With all of the public attention focused on President Barack Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren, I had to wonder: Did the adults learn anything? ...
It was a pep talk about personal responsibility, not politics. But from the way the right-wing fringe and some Republican Party officials reacted to it beforehand, you would have thought Obama was planning to sprout horns and advocate devil worship.
There was a lot of bluster about Obama "overstepping his authority," even though previous presidents have made similar speeches. Timid school officials offered opt-outs for students whose parents objected. Cowardly school officials skipped the speech all together.
Last week, Steve Robertson, chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, called Obama's plan to speak to children "very concerning and kind of creepy" and an attempt "to circumvent parents" and "gain direct access to our children."
Robertson and some talk radio entertainers focused on an ill-chosen phrase that federal education bureaucrats used in material prepared for teachers. The phrase, suggesting that teachers could have students write letters to themselves about how they can "help the president," was reworded to how they "can achieve their ... education goals."
It seemed like a lame excuse for objecting to a presidential speech, because that's exactly what it was.
This from Politics K-12:
Kids Have Choice Words for Obama-Speech Controversy
The honor of introducing President Barack Obama at Wakefield High School today
went to senior Tim Spicer, who has to be one of the most popular kids in school today.
He told Alyson, who called in just a few minutes ago from the school, that not only did he get a presidential seal as a thank-you gift from Obama, but he also got the president to autograph the introductory remarks he had carefully typed out.Spicer acknowledged, though, that he was far more nervous meeting Obama before the speech than actually standing in front of a televised audience and introducing the
president. As for the all of the hubbub that preceded the speech, Spicer told Alyson the controversy was "pointless."
And 14-year-old Elizabeth Brantley, who was one of 40 9th graders who participated in a round table before the speech with Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan, called the controversy "kind of dumb."
Another 14-year-old, Max Rosenberg, had even stronger words in speaking to Alyson, saying people who didn't want Obama to address students are "racist." ...