So, the president wants to talk to America's school children and ask them to work hard, set goals for themselves and not drop out of school. His speech to them will be a voluntary event so kids can choose to listen or not, and school principals can choose to offer it or not. He will encourage kids to do these things:
• Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.
• Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals.
And now people are accusing President Obama of trying to indoctrinate children with his socialist agenda and equating this with Hitler's Youth Program. The head of the Florida GOP has even called him the Pied Piper. Granted, the department of education originally suggested asking kids to write letters about how they can help the president, although given the context of encouraging kids to be better citizens, why is that bad? Now the wording has been refined and edited as copy tends to be through time. That's how it works.
I'm pretty sure the knee-jerk tone in this country cannot possibly get any worse.
I remember when I was a kid in school. I hated gym class more than I can express—the clothes, the locker rooms, the showers, the personal lack of physical coordination. And I acutely remember when the gym teacher forced the President's Fitness Challenge on us all. It wasn't voluntary. It was mandatory, and it was grueling. We had to do so many sit ups and jumping jacks and chin ups. We had to run laps and climb ropes and do God knows what to earn points and that dadblasted patch with the presidential seal on it.
If you proved you were as physically fit as the president thought you should be (then, it was Nixon), you'd get a document and a patch to sew on your jacket. If you were a slug like little Scout was, you got nothing. Absolutely nothing.
Looking back on that program, one that is still going strong, I suspect it was all a ruse to build a youth army. Eisenhower started it, but Nixon could have made good use of the fittest of us in battling his demons, don't you think? He could have trained us to help him win over China and topple the opposition at his impeachment hearings and defend his honor, or at least to wipe his sweaty lip.
In 1988, Ronald Reagan spoke to a group of middle school students, a presentation that was later broadcast to students all over the country, and he extolled his approach to government—"free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade," as he put it. I don't recall anyone suggesting Reagan was indoctrinating children with his partisan views.
George H. W. Bush addressed the nation's school kids, and later his son encouraged them to participate in the war in Afghanistan by helping out the kids in that country—basically he asked kids to help the president. He said, "We are asking every child in America to earn or give a dollar that will be used to provide food and medical help for the children of Afghanistan." Enlisting children to provide humanitarian aid in a war zone is apparently acceptably patriotic, but asking them to step up and take responsibility for their future is an evil plot.
The council president of the PTA has said Obama is cutting out the parents by talking directly to the children. I wonder if she said the same thing when Bush and other presidents before him did the exact same thing. And I wonder if she says that about all the teachers her organization stands behind who talk directly to the children.
For the people to suggest Obama's speech is an attempt to use children to "spread his socialist agenda" is so asinine, I can hardly type out the words without thinking this all a joke, something The Onion would report instead of the national news networks.
Really, can it get any worse?