Schools React to Obama Proposed Speech to Students

"This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation's school children"

By Steve Rhodes
|  Friday, Sep 4, 2009  |  Updated 8:47 AM CDT
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Obama's Littlest Constituents

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President Obama wants to talk to your kids.

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Obama's Message of Responsibility, Education Draws Ire of Parents

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President Obama will welcome the nation's children back to school next week in a live Webcast that the White House wants beamed directly into America's classrooms.

And that has some parents - and students - a bit jittery.

So much so that at least a handful suburban Chicago school districts are "clarifying their positions" on how to handle the programming, according to the Daily Herald.

Students in Barrington Unit District 220, for example, will be able to excuse themselves if they -- or their parents -- think they're just getting a dose of North Korea-style propaganda.

In another example found by the Daily Herald, Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 issued guidelines allowing teachers to voluntarily show the Webcast - it will also be broadcast on C-SPAN - but not mandating it.

If all of this seems a little silly, it is.

"As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology," says Jim Greer, the president of the Republican Party of Florida, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Yes. Millions of schoolchildren will come home that day spouting Marxist rhetoric about collective farming.

On the other hand, it's always touchy when a politician -- even a president -- inserts himself into the schools.

And this is a first.

"This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation's school children about persisting and succeeding in school,'' Education Secretary Arne Duncan said.

There's a reason for that. Many liberal parents surely did not want George W. Bush near their kids' brains.

Still, Obama's message may be inspirational.

It will also likely be forgotten by the end of the day.

And that's why neither side should get too excited about it.

On the other hand, pumping Obama's joint speech to Congress about health care next week into the schools could have real educational value.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review.

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