The Obama Indoctrination Speech to School Children

My five-year-old twins won’t view President Obama’s education address in their kindergarten classroom on September 8 because school administrators in our Texas district have deemed that it would “interrupt instructional time.”

The Obama Indoctrination FEATURE

Instead, the district will stream the video online. Families can then opt in–or out–of the national dialogue.

This safe compromise was likely made to soothe conservative voices here who worry the President’s short speech would aim to indoctrinate their youngsters into the Democratic party–or worse–a “socialist way” of thinking.   And while I haven’t yet seen the speech as I write this, I can tell you from my professional experience covering local, state and national education issues as a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years that few presidential addresses of this type given in the classroom release bombshells. My prediction is that Obama’s speech will be fairly neutral in tone and offer nice photo ops for the press corps.

As a parent of three, however, it is greatly refreshing to see the public’s interest in the content our children are exposed to in our nation’s public schools–I only wish we as a group would pay more attention to the subtle types of indoctrination that happens every day.

For example, last week–on the second day of kindergarten–my twins bopped home from our tony community’s premier elementary school with camouflage-colored dog tags hanging around their necks from metal chains.   While my kids thought nothing of this, I brought context to such symbols.   Dog tags, after all, are an indelible symbol of warfare. In fact, such dog tags are manufactured to be thin and small so they can be sewn into the mouths of dead soldiers and thus help those in field mortuaries identify the fallen. By sending home such a symbol, my public school is sending a subtle message that they not only approve of warfare–but wholeheartedly endorse it. Moreover, they’re telling my young children to be proud foot soldiers.

On the fourth day of kindergarten, my children returned home with fliers listing half a dozen fast-food restaurants that will return a portion of our bill to our public school in an effort to raise funds for educational endeavors.   “Mom,” said my daughter Elizabeth, “we have to go eat pizza tonight to help our school!”   As it turns out, we can spend every night this week–and every night for the remaining school year according to these fliers–at fast-food joints raising money for our school.     Of course, nutritionists–many who work for the state’s department of health–would tell us that to take the advice of our premier elementary school would be to risk the health of my family. My children would become obese, contract diabetes and ruin their hearts.   Yet, the subtle message from the public school is Do your duty and help out your school.’

On the sixth day of school, instructional time in our kindergarten was handed over to two uniform-clad high school football players who signed autographs in promotion of their first big home game. They also read two books to the children, but this last detail was forgotten by my kids who reported only the shimmering uniforms and the deep, impressive voices of the handsome players.   It is likely, too, that they subconsciously picked up on the school’s subtle message that sports are of the utmost importance here in Texas, that male athletes should be revered above others, that strength of body trumps strength of spirit or mind.
This is why, even as a longtime card-carrying member of the Democratic party and big Obama supporter, I’m thrilled to have passionate conversations about indoctrination. But let’s not limit the discussion to the President’s 10-minute speech. As parents, we need to be aware of and address the subtle everyday messages our public schools are giving our kids.

I only wish our school district would give us the option of streaming some of these other messages via video.

Julie Blair is a Dallas-area freelance journalist who graduated from both public and private institutions. She continues to support her local public schools with her most precious commodities–her three children.

13 Comments

  1. Hmmm, lets see. The most polarizing partisan President ever has his Secretary of Education send a letter to school principals across the nation telling them POTUS will address the nation's schoochildren  and they should refer to the accompanying lesson plans whilst participating in this unprecedented event. And you have no issue with that because you just love the guy. Fine. That is your prerogative, just as it is mine to protest the participation of my child my private parochial school. (My school is not participating by the way. Responsible parents FTW.) Parents are the decision makers, followed by elected school boards and superintendents. The Secretary and the Prez attempted a complete usurpation of the power of parents across the nation and all the MSM and Libs can whine about is that we don't want our children indoctrinated. Nice dodge but those of us who are paying attention fully understand that it is that usurpation of power and the ridiculous lesson plans that are the issue here. This is the missing link. No other President who has addressed the nation's children – voluntarily, I might add – has had the arrogance and stupidity to provide a read about my magnificent but still unverified life story and/or write about how you can help POTUS instruction.
    Obama and his cronies completely overstepped on this one and they are the ones who should be lambasted for their mistake. You know full well that if W had made such a poor move, heads on the Left would have exploded. Anyone with any intellectual honesty would recognize this.

  2. When does the book of “Obama-isms” come out. All of this subservient nonsense regarding the President reminds me of the MAO’S Little Red Book. This president has it wrong, he is there to serve the PEOPLE not the people serving him and his minions.
    Wake up America!

  3. The first posting speaks to Obama-isms which is a natural outgrowth of this president’s megalomania. Based on obama’s past performances, this pep talk to kids in school is gong to be nothing more than an Indoctrination
    sessions. obama must realize he serves at the pleasure of the PEOPLE! He wasn’t crowned KING.

  4. Tina Sampson says:

    Thank you, conservatives are becoming just like the liberals were during Goerge Bushes terms, this will never help the conservative movement. Unless you get more Megan McCains.

  5. I loved this post Julie and as you well know we are usually looking at things from opposite political points of view. I completely agree that the public school has taken a very agenda-laden path. I actually have no problem with the President of the United States addressing children through the PUBLIC school. It is a PUBLIC school. PUBLIC money. Overseen by the GOVERNMENT. I don’t get why the President shouldn’t be an invited guest. Two other presidents in the past have used this method to address the youth of America. I rarely agree with our President, government or PUBLIC which is why my kids don’t attend public school. That is the point. Instead of whining about it I have opted out. I do think there is a million other reasons to be upset at our current educational state and the President talking to school children would be at the bottom of that list.

  6. Frank Noyes says:

    Well, the speach is up on line for all to read. It is all about taking personal responsibility, working hard, not giving up on yourself and helping fellow students. Socialism propaganda all!! People should be ashamed of themselves. This is the President of the United States for God sake. When I was a kid and the President spoke, we listened. It didn’t matter one bit if he had an R or a D after his name. It did not matter if our parents agreed with him politically or not. You respected the office. Our parents respected the office. Go ahead. Read the speach. Be ashamed.

  7. A nice take on this issue. For better or worse, the president’s speech is likely to have far less power to “indoctrinate” our kids than the public school curricula already in place.

    I am puzzled by the first comment here, however, which refers to Obama as “The most polarizing partisan President ever.” Let’s not confuse a presidential administration that polarizes the nation with a nation that is primed to treat everything the president does as a basis for partisan line-drawing. I think there is considerable reason to accuse the younger’s Bush’s administration of the former (although I won’t get into that here).

    Our current president, by contrast, is instinctively drawn to building bridges and integrating alternative perspectives in a political climate that is radically resistant to any such thing. Even the most benign and positive of ideas–such as using the office of the presidency to encourage our children to work hard and stay in school–is turned into an occasion for partisan polarization.

  8. Wow, I really liked this post.

    And, as I wrote a few days ago, WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL, PEEPS? Yes, Julie, You are right. Parents are the ones in charge here. So what if our kids see the Presidential address? Is it so hard to tell our kids, “I don’t agree with what the President says. Here’s what I believe…”

    Wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for parents to engage in conversation with their kids? Wouldn’t it be a great chance to hear what our kids heard, and see if that was an accurate reflection of what was actually said?

    Why are parents so afraid of what Obama says to their kids? Isn’t what WE say to them more important? Shouldn’t they be listening to US more?

    If they aren’t, maybe some kids need to watch less TV and spend more time with their parents. If my kids put more value in Obama’s words than mine, that would be a good signal for me to start spending more time with them. Just a thought.

  9. Okay, I don’t know if it came off this way, but I agree with Julie’s post. I just meant, we cannot escape what the world will show our kids. We can shield them from harmful things. But I would not call the President of the United States harmful (some may but I would not). I think it is good for kids to hear and know the President of the United States, and teach them that not everyone agrees with him or likes him, but that he IS the President and he deserves our respect because of his office. And it is an awesome lesson for kids to learn how to respectfully disagree with someone without bad-mouthing them or hating them. I see too many parents breeding hate with such slanderous political talk in front of their kids and it is just sad. We can teach our kids about our beliefs without teaching them to hate the other side.

    Just a thought, again.

  10. I watched the speech and I think much of what he said was entirely appropriate and positive, although I am fairly certain my daughter’s kindergarten class would have been squirming 5 minutes in.

    Where my concern came from (less than a week ago when I first learned of the speech) was not that the President would be addressing the nation’s school children, but rather that the Department of Education could so strongly suggest and expect that our schools rearrange their lesson plans and curriculum to accommodate and discuss the speech when, at the time, the content of the speech was only being released to “select media.” (That was from the White House website). To provide and encourage use of their “lesson plans” is a gross over stepping of boundaries.

    There was no plan initially to release the content of the speech prior to him giving it and as a parent it IS my concern what my child is exposed to when she is not in my care.

    Also not being told about the speech before it happened by my child’s school would have been a concern if in fact my school had decided to show the speech. This was the first day of school for many children and many parents were not offered an option to opt out of the planned activities. That should be concerning to any parent.

    I would not have prevented my child from seeing it but I would have made sure to discuss it with her after she saw it.

    As for respecting the Office, even my 2 year old can say the name of and identify the President clearly and knows that he is to have our respect. He wasn’t on the Team we wanted to win but he was on the Team that won so it is his turn to lead. That doesn’t mean we blindly follow without voicing our concerns if we have them, but it does mean we use our polite voice when we do so.

    I did find it interesting that the last 2 lines of his speech were “God Bless You and God Bless America.” when in fact my children cannot pray to God in their classrooms. But that is probably another post.

  11. I read the speech online, and of course it was fairly neutral and inoffensive. My biggest issue with the speech was the way it seemed to be pushed more than usual to schools (although I am too young to know if there were similar tactics used in the past) and that the content of the speech was not released until the day before the event. I got the impression that it was only released due to the outcry surrounding it. Our district chose not to show it, and that was fine with me too. Not because of any political leanings, but because I didn’t really think it was going to reach my 2nd, 1st and kindergarten children.

    The activities you mention happening at your kindergarten all sound similar to some things we have had at our school. I agree that schools need to communicate what they are doing in the classroom much more often. Regarding the football players in the classroom, perhaps the idea was to get people who are already a source of interest to students to encourage them to do things like read and participate in school.

    In the end, like most things that happen at school, it is up to parents to decide how their family will address things as they come up. The debate surrounding the speech was a great opportunity to discuss the roles of various figures in a student’s life and how they work for and against each other in attempts to influence students.

  12. Great points!!! On one side I wished my daughter would have got to watch it in her kindergarten class, but on the other hand she’s only 5 and would have been bored. 🙂

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