The President Speaks

I am absolutely astonished at the level of vituperation being leveled at schools and school districts regarding decisions having been made regarding the upcoming speech by President Obama. I think many are overreacting to decisions in both directions. Some, angry that their children are not able to view the speech in class, are reminding us that schools in the past allowed their students to hear presidential speeches directed at students. Others, angry that their children are to be “forced” to hear the President speak, are calling for the heads of various personnel in charge of such decisions.

I think we all need to take a deep breath and place the President's speech in some sort of context – and I mean a larger context than “my political leanings are more important than yours.”

First, we should all listen when the President speaks. Our Presidents do not often speak directly to the American public. We need to respect the office of the President enough to listen when the the President speaks – it does not matter whether we voted for him or not.

Second, we need to acknowledge that, as parents, our children are being taught what they are being taught and how they are being taught by our choice. We have chosen to place our children in the schools they attend and have, therefore, agreed to place those teachers, boards, superintendents and administrators in charge of said education. We monitor and suggest to those professionals, but we have agreed to cede the power of control over the curricula by the act of registering our children.

My daughter's high school has taken the stand that, though the speech is important, it is not important enough to disrupt classes. Therefore, they are making the speech available to students in study halls. I think this approach makes a lot of sense for a couple of reasons:

  • The schools have no control over the start time nor end time of the speech. Will it begin and end during or across class times? Further, I know few school systems operate on the same schedule – my daughter's high school is running on its third different schedule in as many years.
  • While there are many opportunities for teachers to align their curricula to allow for a presidential address, I cannot understand how such an address may be appropriate to a Chemistry, Algebra or Auto Shop class.
  • Under this approach, no one's political views are being advanced – not those who wholeheartedly support President Obama, not those who wholeheartedly decry his every move and not even those who sit somewhere in the middle. (Truth be told, we have to admit that is where the largest portion of our society sits.
While I am always glad to see heartfelt debate over the issues of the day, I do believe too many of us are taking these decisions, in either direction, too seriously. There are many opportunities to have your voice heard without the political shouting matches that have become all too common these days.

If your child's school is not making the decision you support, keep your child home from school that day and watch the speech together. For that matter, whether you agree or disagree with your local school's decision and whether your child views the speech in class that day, in study hall that day or not at all, watch it together and discuss the contents.

No comments:

Post a Comment