what we at the San Jose (CA) Mercury News used to call "weasel words," obviously foolish, see-through, hypocritical excuses to cover up real motives, actions and reactions.

You don't want kids to see that their president isn't the boogeyman they keep telling their kids he is. They don't want to have a black man in the highest office in the land address an audience of primarily white children about what they should do while they are right there in the places where they should do it.

Time-waster? Your column qualifies. Weasel words? You bet!

Posted by: bryony1 | September 7, 2009 8:12 PM | Report abuse

I think Jay Mathews is so dum why shouldn't students get to watch obamas speech on tv. Its not going to kill the students. If the reson students can't watch obamas speech because it takes up to much class time then they are dum. Schools take up time anyway like they take up school time by having lunch. Also Obamas speech is educational.So Jay Mathews you are the stupides person in the world. DE DA DE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S HAVE ANY THING TO SAY WRITE BACK Jay Mathews.

Posted by: abelmg94 | September 8, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Jay: Don't be such a curmudgeon. If this 30 minute talk inspires ONE American kid to succeed in paying better attention in class this term, or convinces ONE child who has made excuses every morning to complete homework instead of letting it slide, or moves ONE kid into simply staying in school & graduating this year, then by golly it's time well spent for the rest of us.

Posted by: MNet31 | September 8, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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