September 4th, 2009
05:12 PM ET
5 years ago

Educators take heat over Obama school speech

The White House says President Obama's address next week to school children isn't a policy speech.
The White House says President Obama's address next week to school children isn't a policy speech.

(CNN) – The White House found itself on the defensive Friday over what would ordinarily be considered the most uncontroversial of events: a back-to-school speech for children.

The White House said the address, set for Tuesday, and accompanying suggested lesson plans are simply meant to encourage students to study hard and stay in school.

Many conservative parents aren't buying it. They're convinced the president is going to use the opportunity to press a partisan political agenda on impressionable young minds.

"Thinking about my kids in school having to listen to that just really upsets me," suburban Colorado mother Shanneen Barron told CNN Denver affiliate KMGH. "I'm an American. They are Americans, and I don't feel that's OK. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now." Video Watch how some parents are upset »

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (300 Responses)
  1. Michael Chefalo

    I would invite the woman who is afraid to be in this country to leave and find a better place to live... it will be a long search.

    September 4, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. ol cranky

    If *anyone* had complained about a plan for Bush to give a back to school speech to students, the republican party and the right wing pundits would have demanded they lose their citizenship and everyone else would have criticized the complainers for being idiots. It's frightening that it seems as though the majority of conservatives now seem square with what used to be the fringe and are going bat guano crazy over this

    September 4, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  3. awaitingliberalizationbyCNN

    There is nothing wrong with a president addressing school children as long as it isn't a political tool. The controversy shows that a lot of people don't trust this president and his administration, because of all of the other political hijinks they pull. These are nothing but Chicago thugs and the cannot be trusted to work in the best interests of the majoirty of the country as they have proved time and time again since January.

    September 4, 2009 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  4. John W, Lott

    I believe the problem that conservatives have for president obama is deeper than even THEY realize. They wont admit it but they are prejudice. Race is such an old belief, scientist have proven through DNA testing that we are ALL related, we all came from Africa 20,000 plus years ago. OOHH, I can hear them now screaming that i dont know what i am talking about, the truth is they are so ignorant that they are stuck in the 19th centtury and will never change. I am not here to change them, but, do not try to push your "conservative" bull down our throats. Admit that you dont like a black president in charge and we can get back to work healing this country.

    September 4, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  5. Jim

    I think it's wonderful and inspiring our President will speak to school children directly about the importance of education and goals. What is inappropriate about that? He is a living example of his message,

    I would have loved to been spoken to in the same way by Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson (OK, not Nixon!). Obama's right-wing critics are making themselves look foolish and embittered.

    September 4, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  6. Eric

    Time to turn off your Fox News and Rush radio folks. This is your result.

    Is fear and smear all the conservative voices know these days?

    September 4, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  7. Grace

    It's ok for Obama to address the children like Bush did; the only problem before the White House fixed it was that instead of writing letters on how the students can achieve their (the students') own goals, the activities were about how the students can help the president; how did the president inspire them. This approach is similar to how Communist countries try to reach and influence the youth by having the students glorify their leader, and this is simply wrong. I would hope that we wouldn't emulate Communist countries, but Barack Obama and his cronies lean on the socialist side, so it wouldn't seem foreign to them. The country had better wake up and see what kind of people Barack Obama and his "czars" really are.

    September 4, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  8. Jen

    I can't believe that anyone would think that a President would use his postion to "indoctrinate" school children. What is even more unbelievable are the people who are listening to these right wing radio media folks and believing everything they say. Think for yourselves, people. No one is out to "get" you or your children. How very sad.

    September 4, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  9. Exasperated

    I think this is a fine idea. The main focus of the address is to stay in school and study. You may be very surprised to know how many young people in this country still do not receive a high school diploma. I work in Human Resources. A high school diploma or GED is required for hiring....even to sweep the floors. I could understand in some older folk who went to school when it was not as important but in the young people it is amazing and disturbing. If you could see the spelling on the applications you would wonder what our schools are doing. I am not talking about an inner-city area here as some of you will be quick to assume. This area is small town...safe and supposedly good schools. Somebody needs to get the message across. Why not the President? Should we stop kids from reading the newspaper (excuse me!) the online news? Not let them see the 6 o'clock news report? Chill out and stop seeing evil in every action of everyone who may not believe exactly as you do.

    September 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  10. SS

    My viewpoint on this is that the speech should be viewed at night when parents and their kids can sit down and watch it. This way if parents don't approve of what he has to say then they can turn off the TV. I don't think any president (republican or democrat) should be using up part of a school day that is already full of learning to address anything unless it is a national emergency. If the president sticks to what they say he will be speaking about then all of this has been crazy but when can you trust most politicans at their word. That is why this should be viewed in the home not at school.

    September 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  11. AShiraishi

    I can't wait until Tuesday night when all of these right-wing nut jobs are forced to dine on CROW!! What a bunch of nonsense!! Regardless of what our President has to say every American – old and young – should WANT to hear it even if it is to disagree with him. When did this country become so disrespectful?!?! I'm beginning to think that we've lost our collective mind... If our children are such mindless little automatons that they would take in everything that is said to them and become "indoctrinated" by it the only reason lies with people like these who would have them be so shielded from all thought-provoking controversy rather than hear and decide for themselves through open discussion among their peers and families. The loss of such intelligent interaction is the REAL reason that this country is going to Haydes in a hand-basket!!

    September 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  12. Tim

    It's amazing how the current conservative tatics are to capitalize on fear. It seems that the things they're doing in the health care debate and now spilling over to all areas of political life, even to the point that they are willing to rob their kids of an opportunity like this one.

    I might remind them that Obama has done more to use his position and example as a father to encourage family integrity than any other president in recent history. It's time for some rationality to be breathed into this situation.

    September 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  13. Meka

    Apparently, Republicans have been living in FEAR for so long . . . they can't get past their own BS!

    September 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  14. jared

    Teachers/Parents..if you let your students/kids listen to Obama they are going to unionize...than you'll have to pay allowance!

    September 4, 2009 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  15. ken

    these are the people that aren't upset about the 4,900 plus americans killed in iraq for no apparent reason. that;s o.k. the president wanting to speak to school kids is not. by the way, the decider did the same thing and a whole generation of school kids are stupider for having to listen to it.

    September 4, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  16. Gary

    Racism alive and well. Oh this isn't about race (wink, wink).

    September 4, 2009 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  17. Deuce

    Obama idea! If you can w3i n over the Kids, then you will get the parents. Wrong!!!! The Kids get the Brunt of none working Mums and Dads. If you want to win over the Kids Mr Obama, I suggest you consentrate of the Grown Ups. ....

    September 4, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  18. MB

    I am appauled that this is even an issue. He is the POS. What are we teaching our children when we pull them out of school because the POS wants to encourage them to work hard and stay in school. People are really stating to show their "stripes". Town hall brawls and now this.

    September 4, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Kate in SW Fla

    These peole are nuts. They hate Obama, bacause he is a Democrat. That is all this is about. We now live in a country where people are judged by what party they belong to. They say THEY are afraid? Man, these are the freaks we should fear.

    September 4, 2009 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  20. mike

    Obama continues to expand the role of the Federal government and the powers of the executive office and I doubt our Founding Fathers envisioned or gave the president the authority within the constitution, to himself teach our Nation's Children.

    September 4, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  21. Sgt. USMC

    "I'm an American. They are Americans, and I don't feel that's OK. I feel very scared to be in this country with our leadership right now."

    Shanneen Barron, you are an idiot!

    So because you are an American and your kids are American, it's not ok to have the President of the United States of AMERICA give a speech to students about staying in school and working hard? WOW. It sounds like you may have missed a few too many classes yourself. Well, there's always Canada. LOSER!

    GOD BLESS AMERICA BECAUSE YOU HATEFUL PEOPLE NEED IT DESPERATELY.

    September 4, 2009 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  22. Anthony

    President Obama can lay a quiet FART and people, neo-conservatives and those who just don't like him will complain. Moreover, I can just hear Republicans say it's un-American, un-patrioic to lay a silent fart. Actually come to think of it, Obama will get criticized because his silent, un-American fart did not come out red, white, and blue.

    September 4, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  23. Lila

    Where is all this irrational fear even coming from? I don't understand it. People are making assumptions based on fear and running around touting them as facts. Get a grip!

    September 4, 2009 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  24. Chris Anderson

    Wow! Really?

    People who are against their children listening to a speech by President Obama should own up to the real issue they're struggling with.

    September 4, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  25. Reformed Republican

    These bat crap crazy bed wetting conservatives need to stop drinking their own "kook-aid".

    Since when is the POTUS talking to school children about studying hard, getting good grades and learing how to work within their community warrant this hysteria? That's not politics, that's the American way in case you forgot.

    Come on America – shout down and mock these tin foil hat wearing lunatic fringe conservatives for the crackpots they are. Not for political advantage but for the sake of our children!

    September 4, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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