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It's Not Paranoid or Sinister to Question Presidential Worship in Schools

Some friends of mine whom I respect and admire have been posting newspaper editorial headlines on Facebook declaring:

Reaction to Obama’s school speech is tragic, sinister and sickening

Calls to boycott Obama’s speech to kids offer a disturbing lesson in paranoia

It’s difficult to react to the substance of the speech to be broadcast to America’s classrooms on Tuesday, because the text of the speech hasn’t been released yet (wait ’til tomorrow). But the government’s lesson plans for teachers in grades K-6 and 7-12 have been made available by the Department of Education. In these plans, the Obama administration encourages teachers to ask these leading questions before and after Obama’s speech:

Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor?

How will he inspire us?

How will he challenge us?

What do you think the president wants us to do?

Does the speech make you want to do anything?

Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?

What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech?

Is President Obama inspiring you to do anything?

These questions are worded with fawningly positive assumptions regarding Barack Obama and his speech, assuming inspiration, assuming resonance, assuming a bracing challenge. Closed questions assuming some desired attitude don’t promote critical thinking; they promote herd thinking. If you’re a Democrat and don’t understand what the problem is, try substituting “Bush” for Obama, imagine it’s the year 2004. Now see how you feel about the questions.

I don’t appreciate our government encouraging hero worship among children with these kind of leading questions, not when it’s done for a president who I mostly disagree with and not when it’s done for a president who I mostly agree with. I don’t think it’s “paranoid” or “sinister” for people to object to it either. It’s amusing to me that the same folks who demanded we follow the president as a test of patriotism have found their spines with their party out of power. It’s sad to me that the same folks who four years ago declared that “dissent is the highest form of patriotism” demonize dissent now.

22 comments to It's Not Paranoid or Sinister to Question Presidential Worship in Schools

  • qs

    It’s also interesting that MoveOn.org and Code Pink are no longer supporting Cindy Sheehan’s camp Casey, which she relocated to Martha’s Vineyard to protest Obama. Why did they agree to join in during when Bush was in charge?

    Kind of makes me think the antiwar movement was actually an anti-Bush movement.

    Of course Bush got us into it all so that excuses it to some extent.

    It’s still worth noting though that MoveOn and Codepink are not just not attending due of lack of enthusiasm or anything like that, but instead, they are committed to Obama’s plan for Afghanistan and Iraq and oppose Sheehan. Well makes you wonder for a moment anyway.

  • ReMarker

    Jim says, ” try substituting “Bush” for Obama”.

    “Obama” has been replaced with “BUSH” in the following text per Jim’s K-6 and 7-12 links. I removed the date in the text.

    Menu of Classroom Activities

    President “BUSH’S” Address to Students Across America (PreK?6)

    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education

    Before the Speech

    Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and “GEORGE W. BUSH”. Teachers could motivate students by asking the following questions:
    Who is the President of the United States?
    What do you think it takes to be president?
    To whom do you think the president is going to be speaking?
    Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
    What do you think he will say to you?

    Teachers can ask students to imagine that they are delivering a speech to all of the students in the United States.
    If you were the president, what would you tell students?
    What can students do to help in our schools?
    Teachers can chart ideas about what students would say.

    Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

    During the Speech

    As the president speaks, teachers can ask students to write down key ideas or phrases that are important or personally meaningful. Students could use a note?taking graphic organizer such as a “cluster web;” or, students could record their thoughts on sticky notes. Younger children could draw pictures and write as appropriate. As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following:
    What is the president trying to tell me?
    What is the president asking me to do?
    What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about?

    Students could record important parts of the speech where the president is asking them to do something. Students might think about the following:
    What specific job is he asking me to do?
    Is he asking anything of anyone else?
    Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?

    Students could record questions they have while he is speaking and then discuss them after the speech. Younger children may need to dictate their questions.

    Menu of Classroom Activities (PreK?6)
    President “BUSH’S” Address to Students Across America

    After the Speech

    Teachers could ask students to share the ideas they recorded, exchange sticky notes, or place notes on a butcher?paper poster in the classroom to discuss main ideas from the speech, such as citizenship, personal responsibility, and civic duty.

    Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
    What do you think the president wants us to do?
    Does the speech make you want to do anything?
    Are we able to do what President “BUSH” is asking of us?
    What would you like to tell the president?
    Extension of the Speech
    Teachers could extend learning by having students:

    Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants, puzzle pieces, or trails marked with the following labels: personal, academic, community, and country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in that area. It might make sense to focus first on personal and academic goals so that community and country goals can be more readily created.

    Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short?term and long?term education goals. Teachers would collect and redistribute these letters at an appropriate later date to enable students to monitor their progress.

    Write goals on colored index cards or precut designs to post around the classroom.

    Interview one another and share goals with the class to create a supportive community.

    Participate in school?wide incentive programs or contests for those students who achieve their goals.

    Write about their goals in a variety of genres, such as poems, songs, and personal essays.

    Create artistic projects based on the themes
    (This is the end of the K-6 instructions).

    Menu of Classroom Activities

    President “BUSH’S” Address to Students Across America (Grades 7?12)

    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education

    Before the Speech

    Conduct a “quick write” or “think/pair/share” activity with students. (In the latter activity, students spend a few minutes thinking and writing about the question. Next, each student is paired with another student to discuss. Finally, the students share their ideas with the class as a whole). Teachers may choose to ask the following questions:
    What ideas do we associate with the words “responsibility,” “persistence,” and “goals?”
    How would we define each term?
    Teachers then may choose to create a web diagram of student ideas for each of the words.

    Have students participate in a “quick write” or brainstorming activity. Teachers may ask students:
    What are your strengths?
    What do you think makes you successful as a student and as a person?

    Teachers may engage students in short readings. Teachers may post in large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President “BUSH’S” speeches on education. Teachers might ask students to think alone, compare ideas with a partner, or share their thoughts with the class. Teachers could ask students to think about the following:
    What are our interpretations of these excerpts?
    Based on these excerpts, what can we infer that the president believes is important in order to be educationally successful?

    Create a “concept web.” Teachers may ask students to think of the following:
    Why does President “BUSH” want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?
    How will he challenge us?
    What might he say?
    Do you remember any other historic moments when the president spoke to the nation?
    What was the impact?
    After brainstorming answers to these questions, students could create a “cause?and?effect” graphic organizer.

    Menu of Classroom Activities (Grades 7?12)

    President “BUSH’S” Address to Students Across America

    During the Speech

    Teachers might conduct a “listening with purpose” exercise based on the following ideas: personal responsibility, goals, and persistence. Teachers might ask pairs of students to create a word bank at the top of a notes page that has been divided into two columns. On the right?hand side, students could take notes (trying to capture direct quotations or main ideas) while President “BUSH” talks about personal responsibility, goals, or persistence. At the end of the speech, students could write the corresponding terms from the word bank in the left?hand column, to increase retention and deepen their understanding of an important aspect of the speech.

    Teachers might conduct a “listening with purpose” exercise based on the themes of inspiration and challenges. Using a similar double?column notes page as the one described above, teachers could focus students on quotations that either propose a specific challenge to them or that inspire them in some meaningful way. Students could do this activity individually, in pairs, or in groups.

    Transition/Quick Review

    Teachers could ask students to look over their notes and collaborate in pairs or small groups. Teachers might circulate and ask students questions, such as:
    What more could we add to our notes?
    What are the most important words in the speech?
    What title would you give the speech?
    What is the thesis of the speech?
    After the Speech

    Guided Discussion:

    What resonated with you from President “BUSH’S” speech? What lines or phrases do you remember?

    Whom is President “BUSH” addressing? How do you know? Describe his audience.

    We heard President “BUSH” mention the importance of personal responsibility. In your life, who exemplifies this kind of responsibility? How? Give examples.

    How are the individuals in this classroom similar? How is each student different?

    Suppose President “BUSH” were to give another speech about being educationally successful. To whom would he speak? Why? What would the president say?

    What are the three most important words in the speech? Rank them.

    Is President “BUSH” inspiring you to do anything? Is he challenging you to do anything?

    What do you believe are the challenges of your generation?

    How can you be a part of addressing these challenges?
    Video Project:

    Teachers could encourage students to participate in the U.S. Department of Education’s “I Am What I Learn” video contest. On September 8, the Department of Education will invite students age 13 and older to submit a video no longer than two minutes in length, explaining why education is important and how education will help them achieve their dreams. Teachers are welcome to incorporate the same or a similar video project into a classroom assignment. More details will be released via http://www.ed.gov.

    Menu of Classroom Activities (Grades 7?12)

    President “BUSH’S” Address to Students Across America

    Transition/Quick Review

    Teachers could introduce goal?setting activities in the following way to make the most of extension activities:
    “When you set a goal, you envision a target that you are going to reach over time. Goals are best when they are “Challenging,” “Attainable,” and “Needed” (CAN). For example, a good goal might be: ‘I want to boost my average grade by one letter grade this year so I can show colleges that I am prepared.’ But, every good goal also needs steps that guide the way. These steps keep you on track toward achieving your goal. For example, my first step might be improving in all of my subjects by one letter grade. My second step might be completing 100?percent of my homework in all of my classes during the first week of school. My third step might be taking an extra hour to study for all of my tests during each marking period. My fourth step might be attending a tutoring session or getting an adult to help me whenever I do not understand something. My last step might be the most important: asking an adult in my life to check on me often to make sure that I am completing each of my steps. Your steps should add up to your goal. If they don’t, that’s okay; we fix them until they do!
    Let’s hear another example of an academic goal for the year and decide what steps would help to achieve that goal…
    Now I want you to write your personal academic goal for this year and the steps that you will take to achieve it. We can revise our steps each marking period to make sure we are on track.”

    Extension of the Speech

    Teachers could extend learning by having students:

    Create decorated goals and steps on material that is the size of an index card. The index cards could be formatted as an inviting graphic organizer with a space for the goal at the top and several steps in the remaining space. Cards could be hung in the classroom to create a culture of goal setting, persistence, and success, and for the purpose of periodic review. (See the “Example Handout” section.)

    Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants, puzzle pieces, or trails marked as steps. These also could be hung around the room, to be reviewed periodically and to create a classroom culture of goal setting and for the purpose of periodic review.

    Interview and share their goals with one another and the class, establishing community support for their goals.

    Create incentives or contests for achieving their personal goals.

    Write about goals and the steps to achieve them in a variety of genres such as poems, songs, or personal essays.

    Create artistic representations of goals and the steps to achieve them.

    My conclusion:
    I don’t see critical thinking and herd thinking as an “either/or” when substituting Pres. Obama’s name with Pres. Bush’s name. It is true any president of the U.S. will produce a “suck up” responce from people that support him/her, but in a classroom, there will undoubtedly be anti-”suck ups”, thereby generating a vigious debate.

    Imo, had Pres. Bush done the same thing as Pres. Obama is doing in his “school address” set up (“Menu of Classroom Activities”), an anti-Bush movement among young people may have started earlier than it did with Pres. Obama during his campaign to win the office of the presidency.

    • Jim

      But don’t the leading questions bother you? ;)

      • ReMarker

        Yeah it bothered me until I superimposed Bush’s name in Obama’s place then, he he.

        Check it out.

        “Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and “GEORGE W. BUSH”.

        -Many books about “W” are not very flattering. The public knowledge of Bush is not very flattering. Can you imagine a classroom discussion about “W”?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3JdcnFZIJw&feature=related

        Questions and some answers:
        What do you think it takes to be president? Be the son of a President.
        To whom do you think the president is going to be speaking? Nobody, including Bush knows.
        Why do you think he wants to speak to you? He is probably after campaign money or my parent’s votes.
        What do you think he will say to you? Hahahaha, HE doesn’t even know what he will say.
        What is the president trying to tell me? (You put an answer).

        I think you probably see, substituting Bush for Obama cracked me up. In the final analysis, I would love to see and/or hear student’s reactions to and discussions of President Obama. I would love to see and/or hear student’s reactions to and discussions of President Bush more.

        If the student’s discussed things like race, environment, war, etc., then I expect the students would be wiser for having those conversations.

        My bottom line? I don’t think it does damage, but THAT would depend on the teacher.

  • qs

    I think Bill O’Reilly was the one who suggested that Obama address the students last month. I don’t know if Obama was listening, but now Bill has gone on vacation and Laura Ingraham has been there who doesn’t want to address as the substitute host.

    Or so I’ve read. i don’t normally watch any cabal news unless it’s a highlight on the internet.

  • qs

    God…

    The dems will go down hard in 2010, and Obama will probably win in 2012 but who knows. We might get the crazies back in charge.

    National Review has an article up talking about how Iraq and Afghanistan were possibly a mistake, but the conclusion is, as Joe writes LRC, not that it needs to be a law enforcement issues but that…

    “UPDATE: Joe writes, “At the end of the article, NR concludes that they failed because they weren’t brutal enough. The writer wants to trash nation-building and just kill as many Islamists as possible. Of course, they’ve been doing that all along.”

    Why does the GOP have to be such a psychopath party?

  • ReMarker

    I ask forgiveness instead of permission for posting such a long commentary, but the wisdom of the words are exceptionally impressive.

    This commentary is written by Caroline Myss, posted here, and titled;

    “Crimes Against the Soul of America”.
    There is such a thing as a crime against the soul of a nation. A person or a political party can deliberately incite actions that diminish the strength, the integrity, and the overall well-being of a nation’s inner core. America’s soul is in a fragile state. It has suffered severe violations over the course of this past decade and to lesser degrees, in previous decades. Through the years, the essential integrity of America has been eroded for various reasons but never was it so violated as during the Bush administration. The endless lies, the deceitful years of propaganda that flowed from the West Wing that fed the media, the bogus reasons for setting the Middle East on fire, and converting this country into a corporate state for personal gain are crimes that shattered the soul of this nation more deeply than we have even begun to realize — if we ever will. The consequences of puncturing the soul of a nation are witnessed in countless ways. For example, there is a decline in the integrity of leadership and a growing apathy on the part of the public to care about keeping watch over its leaders. The nation ceases to produce statesmen or stateswomen. The best the public can do is to send semi-qualified individuals to Washington whose capacity to hold to their promises collapse within minutes of unpacking in their new offices. As for the old guard, they are worn out good old boys mixed in with a few new and not-so-new women on the block, who continue to fall into their same old patterns of deal making and breaking. But nothing of great significance ever happens unless motivated by a catastrophe. Any truly positive ideas for change baffle the Congress. What could this be, they wonder? But of all the crimes covertly and overtly committed by the Bush administration against the soul of America, none is as vile as the deliberate efforts they poured into turning American against American. We see that in the near hatred between the Republicans and Democrats, between liberals and conservatives, between free-thinkers and evangelicals that continues to fester. This crime was a strategic one, a well thought out plan to fragment the people of this nation in a type of contemporary replay of the Civil War. And sadly, the Republicans succeeded. Thank you, Karl Rove. The result is that the soul of America is exhausted, wounded, mistrusting, suspicious, fearful — and compromised. This is not a soul that can rebuild a country, not if you know anything about the laws of nature and the fundamentals of healing.

    So let’s apply this to the Republicans present attack on Obama and his plan to address the children in the classrooms of our schools. First, a comment on how education is respected in general by our Congress — it isn’t. And this crime against the soul of America is a travesty for which both Republicans and Democrats should hang their heads in shame. Consider, for example, how the education system through the years has corroded into little more than a mindless competition for grades. And the “No Child Left Behind” program (which should be left far, far behind) is nothing more than an insult to a true educational system that holds in high regard the passing on of knowledge and wisdom and not just technical skills and information. But such a program is in keeping with the insidious goal of the “dumbing down” of America plan that was consciously set in motion under the Reagan Administration (check out The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt). Aside from all the many travesties that have resulted and continue to result from the covert dismantling of America’s educational system, let us consider the equally significant if not more tragic consequence of the clever removal of courses that provide students with the essential language required in order to learn how to navigate through the deep and profound matters of the soul. And note that my use of the word “soul” refers to that part of a human being that is more than matter, more than blood and bones. I am not using the word “soul” within the context associated with the politics of right-winged religious fanatics. Rather, I am referring to the essence of what makes a human being truly human, the inherent part of us that is more than meets the eye.

    Students on a path toward becoming high functioning human beings must be guided in matters of their soul, namely, how to recognize and respond to a moral crisis; how to formulate a personal ethical code and to withstand challenges to that code within a society that thrives on predator instincts; and how to form and maintain an honor code within a society in which any sense of honor is now held together by legal contracts rather than the integrity of a person’s word. Giving our students a common ground for discussions of their fears and insecurities concerning emerging into adult life and how to cope with those difficulties is as much a part of their education as is math and the liberal arts (remember those?). If this is not the role of the classroom, then what is? Should they take their forums into the streets so as not to upset the righteous Right? Should they continue to leave their souls at the doorway of their school buildings, sending in only their bodies and minds to attend their classes? Where should they warehouse their consciences? Where should they store their moral crises that strike with such force during the teen-age years? Perhaps this is the comfort they find in drugs.

    It is through discussions such as these that skills of introspection are awakened and a foundation is put in place for the wisdom arts: personal reflection and accountability, discernment, personal virtue, and stamina of spirit. Is it any wonder that as a result of the horrendous decision of the American Congress to “dumb down” our educational system, we now have a public that cannot discern lies from truth? Are we really surprised that we are now living in a society in which the news media saturates us with entertainment instead of actual news and that most of America was too asleep at the wheel to even notice? Should we really have to wonder for more than three seconds as to why so many media reporters have turned into nothing more than gossip mongers and paparazzi, lacking all courage to do actual hard core news, substituting their own hysterical opinions for informed reporting? I’m not surprised at all.

    A conscious effort to “dumb down” the education of this nation qualifies as a crime against the soul of America. And dare I say this? If there was something as grievous as a mortal sin committed by a group against its own people, then the Republicans — with Reagan at the helm — and all the Democrats who stood by, or worse, backed this catastrophe — committed that sin when they choreographed how they would dismantle the intellectual power and potential of our own children. (You should check your age — you could be a product of this crime.)

    So is it really any wonder why the Republicans would stage this outlandish outcry over President Obama addressing the schoolchildren of America? You would think that everyone would support the President’s desire to inspire our children to want an education. Who would not want to see their children enthusiastic about an education? Hum … Well, could it be that education intimidates them? I mean, given their history with education and their experience with their recent president as well as their recent candidate for vice-president, you can appreciate that the education of President Obama would engender a bit of jealousy. Consider that when Bush showed up in a classroom, they gave him My Pet Goat to read to the students. Why was that, ya think? Perhaps his team feared a more sophisticated book would be a bit too much for him. Or maybe he was providing students with an example of how “dumbing down” works. Or maybe, just maybe, given Bush’s overall success and reputation for brain-power, Republicans fear Obama would inspire students instead of generating the jokes and comedic responses Bush did every time he opened his mouth.

    I can’t begin to count the number of times I listened to Bush joke about his own lack of intelligence before an audience. The audience members that included some now former as well as present members of the Congress and Senate, actually laughed as he made these comments. Whether they were laughing with him or at him, I couldn’t tell. I know I was laughing at him, but I was also embarrassed and ashamed that this man was leading our country. How could he possibly joke about his lack of intelligence before a State Dinner? How could he laugh about his inability to comprehend matters of great importance? Why would he think that the public would find that funny? And if the public did find that funny, shame on them.

    The vice-presidential candidate that the Republicans ran in the past election against Obama was of equal educational quality. We all know who I mean, Miss Lipstick-on-a-Pig. Even her humor is low-class, in keeping with her intelligence. One has to ask, “So this was the candidate Republicans believed could handle the cosmic-sized dilemmas we now have facing this nation?” Sarah Palin? Are they nuts? Listening to those Republicans lie about their support of her in the face of the crises facing this nation was a crime against the soul of America. Why? Because they did not believe a word of what they were saying and that was obvious. Most of them could barely cough up their contrived words of support. How they could possibly live with themselves is beyond me. But that is the blessing, I suppose, of having no conscience whatsoever. You’re free to say whatever is required in the moment. But if you want to talk about an educational violation, Palin is the poster child. She is a perfect example of the success of the “dumbing down of America” program. No wonder she is a Republican. Birds of a feather, as the saying goes. But you have to give credit where credit is due, yes? So no wonder they fear Obama coming near the classroom. Republicans have little experience with a refined intellect. (They probably are wondering how Obama escaped the, “dumbing down” system. They certainly didn’t. Check out Eric Cantor. There’s a “dumbing down” success story if I’ve ever met one.)

    I don’t blame them for being upset, really. They actually owe America an apology for their actions and for their choices of candidates and for their overall quality control when it comes to who they believe qualifies for leadership positions. Truth is, the Republicans are embarrassed by their own actions and they are poor losers, not to mention unethical and immoral opponents. We just have to get them to own that, right? We have to hold all Democrats to the same standard as well. If a Democrat is unethical or immoral — burn them at the stake. (That will probably clear out most of the Congress, but in the end, we’ll all be better off.)

    There comes a time when we have to just stand up to these carnies (slang for carnival barkers) and tell them to stop polluting the soul of America with their constant and endless transmission of psychic free radicals in the form of lies, negative press, ridiculous criticism, overall lack of intelligent ideas and comments, and complete absence of creative thought. We should just blast them with emails and tell them to stop polluting the soul of our nation. Just stop it. We’ve had enough. I know I have. And I deeply believe the soul of our nation can’t take much more of their strategy of deliberate division against the people of their own nation. That is a true crime — and perhaps their greatest crime — against the soul of this great nation.

    • qs

      That’s too long for me to read sorry.

    • Jim

      To sum up that commentary by Myss in one line, as I read it:

      How dare the Republicans attack Obama for his speech to schoolchildren when they care so little about education, intelligence and rationality.

      My response to Myss in one line:

      It may be that Republicans care little for education, intelligence and rationality, but an intelligent and rational critique would address their criticism on the merits.

  • Quixo

    Oh no, check out all the reports on GWB senior’s school talk back in 1991:

    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2009_08_30-2009_09_05.shtml#1252117357

    “Let me know how you’re doing. Write me a letter. I’m serious about this one. Write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals.”

    Oh no, what did Reagan do when he preached to the students:

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/200909030020

    “Q My name is Cam Fitzie and I’m from St. Agnes School in Alexandria, Virginia. I was wondering if you think that it is possible to decrease the national debt without raising the taxes of the public?

    PRESIDENT REAGAN: I do. That’s a big argument that’s going on in government and I definitely believe it is because one of the principle reasons that we were able to get the economy back on track and create those new jobs and all was we cut the taxes, we reduced them. Because you see, the taxes can be such a penalty on people that there’s no incentive for them to prosper and to earn more and so forth because they have to give so much to the government. And what we have found is that at the lower rates the government gets more revenue, there are more people paying taxes because there are more people with jobs and there are more people willing to earn more money because they get to keep a bigger share of it, so today, we’re getting more revenue at the lower rates than we were at the higher. And do you know something? I studied economics in college when I was young and I learned there about a man named Ibn Khaldun, who lived 1200 years ago in Egypt. And 1200 years ago he said, in the beginning of the empire, the rates were low, the tax rates were low, but the revenue was great. He said in the end of empire, when the empire was collapsing, the rates were great and the revenue was low.”

    • qs

      Reagan’s assessment of decreasing the national debt by lowering taxes was accurate for the high tax brackets.

      JFK tried it when the tax rates were set to 90%, and Reagan reduced them from where he set it at 70%.

      At some point you start getting lesss revenue if you go to low–> that is if your goal is to extract as much revenue from tax payers as feasibly possible.

      Of course that’s not what I think the goal should be though. We need to get rid of all taxes.

  • randy ray haugen

    qs, “that’s too long for me to read sorry”
    perfect example of the dumbing down of america.
    great post remarker.
    i always wonder how it was that the education system seemed to work so much more effectively in the sixties when i went through school. i can’t remember any of the funding problems and curriculum issues that plague us now. we had abundant after school activities that did not bankrupt our parents, school busses for sports events and late busses for student activities. now, everything is a problem. what changed?

    • Jim

      You had huge numbers of people dropping out and getting drafted into the Vietnam War. You also had huge numbers of people who weren’t expected to go to college and who were educated along vocational tracks for industrial jobs or along “home ec” tracks for being housewives. Expectations weren’t as high, and that’s one big reason why expectations were more often met.

  • randy ray haugen

    expectaions may have been lower and there were decent jobs availible to high school grads then and two year vocational training could be enough to get into good trades, but, i don’t believe we were short changed in terms of what we were taught or how we were prepared for college.
    does the problem with schools now stems from lack of funds, lack of commitment, lack of good teachers, lack of parenting… what? i just don’t see why today billy has such a hard time learning to read when three decades ago we all learned in a system that had to deal with all the lack of problems just like today.
    just the amount of out of pocket money parents have to put out for their kids to participate in sports is unbelieveable compared to what my generation had to deal with. the school provided equipment, fields, transportation, coaches, staff; all at little or no cost to parents.
    we had a full curriculum, including py-ed, music and art classes. in high school we had a variety of elective subjects availible and advanced classes for math and science. now, anything students need the parents or teachers end up putting up the cash. it was not always like this. how the funding changed or where the huge cost increase has come from i can’t say, but, it sure doesn’t look good for the kids these days. a little encouragement from the president can only be a good thing.

  • Laura

    I agree that most of the questions do encourage a fawning, positive response. Because of that I think some criticism is indeed valid. That being said, I do think the response this speech has been generally over-the-top paranoid. I despised Bush and the vast majority of his policies. However, if he were to give a speech to school kids about staying in school and the importance of hard work that would be one of the few things ever that I’d have to agree with him on.

    So many people will tell you until they’re blue in the face that it’s Obama policies that they don’t like, and that it has nothing to do with his race. However, the thing that tells me when it IS his race is when they say they’re “scared” of him. Why? What has he said or done that would actually lead one to be physically afraid of him? I have seen no evidence of violence from him or even any talk of him endorsing violence of any sort towards those who don’t agree with him. Often enough he encourages diverse opinions. There are though many people who are “scared” of a black man simply because that is how they have been conditioned or brought up — that a black man is someone to be feared. I myself have known people like that: no matter what a black person says or how refined they act, the very presence of someone black makes them nervous.

    Think about the reasons to be afraid of Bush with his “Bush Doctrine.” It was Bush’s position that the U.S. could go into (i.e. invade) any country on the planet where “The Decider” thought we had just cause. He was an average C student who couldn’t talk with intelligence on virtually any subject, yet he got to where he was with ties to his rich family. This guy had his finger on the button and one of the strongest military forces in the world at his beck. How many people ever talked so much about how “scared” they were of him?

    So while I DO think some criticism of the leading questions is warrented, I also think the vast majority of it is racism, period.

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