WSJ knocks Greer but questions 'aggrandizing' Obama speech
President Obama's plan to speak to America's schoolchildren next Tuesday has some Republicans in an uproar. "As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology," thunders Jim Greer, chairman of Florida's Republican Party, in a press release. "President Obama has turned to American's children to spread his liberal lies, indoctrinating American's [sic] youngest children before they have a chance to decide for themselves." Columnists who spy a conspiracy behind every Democrat are also spreading alarm.
This is overwrought, to say the least. According to the Education Department's Web site, Mr. Obama "will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning"—hardly the stuff of the Communist Manifesto or even the Democratic Party platform. America's children are not so vulnerable that we need to slap an NC-17 rating on Presidential speeches. Given how many minority children struggle in school, a pep talk from the first African-American President could even do some good.On the other hand, the Department of Education goes a little too far in its lesson plans for teachers to use in conjunction with the speech—especially the one for grades 7 through 12. Before the speech, teachers are urged to use "notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama's speeches about education" and to "brainstorm" with students about the question "How will he inspire us?" Suggested topics for postspeech discussion include "What resonated with you from President Obama's speech?" and "What is President Obama inspiring you to do?"
This seems to cross the line between respecting the office and aggrandizing the man who currently holds it. As the President and his speechwriters prepare for school on Tuesday, we hope they will be more circumspect than the education bureaucracy.