Next Tuesday, September 8th, to mark the start of the school year, President Obama will make a speech about the importance of taking responsibility for one’s education and setting goals along the way. The speech will be broadcast live at Noon Eastern Time—the intention is to reach as many children at their first day of school as possible.
The speech raises interesting questions like, How far does the President’s personality cult reach? (I don’t recall seeing any George W. Bush tattoos.) Who is responsible for a child’s education? and How over-the-top is the “conservative” opposition to Obama?
Firstly, should Obama encourage American students to pursue a righteous education? Yes, there is no reason he shouldn’t. I don’t think his message will be more influential than a parent’s message to their child about education, but if it is, then perhaps it should be. The bigger point is that the President’s message and a parent’s message are not exclusive. They both enrich the conversation around the importance of education.
The criticisms of his speech are notable both for their obviousness and their hyperbole. Some claim the students are a captive audience. Yes, they are. Young people know less than older people so they receive education in the form of lessons based on the experience of their elders. A child is impressionable no matter who is talking or where.
That Fox News is encouraging parents to keep their kids home on the first day of school is not only pretty inconvenient for parents, but obviously completely unnecessary.
A columnist for the LA Times recently lamented the loss of any true conservative streak in today’s GOP. This new “grievance and resentment” party doesn’t seem to advocate any positive values of a true conservative position.
In this case, why aren’t conservatives saying that parents and teachers are better positioned to educate children than a 15 minute speech on TV? Still, the speech, and subsequent video contest, is a nice gesture that is benign at worst and at best—educational.