School districts deluged with phone calls from parents angry about Obama’s speech

posted at 9:16 pm on September 3, 2009 by Allahpundit

Rod Dreher heard about it anecdotally this morning, but what he calls the righty “crazybomb” has now exploded with full force:

Schools don’t have to show it. But districts across the country have been inundated with phone calls from parents and are struggling to address the controversy that broke out after Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to principals urging schools to watch.

Districts in states including Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, Wisconsin have decided not to show the speech to students. Others are still thinking it over or are letting parents have their kids opt out…

“As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education — it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality,” said Oklahoma state Sen. Steve Russell. “This is something you’d expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.”

PTA council president Cara Mendelsohn said Obama is “cutting out the parent” by speaking to kids during school hours.

“Why can’t a parent be watching this with their kid in the evening?” Mendelsohn said. “Because that’s what makes a powerful statement, when a parent is sitting there saying, ‘This is what I dream for you. This is what I want you to achieve.'”

Presumptive answer to her question: Because far fewer kids (and parents) are going to want to watch in the evening. People get grumpy when an Obama speech on something important preempts the primetime schedule; does she really believe they’re going to turn off “CSI” to watch The One drone on about education? I think kids can handle 20 minutes alone with him. Besides, if the boss is right that the real threat here will be teachers using this as a pretext for more politicized lessons going forward, what does it matter if the kids watch Obama or not? It’s what comes later that’s the concern.

More from Politico:

“The gist is, ‘I want to see what the president has to say before you expose it to my child.’ Another said, ‘This is Marxist propaganda.’ They are very hostile,” said Patricia O’Neill, a Democrat who is vice president of the Montgomery County School Board, in a district that borders Washington, D.C. “I think it’s disturbing that people don’t want to hear the president, but we live in a diverse society.”…

Six districts contacted by POLITICO all said they would leave it to local school superintendents, principals and teachers whether to show the speech – but all said they would provide alternative activities for students whose parents didn’t want them to see the broadcast…

Obama isn’t the first president to be criticized this way. O’Neill recalled President George H. W. Bush made televised address to students in October 1991 as campaign season was heating up. A handful of Democrats denounced Bush’s address as pure politics. Bush asked students to “take control” of their education and to write him a letter about ways students could help him achieve his goals, strikingly similar to Obama’s messages.

Newsbusters remembered Bush’s address this morning — and also remembered that lefty darling Dick Gephardt was very concerned about it indeed (“The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president”). Reagan did it too, according to Tapper, although it’s unclear in both cases how widely televised the speeches were. The most amazing thing about this story to me is Tapper’s assertion that the White House was “caught flat-footed” by the outcry, which is certainly true given how quickly they moved to revise the prep materials. Do they not watch Glenn Beck or listen to Limbaugh? Is Andrew Sullivan really their primary source for how grassroots conservatives view the administration? They’re entitled to have as much contempt as they like for righty suspicions about creeping authoritarianism as government expands, but those suspicions are a fact of political life. Seven months into The One’s term, only a moron would fail to anticipate the reaction at this point.

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Why should we not believe that he is going after our schools and our children next?

Um, because it’s not true?

Grow Fins on September 4, 2009 at 2:48 PM

Don’t be so naive. Remember Obama’s push for mandatory service for our youth at the beginning of his term? I believe he put it in one of his bills that he had his buds in Congress draw up for him, it got thrown out of the bill. I know he is after the hearts of our young people, he needs the votes of some of them in 2010 and 2012.

I don’t trust him as far as I can throw him, and seeing as I am only 5′- 2″tall, and petite………you get the idea.

Susanboo on September 4, 2009 at 3:00 PM

Who’s Gaia, sven. And I didn’t vote for Obama.

Jimbo3 on September 4, 2009 at 2:59 PM

right Jim, “right Jim”….

Gaia Cult

gee sounds a lot like…Global Warming Hysterics”

sven10077 on September 4, 2009 at 3:02 PM

C’est la vie—it is the life’

Telle est la vie—such is the life’

Damn that public school system…!

Geezer on September 4, 2009 at 2:49 PM

I’ve spent considerable time in France and never heard anyone say, “Telle est la vie.”
And the translation would be “Such is Life,” not “Such is the life.”
Public schools don’t teach French.

Jenfidel on September 4, 2009 at 3:03 PM

garydt, I said tax dollars, not influence. And if you’re demanding vouchers for use at private and religious schools, realize that it would be very difficult to distinguish between Muslim mosque-affiliated schools and Christian church- and Jewish temple-affiliated schools and have that distinction be upheld under the US Constitution. So your push for vouchers would likely help Muslim schools.

Nothing about the federal funding of education is Constitutional, so what’s the problem?

Jen, I agree “If a parochial school is the only alternative to the crummy public schools, that’s the parents’ choice.” Just not with any tax dollars, directly or indirectly.

Jimbo3 on September 4, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Gary has a point: As long as Muslim schools are eligible for vouchers, Christian schools should be, too.

Because of God-hating Leftists like you, almost no-one gets vouchers and is condemned to send their poor children to crummy public schools where Leftism is the ONLY religion!

Jenfidel on September 4, 2009 at 3:07 PM

It would have been too obvious to ask the schools to only have those turning 18 by November 2012 watch.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who loved this country like Reagan? Just the little bits of one speech on this thread made me so sad at the depths to which we have sunk.

Haunches on September 4, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Public schools don’t teach French.

Jenfidel on September 4, 2009 at 3:03 PM

nor English.

sven10077 on September 4, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Public schools don’t teach French.

Jenfidel on September 4, 2009 at 3:03 PM

nor English.

sven10077 on September 4, 2009 at 3:16 PM


Susanboo on September 4, 2009 at 3:24 PM

I’ve spent considerable time in France and never heard anyone say, “Telle est la vie.”
And the translation would be “Such is Life,” not “Such is the life.”
Public schools don’t teach French. Jenfidel on September 4, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Jenfidel, I luv yah hon… and I appreciate your sincere attempt to correct “my French”?

It’s just like you’ve said and I’ve admitted; I’m nothing but a despicable product of today’s public school system.

I’ve resigned my self to the realization that I’ll eventually meet my demise in this sorry condition and there’s really nothing you or any of my former public school teachers can or could have done; to correct my revoltin’ ignorance at this late date.

Thanks for trying, though…H&K’s…!

Geezer on September 4, 2009 at 3:30 PM

I wonder if the public schools showing Obama’s speech will be keeping a list of the students who stay home that day and sending it to the White House…

MissDarcy on September 4, 2009 at 3:57 PM

“Look, there are some school districts that won’t let you read ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ” Gibbs said.

Hmmm? First, I think he means “won’t let you teach ‘Huckleberry Finn’ not won’t let you read it. Secondly, I thought the objection to Finn was from the left. He had better start checking with Ayres more often.

Haunches on September 4, 2009 at 4:05 PM

IMHO this is very troubling – WALLER ISD here in the Houston area REQUIRING kids to view this?

My son is required to watch.

“The school who has no problem with my son missing a day at school for being sick, Dr.’s appts., or vacation with the family is ok. All we have to do is write a letter and let him give it to the school when he returns. But I was informed by the school that for him to miss the prez talk i need a written letter hand delivered by me the day before school or it will be an unexcused absence. So if I don’t want him telling my son to do better in school (or any other subject he chooses to address) I have to drive to the school during school hours (that’s also business hours btw) I have to take time from work to say he don’t have to watch it. It’s not that he has to sit in a class room with other kids just during the event, he misses the whole day at school.

For me it feels like I’m forced to make him watch it or miss the rest of the day at school.

If i don’t want my son lectured about how he could do better at school (he is a straight A student) by the prez, he has to miss what he could be taught the rest of the day. I’m also punished with my time so he doesn’t have to hear it.

How is denying my son the rest of the day at school better for learning?”

Waller ISD contact list can be found HERE in case anyone might like to “share” their opinions……………TIA!

Katfish on September 4, 2009 at 4:18 PM

I haven’t read through all of this thread, so this may have been covered before, but it is time to get your kids out of public school. Not just for the speech, but for as long as the Indoctrinator-in-Chief is in office.

BitterClinger on September 4, 2009 at 4:25 PM

As a parent, the only problem I have with this speech to schoolkids is the fact that it is all about Obama. It could have been an opportunity to encourage kids work hard for their education and to study about our great nation, but instead, the White House and Dept of Education decided to turn it into a glorify Obama and how wonderful/smart/educated/super-duper popular he is. The problem is not that he is speaking to our kids, but that the emphasis was on learning about HIM.
Funny how it ALWAYS seems to be about Obama the man and not about America.
Maybe it is because most people currently in the White House do not think America is a great nation with a great history capable of great things. The current residents, and all the czars to boot, think the USA is an evil entity that needs to be stopped (sorry, “fundamentally changed”) at all costs. How can you encourage children to learn about and pledge allegience to that?
In my district, the kids already have that day off for a teacher workshop. The other districts around here are either letting kids opt out, not showing it at all, or only showing it on their website, where parents can choose to show it to their kids at home if wanted.

MississippiMom on September 4, 2009 at 4:27 PM

“Let me be clear about this, children. If your parents don’t like my health care plan, they are unAmerican. So when you fill out your worksheet, be sure to let me know if your parents are unAmerican. If you think your teacher might not send me that information, slip it to me privately at”

BitterClinger on September 4, 2009 at 4:30 PM

We, too, must move in and out of windows, we, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change. Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education– a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation. This World Education Forum provides us a unique opportunity to develop and share the lessons and challenges of this profound educational project that is the Bolivarian Revolution.

Viva Mission Sucre!
Viva Presidente Chavez!
Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

Bill Ayers, Caracas, Venezuela 2006

elduende on September 4, 2009 at 5:12 PM

I think kids can handle 20 minutes alone with him. Besides, if the boss is right that the real threat here will be teachers using this as a pretext for more politicized lessons going forward, what does it matter if the kids watch Obama or not? It’s what comes later that’s the concern.

I disagree with this. The real problem is, for the first time the President is invading the intimate sanctuary of the schoolhouse. In so doing he puts himself into the child’s classroom 24/7 from then on, whether or not he ever holds another one of these creepshows.

For the rest of their time at school Obama becomes a fellow traveler, a member (and one of very few) in the universe of the school environment, right next to the teacher her/himself and the various other fictional characters that inhabit the lesson plans and educational materials used today. Mr. Obama admits himself into their collective consciousness and remains there whether or not he is physically on “school television” every day, since he could re-appear at any moment if he so wished, given how happy Big School was to oblige him the first time (and the kids will certainly be picking up on that vibe during their first round of O-bedience training).

The psychic impact is fundamental and, indeed, “transformative”. And not a Good Thing in my opinion.

Sorry in advance if this has already been covered – just got to reading this now & haven’t read the comments yet.

RD on September 4, 2009 at 5:14 PM

Inauguration 1-20-09
January 21, 2009

And in that bright transcendent morning, the once unthinkable was, suddenly and inevitably, done.

-Bill Ayers on Obama’s Inauguration 1/21/2009

elduende on September 4, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness – and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling – their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.

elduende on September 4, 2009 at 5:21 PM

I’m not happy about this, but I’m not forgetting that the main takeaways for the kids will be that he’s serious and boring.

And that their teacher is a leftist loon if he/she makes them do the ludicrous exercises.


cranfordpundit on September 4, 2009 at 5:38 PM

Well in all fairness I did learn the above post regarded Waller ISD. I emailed them got a positive (IMHO) reply:

Hi Mr. Russell,

Please take a look at the letter that was sent home with your child today. Waller ISD is not showing the broad cast. The national address will be recorded and posted on along with the educational resources for parents to view with their child. I hope this puts your mind at ease.

For more information, please contact your child’s campus, or Marianne Kosik, Waller ISD Public Relations, at

936.931.0309 or by e-mail at [email protected].

Thank You,

Jennifer Schroeder

Administrative Assistant for the Superintendent

I sent back my thanks for the rapid response.

Katfish on September 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM

RD @5:14

I think you’ve got it. You’ve done an excellent job defining why so many of us immediately felt like this would be a creepshow. Many, alas many, of these children barely know who a president and wouldn’t recognize more than one or two. By insinuating himself into their environment, with breathless teachers extoling them to, “Listen, Listen, Remember”, he becomes an icon of power, of influence, of importance. One of my earlies political memories was the presidential race of 1968 but I learned about it from my family, my neighbors, and my parent supervised television viewing not kindergarden.

Haunches on September 4, 2009 at 6:17 PM

what a president is

Haunches on September 4, 2009 at 6:18 PM

“elduende on September 4, 2009 at 5:21 PM

“Gird yer loins, sharpen yer knives…an don’t forget tah… bring yer gun…!”

El fantasma… is in the house…!

Geezer on September 4, 2009 at 6:26 PM

Our District made it optional here in Vegas. The school I teach at is not going to show it. Bravo!

Hey libtards, watch it on YouTube later.

Mojave Mark on September 4, 2009 at 7:31 PM

Who vetted this guy? Reverand Wright?

Haunches on September 4, 2009 at 7:52 PM

Hmmmm….all you need to do to understand Obama is to understand Bill Ayers. What did the weather underground do? They tried to “indoctrinate” college students with SDS and cause divisions between the college kids and their families. Don’t you think that is where Obama was going with this speech? The young kids don’t have reasoning skills, so if the president says it, it must be true. Older kids are rebellious by nature and he wanted to take advantage of that.

njpat on September 4, 2009 at 9:04 PM

Seven months into The One’s term, only a moron an arrogant, megalomaniac would fail to anticipate the reaction at this point.


…if the boss is right that the real threat here will be teachers using this as a pretext for more politicized lessons going forward…

Here is PROOF, there is NO “IF” about the lessons going forward: (I’m sure this will be down the memory hole very shortly, so you might want to check it out post haste) YouTube school video of what looks like 2nd or 3rd graders chanting:
“Mm, mm, mm, Barack Hussein Obama.
He said we all must take a stand,
to make sure everyone gets a chance.
Mm, mm, mm, Barack Hussein Obama.
Mm, mm, mm, Barack Hussein Obama…”
Wait, it gets even better worse:
They sing a
NEW VERSION of the Battle Hymn of the Republic“:

“Hooray Mr. President, we’re very proud of you, we say for all America, the great red, white & blue. Hooray, Mr. President, we honor you today…”
See if you’re not a little creeped out by the whole Commu- Cultish “Dear Leader” vibe after watching.(I haven’t read all the comments yet, so if this is a repeat, apologies in advance.

NightmareOnKStreet on September 4, 2009 at 9:28 PM

All the proof you need is this….Acorn honored the AFT (the American Federation of Teachers – which is one of the largest and most radical teachers unions) president Randi Weingarten at their last event….and the AFT donated big bucks to both Obama and Acorn (and Hillary too.) What DO YOU think they are going to do? Teachers for the most part are represented by unions like AFT and NEA and they are for single payer….I know, I am digusted I am represented by these crooks.

njpat on September 4, 2009 at 9:58 PM

It really is not the speech for me at all. I do not like the man and did not vote for him. I can accept a speech in which the president would like to encourage students to do well.. It is the curriculum that goes with it that makes us stand up and take notice.

shar61 on September 5, 2009 at 11:06 PM

Right Wing Crazy Bomb? I love it.

Come on Libs, keep forcing stuff down the throats of the American People (Granny and the rest of the Wheelchair Mob).

We’re on to you Barry….

PappyD61 on September 6, 2009 at 10:02 AM