The Czar has read the President’s speech, which of course was posted far too late for schools to do anything about it. The Mandarin is aware of some school districts—and the Czar has similary heard—that school principals are saying “Screw it; we aren’t doing it.” That is a fair and understandable response—the President clearly could have pre-released this speech a week ago to allow principals and school districts the ability to assess properly whether the speech is worth showing to an assembly of students of all grades.
Well, it really is not worth showing, especially to kids younger than 14. From the forced cuteness of his mother calling him “buster” to the trite “listen to your parents,” this speech is shallow pablum that reads more like an eight-grade valedictorian speech.
Except for a couple of things that annoyed the Czar. The President at one point is setting up the idea that only the student can make his or her own educational experience rewarding, and begins dismissing the impact of his own speech to that end, when he suddenly hits them with this:
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
Perhaps he has talked a lot about these things. He has yet to do anything to set high standards except a ridiculous proposal back in March to extend the school year and lengthen the school day, which of course was shot down by the union since it was asking teachers to work 10 hour days, almost year round, as babysitters for no extra pay. He has done nothing to support teachers and principals, nor has he turned around any schools. Of course, this isn’t the President’s job, and even if it is, he hasn’t had a lot of time to do it. What he is doing, however, is taking credit where none is due, and subtly creating the notion that he, Barack Obama, has done wonderful things for the students already.
So already, in a speech promised not to be political, he has the liberal Democrats patting themselves on the back. Check out the liberal gagging going on in this reminder about the importance of school:
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free.
Good things, sure, but all Democratic talking points. What about using science and math to develop new technologies, master engineering, and succeed in business? What about studying history and social studies to create a color-blind society and eliminate nonsense like welfare and affirmative action?
To bolster the importance of staying in school, the President provides some case examples: Jazmin Perez, who overcame difficult circumstances to study public health. And Shantell Steve, who is working at a community center to keep kids out of gangs.
Hey—just like our own President and First Lady, who respectively worked as a community organizer and worked in a public health coordination position (although the First Lady’s high paying position was whacked as soon as she resigned).
I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn.
Just so you know whom to thank, we suppose.
In short, this speech is filled with a lot of disjointed truisms: study hard, wash your hands, write multiple drafts of research papers before submitting anything, stand up for little kids, and view failing grades as good things…to the point that it seems, like HR 3200, a little slapdash.
Is it as polemic as we feared? Absolutely not. Is it valuable to students in any way? None whatsoever. Is it worth pulling millions of kids out of classes to listen to him ramble about not dropping out or avoiding the temptation of reality television? Only your school board knows for sure.
One good line worth remembering: “The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough.” Amen to that.