The President’s Address to our Children

*update –Well that certainly got a little crazy yesterday, didn’t it?  I had no idea I was opening such a large can of worms, but I am thankful to all of you who were supportive in your comments and who provided encouragement throughout the day.  I’d also like to thank the last commenter, Katie, who gave a great example of how to respectfully disagree with someone.  Well done! 

Katie, I understand your point and would agree with you that there are probably a lot of children who don’t have the benefit of supportive and involved parents.  But that does not mean, in my opinion, that the address should be broadcast directly into the classrooms.  There are still ways that you could help ensure that all students have the opportunity to see the broadcast, without subjecting everyone to it.  For example, schools could open up their buildings in the evenings and offer to show the broadcast to families together. 

The fact of the matter is that parents have the right to know what’s going on and what’s being said in their children’s classrooms.  No elected official should be allowed to take that right from us.

And as an update, I have heard from Sloan’s school.  The broadcast will be made available to grades 3-5 only, so Lee and I feel comfortable sending Sloan to school on Tuesday.  We will likely watch the broadcast on our own and we will decide whether or not we think Sloan needs to see it.

Thanks all for the colorful conversation yesterday! Have a wonderful Labor Day weekend. 

I posted a status update on Facebook that got people talking yesterday and I wanted to expound on it more here.  It has to do with my reluctance and discomfort with President Obama’s September 8 address to students.  The President of the United States is going to be broadcast directly to students in the classrooms. 

I had more than one person respond or email me asking me why in the world I would be uncomfortable with the President’s address to students.  And my response is, why shouldn’t I be?  Even if the President speaking to my child was a man I had personally voted for, I would still be vigilant about wanting to know what would be said to my child before, during and after such a broadcast.

My child is six years old.  It is my job to be his advocate.  It’s my duty to ensure that what he’s being fed at school matches with the morals, values and worldview that we share as a family.  And, if what he hears doesn’t match with our viewpoint, then it’s my job to help him process the new information he’s received and filter it through the lens of his developing worldview.

And I don’t agree with the idea that by doing this we are brainwashing our child.  We are protecting our child.  We do not expect or hope that Sloan will be so sheltered that as he grows he’s unable to respect, hear or appreciate different viewpoints and opinions.  On the contrary, we hope that by helping him establish and solidify his own worldview, he’ll better be able to understand and respect the differing views of others.

Obviously, if you’ve read my blog for any amount of time, you know that we are conservative.  Some would say extremely so.  These conservative views are built upon our worldview, which has been established upon Biblical principles, which we believe wholeheartedly and passionately. 

That being said, I have no problem at all with my child being encouraged to enjoy learning and education.  I don’t see anything wrong with him setting goals and having dreams about his future.  I want him to be excited about learning and education.  I DO have a problem, however, with the President of the United States being live-streamed into my child’s classroom without me knowing what exactly he’s going to say, or how any discussion before or after will take place.

I have already called Sloan’s school and spoken with the Prinicpal’s assistant about my concerns and was informed that at this point, they aren’t sure if they are required to show the address by the school board, but if they are, parents likely won’t be asked to join.  But, we have the option of having Sloan leave the classroom if we want.

I’m not sure it will be necessary for Sloan to leave the classroom, but Lee and I will be spending some time researching this over the weekend and praying about what we should do.  I was told that teachers would be encouraged not to discuss the address – at least at the kindergarten level, but how  would I know? 

I take issue with this for several reason, the biggest being that I don’t think it’s the President’s business to show up directly in the classroom.  If he wants to speak directly to students, great.  I think he should do it.  But I think it should be done in the evening, on a national broadcast, when parents and children can sit down together and watch.  Because, in my opinion, education should start in the home.

Now, the fact of the matter is, I don’t agree with President Obama on a lot of levels and on many issues.  I feel like he’s trying to take our country down a path that’s unhealthy and over-governed.  I don’t want my President involved in every aspect of my life and I certainly don’t want him coming into the classroom, talking to my child when I’m not there.  While I want my children to learn about civics and about how democracy works, political science, I don’t want them being schooled in politics at school. 

Finally, I’ve read the press release to teachers, encouraging them to talk with their students. I certainly don’t have a problem with teachers helping children focus on their dreams and goals in education, but I don’t think our children need to be told the story of Obama’s upbringing, his background and so on and so forth. While Obama deserves our respect as our elected leader, he does not need to be placed on so high of a pedestal that our children think of him as a super hero. He deserves our respect, certainly, but not our worship.  Is his story inspirational?  Sure.  But we need to be careful on how much we elevate a fallible man. 

So we’ll see what we decide about Tuesday.  I imagine we’ll send Sloan to school and allow him to see the broadcast.  I am trusting that the teachers at the kindergarten level won’t being facilitating any kind of political discussion.  And I will watch the broadcast at home so that later, in the safety of our home, Lee and I can openly discuss with Sloan his dreams, goals and passions for his education.

I realize that there are many who don’t agree with my concern on this matter and I’m okay with that.  I’m glad we can have differing opinions and I don’t stand in judgement on those who choose to think differently.  But I do take my job as Sloan’s mother seriously, and I have to do what I feel is best for MY child.  And each of you has to do what you feel is best for your children.  We all share that responsilibity and acountability.  And that’s something I know we can agree on.

Comments

  1. paul…its a 180 because i was seriously trying to rile your feathers to get people talking..without it…blogs get boring…yes i did find it from my wifes facebook…and it looked interesting…catchy name…

    so i posted on it…but it went wild…i dont like the way you threw my personal stuff on here..I have a family and kids….#1 your trying to affect my job #2 my personal biz puts my fam at risk…I was trying to stir up debate…using the buzz words…

    but i request you do not post my personal info because your good w/ ocmputers

  2. i am wondering if theyre is a better place for discussion like this? if so please recommend and will play there with you

  3. Anyone ever see Peewee’s Big Adventure as a kid… I thought it was funny. There’s no basement in the Alamo! 🙂 classic.

  4. well it really is scary what the govt could do if it starts tracking us…look how easy paul pulled all my most personal info….i do not apprcieate you sharing it to the world…that hurts…my wife is freaking out scared now…so to calm her down please delete that…

    but wow what a world we live in…i will leave it to kelly or the other posters here to deside if you want me to leave or stay…i found the group by starting trouble..but my feelings are in line w/ the group…if you want me to leave IM GONE….if your willing to let me stay..please let me know its ok to stay…i wont be a bother..

  5. I’m a little scared to post with this “John” guy lurking in here attacking everyone who posts a comment… But I know you wouldn’t be a fan of that.

    Nice post Kel, well-spoken and articulated.

    I don’t think Obama intended for this to be a propaganda thing; he probably thought he was being young and hip and cool. And I agree, I don’t have a problem (totally) with the fact that they are airing his speech in school. I have a problem with the White House’s discussion questions afterwords.

    This quote by Jim Greer resonated with me because I vividly recall being ostracized in college for not being a liberal democrat:

    “The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President’s agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President’s initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates.”

    I am glad the schools are being given the option of whether or not they will air the address. But this gets a little scary beyond that for a whole host of reasons.

  6. once again tiffany i find this particular subject a touch subject perse…i am not lurking to attack! far from it…you posted honest straight forward thought that i can take home and share with my fam the pro’s and cons of it…

    i do agree the lack of debate is BS>…that is not fun what happend at college…but many colleges are set up to be sided towards the left which is wrong…

    why are they taking time to air it anyways instead of working on classwork?

  7. I am going to leave your blog since nobody thinks I am genuine…my feelings are really hurt…and I feel stupid for starting that way today…how in the heck would you now my sarcasim when you dont know me….probably would creep most of you out…I see how that looks from your perspective….so not much for salvaging anything that could be positive…I do wish you guys the best and we all should have the right to raise our families the best way we know how…

  8. Oh goodness, John. I did delete your personal information. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t have started tracking you if you hadn’t insinuated that you found my blog while out hunting for pornography. Your words, not mine. That’s why I was concerned. I don’t usually write baout politics on my blog, and today I addressed something in a relatively non-threatening way. You made it threatening.

    So don’t worry – your info is not out there and if you don’t want people to start tracking you down again, be very careful how you try to “start conversation.” I had you pinned as some crazy creep due to your over the top comments. There’s a better way to get people talking.

  9. good point point taken…what a stupid comment that was of mine…but seriously …and I dont mean this in a mean way…when i heard the name of the blog…i thought HOW CLEVER…but when i searched for it…some SICK stuff come up because of how SICK people can be…thats the only reason it even popped up in my mind…to bad google cant keep that out…i mean seriously what if a kid was looking for your blog……

    thank you for deleting that btw….

    i honestly think you would laugh if you knew how much our families had in common….but this was a horribly stupid way of me to get to know somebody…ha ha…but wow what a creep i must have come off has….WOW….

    one day i will be a better writer…i speak better then write…dont know how that goes…

  10. Candy martin says:

    I am proud of you Kelli for the way you have handled this blog today, Your concerns were well written. You handled the attacks from John extremely well, although knowing you as I do, you probably had “fire”eyes” typing some of your replies. You have always been one to stand firm on what you believe. Have a good weekend and kids my babies for me.
    Mom

  11. I was thinking the same thing, Mom Martin!:) Wow, Kell. I bet you never thought today’s post would be so exhausting and interesting!!!:) I agree– you did a wonderful job of moderating this thread with grace and Christ-likeness. Good job, dear friend. …And on the subject matter of today’s actual post, you made me thankful today that my babies are not yet school-aged:) …sooo much to think/pray through!

  12. Boy, Kelli, I popped back on here to leave you a note and am jaw-dropped at 61 comments! Holy cow.

    Anyway, this topic is still heating up on Facebook. I happened to vote in a FB poll on the school broadcast and suddenly people were all over me for voting no. I didn’t even leave comments or anything initially until I was feeling attacked. Crazy!

    II Timothy 3:12 is ringing true!

  13. Kelli,
    Your kiddos are very lucky to have involved parents and parents that can help them make good choices. But sadly in this world, not all children are so lucky to have that. I belive that president Obama’s speech is geared toward children in inner city and rural communities that don’t have that support system needed to help them stay in school and achieve their goals. Drop out rates in these communities are very high because they don’t have supportive parents or goals for their education. I think the reason he has chosen to speak during the school day is because many of these children maybe don’t have television, or they are doing other things unproductively outside of school, or maybe because he knows they don’t have parents that will sit down with them and talk about the issues of education. I think this is a great thing that he is doing for the children of those communities to get them motivated.

  14. Hi Kelly,
    I found your blog through Wendy’s blog. I’ve enjoyed reading from time to time. I read this particular entry (and all the comments) and have been giving the issue a great deal of though.

    Our son just started Kindergarten at the local elementary school. My husband grew up in the public school system, and I agreed to give it a go. I, like you, feel it is very important to stay connected and know what’s going on in our children’s schools.

    At first, I was relieved to hear that our district had opted out of showing the President’s address. Lately, however, I have mixed feelings on the issue.

    Yes, I agree it is a dangerous precedence to set to allow the President into the classroom directly whenever he wants. But, thankfully in this situation, he was being held accountable. The address was made public before-hand, so there would be no surprises. We were even given the opportunity to opt out if we wanted to.

    This is what I realized the past few days: While dwelling on all that could go wrong, I forgot to see the positives this could bring about as well.

    My first positive thought: How exciting for the children (who learn about their president and recite the Pledge of Allegiance in school every day) to have that same President desire to speak directly to them. So many other accomplished people in this world make no time for children. What a great way for the President to show these young children that he’s not too busy to care about them personally. He made it very clear that the young people in this country are important to Him – and to this country. Our school principals are allowed to address the children on the first day of classes, why shouldn’t he be? When else do our children get the opportunity to hear their President talking to them on their level in words they can understand. How thoughtful.

    Second, I have no clue what Stephen’s teachers are teaching him from day to day. Public school teachers have a wide variety of differing beliefs. Yes, they are not supposed to share those beliefs with their students, but our ideas have a way of touching every thing we do. They can even come across in ways we are totally unaware of sometimes. Like you, I can not possibly be in the class room with my son every minute of the day to hear what of those beliefs they are “sharing” with my child. That’s a risk we take in sending our child to public school. We send them off with a prayer, we teach them to discern between right and wrong, we try to keep our eyes and ears open, but the fact remains: We’re limited in how we can protect our child. And, obviously they don’t tell us everything, so how are we possibly to know it all. At least the President’s address was published the day before and we were completely in the know – and even given the option to opt-out if needed. Our teachers are not held to that same level of accountability. THIS scares me more.

    All my political, personal, and spiritual differences with the President aside, I think Katie made a great point. What the President was trying to do here is a GREAT thing. He’s speaking love and encouragement into the lives of our young people. Who of us doesn’t respond positively when someone we admire comes alongside us and says, “You can do it! I believe in you!” For some, all it takes is ONE person to stand up and say that to them and suddenly they start to believe it for themselves – suddenly they can move forward. Now, what’s the harm in that? In my eyes, when a leader takes the time to empower children to greatness…that is true leadership.

    And I just read the entire speech. AWESOME! I could say those things to my child, and he would listen. But, when the PRESIDENT OF THE USA gets up and says those things TO HIM, you better believe he takes notice. It’s like this: A girl’s daddy can tell her every day that she’s pretty. But, when the guy she’s interested in at school tells her the same thing (or one of the popular girls she looks up to) – THEN it takes on a whole new meaning. THEN SHE’S OVER THE MOON and will believe it for the rest of her life. That’s the power the president has – and thankfully he chose to use it for our children’s good this time around.

    There was not one thing in that speech that would harm my child. That doesn’t mean there won’t be in the next one, but I’m saddened to think of all the kids who may have missed out on the power of that speech TO THEM because their district didn’t show it or their parents were too busy to record it and show it to them once they got home.

    His speech was very caring: “I understand this is your first day and you might be nervous…” Very personable: “This was my experience as a student. I know what you are going through.” Very motivational and honest – getting kids to take ownership of their own futures.”Every single one of you has something you are good at. Every single one of you has something to offer.”

    Believe it or not, there are children out there who have never heard anyone say that to them. To hear the President say it to them….well, it might as well be their favorite rock star. That’s how powerful his words are. That’s just the way it is.

    I understand the concern in sharing details from his past. But, honestly, this speech would have fallen on deaf ears had he left it out. His story is what makes others believe they too can amount to something. He’s not just some rich guy who had life handed to him on a silver platter. He persevered. He worked hard. It wasn’t all a bed of roses. He shared his personal history without too many details – just enough so kids would know that have someone who understands them – someone they can look up to.

    Now, with that said..IF he were to start broadcasting his speeches without any sort of accountability or pre-filtering…THEN we start to worry. You are right to keep your eyes open, Kelly. You are right to be concerned. Thankfully this time around, we weren’t kept in the dark – and thankfully, at the end of this round our kids are actually better off because of it.

  15. Thanks for your words, Tammy. I agree with you – the President’s address was inspiring. And, truthfully, I wasn’t worried that he would be political in the classroom. I didn’t expect him to be so foolish.

    The sad fact of the matter is that I don’t trust our President or his administration and I think the flack he took for this address is indicative of that distrust. That is a sad thing. And I’m glad people raised an uproar, because if we hadn’t, I’m pretty sure his speech wouldn’t have been made available the day before. Our diligence in protecting our children ensured that we knew exactly what would be said to them.

    That’s our job as parents – to hold our elected leaders responsible and to ensure that our children’s minds and hearts are being protected. Lee and I do plan to show Sloan the speech as I agree with you – it’s motivating. But, my position stands that no elected official has the right usurp my authority in my child’s life – ESPECIALLY when he is so young and fragile. I would much rather watch that message at home with Sloan than him see it without me.

    Now – I would feel differently if he were older – as in a teenager. I would not object to him seeing it at school if he were in high school – again, as long as I had the option of viewing the speech first and the assurance that the teachers would remain neutral in their discussions.

    I really appreciate your comments, Tammy. Thanks so much for sharing.

  16. Yes, I do see you point as far as their age goes. Though it is special for them to hear their president at any age, it means more if viewed alongside those who care most for him.

    I agree with you when you say it wouldn’t have been made accessible beforehand had people not voiced their concerns. In that regard, it is good to see the voice of the people is still heard – and responded to at that.

    May I ask where you get your news order to stay on top of the issues. It would be helpful to have a trustworthy site for this sort of information.

    I also really enjoyed your entry on vaccines. Great job, Kelly! Say hello to Lee for me.

  17. Well, I don’t necessarily have a single place where I get my news. I kind of listen to everyone, though I try to avoid CNN because they tend to make me angry… 🙂 I do listen to and read Fox News, but lest anyone call me some kind of cronie, I also watch on occasion MSNBC, CBS, ABC and I read both USA Today on line as well as Fox News.

    As far as blogging, I tend to stick with conservative bloggers because I relate to them. That’s not overly helpful, I know. Sorry about that.

  18. In response to your paragraphs:
    I had more than one person respond or email me asking me why in the world I would be uncomfortable with the President’s address to students. And my response is, why shouldn’t I be? Even if the President speaking to my child was a man I had personally voted for, I would still be vigilant about wanting to know what would be said to my child before, during and after such a broadcast.

    My child is six years old. It is my job to be his advocate. It’s my duty to ensure that what he’s being fed at school matches with the morals, values and worldview that we share as a family. And, if what he hears doesn’t match with our viewpoint, then it’s my job to help him process the new information he’s received and filter it through the lens of his developing worldview

    I stumbled on your blog.. sorry. Very interesting debate going on. I am a very conservative Republican. I have a Sophomore in H.S. and a 2nd grader. So, I have 10 school years experience on what kids hear in school and are subjected to. These two go to a public school.
    You have your hands full if you want to accomplish paragraph number 2 above in a public school system. I would suggest home schooling or a Catholic school. (We sent my step daughter to a Catholic H. School and was very pleased with her education). I don’t like the state of our world any better than anyone else but it is so DIVERSE in every aspect that there isn’t anything you can actively do about it if you want your child to learn how to socially interact in an intelligent way in any kind of environment. Yes, you can keep them home from school when things like this happen. I did not vote for Obama. I don’t necessarily like Obama. He is the President of the United States. I had no qualms that the President of the United States was going to say anything detrimental to my child (our schools didn’t show it, by the way). I teach my children to respect the President of the United States. My children are to respect their elders, their teachers included. They may not agree with them, but you respect them and their positions that they hold – like them or hate them. I have taught my children (well, the 7 yr. old not quite yet) to hear another’s opinion and know that is just that – an opinion. My 15 yr. old has friends who are very socially AWKWARD, BACKWARD, HAVE TROUBLE MAKING FRIENDS, CAN’T VOICE THEIR OPINIONS, DON’T DO WELL AT ALL IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS because their parents have sheltered them from situations just like this. It is my job as a parent to discuss with them my thoughts on the subject(s) – their thoughts on the subject(s) and why I think the way I do. I wasn’t concerned at all that the President was going to state anything other than what he stated in this particular address. I guess I am naive. I doubt my 7 yr. old even knows this address occurred. I didn’t tell him – he IS SEVEN. If they would’ve shown it, I would’ve talked to him about it when he got home. My 7 year old is too worried about who is gonna play catch with him when he gets home from school. I am rambling now, but MY POINT IS there is no way you will ever know what your teacher is relaying to your child verbally, or non-verbally and yes, I think you will be a parent that is in the office or on the phone quite a bit with the school if you want to try and control what your child hears at school and/or how he perceives it. Ya just gotta deal with that stuff in your own home and keep the lines of communication going between you and your child. Parenting starts and ends at home. When they are out of your care is the “in between” time you hope they have listened to you. But, I am speaking from experience with my 15 year old. Just wait, they don’t grow up with your ideals the way you thought they would when they were 6. They have their own opinions and I cherish that. Don’t you want them to think for themselves whether you agree with it or not? I take my kids to church every Sunday and guess what? When they are 18 or 21 or 35 they could God forbid turn athiest. And it will all be out of my control. I get you are trying to protect your child. Good for you. I just wanted you to hear from someone who has been there done that and it is an uphill battle trying to raise kids the way we (or I at least) was raised.. with good moral values, etc. etc… it is so hard nowadays.

  19. Marsha,
    You’re right. It’s high expectations to think I’ll alwasy know what’s happening in my child’s class, but it’s still my goal to be very aware and very much a part of his education. We are considering private school, at least someday perhaps, but for now we do have a peace about sending him to public school.

    That being said, I grew up with a mom who was uber-involved in our schooling. She was homeroom mom, PTA mom, party mom – she was everywhere. As a kid, I know it sometimes bothered me, but I understand now. She was doing her job. She was making sure that she knew what was going on in the situations I was placed in. And as much as it bothered me (especially as a teen) I’m so grateful to her for that now.

    I’m simply following suit. That is the example I had for a mother and it is natural for me to fall into that role myself. I don’t mind being THAT mom – the one that’s always there, always calling the principal, and so on. I take it as my job. Some people may say I’m being overbearing, but I don’t agree. I’m being cautious.

    And truth be told, I will be the same mom whether or not my children are in public or private school. I am glad that my mom instilled in me the confidence and wisdom to know that there is no greater responsibility than being my child’s advocate. Perhaps my take on that is a little more stringent than others and I will likely loosen up a little after I’ve gotten a few years of school age children under my belt. But for now, as I’m navigating these new waters I’m in, this is the mom I need to be.

    Thanks for your comment.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I promised myself last week that I wasn’t going to post on this subject, especially after the firestorm at a friend’s blog, but here […]

  2. […] are other things I like to write about like, for example, politics.  But we all saw how that went for me the last time I did it, so I try to keep my political ramblings to a minimum because I want my blog to be a happy place.  […]

  3. […] The President’s Address to Our Children: I got political again and in doing so stepped in a big pile of *&%!  This particular post ended in me getting a call from Fox and Friends to be intervied on their morning program.  Unfortunately I was out of town when they called and was unable to do the interview. […]