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Teach the children well.

September 7, 2009

President Obama is going to address school children across America on Tuesday.  There’s been a big uproar on the Right critical of the President’s plans.  Some parents are planning to pull their children out of class.

I’ve thought about this for the past week.  I don’t think that the problem is with the President speaking to school children.  President Bush did something similar in 1991.  (And I’ve read that Liberals had a fit.)  For me, the problem is that the Department of Education, in cooperation with the Whitehouse, produced suggested classroom activities.  After lots of negative reaction, some of those activities have been edited in what Michelle Malkin calls a “whitewashing” of the education guides.  They removed an activity calling for students to right a letter about how they can “help” the president.  Personally, I don’t think that’s enough.

The guides also suggest having children read about Barack Obama.  Why do children need to read about Obama’s personal history before they even learn about the Presidency in general and the American government?  And have you seen the available childrens books about Obama?  Very worshipful.

Obama is set to speak about the importance of education and working hard.  Isn’t that enough?  And aren’t teachers smart enough to plan their own classroom activities without directives from the federal government?

Why the focus on the President?  The activities focus on what the President wants students to do and how important the President is and why we must listen to the President and how can we do what the President is asking.  It’s just too much of the cult of personality.

And Mere Rhetoric points out the obligatory inclusion of self-esteem boosting:

I like the part about focusing on things that are “personally meaningful.” We wouldn’t want to miss out on a chance to reinforce vapid self-esteem pedagogy just because we’re also busy breathlessly urging kids to do something for the Dear Leader.

I would prefer that the students listen to the President and then talk about the expectations of their parents and teachers.  The time saved by avoiding all of the “Obama is wonderful” activities could be used to teach a bit of American History.

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