Amidst Criticism, Obama to Urge Schoolkids to Work Hard

"Controversial" message includes exhortations to "put in the hard work"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It has been described as a situation as messy as an 'Animal House' food fight. Obama's decision to talk directly to youngsters today at noon has provoked accusations from critics, including 'indoctrination' and 'politicking' from critics. The fever pitch has gotten high enough that the White House released the text of the speech yesterday in what appeared an attempt to calm critics. This was enough for Newt Gingrich, who said it's a "good speech" and "good for students to hear," but did this quiet the bickering masses? We talk to parents and a public school spokesperson for their impressions. We talk again with Sheri Fowler, from the Rockwall Independent School District in Texas; Brett Curtis, a father of three from Pearland, Texas; and Michael Campo from Chicago, Illinois.

"My reaction is that [the speech] sounds like something a father might say to his child. That's what my job is. I'm a parent and I feel like it's my responsibility to teach my kids the values of education and that my kid goes to school to get the education and not to be lectured by politicians."
—Brett Curtis,father of three in Pearland, Texas after reading text of the President's speech.

"I think that this president just can't cut a break. It's becoming almost offensvive at the way some people are treating [it] and disrespectful to the Office of the Presidency."
—Michael Campo, father of three in Chicago, Illinois



Michael Campo, Brett Curtis and Sheri Fowler

Hosted by:

Lynn Sherr and Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Anna Sale


Molly Webster

Comments [12]


I like humor, and I'd like to thank-you for providing some badly-needed comic relief. If you were to think outside your partisan, Democratic box for once, you'd realize that whenever a President gives a speech to schoolchildren, the other political party makes a big deal about it.

Sep. 15 2009 04:50 PM

"...than see President Obama succeed on any level. This is so sad and so racist!"

So, any African American who desired to see Pres. George W. Bush fail was a racist? When you had your brain washed, did you get it waxed, as well?

Sep. 15 2009 04:45 PM

When African American Democrats opposed George H.W. Bush's speech to schoolchildren in 1991, were they "steeped in ignorance and racism?" The race card can be played in more than one way.

Sep. 15 2009 04:42 PM

How come it wasn't a big deal when Bush read to kindergartners? Oh yea, it's because he couldn't read anyway.

Sep. 08 2009 02:11 PM
Hugh Appet

continued from above

Ann Althouse:

"Obama's speech is nearly 10x longer than the Gettysberg Address... Can any speech be good for such wide range of ages? 2540 words should take at least 15 minutes to deliver. Who gives a 15 minute speech to kindergartners?"

I could go on. Is this really a controversy? Or are you guys just that desperate for material. Since you like humore so much, why not catalog the looniness and stupidity. How much can you "indoctrinate" anyone in 15 minutes?

Sep. 08 2009 01:26 PM
Hugh Appet

What makes addressing school children controversial? Have you looked at what the people who are creating this so called controversy are saying? Or who they are? Or how many of them there really are? I don't think so. Here:

"The President’s constitutional powers are explicit. They include the "executive Power." They include being "Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States" and a few more listed in the Constitution, including preserving and protecting the Constitution. They do not include addressing schoolchildren."

Michelle Malkin: "Will Obama be able to resist issuing a call to youth arms to marshal help in passing his legislative agenda?

The thing is: He won’t need to make the call explicit.

Obama zealot teachers like this one across the country will do all the extra-curricular bullying and haranguing for him."

Sep. 08 2009 01:25 PM
C. Carter

I think all this discussion is much to do about nothing. There is a group of big mouths, some with microphones, who try to attack everything the First Family does. I think they are given too much air play. Like kids throwing tantrums, they need to be ignored. The terrible truth is they'd rather see the country fail, on every level, than see President Obama succeed on any level. This is so sad and so racist! If we are honest we all will admit this is the first president since Kennedy that we've had a president who could hold his own without thinking he was going to say or do something to embarrass the country. We have an intelligent, conscientious, family loving, country loving president. He is not perfect, no one is. How can his speech get attacked before he makes it? Ridiculous, pre-judging that's all it is. Who better to encourage the children than the president? Is he the first president to do so? No, he's the first to get headline news about it before it happens.

Sep. 08 2009 12:29 PM

(cont from above)
Methinks, as another caller this morning put it, that some "conservative" parents are so determined to be against Obama that they'll express horror at anything he says. "Don't listen to that Barack guy, kiddies, when he tells you to stay in school and not do drugs and respect your parents and not kick puppy dogs...he is TEH DEVIL!" I guess no worries about these folks' kids not listening to Obama on the "respect your parents" front, though--anyone with a lick of sense who sees their parent(s) decry a speech about being a responsible for one's own life and getting an education probably isn't going to have much respect for those same parents.

Sep. 08 2009 10:02 AM

I read the speech, expecting to find something controversial in there--you know, "gay is okay!" or "support gov't health plans!" or some such.
Nope, just the age-old "stay in school" rhetoric. And now, suddenly, this is A Bad Thing. Someone who called in this morning, whose comment was aired, even compared it to brainwashing. or perhaps he said "indoctrination."
Brainwashing. Indoctrination. Heaven forbid we might "brainwash" or "indoctrinate" our children into having a work ethic and valuing education. What IS the world coming to? Our children might actually be able to get JOBS some day! Anything but that!
(cont above)

Sep. 08 2009 10:02 AM
garrett smith

I listen to your program most every day and I notice you never ask the hard questions,such as do the people who think they should be the only ones to address thier children should be themselves. why didn't you ask if he thought the military should have access to his children through the schools. The agenda of the people who oppose his speachare steeped in ignorance and racesim. Just like glen beck's listeners

Garrett Smith

Sep. 08 2009 09:54 AM
Jim Heffler

1. President Obama takes a position or announces a plan.
2. The Right Wing, having lost the election badly, sets up some event to get publicity.
3. The media, ever on the look out for "a good story", gives them wide coverage, out of proportion to their numbers.
4. The media ponders sagely on why the President is losing support on the issue and how it's the President's fault.

Sep. 08 2009 09:40 AM
Estelle Tsantes

I have heard that conservative parents who want to insulate their children from the president's liberal (socialist?) views are unwilling to accept the idea that their children may ask to be excused. These parents are afraid that their children will feel ostracized. I can't help but suspect that these may be the same parents who demand prayers in public schools and have no sympathy with parents who do not want their children exposed to these prayers and who protest that children feel ostracized when they ask to be excused.

Sep. 08 2009 08:42 AM

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