Obama's next effort: a Children's Crusade?

Drudge featured the breaking news story that Barack Obama would hold a nationwide speech for elementary-school children a week from today, touching off a flurry of e-mails wondering what Obama had in mind.  Will this be just an opportunity to learn more about government?  Or will Obama try pitching ObamaCare to the Sesame Street set?

The teaching guidelines don’t really give much of a hint:

President Obama’s Address to Students Across America September 8, 2009

One does leap out: “Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the President.” Is that an elective or a prerequisite for mathematics?

Presidents often visit classrooms and talk to students. It usually makes a good photo op to put the President with children who obviously enjoy the attention, and there’s no harm in it. It can be a good teaching moment for civics instruction, which this nation does poorly at delivering. The timing can even be explained as the first week in which all children will return to school, and since for many of them it will be their first day, it won’t interrupt their normal curriculum.

Still, the nationwide speech aspect of this is unprecedented, and a little odd. Coming as it does on the heels of a disastrous summer, it’s not surprising that people are suspicious, including the boss:

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.

They probably don’t need Obama pushing them to do that, anyway, although it will certainly give them more energy to do so.

If Obama sticks to education and personal achievement in his speech, there should be no controversy. Parents should prepare their children for the difference between political speeches and actual facts in any case, which will be a most useful education regardless of what Obama has to say in his speech.

Update: One of the first bloggers I ever read regularly, Venomous Kate from Electric Venom, says she’s sending her child to school instead of using a protest absence — and the coolness factor is one of the reasons. Be sure to read her take, and catch the implied lesson of parental involvement.