WECT and other local media have been interviewing Cape Fear school officials and parents about the national furor over President Obama’s upcoming address to schoolchildren. For the most part, public concern about the speech is being treated as baseless:
“This is a politically benign yet very, very powerful statement that the President is making.” said Elizabeth Redenbaugh with the New Hanover Co. Board of Education. “He is telling students to stay in school, to study hard, to get educational goals, and to take responsibility for their education. And that’s a message I want every single child in New Hanover County to hear.”
While there are some Americans who will always object to such speeches — both Bush 41 and Reagan drew Democratic criticism for school addresses critics portrayed as “partisan” — the initial wave of criticism of Obama’s planned speech was not baseless, because it wasn’t simply based on an announcement. It really stemmed from the text of lesson plans prepared for the event:
The White House said Wednesday that the president’s address is intended to be an inspirational, pro-education message to all students at the beginning of the school year. But critics objected to the language of one of the lesson plans, for students in pre-kindergarten through grade 6, which suggested that students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.” Another assignment for students after hearing the speech was to discuss what “the president wants us to do.”
Essentially, then, the president’s political problem here originated not with partisan critics but with staffers and education officials with poor judgment. Many viewers are also responding to the prospect of the Obama speech having watched a pretty creepy video, prepared by Obama supporters, that has celebrities speaking to kids about, among other things, supporting some of the president’s policy agenda:
Is this all an overreaction? Some might see it that way. But let’s get the story right.
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