A Shrewdness of Apes

An Okie teacher banished to the Midwest. "Education is not the filling a bucket but the lighting of a fire."-- William Butler Yeats

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

President Obama's "Liberal" Agenda for Education

Well, now that the speech has been made, we see that President Obama's evil, socialist, partisan agenda to indoctrinate our nation's schoolchildren is this, summarized from the text of the president's speech:

1) It's not just the job of teachers and parents to make sure students learn. You, the students, have responsibility in this process, too.

2) Education provides the opportunity to discover your talents, but you have to develop those talents.

3) You not only have a responsibility to yourself to make the most of your education, you have a responsibility to your community and your country to become educated.

4) No matter what difficulties you have to overcome, there are no excuses for not making sure you make the most of your education.

5) Being successful is hard work no matter what impression you may get from tv or music, and you will have to overcome setbacks and failures in order to become successful. The key is to persevere.

6) Ask questions.

7) Ask for help.

8) Never give up on yourself.

9) Do your part to improve this country.

Wow. How dare he???????? What exactly in this message is not prudent and conservative, in the best sense of the word?

And please note that, unlike so many who get their news from the Colbert Report without getting the irony, I refrained from announcing my opinion until AFTER I heard the speech and read the text. Would that all supposedly responsible citizens would do the same.

I will confess that I am ashamed of the initial response my school district chose when this speech was announced. Letters were sent home to parents, which announced a set of limitations which made it nigh impossible for a teacher to have his or her students watch the speech. Parents were basically assured that their children would be protected from being forced to listen to a speech about the importance of education by the president of the United States. The fact that bitter, immature, uncivil, partisan sniping was in any way given credence at the central office was one thing. But then days later, we got a grudging admission pointing out that, well, we need to respect the office of the president, and Barack Obama IS our president. Oh, thanks.

Here's what I resent: when President Bush was still in office, any letter similar to the ones sent home last week would have been decried as unpatriotic and the worst sort of injection of political-- and in particular liberal-- bias into the classroom. But the second that a Democrat is in the White House, it is suddenly fine and dandy to use fear-mongering and smear tactics against the office of the president. We did not see such a response when Presidents Reagan and George HW Bush gave similar speeches to students, either.

It is my policy to never criticize the current president-- no matter who he is-- to my students. (Yes, that's one reason why I have a blog.) I can and do control myself and act like an adult. Furthermore, just because you vote for or against someone doesn't mean you should not continually re-evaluate and judge how well they have represented your beliefs and values. There have certainly been things I have disagreed with done by every president in my lifetime, including this one.

I would hope that our district administration would also follow this policy, and show the same restraint and respect we expect our students to demonstrate to us, whether they like us or not. I was hoping that this letter was just a reaction to a bitter but vocal handful of district residents who were stirred up by their blind obedience to the Limbaugh Lobby to hate any and all things Obama, and by their vociferousness often scared the bejebus out of petty bureaucrats. But by catering to this element, administrators, you appear to agree with them, and that is the injection of political bias into the classroom that should not be tolerated no matter who is president.

However implicit and subtle our district administrators think their very political response was to a non-political speech, our students are no dummies. Many of them realized that a reactionary fringe opposed to civil discourse was allowed to control the day on Tuesday. And that IS un-American.

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At 9/9/09, 5:42 PM, Blogger banders said...

Thanks, Ms. Cornelius, for your voice of reason. I couldn't agree more.

At 9/9/09, 8:26 PM, Blogger Kim said...

After hearing all the hoopla, I read the text of the speech the night before. Even as a Republican, I agreed completely with the text - it's everything we tell our students, and everything we complain about to other teachers. We want the students to take responsibility for their own educations. Why do people think this is such a bad message? Oh, I know, they don't think for themselves, they just listen to random talking heads of their political persuasion who tell them what to think!

At 9/10/09, 9:07 AM, Anonymous Wendy Mueller said...

Ms. Cornelius, your post is spot on! Can I crib a few paragraphs for a letter to my school board? They, too, caved to the vocal minority in a shameful way, and I want them to know some people care.

At 9/10/09, 4:33 PM, Blogger Lightly Seasoned said...

Hmm. Interesting how different worlds can be. I gave an SRO lecture on rhetorical analysis of the speech -- with, no lie, visiting teachers from overseas taking photos of the notes, administrators, etc. -- never mind my poor juniors who were a little bewildered by all the visitors. Our tech department had saved the speech on our servers; I didn't even think about parental permission. The kids are writing a compare/contrast paper with the Bush I and Reagan speeches.

I'm beginning to like my bubble more and more every day.

At 9/10/09, 7:43 PM, Blogger "Ms. Cornelius" said...

You know,I'm still mad. I want LS's bubble.

And Wendy, you can have anything from this you like. I am sorry your district caved too.

At 9/10/09, 8:32 PM, Anonymous Exurban Mom said...

My district caved, big time, and then sent the "gosh, we were probably wrong about that" note home the next day.
So my kid watched it with my husband on Tuesday night, and talked with her about what he was saying.
Tonight, she said to me: "Mom, did you know Pres. Obama got up at 4:00 in the morning to study with his mom? I'm glad I didn't have to do that. But I would if I needed to."
The guy knows how to reach children. With a good message. I'm so ticked that more kids in my district (and elsewhere) didn't get the message, too.

At 9/12/09, 5:52 AM, Blogger Margaret English said...

Ok, as a UK citizen who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican, I made no effort to watch the speech.

However, based on your 10 point summary of what he said, I must go against the grain and say that, on the face of it, I quite like those ideas. It seems to me that he is making a genuine attempt to promote some responsibilty for oneself, a resonsibility that is certainly lacking in my country.

If such ideas are genuinely put into practice, we may see a positive shift in attitudes.

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