What's The Difference?

Obama's planned address to the country's school students has set off a firestorm of controversy for school systems from coast to coast. But is that fair? It's true that both Ronald Reagan and the first George Bush both took an opportunity to address the nations school children and both were roundly criticized by the by the left. But not like Obama. There have even been some who have encouraged parents to keep their children at home if their school was going to broadcast the speech.  So what's the difference for the Obama speech?

Obama's Department Of Education sent out lesson plans for teachers issued by the White House to encourage discussion of  his speech. One suggested lesson plan that accompanied a letter sent to principals by Education Secretary Arne Duncan included an idea to have students write letters to themselves after the speech about how they can help the President. Another suggested that pupils discuss what inspired them about Mr Obama and how they could help to achieve his goals. The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals. The White House admitted that its first set of talking points for teachers were “inartfully worded”.

Not a word of the speech had been published but now his staff has hastily revised plans for the address. It will now be made available to parents and teachers today (9/7)

Obviously Obama's initial plan went far beyond simply addressing students and promoting education to promoting his agenda. Any President has a right and even an obligation to encourage education but the school house is not the place for politics.

East Tennessee schools mull airing speech from Obama

Whether some students view talk hinges on faculty approval

By Lola Alapo knoxnews.com
Some East Tennessee school officials are leaving it up to principals and teachers to decide whether students will view President Barack Obama's Tuesday back-to-school speech.

Others plan to record and review it and then decide later whether to incorporate it into students' lessons based on educators' recommendation.

"As a school system we believe the president's speech will probably be positive in nature, but we wanted to make sure it's useful for educational purposes," said Jason Vance, Loudon County Schools sixth to 12th grade instructional supervisor.

Loudon County officials, like several other East Tennessee school district leaders, have received calls from some parents who expressed concern that a political agenda might be pushed upon their children. Nationally, some conservatives and parents also have criticized Obama, a Democrat, for the upcoming speech. School districts as far away as the Dickinson (Texas) Independent School District and as close as Wilson and Williamson counties in Middle Tennessee are barring administrators from showing students the address.

Vance said Loudon County's director of schools, Wayne Honeycutt, after speaking with the school board attorney, decided the district would record Obama's speech and "view it for some validity."

In Knox County, teachers and principals may allow students to view the broadcast "if they think the content is appropriate and meaningful to their particular class or planned instruction," according to a note sent to teachers and principals.

Parents may request that their children not participate, schools chief of staff Russ Oaks said.

Maryville City Schools is also asking teachers to use their discretion, said spokeswoman Sharon Anglim.

Tuesday's noon broadcast falls in the middle of lunch for many East Tennessee students, so they may not have access to it. Maryville officials and Anderson County Schools plan to record the address for possible viewing at a later date.

In advance of Tuesday's address, the U.S. Department of Education and the White House on their Web sites are providing suggested activities and lesson plans for teachers to use in engaging students in the discussion. The White House has said the text of the speech will be released online Monday so parents can read it ahead of time.

Obama is not the first president to speak directly to schoolchildren about the importance of education and succeeding in school, according to politifact.com

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush, a Republican, in a nationally televised broadcast encouraged students to take control of their own education and work hard. News reports from the time indicate that Democrats criticized Bush for giving the speech.