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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Other presidents than Obama have spoken to students, too




The way school districts have reacted to President Obama's planned televised speech to students next week, you'd think some enemy of the state had asked to address our nation's youth. 

Does anybody remember such a visceral outpouring of anger and concern when presidents Ronald Reagan or George H.W. Bush made similar presentations? (Click on the links for the actual comments.)

What? You don't remember those speeches? Honestly, neither do many of us, and we were students at the time. But, as Education Week reminds us, they did happen. And, believe it or not, Bush's speech also set off a partisan war of words, with Democrats accusing the president of using children as political pawns.

Obama is trying to stave off the criticism, already releasing the lessons plans attached to his speech, which will be published on Monday on the White House Web site for parents to review in advance. Still, area districts already have given parents the opportunity to pull their kids from class — or from school — if they disapprove.

The Times editorializes that this political war over Obama's speech is unseemly. Perhaps so. But it certainly highlights the GOP's ability to play the press and the public, and it also offers schools a chance to really teach students a lesson about civics, politics, the presidency and freedom of speech. Let's hope they use it wisely. 

Should schools let children opt out of listening to the president's speech?

(Image from and the Associated Press)

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:34am]


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