With two children in public-school Kindergarten, I was very concerned about Tuesday’s speech by President Obama to all public school students from pre-Kindergarten to sixth grade. It wasn’t so much that I thought my two girls would become Obamatons—my concern was more along the lines of the precedent being established.
Any speech suitable for delivery to such a wide range of ages is likely to be little more than rah-rah cheerleading about staying in school. [UPDATE: That is exactly what it turned out to be.] But this sort of thing always starts out innocuously; next thing you know kids are writing out pledges to Obama that they’ll stay in school and there’s a weekly address to them. The whole thing reeks of the “cult of personality” that has encircled Obama since he announced his candidacy. I guarantee that he would not exercise subsequent restraint, it’s just not in his nature.
But the left rightly points out that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush made such a speech once each and there wasn’t a groundswell of opposition. Leaving aside the fact that most parents of school-age children now were school-age children themselves back then (a salient point that they conveniently ignore), they see only one possible explanation for the current backlash: the president’s race.
For leftists, racism is the easiest way to dismiss an opponent. If you can blithely note that a lot of the opposition is in the South, you can get away without even considering other possibilities or actually arguing about anything. Leveling that charge effectively shuts down the discussion. It can’t be that a lot of people don’t trust Obama to give a innocuous speech or that they think the federal government is overreaching or that they spurn a politicization of education—it has to be that he doesn’t look like them.
I am sympathetic to those who are outraged at Obama’s audacity, but honestly it’s a minor issue. Even the most interventionist speech he could give pales next to the insidious messages that school children get everyday. We live in a culture of unreason and that permeates the classrooms of the nation, no matter the source of their funding. Parents should be evaluating the curriculum, not pulling their children out for a school day.