Friday, September 4, 2009

Soap Box

For those of you who may not have hear (and I doubt that's anyone, considering how our lack of TV always makes us the last to hear anything), the President is giving a speech to children in public schools across the country on Tuesday. Well, when I first heard about it, I immediately thought that he was trying to brainwash our children into believing his propaganda. After all (as Daniel pointed out to me) most of those in high school will be voting in the next election. Scary, huh? Either that or his popularity ratings are so low that he's trying to get us all to think he's great because he's encouraging children to stay in school. Either way, we weren't happy about it. But what could we do? It's on the first day of school, so we can't keep her home. Daniel wanted to call the school and complain, but I (being the anti-confrontational person I am) told him not to. After all, they obviously don't have a choice in the matter. Well, that's not quite the case.
As I did some more reading and research (yay google!) I became less upset about what the content might be (the more I think about it, the more I think he'll stay on safe subjects), and more upset by their methods. The first thing they did, was completely bypass the public school authorities (such as the State Board of Education) and sent private emails to the school principals telling/asking them to participate. So not right. Even worse, they bypassed the parents. It's one thing for a President to go visit an elementary school and read them a story, or to give a graduation speech at some elite high school, it's an entirely different thing to command the attention of most of the children in America without their parents. Elementary aged children will believe anything that an authority figure tells them, and it is very hard to convince them otherwise. To make matters worse, they prepared a "study guide". Apparently a quick little speech is not enough, they want to make the first day of school devoted to our President. You can find the study guide here. This has preparatory questions, such as:

How will he inspire us? How will he challenge us? What might he say?

This question assumes that the children will be inspired. It seems to be worded so that it influences children to have a positive response to the speech. This study guide also encourages teacher to read books about Obama before the speech. Oh fun.

During the speech, they are supposed to be listening for what the President wants them to do. And also listen to see if he's asking anything of teachers, principals and parents. Why would he be asking anything of parents if they're not even there? Somehow I'm thinking he will though.
After the speech, they then discuss things like:

What does the President want us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to what President Obama is asking us to do?

Oddly, there is nothing in there that helps the children to come to their own conclusions. Nothing about what they think about what the President says, or if they agree. Again, the questions are trying to influence the children into a positive response.

And wait, we're not done! There's "extended learning"! This is where the biggest controversy was. The students were supposed to:

"Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals."

Yep, help the President. Not their country, not their family or even their school or neighborhood. Their president. Supposedly it's been changed to making goals for themselves.

So, Daniel called the school district. I was actually kind of impressed with their response. They had gotten a lot of phone calls about the speech (shocking in north Idaho, eh?) so they are planning on not showing it on Tuesday, most likely they will be showing it on a later date and parents will be given the option of opting their children out.

Ok, I'll step off my soapbox now =) Maybe I need to start doing "Soapbox Sundays" or something.

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