In an ideal world, we should not rush to criticize the head of state of a country asking to address the nation’s schoolchildren. So, to a certain extent, I agree with the folks as Founding Bloggers who offered that they saw
. . . nothing wrong with a presidential address to students. Context is everything though, and the Department of Education’s suggested activities and exercises provide an abundant supply of context.
But, when you look at the initial talking points offered by the Administration, you see a highly troubling context. And the changes they offer make the initial intent more manifest–to enlist children in promoting the president’s agenda
The White House has re-written its activist talking points for teachers/administrators disseminated by the US Department of Education and removed the language about “helping the president.”
Until the public outcry, we saw the President of the United States using his office to enlist American schoolchildren in helping him.
Still, even with the more “anodyne” talking points, this represents using school time for a project of questionable academic merit. Following this controversy online while staying at my brother’s house, I have gotten an earful from my sister-in-law (who is also mother to a smart young blogger):
If you want children to watch this, encourage them to do this at home where they can watch with their parents. And if there’s any issue of discussion, do it at home. But, don’t take up academic time . . . . Too much of our education is taken up with social causes. We need to educate our children.
She distinguishes the President’s planned talk next week from 9/11 when she thought it appropriate to take time out from class for students to watch TV news coverage given that “we were all so shocked.” This, however, is “not an issue of singular national importance.”
No, this is not the time for a President to deliver a special, nearly unprecedented address to schoolchildren. It might be appropriate were we at war. But, given the heat this has generated in the “rightosphere,” the President knows people are paying attention–as we have seen by the White House decision to amend its talking points.
And because people are paying attention, I would daresay that he will now not use it to promote his agenda–as he initially may have intended. In the end, his remarks, as the revised talking points, may become quite anodyne. And that wouldn’t be so bad. But, why take away valuable teaching time for a banal address from a self-important chief executive?
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