Saturday, September 5, 2009

Detroit Free Press - Obama's lesson plan for schoolchildren

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Obama's lesson plan for schoolchildren

Nothing online has brought out more discussion in the last 48 hours than President Barack Obama's plan to address schoolchildren Tuesday.

As Obama wages his divisive quest for health care reform, parents across the country balked at not having the opportunity to pre-approve the message.

The White House has said the speech is not a political one, but one that will stress studying hard and staying in school.

Locally, several school districts have said they will not show students the speech.

Here's a round-up of coverage from across the Web: refutes comments by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan on this being the first time the president has addressed the nation's schoolchildren.

"President George H.W. Bush gave an address to schools nationwide in 1991, from a junior high school in Washington, D.C. News reports from the time said the White House hoped that the address would be shown at schools nationwide, and Bush began his remarks by saying he was talking to 'millions" of students 'in classrooms all across the country.'"

* See Bush's complete remarks to schoolchildren.

The Washington Times said in a Thursday editorial the speech was an effort to expand the president's "cult into the classroom:"

"In a move suggestive of the Pyongyang public school system, the U.S. Department of Education recommended that before the speech students collectively brainstorm questions like, 'Why does President Obama want to speak with us today? How will he inspire us?' Classrooms are to be festooned with 'notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama's speeches about education,' presumably alongside benevolent-looking images of the dear leader."

In a Friday editorial, the New York Times called the controversy "overheated and bizarre:"

"What is most disturbing about all this is what it says about the parents - and the fact that they have such little regard for their children's intelligence and ability to think."

Over at, blogger Michael Shaw says conservatives are using the controversy as a scare tactic:

"Beyond all the 'state indoctrination' and even Hitler Youth analogies being propagated by Obama's school chat, I'm wondering how much there is (or is also) a racist meme at play. It's something along the lines of: You can't trust your children alone with this man ... knowing how black men are. Wink, wink."

Much of the controversy has stemmed from the Department of Education's lesson plans that are to go along with Obama's speech. A first draft of the lesson plans encouraged students to write letters to themselves on how they could "help the president," according to the Wall Street Journal.

You can see the revised lesson plans for Prekindergarten-6 and and grades 7-12 below. You can double click to view them larger, or hit the full screen toggle.

Lesson plan: Prekindergarten - 6th grade

Lesson plan: 7th grade - 12th grade will hold a live stream of Obama's speech at noon Tuesday if you wish to see it.

Contact MARK W. SMITH: Follow him on Twitter: @markdubya.

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