• Should you listen to the President Obama’s school message?

    Date: 09.07.09 | by Natalie Jacobs.

    School is back in session across the nation and President Obama will be addressing all students from elementary through high school on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.  The key word in the question above is “listen.”  It’s not “follow” or “agree with.”

    The White House and the U.S. Department of Education has announced that the purpose of the 15 to 20-minute speech is to challenge students to set educational goals, work hard, and take responsibility for their learning  -  the underlying theme will be to take education seriously.

    Photo by Laura Padgett

    A controversy over the speech has arisen with some claiming that it amounts to “hero worship” of the President and that it is intended to indoctrinate students with his political views.  School districts are debating whether to show the speech or let students opt out of watching it.  Proponents argue that the leader of the free world telling kids that education is important is significant.

    Many years ago, the United States Supreme Court stated that the classroom is a marketplace of ideas that depends on a robust exchange of ideas.*  The Court wrote that “A subject should never be excluded from the classroom merely because it is controversial.”  Of course, parents have the final say and can elect to keep their kids from participating in an activity or class that violates their Constitutional rights (i.e. Pledge of Allegiance, sex education, etc.).

    Do you agree?  How else can you learn to think for yourself and make decisions about important issues unless you consider all aspects of the discussion?  Doesn’t being an informed citizen involve considering the pros and cons of an issue?  Isn’t this an opportunity to supplement your social studies class and engage in a discussion about education and community responsibility?

    The full text of the President’s speech will be posted online or you can watch it on the Internet or on C-Span.

    *Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969).

    Natalie Jacobs

    This post was written by Natalie Jacobs. Prior to joining the AsktheJudge.info team, Natalie worked as a criminal attorney for over five years. She also has worked with Innocence Projects as well as Girls on the Run of Northern Arizona, a character development program for girls in 3rd through 8th grade. When she's not reading and writing about youth justice issues, she thinks about becoming a farmer, chef, world traveler, Bikram master, dogwalker and 80’s film reviewer.

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    2 Comments subscribe to these comments.

    • Betsy
      Mon, 07 Sep 2009 at 11:33

      Absolutely! Ignorance is never bliss, and encouragement with constructive challenge is always great. As with all kinds of information: take what you will, leave the rest.

    • KellyAnn
      Mon, 25 Jan 2010 at 06:46

      ya i am pretty liberal and in my class (middle school) we watched Bush, McCain and Obama during the election and in the Bush years….. we would watch speeches of old presidents and world leaders also. it’s good for writing, social studies and just plain being aware of the world. I don’t think a kid needs to walk out on a speech to ‘do well in school’ it’s not like he is brainwashing them any more than anyone else.
      Thanks, KellyAnn, for your comments.

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