This is a guest post from Chester County Mom, Yvonne Wright, following up on her piece from Monday outlining the controversy surrounding the presidential address to school children.
President Barack Obama urged school children Tuesday to rise above their mistakes and challenges to succeed in school, offering himself as an example of “a goof-off” who went on to turn his life around, work hard and ultimately make good.
Obama talked about some of the challenges and problems students face during their school careers. He told school children that with success, they should also be prepared for failure. “You can’t let failures define you,” he said. “You have to let them teach you. I expect great things of all of you, so don’t let us down.”
The topic got parents and conservatives around the country buzzing, fearing the president was pushing his agenda. Many who initially opposed the discussion later had a change of heart following the Department of Education’s posting of the script for parents to view, discuss and decide for themselves if they wanted their children to take part in the discussion.
“I didn’t vote for Barack Obama. I also oppose his health care plan … However, the furor over President Obama’s speech today to the school children of America is ludicrous. I have read the entire speech, and there simply is nothing wrong with it. Not only is the response of the right to the speech overblown, but so is the response of the left to the right,” wrote Daniel Weaver of the Examiner.com.
“I don’t think it was his opposition that was opposed to him speaking. I think the controversy was that it was a lot of democrats that felt he shouldn’t speak! I am a republican, but can appreciate a President talking to our children about their education,” said Theresa a mother of three.
“I supported Obama, but even if I had not supported the current president, I would want my child to be allowed to see and discuss the president’s speech,” said Rachel, a mother of a school-age daughter.
“I think any President of the U.S. has the right to address school children of this country without having his attempt to motivate the future generation hijacked as a political tool by his opposition. Just wish he would’ve waited until today when my kids were back to school, Karen, a mother of two pre-teen girls.
“I wonder if there is a fear that kids will turn away from their parents’ belief system if they see Obama speak too much. They can keep him off their home TVs, but they can’t keep him out of the schools. My daughter came away excited about school, admiring her president and happy for her future. What is wrong with that?” said Cheryle.
“I was very impressed with Mr. Obama and know that my students got the message and appreciated the opportunity to hear him speak. I am disgusted by all of the criticism. What parent would not want the message “be responsible and do your part to achieve” for their kids? I am disappointed that in today’s world we still have people who can’t see past the color of his skin,” said Pamela, a teacher.
Still, some schools in the area decided to halt the address.
Coatesville Area School District waited until Wednesday to air the speech, according to a message from Superintendent Richard Como that was posted to the district’s Web site.
“The delay in viewing this speech is necessitated by the fact that many of our students are in lunch at the appointed time and would be unable to view the speech in its entirety,” the message says. “Moving the video presentation to a more appropriate time permits all students who wish to view the speech to do so in total.”
In the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District, individual teachers were asked to review the speech first to see whether it had connections with the curriculum. If the teachers believe the speech supports their curriculum, they may choose to use it at a later date.
Downingtown Area School District Superintendent Larry Mussoline, however, characterized the speech as a “great teachable moment” in a letter posted to the district’s Web site. He said that Downingtown “is not biased in any way and in fact we are very respectful toward the leader of our nation.”