In the wake of the public furor over President Barack Obama’s pending speech to school children next Tuesday, defensive Democratic surrogates and administration officials have maintained the President’s address will be a valuable education tool and aims to challenge students to “work hard in school” and “meet short-term goals like behaving in class.”
But the original prepatory material for Obama’s school house stump speech raised a few parents’ eyebrows and left others convinced the principle aim was nothing short of indoctrination.
The Department of Education told teachers they might “extend learning” and stimulate discussion by instructing students to “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” And to ensure the students hold themselves accountable, the teacher should collect the letters and redistribute them at a later time – presumably when the President’s approval rating has dropped another 10 points.
In a letter to school administrators announcing Obama’s back-to-school speech, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Obama’s special address will seek to inspire students by impressing upon them the necessity to complete school.
“During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.”
White House officials say Obama’s telecast will be the first speech by a sitting president to stress academic achievement since 1991, when President George H. W. Bush spoke to students from Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C.
Democrats, of course, sang a far different tune when a Republican was preparing to address the nation’s school children.
Then-House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) said, “The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the President.”
To be clear, the Department of Education is only a tool of indoctrination when the Secretary of Education answers to a Republican President. When students are instructed to “help the president” and no doubt support his anemic legislative agenda, it’s a teaching experience – namely the lesson of political double standards.