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President Obama addresses the nation's school children

This year, for the very first time, the president of the United States is going to be addressing the nation's school children during school time! This is a copy of the letter sent out to School Principals from Secretary Arne Duncan. I am interspersing my comments.

Letter From Secretary Arne Duncan to School Principals:
"Letter From Secretary Arne Duncan to School Principals
August 26, 2009

Please note that the time of this speech has changed to 12:00 noon eastern standard time.

Dear Principal:

In a recent interview with student reporter, Damon Weaver, President Obama announced that on September 8 — the first day of school for many children across America — he will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education.

This president has used more prime time press conferences and informercials than any previous president. But the networks were starting to balk as he kept cutting into their programming. I suppose that is why he has decided to interrupt the school day instead!

The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.
That's nice, but wouldn't a letter to each school district have been a little more cost effective?  And that would have been a nice little letter and a perfect place to end it but apparently there is more.

Since taking office, the President has repeatedly focused on education, even as the country faces two wars, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and major challenges on issues like energy and health care. The President believes that education is a critical part of building a new foundation for the American economy. Educated people are more active civically and better informed on issues affecting their lives, their families and their futures.

This is simply propaganda for the President's tattered image in the polls.   The letter then gives information on when this address will take place on September 8, 2009, and also gives the teachers some "resources" to go over with the students prior to the address - as if we have time to waste on this stuff but there it is.  The letter ends:

On behalf of all Americans, I want to thank our educators who do society's most important work by preparing our children for work and for life. No other task is more critical to our economic future and our social progress. I look forward to working with you in the months and years ahead to continue improving the quality of public education we provide all of our children.
Arne Duncan
No Arne, it's parents who do society's most important work - we just allow educators to help.  But I guess I wouldn't expect the U.S. Department of Education to see it that.

But what's really creepy are some of the assignments associated with the President's address.  Check this out for high school students.

Grades 7-12 Menu of Classroom Activities:  President Obama’s Address to Students Across America
Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
September 8, 2009
Before the Speech:
·         Short readings.  Notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education.  Teacher might ask students to think alone, compare ideas with a partner, and share their collaborations with the class (Think/Pair/Share) about the following:   What are our interpretations of these excerpts?  Based on these excerpts, what can we infer the President believes is important to be successful educationally? 
·         Brainstorm or Concept Web:  Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?  How will he challenge us? What might he say?
·         Brainstorm or Concept Web:  What other historic moments do you remember when the President spoke to the nation?  What was the impact?  Students could create a Cause/Effect graphic organizer.

Can you imagine what would have happened if President Bush had tried to pull something like this? And why only limit to President Obama's speeches? Why not try to line up some of what he says with the Founding Fathers?

I think this is a scary precedent, especially if there is not a response from the Republicans just as there would be if this was a prime time address.

For further reactions to the President's Address to Obama Youth check out  -

Insight Scoop | The Ignatius Press Blog: Reason 5,985,900 why I keep my kids out of public schools
President Obama’s Address to Students Across America September 8, 2009

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