Mothers of Intention — Still Thinking about Obama’s Education Speech

Mon, September 21, 2009

Moms & Politics, Mothers of Intention

Mothers of Intention 1

I may be a glutton for punishment, but I’m revisiting the Barack Obama school speech for this week’s Mothers of Intention.

I was FLOORED with the response my post about the speech got.   Some conservatives have claimed  it was the elusive first draft of the “stay in school/work hard/get good grades”speech they objected to, but as far as anyone can tell speech itself  never changed.  Others say it was the lesson plan, calling for kids to write to the President about what they could do to help.  Frankly, I think the stuff about the lesson plan was a big red herring — if our children can be “brainwashed” by a speech to stay in school and by writing a letter, then we’ve got bigger problems with our children and our future.

I was pretty shocked at the level of vitriol in the comments over at BlogHer, not to mention how many people actually took the time to read that post compared to other weeks.  I want to see that amount of attention and excitement over real problems  like hungry children, kids who still won’t have health care even if new legislation passes and helping women and children out of poverty around the world.  Those would be things really worth spendig our time on.

But two good friends are my choice for this week’s Mothers of Intention because of their posts about Barack Obama’s words to schoolchildren.

Devra of Parentopia blog, wrote in a post at DC Metro Moms about her chance as a student to hear President Ronald Reagan speak when she was a student, even though she and her family were FAR from being Republican supporters.  And reflecting on that, wonders the following:

I suppose it could be argued parental involvement in education means parents should be able to preview the president’s speech before it is shown to our children. Okay, but are parents reviewing every textbook and lesson plan the teacher is presenting to our children? Are we requiring invited guests for a school-wide assembly meet with concerned parents prior to performing or presenting to the student body? How about we don’t let our kids check out school library books before we read the volumes ourselves? Do you have time for any of that? What if it were required of parents that we do all of that for every child we sent to school?

Another good friend, Sarah of  Sarah and the Goon Squad (who I KNOW for a fact is more conservative politically than I am — she told me!) was stunned when, AFTER the live speech, her children’s school sent home an “opt out” form in case she didn’t want her kindergartners watching a repeat of the President’s stay-in-school chat it on what was dubbed “Patriotic Day:”

Just because you disagree with your leader doesn’t mean that it is a good idea to stick your fingers in your ears, close you eyes and say LA LA LA LA LA every time he or she comes on the television. It is important that we listen to ideas that are different from our own. How else does a person make an informed decision?

And how does a child learn to think for himself?

Some mothers are saying that political affiliation had nothing to do with their level of upset — that they would have been just as angry if someone like, say, George W. Bush or his father, had done the same thing.  Funny thing is, Bush I did and while I don’t recall everything that happened during Bush I’s tenure, I don’t remember any violent outbursts from the left about the GOP trying to brainwash our kids when he suggested they write letters to him saying how they could help him do his job better.

I’m really hoping we can all just take a deep breath and find a way to step back from this kind of uber-anxiety politics for a while — at least a break from the the extreme, name-calling, “YOU LIE,” Glenn Beck version of politics would be a nice respite.  Maybe it’s too much to think about, but I often wonder if a group of Mothers of Intention could bring back some bipartisanship — you know, like in the good old Howard Baker/Paul Simon/Sam Nunn days?

Ah, memories!

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3 Responses to “Mothers of Intention — Still Thinking about Obama’s Education Speech”

  1. Daisy Says:

    I was upset when we teachers were told to please delay the showing of the speech because the principal wanted all kids in school that day – for the kickoff of her pet program. Oh, yes, and she emailed this to us on Saturday morning of Labor Day Weekend. Priorities, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

  2. Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah Says:

    Thanks Joanne!

    I still cannot imagine why this is contentious at all. It seems like if the President of the United States wants to tell American children to work hard and that they can accomplish great things we should all be thrilled.


  3. Gina Chen Says:

    I, too, was floored by the controversy over the speech and the controversy over the controversy.’

    My kids heard the speech. My 9-year-old summed it up well: He told us to work hard and stay in school.

    Now that’s subversive!

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