Friday, September 04, 2009

Obama's plan to talk to school kids met with fear and paranoia

No matter what your political affiliation, having your child be able to see and hear any president speak should be a great opportunity and something they will always remember.

On September 8, President Obama will be talking directly to students across the U.S. live on the White House website. Instead of looking at this as a positive thing for their children to hear a message from their President himself, Yahoo blogger Lili Ladaga tells us that “parents and conservatives are blasting the president, calling the speech an excuse to brainwash American children.” This idea is ludicrous. How will the country ever be a united country when ever attempt at bringing us together is treated with paranoia and distrust.

Presidents speaking directly to school children is nothing new as Ladaga points out:

Both Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan gave nationally televised speeches aimed specifically at students. In 1989, Bush delivered a televised anti-drug speech, and Reagan’s 1986 commencement speech and Q&A session was “beamed over public television into 171 school districts,” according to the L.A. Times

Was this brainwashing to have Bush warn of the dangers of drug use? Was it wrong for Reagan to tell young people to work hard in school in order to be good citizens? Republicans will say “well, that was different.” I think it could be considered brainwashing to have “I’m proud to be an American” piped in through my kids’ school sound system day after day after day while they were in elementary school. Now that IS brainwashing. Conservatives don’t think it’s brainwashing or indoctrination to keep “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance that kids have to say every day, but it is. The ones whining about Obama’s upcoming talk are the same ones who keep pushing for prayer in public school and for religion to be taught side-by-side with science, and don’t think there is anything wrong with that. But gasp, a liberal Democratic president telling their kids to stay in school and work hard and teachers asking for them to offer their ideas of how they can help the President is going to brainwash them?

All children whether they come from Democratic households or Republican should be able to think of something to offer as a suggestion to help the president, even if the Bible believing ones say “I will pray for him” (which is what they most likely will do.) This is not a brainwashing session. Some people and the media circus have been using fearmongering to make Obama look as if he is about to do something terrible to their children.

Now it would be wrong if teachers are forcing kids to draw posters supporting Obama’s issues, or making speeches promoting Obama’s stances, but is that really what is going to happen? Some conservatives I have talked to say that is exactly what they are worried about.

Here are some of the opinions about the whole thing:

“I sent my children to school to be educated NOT indoctrinated.” — justamom

[but it's okay to indoctrinate their kids in their churches] (my emphasis)

“The fact that people want to keep their kids from hearing the President of the United States encourage them to do well in school shows a true level of ignorance.” — Firefey

[Yes, indeed it does. They are afraid their child will be presented with another idea other than what they hear from home indoctrination.]

“As an [sic] 9th grade student, I’d like to say that 1. I’m not sure why everyone is so scared that we’ll all be brainwashed by the President … 2. My school is one that is not allowing us to watch the speech, and quite frankly, I’m pissed.” — Willbw

[High school students and older elementary school students are offended at not being allowed to hear what the president has to say and form their own opinions.]

Obama stated the intention of his talk last month:

I’m going to be making a big speech to young people all across the country about the importance of education; about the importance of staying in school; how we want to improve our education system and why it’s so important for the country. So I hope everybody tunes in.”

How is asking for ideas from the students themselves indoctrinating them? Why aren’t parents taking advantage of this opportunity to discuss with their children the pros and cons of the current educational system and what can be done to make it better instead of “indoctrinating” them with their own prejudices and fears.


Indiana said...

I have to wonder if the same negative backlash against his desire to speak to the children of the nation would be at the same level if he was white?

How much of the negativity about this simply is because of ingrained racism?

On one hand the conservative parties are playing very close to a class war and on the other they are almost readying themselves for a race one.

Stardust said...

I think that the conservatives would have a paranoid tizzy fit whoever the Democratic president would have been. With Bush having eight years in office with all of the fearmongering that has gone on for nearly a decade, this is just leftover fearfulness and paranoia that has been instilled in their fundamentalist conservative brains.

However, I do know a couple people personally who do not like Obama because of what race he is, and that is just pure ignorance. If they want to say he is inexperienced, I can accept that. But to say he is unqualified because of the color of his skin, I cannot accept that and will not accept that.

Baconeater said...

The marginalized Religious Right continues to embarrass America day after day now.
They are completely hypocritical and drastically border on being anti-American.
No substance, only rhetoric. "We hate what America has become" equals "we hate America."

Reddog said...

It's interesting that the author addresses the fundamental problem that the parents are having not with President Obama's speech but the Department of Education's material that was sent out to accompany the President's speech as a guide/lesson plan... a lack of critical thinking. The author states, "Why aren’t parents taking advantage of this opportunity to discuss with their children the pros and cons..." I will ask the same question " Why did the Department of Education not send a lesson plan/guide that encourages critical thinking but instead asks "what can the children do to "help President Obama?"
I'm also sick and tired of everyone bringing race into the mix. I would have a problem with any President - black, white, red, green, liberal, or conservative who attempts to sway children to their policy ideas. Reagan was wrong to bring policy into his speech though I can't fault him for answering the kids questions honestly. I would expect the same from any President to include President Obama.

Stardust said...

" Why did the Department of Education not send a lesson plan/guide that encourages critical thinking but instead asks "what can the children do to "help President Obama?"

Who says there needs to be a lesson plan/guide for critical thinking? That is what open discussion should be about. I think conservatives are just afraid the brainwashing they have done to their children thus far in the homes will be interrupted and the child might just form some opinions of his or her own that may not be in agreement with the parents'.

Reagan was wrong to bring policy into his speech though I can't fault him for answering the kids questions honestly. I would expect the same from any President to include President Obama.

If you don't fault Reagan for answering kids questions honestly, then why would you have a problem with Obama answering kids questions honestly? What do you think that Obama is going to tell the children? To grow up to be Democratic socialists? To not listen to their parents? To not be good citizens? To drop out of school and become hippies and live in communes? No...too much fearmongering is being perpetuated by paranoid and angry conservatives who will find fault with Obama or any Democratic president no matter what he does.

If I was a high school student I would be highly insulted that adults would not think I was intelligent enough to listen and form my own questions and opinions. This is no different than watching the news or hearing public speeches that Obama gives all the time. Do these conservative parents not allow their children hear what their president has to say? If so, then that is very is brainwashing in the home. Teaching your children to have a closed mind.

Obama has children of his own. He is a father, he has done nothing to deserve the fear and paranoia that parents are attempting to put into their kids heads.

Bush was an alcoholic, his daughters did some pretty wild things while they were in school. But he gave a speech to all students at the beginning of the school year, Reagan was a movie actor and who knows what skeletons he had in his closet. But no one was screaming for Reagan to not address school kids. At no time before have I heard an outcry from parents that they did not want their children to see the President of the United States speak no matter what party he belonged to. What can one think with all the hoopla about Obama talking to kids? He is a black president, and our first black president and now conservatives, especially in the southern Bible Belt are having a problem with it.

Stardust said...

Also, when I was a child back in the early 60s I was given an assignment about "how I can help the president". And we talked about various ways to help. No one was screaming about it then.

What are you conservative parents afraid of? We did not hear any outcry or complaint from the liberals when Bush and Reagan gave their "stay in school" speeches and my kids were often talking about ways to support the president in their social studies classes. I seriously do not know what all the paranoia is about. Too afraid to let your kids have their own opinion is what I think.

Now that my kids are adults, I have one liberal, one moderate, and one neocon...they all came to their own conclusions and I respect their decisions that they have made via their own thinking after considering all sides.

Reddog said...

Stardust - I can see that having a debate will be useless. You have drank the kool-aide. I'm not a conservative - I'm a moderate. I can see both sides of the story. I don't think either side is right on this issue. I absolutely think the President should speak to the students about staying in school, helping the community, etc. What I had a problem with is the material sent by the Department of Education. Overall, your response shows that you have the same problem as the conservatives who are making this into something its not - you are so blinded by your hatred of the beliefs of the other side you can no longer look at the situation from another's perspective.

Startdust wrote, "If you don't fault Reagan for answering kids questions honestly, then why would you have a problem with Obama answering kids questions honestly?"

President Obama is not doing a question and answer period. It is purely a speech so it is not the same situation as with President Reagan who not only delivered a speech but did a question and answer period with students thru C-SPAN.

If your Children experienced classes that talked about "what you could do to support the President" I'm sorry. They shouldn't have had to. What they should of have had is an open discussion about "How can you support your community?" for Social Studies/Government classes maybe "How could you become a better citizen?" Support for any political figure speaks to politicking in the classroom. It gives the impression to impressionable children that only the President's ideas are the right one's to support. I have sat thru classes in High School and University where the teacher/Professor was clearly only providing one side of the story and watching students believe just that side of the story. If you attempt to question - they are indignant that you would dare to question them. So, yes, I absolutely believe that there are teachers/Professors only interested in teaching their politics. Scary thing is that they don't either see anything wrong with it or they don't realize they are doing because they believe that there is only the one side.

Bush was a recovering alcoholic - his daughters did nothing that Chelsea Clinton didn't do while at Standford (I was there and know what didn't hit the news). And your smarmy statement about President Reagan shows your ignorance. I'm sure you don't want a list of all the foibles of Democratic Presidents both before and during office....None come to the office perfect.

Stardust said...

First of all, reddog, let's get one thing straight. I do not hate people who hold religious beliefs. I do not believe as they do, and believe they are needing some kind of crutch to get through life and religion offers that, but I do not hate the believers. Most people in my family are some variety of Christian and I love them dearly.

I do see your point about the teaching materials, and while I would not prohibit my children from seeing and listening to the President's speech, you can send a note to school asking that your child not participate in the classroom activity, or if your child is in high school ask the child if they want to participate or not. In high school they are practically adults and should be able to make that determination for themselves.

I still maintain though that people are making way too big of a deal out of this.

What is it do you think that Obama is going to brainwash your child with? What do you think that the schools are going to brainwash your child with? Tell them to get pregnant and have abortions to their heart's content? Have gay sex? What are you afraid that the teachers are going to tell them?
Do you have any specifics except what you imagine might happen?

What do you think the children are going to say when they express how they can help the president? We are all asked to work together when a president is elected. He cannot do the job by himself. Many people choose to support the president with prayer...which is maybe something that a child might say is a way they can help to support the president. "Support" doesn't mean agree means give support in his decision making by offering opinions, ideas and simply thinking of him while he does his job.

My point about bringing up Bush and Reagan's background is that no one squawked and whined when they gave their speeches. No one squawks and whines when God Bless America is piped into the school buildings each morning and kids stand at attention with their hands over their hearts making promises to the Flag under a god that they may not believe in. No one complains when Proud to be an American is the school song (it is in our town...God Bless the USA). Schools are already filled with political nationalist propaganda that no one ever whines about.

Do you take your child to church for indoctrination and not have a problem with it? Do they obediently sing the hymns and read the confessional prayers about how very bad they are and ask forgiveness from the god you believe in? Parents do that every day and don't have a problem with it. But present them with other ideas and beliefs and parents bristle at just the thought.

Who is really drinking the kool aid, reddog? Certainly not me.

Stardust said...

And another point I want to make. Why aren't people in an uproar about the state of the education system itself? Kids get As and don't deserve them and parents are okay with it because they want their kid to have an A report card and pay no attention if they really know and understand the material. They don't scream and holler when they are taught Bowling rules in PE class and the PE grade is worked into their GPA. They don't say anything when a teacher who teaches U.S. Government marks answers correct on the test for graduation when the answers are wrong. No one cares if Johnny can't read as long as he somehow passes along in the system. No one questions anything but have a teachers ask the kids themselves what they can do to improve things and help a gasp...Democratic president make things better, you people have a cow.

We were not happy with the state of education in our "Blue Ribbon" and nationally recognized school district so out kids opted to skip high school and went straight to community college. At the community college we cut the bullshit and they got away from the other students who were treated like infants by their parents and teachers. At the community college they were free to read and listen to current news and events and discuss them freely and openly. No one telling them they were not allowed to hear what THEIR President has to say to them.

Hearing the President speak and being asked what they can do to help and make their world and education better is not a bad thing. After all, it's their lives.

Andrea said...

If there's anyone willing to engage and discuss things with people who have different opinions or beliefs, it's Star. So don't come here like a jackass and call her something she isn't.