stephanie jones

Fear and Rage over Obama’s Speech to Students

In democracy, discourse, family-school relations, NCLB, politics, Standing up for Kids on September 4, 2009 at 12:28 pm

Fear not, dear citizens, for President Obama’s speech to public school students will not be the introduction of socialist values to public schools. Indeed, the very creation of public education did that for us all many decades ago.

And do not worry, respectable neighbors, that President Obama’s speech to students will indoctrinate young minds according to the whims of our federal government. One speech cannot outweigh the billions of dollars spent annually on federally-supported curricular materials to prepare our students to fill in the correct bubbles on federally-mandated tests. The indoctrination is well under way.

No fretting either, concerned parents, about the potential loss of freedom and liberty in our schools or society due to the President’s remarks next week. We incarcerate more people than any other country on the globe and we have (nearly) successfully handcuffed teachers to scripted classroom routines and rigid curriculum. There is nothing President Obama can say in one speech that will change this state of our freedom and liberty one way or the other.

Censorship teaches fear and extremism. Expecting that all people living in a democratic society can, and should, engage in informed and thoughtful dialogue around issues important to our local, regional, national, and global lives teaches one of the responsibilities of living in a democratic society.

If lively dialogue happens in schools and homes next week as a result of Obama’s speech, then we can all be relieved that our youth can do what’s necessary to resist indoctrination and remake freedom and liberty – and that our schools might actually be a powerful part of that educational experience.

  1. I love this post. Completely. Thank you, Stephanie. 🙂

  2. Thanks Grace. Lately I feel like I’m drowning in a sea of “ugliness” as a native southerner might say. It is simply unbelievable that such a loud collective (but minority) voice is taking control over airwaves, public schools, and our very democratic rights and responsibilities.

    Our local paper ran a version of this post yesterday – and since our local elementary schools were not allowed to show the speech live, Hayden and I went downtown to an independent theater that was showing it. Our dinner conversation last night revolved around the purpose of public schooling and the importance of being a thoughtful, informed citizen. At least for us, the controversy over the speech (that in many ways I found lacking in passion and message – probably a result of all the controversy) produced a great opportunity to talk about “American” ideals with our seven year old.


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