We are so pleased to bring you this guest post by Chester County Mom, Yvonne Wright. Yvonne shares with us the highlights of the issues surrounding the back-to-school speech that President Obama is planning to deliver tomorrow. Read her summary and let us know what you think!
Some children won’t be watching President Barack Obama’s live back-to-school address to students tomorrow despite the Department of Education’s effort in touting the event as a “historic” speech.
Obama plans to speak directly to students about the need to work hard and stay in school. His address will be shown live on the White House Web site and on C-SPAN at noon.
Some parents and conservatives are calling the speech an excuse to “brainwash” American children. Parents across the region have voiced their objection to president’s possible political agenda in delivering the speech, and question the intent of a classroom activity that the federal government provides. In the text of the speech released today, however, Obama avoids any mention of controversial political initiatives. He repeatedly urges students to work hard and stay in school.
“No matter what you want to do with your life, I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it,” he says. “This isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country.”
“This isn’t a policy speech,” said Sandra Abrevaya, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education. “It’s designed to encourage kids to stay in school. The choice on whether to show the speech to students is entirely in the hands of each school. This is absolutely voluntary.”
Some districts have gone so far as to implement special policies for handling delicate topics. Others have encouraged teachers to gauge whether Obama’s text dovetails with a future civics lesson.
Todd Parker, curriculum supervisor for social studies in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, said to the Philadelphia Inquirer last week that he is hearing from parents on both sides of the issue. “We will not broadcast the speech live in our schools, based on the timing of the speech, and we want to let teachers review the speech first to see if it fits into their curriculum,” he said. However, if connections to the curriculum or benefits for instruction are identified, the speech may be aired to classes at a later date.
The speech will be broadcast at schools within the Downingtown and Unionville-Chadds Ford school district but the districts have offered parents the option to opt-out by writing a note to their child’s teacher requesting that their child refrain from participating.
“Downingtown is not biased in any way and in fact we are very respectful toward the leader of our nation. We teach American government and civics as a course of study,” said Downingtown Superintendent Dr. Larry Mussoline. “An opportunity like this provides our students with an opportunity to use 21st century skills. Those skills being critique, critical thinking, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. We look forward to using this opportunity to involve our students in higher level thinking. This is a great teachable moment,” he said.
A lesson plan guide for pre-K through grade 6 suggests questions students think about during the speech, such as “What is the President trying to tell me? What is the President asking me to do?”
The plan for grades 7-12 includes a “guided discussion,” with suggested topics: “What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What is President Obama inspiring you to do?”
“We do not believe it [the speech] is inappropriate for our students. However, we are allowing individual classroom teachers and principals to decide when, how, or if to view the address with students. It should last only 15 to 20 minutes, and classes will not be participating in the additional activities the White House has suggested. Instead, we will resume our normal curriculum,” said Dr. Jim Scanlon, Superintendent of the
Both Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan both gave speeches aimed specifically at students that were nationally televised. In 1989, Bush delivered a televised anti-drug speech, and Reagan delivered a 1986 commencement speech.
“As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education — it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality,” said
“I think we’ve reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the
Sound off. What are you feeling about President Obama delivering this speech to your children?