Home Rantings Obama’s speech on education: Indoctrination or Inspiration?

Obama’s speech on education: Indoctrination or Inspiration?

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So I’m not really known for political commentary. I try to stay away from it as some topics get too convoluted and upset me to be honest.  However, sometimes you have to overcome one’s own apprehension in order to get a point across.  I’ve monitored this “uproar” about Pres. Obama’s speech to school children and quite frankly I’m disgusted. I can understand parents (especially those who reside on the red side of the aisle) opposition to a politically charged message to impressionable children.  However, they made a federal case out of it, even after the text of the speech was released, showing only malcontent for educational mediocrity from our youths. No political messages were embedded, subliminally or directly, in his speech.

Some parents even took exception to the White House asking students to write letters to themselves discussing “what they can do to help the president.” Pressure from conservatives forced the Obama Administration to modify this statement, but I don’t understand the uproar. I did similar exercises in school for the President. In fact, these outraged Republicans and parents act like the President addressing our youth on education is something new:



President George H.W. Bush delivered a nationally televised speech to students from a Washington school in fall 1991, encouraging them to say no to drugs and work hard.

In November 1988, President Reagan delivered more politically charged remarks that were made available to students nationwide. Among other things, Reagan called taxes “such a penalty on people that there’s no incentive for them to prosper … because they have to give so much to the government.”

SOURCE: CNN

Many old school GOP representatives, including former Speaker of the house Newt Gingrich and Laura Bush praised the President’s initiative. Some people were quick to attack Obama before the speech occurred, yet cosigned after reading the transcript:

Florida Republican Party Chairman Jim Greer accused Obama last week of trying to “indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda.”

“Now that the White House got their hand in the cookie jar caught, they changed everything,” he said Monday.

After reading the text, he said, “My kids will be watching the president’s speech, as I hope all kids will.”

So I wondered why all the hate? Why the uproar? When I stepped out and looked at the bigger picture I thought of a few reasons why a simple speech caused this much controversy:

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Politics as usual

Parents who don’t necessarily approve of Obama or his administration oppose his speech.  So conservatives look at this as an opportunity to combat the Obama administration yet again! Look, I understand that the rumors of the Obama administration’s bipartisan effort have been greatly mistaken, but surely you’ve heard the phrase “pick and choose your battles”. So far since Obama took office, the polarization effect astonishes me. I wonder if Obama really thought he could get bipartisanship to work immediately. Either way, I think Obama opponents jumped on this like piranhas smelling blood in a fish tank, and it makes them look stupid! Bad politics indeed.

Racism is still alive in 2009

I know a lot of my conservative friends want to eliminate the notion of race from political conversation, but its an unfortunate fact that race is prevalent and alive in our society. Let’s be real for a second: There’s STILL many people upset that Obama won. Take it from a Knicks fan who’s seen Michael Jordan crush my hopes and dreams 8 summers; Sometimes you have to accept that the better man won regardless of affiliation. I know that more than “concern over a political message” was on the minds of some of those parents. I know Obama wants to transcend race, but he may have to curtail that ideal and continue to work with that “handicap” as he, and other black males do on a daily basis.

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Respect for the office of POTUS is non existent

I’m not sure when this happened, but it seems like we, as Americans, don’t hold the office of President in the same respect as other countries view their leaders. In other countries, it would be an honor for the country’s leader to speak to the youth, while we ridicule here.  Why shouldn’t a president who achieved the dream millions of kids hold daily, and especially THIS President who sparked new dreams in people of color, speak to our youth on the value of education? My family is ride or die democratic. They were not in favor of EITHER Bush in office (that’s what she said).  I knew where they stood, but I also was taught to RESPECT the President whomever it may be, as he represents our country and its ideals. That’s why I got mad when people applauded dude who threw the shoe at Bush. YES it was hilarious, but to cosign someone attacking our President is disrespect to our country and makes us look bad. I agree that indoctrination of political ideologies have no place in the classroom. The president shouldn’t impose his political agenda on kids.  However, we must allow our President to serve as a role model for our kids to achieve great things, regardless of political affiliation

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SBM community what do you think of this issue? Did parents have a legitimate concern? Was this merely a political move from Obamas administration to deflect from healthcare? Are the problems deeper than rap race? Speak on it!

Streetz: Mr Write Now

Comment(41)

  1. This issue angered me so, I posted on it myself today. How is someone going to tell the President of the United States not to speak to American children? Ridiculous!

    No, the parents didn't have a legitimate concern. And I'm giving the side eye to parents who think a 15 minute speech from the Prez can override/skew the upbringing they are providing day in and day out for 18 years. Is your fear about the power of the President or your lack of parenting skills?

    I didn't see this as a political move by Obama, he has always been about the kids and probably thought it was a nice motivating message to kick off the school year. He forgot that he can't tie a shoelace without someone critiquing the size of the bow.

    And yes, it's deeper than race. It's about the haves suddenly becoming the have nots and losing their freaking minds over it. Okay, rant over. Good post.

  2. It's meant to be a total distraction. No one who took 5 minutes to actually read the speech would be able to maintain such ridiculous arguments except for arguing's sake. But the more we talk about it, the less we talk about health care reform and this depression we're in.

    I loved your point about him wanting to transcend race but needing to work with what he's got. The "transcending race" rhetoric of the eternally optimistic usually makes me want to vomit violently.

    1. Its that "transcending race" rhetoric that put a black man in the White House. Vomit all you want but w/o the "eternally optimistic," there isnt a whole lot of movement in regards to civil rights.

  3. It's very standard extreme-crazy Republican strategy. Indoctrination is ok ONLY if they are doing it.

    Providing funding for advanced directive education = "death panels." (Palin needs to be told to stfu)

    Obama talking to kids about education = facist.

    And most of all bipartisanship = making yourself a punk who will be manipulated, lied to and deceived.

    It's time Obama just starts shoving down his initiatives thru the throats of these crazies who question whether or not he's a real citizen.

    Sometimes you can't argue reason with unreasonable people. It's time for Obama to get the whuppin' stick and do it like our parents did to us as kids.

    1. But doesn't that contradict his promise of change? Him forcing agendas is more of the same. Should he look to work with more republicans or just say eff it? Won't he look like a hypocrite?

      1. Exactly. Thats why I think its fool's gold to go around preaching that ram his agenda through nonsense. Thats part of what everyone hated about Bush and now they want Obama to do it?

  4. I definitely agree Streetz. It was totally ridiculous and I honestly believe that even though there are multiple factors at play, race is the overreaching factor. As you stated, people are still angry that a black man won (many will say biracial, but mainstream America doesn't see that). To add to that, when you are black in any position, you are always going to be criticized more harshly, and that is what we are witnessing. It seems at every turn people have something negative to say, and if you dig deep enough, you will find out it’s just a pretext for exhibiting their own prejudices (and I’m not just talking about white people). I’m not saying everyone has to be in favor of every decision Pres. Obama makes, but much of the criticism I have heard are from people who never bother obtain correct information and appear to be continually searching for something negative. This “controversy” over his speech amplifies this point, especially since other presidents have spoken to school children before and there has never been this much uproar, especially before even hearing the speech.

    It’s interesting b/c he has not even been in office for a year and is criticized for absolutely everything, from giving a PC speech to students to taking a vacation. Yet, we had Bush in office for two terms and he created the mess we are in and most people were not very active in criticizing him until the 2008 elections were getting underway.

      1. "To add to that, when you are black in any position, you are always going to be criticized more harshly, and that is what we are witnessing."

        The POTUS is the most criticized job in the USA. I think regardless of race that would occur. you're also talking about a country that was under 8 years of GOP rule, so anytime the other side takes over there's an adjustment period.

        I do agree that Bush hate didnt happen REALLY until after 9/11, yet people did bitch a LOT when he <del>stole</del> won the election in 2000

        1. Hey Slim!! Yeah, work has been dominating most of my time.

          @ Streetz – "The POTUS is the most criticized job in the USA. I think regardless of race that would occur. you’re also talking about a country that was under 8 years of GOP rule, so anytime the other side takes over there’s an adjustment period."

          Although the Pres is always highly criticized, the criticism is heightened by Pres Obama's race. The silliness over his really PC speech to school children is a case in point. People were up in arms before they even knew what he was speaking about. No other Pres of the US has had to deal with that. I could go on with other examples, but it's pretty clear that there is a difference in how his actions are viewed.

  5. I don't think they had legitimate concerns… I remember watching quite a few addresses while in school.. How is anyone gonna turn your child into a communist (or whatever nifty word they are calling Obama now)? Obama talked to the kids for what, less than 30 minutes- you have a LIFETIME with them.

    It's just a sad excuse for, "I don't like our black president and don't want him talking to my kid."

      1. See- these fools in my parking garage at work had something painted on their car window that Obama was the new Hitler.. was he a commi???? I could have it all wrong- those terms always confuse me. lol

        1. No, Hitler was fascist (little f), not communist. Communism was fascism for the working class, Hitler's National Socialism was a racial fascism for Germans.

  6. i seriously think that race plays an issue in this case. had mccain won the election and he wanted to speak to the children of this country i couldn't imagine such an uproar. from either the GOP or democrats. smh.

  7. I read the speech and was like what's the big deal. You should be happy that president wanted to address your 15 year old third grader. I feel like the parents took the excitement away from their children by getting so upset. If only takes 30 minutes to erase what you've been teaching your children since they were expelled from the womb then maybe you're not doing a good job. I feel like President Obama can't pop his big toe without someone saying he's a communist or the reincarnation of Hitler.

  8. I totally agree with your last point especially. it is absolutely disrespectful and I'm pretty sure his race is the reason why people feel the need to be so blatant with theirs. There is no such thing as a post-racial America. The Bush shoe situation was that absolute worst and its a shame people didn't see that for what it was. I am not the most gung ho patriotic person out there but I even understood that Bush was representing the UNITED STATES, and now so is Obama. deal with it.

  9. There are many studies that say obesity is the most widespread disease in America. Those studies are wrong. Stupidity is. We live in a very stupid country. This has very little to do with education. It has everything to do with people being comfortable being part of the sheeple (cons. or lib.) and lacking the ability to independently reason. There is no way that anyone in their right mind thought that this man on the eve of a huge talk about healthcare was going to talk about health care. That's stupid from a political standpoint. Furthermore, there is also no reason to not allow your kids to see this man. As a very eloquent wht women said on the news, "I dont agree with his politics but the man is still inspirational and I want him to inspire my kids to do well in school".

    Racism is so engrained in our society we miss when it rears its ugly head.

  10. I definitely feel like people over reacted, and it is absolutely about his race. "Who does this black man think he is! He has no right to tell my children anything!" Like–seriously? I know that people would not have been up in arms had President George W. Bush made an address to their children. Quite frankly, I would be more concerned about Bush's message to kids. "You too can get only C's and D's in school and become President of the United States."–Along with the usual grammatical errors and misappropriation of phrases. I just don't see what the big deal is about our nation's first black president telling and inspiring our youth to do better in school. It's ridiculous and it pisses me off.

    1. Even with all of Bush's shortcomings I'd let my children see the Pres with NO hesitation! If I got the change to meet W I'd show him mad love and respect….well not MAD love but love, because he's OUR President. Im not going to bitch at how the elections turned out. Hell, I almost voted for him over Kerry (lets be real a lot of you almost voted for him too) lol. My main point being that its INCONDITIONAL RESPECT FOR THE OFFICE of the POTUS that we should all have as Americans!

      1. Son, if I got a chance to chill w/ W., we would go hard…shots, bong rips, a few games of spades…some cow tipping if time allows. When I saw pics of Bush drunk off his ass @ the Olympics and flirting w/ the volleyball players, I told myself then even though he was at that time the sh*ttiest prez ever, he looks like a great drinkin' buddy!

      2. I'm not saying that it would be wrong to let kids listen to Bush speak. I was more so saying that he noticeably had all of these "issues," (i.e. his lack of ability to communicate effectively, misconstruing facts etc.) but people wouldn't have had a problem with him addressing our nation's youth. I feel like there is a lot of disrespect thrown at President Obama because he is a black man and people don't like to see a black man out of his stereotypical "role." A black man is not supposed to be educated, let alone President of the United States. It scares the masses and they don't want him to have any type of influence over their kids.

    2. Bush read "My Pet Goat" while planes magically toppled the tallest buildings in New York. People were upset at O? Man…honestly, and it sounds cruel, but I'm waiting for some of these white haired idiots to die off and let us young folks change the mindset of this diseased country.

      1. @CPT Callamity " … I'm waiting for some of these white haired idiots to die off and let us young folks change the mindset of this diseased country."

        I am hoping for that too! Unfortunately, it will never happen. Those idiots just spawn mini-idiots who grow up to be just as dumb, greedy, selfish and racist.

  11. Just more tricks from the machine kid. Obama could raise Reagan from the dead and the right would still find something to say about it. Hopefully Obama has better timing in other aspects of his life, cuz he picked a hell of a time to be president. Not only are people pissed that we got a black commander in chief, but the Republican party as a whole has gotten significantly weaker, so naturally their first course of action would be to attack Obama all day. Why is the fact that he still smokes a cigarette every now and then relevant…how is that news? Sh*t, makes me feel good to know that if I bump into him boppin down the street, I can ask him to bum a square ( and then prepare to be thrashed by Secret Service). As observers, I think we just need to have the mind set that I'm assuming Obama already has…it's gon be a long 4 years…

  12. People superficially have a concern because most fascistic governments from Prussian Germany to Lyndon Johnson here in the US attempted to indoctrinate children via the schools. But anyone who either listened to or read Obama's speech that has an IQ over 90 could see Obama was simply stating to children that they need to educate themselves. In other words, the President is reinforcing the message any competent parent should be giving their child anyway, for which that parent should be grateful.

    There were no calls of allegiance to the president or country, or attempts to use his office to supersede the authority of parents, just a message for children to go to school and strive to be successful. In what manner is that fascist? Anyone who takes issue to that message is either a. stupid, b. racist, or c. have a level of fealty to the Republican party that they are completely brainwashed.

  13. I hate to play devil's advocate, but not lets not belabor over this subject too much without really getting some real talk going.

    Politics as usual

    No ones hands are clean here, Streetz. It's unfair to point the hand at either side. And actually, it's more appropriate to point the hand at the Democrats. They've been developing policy without the GOP included. That's just bad policy. Granted the GOP is acting like a bunch of babies, but nobody's hands are clean here. Blame goes to both sides equally. I just wrote a very insightful article on healthcare outlining the same thing, http://buppie.blogspot.com/2009/09/free-healthcar…. Check it out.

    Racism is still alive in 2009

    It is and you know what, if some parents want to keep their kids home because they don't like our Black president. It is not like Obama didn't know this would happen on his way into the Oval office. He and the rest of America should just deal.

    Respect for the office of POTUS is non existent

    The American people are going to need to blame themselves for this and i'll be damned if you claim a race card on this one. The fact of the matter is over the last two presidencies respect for the position has been non-existent… we've been more concerned with one President's sex life, totally invasive! And we've said to our national and to other nations that our President was incompetent for the last 8 years, that's just stupid. Now you expect people to show respect to a position that you've allowed to be debated. You can't have it both ways. We've destroyed the high horse that the POTUS used to sit on through our media and public opinion. Now Obama has to lay in the same bed as everyone else.

    1. Dr J,

      #1 I checked your article and i agree with certain points, however on THIS ISSUE THE RIGHT IS WRONG! and thats mY point

      #2 Its their right to do what they please with their kids but Im gonna call a spade a spade

      #3 Did you not see my point about Bush gettin A-sandal-nated? Its not about race, its about us as a people being jaded by the POTUS position and not showing it the respect it deserves. You can debate an office all you want but at the end of the day i never called for Bush to be impeached or murdered or other bs liek that. I RESPECT BUSH same way IRESPECT Clinton, as our PRESIDENT! That should be inherent to all americans. problem is we're a country born of immigrants and the curse is we'll still have family from the old country roasting the US… yet the fat that they can roast the USA here shows that their life here > their life anywhere else, adn they should remember that before disrespecting. Same way natural born citizens here act like the POTUS is a reality star. All I'm saying is show the office the respect it deserves. Maybe you didn't get that from my post but I hope you're clear now.

      1. First, let me say, I agreed with Obama's speech. Second, let me say, it's amazing how Obama starts talking about bootstrapping and now all these uppity negroes wanna hop onboard. Lest I hold you too long;

        Nah I agreed with you on all your points. Especially #3, I was just saying that to me we haven't respected the position for some time now. As it pertains to the right side being wrong, I can see points for both sides. I think it's really easy for us to say, "All Obama was trying to say is…" but at the same time, let's all think about this one.

        Obama is a very smart guy and an excellent orator. He knew exactly what he was saying when he wrote it, and he knew what the reaction was going to be. He knew that people would color his speech as politlcal, but he still made it anyway. So I would disagree with any of the people who have commented here or on other sites about the right side making this into something political when it was not. Obama knows the deal, so he already knew what was going to happen.

    2. I'll give you that no one's hands are clean, but these GOP cats been doin the ish for years and now they're mad they got the short straw. Republicans were in power for 40 years in NY state and as soon as they got bounced out the room, they started showin their asses. Every system has is its flaws and this one is no different, but if they GOP is not involved in the process, tough titties. That's what pluralism is about and this is the game they signed up to play, so they need to man up and take their L's. Bipartanship can only work if both sides play along. The Republicans wanna take their ball and go home, so f*ck em. The only reason we're still talkin' about this is because Obama is trying to extend an olive branch to these fools. If he was really a prick this bill woulda been law months ago, cuz the Republican yay or nay is insignificant.

  14. Well said Jeff. The problem w/Obama's speech is that he changed it in the 1st place. I have never been fond of the words our politicians use – whether democrat or republican. But I do believe in free speech and authority. As Chief of State, Head of the Union, President Obama has the right to say whatever he wants. I was forced to watch speeches given by American presidents even when I wasn't living in America. I didn't complain then and I don't see whence all these complaints are coming from now.

  15. Great post, Streetz! *hugs you for this post*

    "So I wondered why all the hate? Why the uproar? When I stepped out and looked at the bigger picture I thought of a few reasons why a simple speech caused this much controversy:"

    Yeah, those age-old fear tactics again. Big bad "socialist/communist" (do folks know the way to dictionary.com? Or Encyclopedia Britannica? Is there a yellow brick road to get there? Because this label is WAY too loosely thrown at our POTUS) Obama brainwashing our po' po' kids with with political agenda. Like, he's gonna send a subliminal message like those navy recuits did "Yavn eht nioj" on The Simpsons? The eff? Shut up, America. Shut up, shut up, SHUT. IT.

    "Racism is still alive in 2009"

    It truly is and if it's gonna take the ridiculousness goin on today for squeamish folks to see it and admit it, then so be it. Nominating a Black President does not a post-racial society make. Not even close.

    "Respect for the office of POTUS is non existent"

    This is TOO True. And I think the respect is even lessoning with our current one. Bush got his share of disrespect, but the things that are going on with Obama right now…the things that are SAID IN PUBLIC…ON NATIONAL TV (that will be eventually viewed by the world) would've been highly frowned upon back when our presidents were melonin-challenged.

  16. also was taught to RESPECT the President whomever it may be, as he represents our country and its ideals. That’s why I got mad when people applauded dude who threw the shoe at Bush. YES it was hilarious, but to cosign someone attacking our President is disrespect to our country and makes us look bad.

    If you have to throw in that you think the shoe throwing was hilarious, then you're not really respecting the office. Or at least you're respecting it begrudingly. Because if someone threw something at someone in a position I respected, i would not find it hilarious. What you mean is that you are pretending to respect the office while Bush is in it, or keeping your disrespect in check for appearance's sake. because something tells me if a shoe was thrown at Obama instead you suddenly wouldn't find it hilarious anymore.

    1. You need more people. My family have fallen down stairs. We werent happy about it but we definitely laughed afterwards. Ive had f*cked up things occur to me with women, life, work etc that i laugh about in hindsight. People make jokes about 9/11. That doesnt change the significance of their feelings. So PLEASE don't try to tell me what I mean because what i mean is clear. I criticise Obama like I criticized Bush, check the comments dude

  17. I think transgenders have equal rights as other children. Obama was right and i don’t understand why new president withdrew an earlier Obama guidance on protection of transgender students. Is it kind of challenge? All kids learn the same subjects, read same books and moreover are able writing an argumentative essay about why all people have rights! I wish all people become tolerant and civil. Let’s be a Human with a big H.

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