I just heard that our school district is sending home notices with each child to inform parents that the President is planning to address students nationwide via television and webcast next Tuesday for 15-20 minutes around noon to welcome them back to school and encourage them to set goals, work hard, and pursue higher education. The notice then has a box for parents to check if they object to students hearing the speech, so they can be given an "alternate assignment". What is an appropriate alternative to listening to our Chief Citizen explain the benefits of education to which all denizens of the U.S. are entitled? Why would any parent object to education and hard work being lauded from the highest office in the land?
This is the stupidest thing I've heard in a long time. What do these parents hope to accomplish? Barack Obama is the President of the United States. It's not like their child is going to be able to be sheltered from this knowledge. Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush made similar addresses to students, and no one considered that parents needed to be warned or students given an "out". The speech is being made available online on Monday so that parents can preview the content.
What really bothers me is the lesson that this demonstrates to all students. This act shows that it's okay to stop listening to someone just because you disagree with them. You don't have to show respect to someone if you don't like them. It is not important to understand the viewpoint of those who believe differently than you. If we teach this generation to abandon the difficult conversations and disrespect the opposition, how can we expect democracy to continue?
I am concerned that so many parents overreacted to this. I am ashamed of our district leaders for lending credence to such an obviously ridiculous objection by sending home this permission slip.