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