Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Thursday, September 3, 2009

President Obama to speak to U.S. students

President Obama will deliver a national address to the students of America next Tuesday 9/8 at noon EST. According to the Dept of Education website, during this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. He will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

Oooh, how sneaky and manipulative of him! Those are terrible things to talk to kids about!

It's disappointing (to put it mildly) that some people are using their alleged concern for our students to thinly disguise their political agendas. Actually it's disgusting. Go have your political arguments someplace else. If the political, economic and social events of the past few years have not convinced you that we have some serious work to do in this country, and that we need to work together to move this country forward, then I don't know what to say, except wake up and be a part of the solution. As the future of our nation, our schoolchildren are already part of the solution. Encouraging them to embrace their role, to do their best and to know they are respected, worthy contributors to our country and our society -- this is not a bad thing. It's not about "us" or "them," it's not about winning or losing, and it's not about "socialism." (I'm already so tired of that word getting trotted out as the devil's own philosophy every time someone mentions working together....to borrow from Freud...sometimes "working together" is just "working together.")

For anyone who thinks I support this speech to students simply because it's Obama, I truly thought about this. I asked myself if I would support the speech if it were a few years ago and George W. Bush wanted to speak to students. First, I can't even imagine it happening, but I truly think I would support my child listening to such a speech. And then I would talk about with him at the dinner table and explain/translate as necessary. That's what we do with current events anyway. If George W. Bush respectfully told my child to "work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for his learning," I certainly wouldn't argue with that!


Anonymous said...

I see this issue differently. I do not disagree that it's pretty neat that the Prez is giving a pep talk to kids. We have the technology to reach kids in schools, so why not use it.

What concerns me is the overreaching intrusiveness of the White House into everyday life. An unprecedented number of television appearances, an unprecedented number of press conferences and an unprecedented amount of access into all things Obama makes me cringe whenever I hear that he's making yet another appearance in front of us, whether we want it or not.

You have to admit, his press conferences (at least until he was instructed by Rahm Emmanuel to tone it down) more resembled college lectures that the media Q&A that is expected. Sadly, many of his speeches have become evangelical rants that clearly draw the line between those who are with him and those who are not. FYI, I'm neither.

He (or other members of his government--and that includes the opposition party) are at our football games, baseball games, on talk shows, late night comedy shows, Broadway plays and seemingly everywhere else.

Obama has turned into Zelig.

So while other citizens are concerned about seeing him in our schools talking to our kids, I'm just concerned about seeing him. I have Obama Overload, and more to the point, I'm sick and tired of having the government remind me every moment that it's there, in my life--whether I like it or not.

Joseph Alvaro said...

Hi Laurie,

President Bush and Clinton addressed the nation's children in a similar fashion during their terms in office. The difference is there were no "classroom activities" for teachers to do as it related to their speeches. And neither of them asked students the question, "what can you do for President Obama?" as the Dept of Ed first issued in its list of questions for teachers to ask students.

You do see the difference here, right?

Laurie said...

And neither did THIS Dept of Education ask the question "what can you do for President Obama?" At least quote accurately, lest people start reacting to a phantom threat. Oops, too late.

The original question, in those optional classroom activity materials, was "What can you do to help President Obama..." In context, it was to help the President reduce the national dropout rate…Help him get kids to stay in school and work hard (since that is the topic of his speech)... The question could have been worded better, and it has since been revised to ask children to think about how they can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals. Is that so terrible, really?

The problem is people are reacting to (and those questions were written for) a speech that hasn't been given yet... I do think it is wrong to inject politics into this -- for example leaping to the conclusion that this speech is somehow a policy speech on healthcare or economic policy or socialism. That's not Mr. Obama politicizing this -- he hasn't even said the speech yet! -- it's the professional riler-uppers doing it. It's wrong and sad.

And let's be realistic -- we're talking about a 15 minute (I'm guessing) speech and the few minutes of busywork that may or may not accompany it. My guess is that not long after the speech students and teachers will be busy with the actual lessons and learning that they were scheduled to be doing anyway.

Joseph Alvaro said...

Here's the thing, there is nothing President Obama can do to prevent drop outs in our inner city public schools. Nor is there anything our kids, here in Ridgewood, can do about it either.

That being the point, then this really isn't meant for kids in Ridgewood is it? And if the president was really serious about making sure kids got a decent education, which would reduce the drop out rate among poor blacks and Hispanics, he wouldn't have killed the voucher program in Washington D.C.

But that action was a sop to the teacher's union, wasn't it? The mayor of D.C. lobbied to keep it, as did the parents. No, the hypocrisy of the president is amazing to me. Here is a "black" man who knows that education is the key out of poverty, and jail, and yet he denies children the right to an education equal to his daughters'.

This is the problem with the Democrat party. They are beholding to the unions and wed to public education in the face of all its failures. It makes one wonder, why? Is it pure selfishness - a desire to be elected on the backs of those they profess to care about - those they say, need the government's help - a built in self-perpetuating constituency? They know that an educated person does not need the government for their survival. An uneducated one does. And since Democrats are statists, they need the poor and uneducated to ensure their election to office. It's really cynical.

Do you know how much money Newark spends per student? Over $20,000. And it pays over 1 million dollars per graduate. Graduates who when they go to college, need remedial English and Math. Not a very good record.

Now compare children from same social economic background who go to parochial, private or charter schools and the graduation rate is more like ours here in Ridgewood.

So, when the president asks children in Ridgewood what they can do to help him prevent others from dropping out, I find it disingenuous propaganda.

Laurie said...

Did you say cynical? I'll say! And while it may also be an interesting argument (with shades of fantasy), it's not relevant (in my opinion) to the discussion at hand, which is about the President speaking to schoolchildren about working hard, setting goals and achieving their potential. That's it. Like I said before, don't you find it a little odd to be arguing about what we THINK President Obama is going to say? Not everything is about vouchers, by the way.

The hysteria around this is crazy.

Anonymous said...

"Not everything is about vouchers, by the way." What?

It was never about what he was going to say. Did I say that? No, I did not. I mentioned the "classroom activities."

Please opine as to what in my writing has shades of fantasy?

Laurie said...

I thought the Democratic conspiracy to keep people uneducated was a bit out there.

Have a good weekend everyone...signing off for a few days.

Anonymous said...

Laurie said...

"I thought the Democratic conspiracy to keep people uneducated was a bit out there."

I don't. Can you give me a better reason for not supporting education alternatives for poor black and Hispanic children?

Laurie said...

"Supporting education alternatives" sounds so benign, but I'm pretty sure the reasons had to do with trying to simultaneously save the public school system. I'm not saying what he did was a good idea. Just want to point out there are some who argue that the right uses vouchers to give the appearance of helping poor black and Hispanic children, while actually limiting upward mobility because vouchers are only available to a relative few. I've heard this is an outright "plot" by the right. I think massive and secret plots by EITHER side are highly unlikely, and instead complicated yet fundamental differences of ideology -- and battles for resources -- prevent us from working it out.

Joseph Alvaro said...

Come on Laurie, vouchers are only limited due to the restrictions by Democrat pols and their friends in the public/union school cabal. Good grief, look at NJ and the push for any type of alternative to the decaying, violent urban schools by the Mayor of Newark, Corey Booker.