Too much time spent on speech
President Barack Obama's speech to schools across America last week was welcomed by Republicans and his opponents like an indoctrination speech from Karl Marx himself.
Opponents believed his was a diabolical plan to embed liberal views to a captive junior audience free from parents, and later even reach parents through pressure from their children. Democrats and supporters of the president, on the other hand, couldn't believe anyone would question the motives of the president for no other reason than respect for the office.
Despite questioning, the president's Republican congressmen didn't order the General Accounting Office to probe production of the speech and summon top Obama administration officials to Capitol Hill for a hearing, which is exactly what happened when the first President Bush spoke at Alice Deal Junior High School in 1991. That speech cost $26,750 to prep and was paid by the Department of Education which drew fire from then Democratic Rep. William Ford. Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the probe. He questioned the legality of using funds from the Department of Education to pay for the speech which he termed a TV event.
Presidents Reagan, Bush Sr. and Clinton all used their office to speak to students. Listen to any of their speeches and depending on your political leanings you would probably hear at the very least a smattering of their political views.
Reagan, like Obama, was considered an outstanding communicator, and his speech to students in 1988 was perhaps the most political of all preaching the Republican platform of less government and lower taxes. The question isn't whether the president has the right to speak to a nation of school children, but is it really a good use of limited classroom time?
There is no questioning President Obama's message of student responsibility but a better option for this and future presidents would be to schedule an early evening press conference for students. Let parents and children listen to the speech together, and afterwords discuss the message.
These days with TiVo and DVD, parents who have concerns could prescreen the speech. Since the speech was announced, too much time was spent by schools deciding if they should view the speech, should it be mandatory, was parent's permission required and if not, what other activity do they need to arrange for those students who opted out.
-- Brock is The Dickinson Press publisher.