My Turn, Your Turn: The President's education address - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

9.08.09

My Turn, Your Turn: The President's education address

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By Gary McNair - bio|email

School children around the country have learned a lot this week.  They now know beyond a shadow of doubt that some grown-ups can be so blinded by their views, they'll use about any situation to make a fuss.    

I'm sure you've heard that people are actually complaining that President Obama wanted to tell students to stay in school.  So what's the big deal?  And why was this not an issue when Presidents Reagan and Bush did the same thing?  If the importance of education is not a bipartisan issue, than what is?

One guy actually said that as a father it should be his job, not the President's, to tell his children to stay in school. 

I disagree.  There are a few issues that are so far beyond debate, the responsibility to get the message out belongs to everyone.  To name a few: Don't judge someone by the color of their skin.  Say no to drugs.  And yes - stay in school.

I'd think parents would welcome any attempt to reinforce these messages - even when they come from someone who didn't get their vote.

  • Click here to read the transcript of President Obama's speech for Sept. 8, 2009.
  • Click here to read the transcript of President George H.W. Bush's remarks to students at Alice Deal Junior High School in October, 1991.
  • Click here to read transcript of President Reagan's question-and-answer session with area junior high school students in November, 1988.
  • That's my turn.  Now it's your turn.  To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at yourturn@wect.com.

    Emailed response from viewers:

    Please tell me why someone wouldn't want their children encouraged to stay in school; especially in this day in time, when so many of our children are choosing alternative means to get encouraged.  How do you say, "Hey stop encouraging my child to stay in school!"  Are you saying that your child has a right to drop out if they want to?  I'm just trying to figure out the logic.

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    Enough is Enough.  Just got a poll to keep Obama from talking to our school kids.  DUH.  He is our country's leader voted in by the country's majority.  Do we tell our children NOT to respect and listen to their leaders??  I was always taught to respect adults in public office, leaders and teachers.  If you disagree with our leaders don't vote for them next time or complain to their board to get them out of their position.  Don't be teaching our children to be disrespectful to anyone.  Think about what you are telling them.  Our teachers already have enough discipline problems with their class.  Please, please don't promote more problems.  Are today's parents the reason for our children's lack of interest and talking back to their teachers?  Do we want to just send them back to their computer games to keep them away from the REAL WORLD?  Think about it and what you are doing to our future leaders.  Are you building lack of interest for future leaders to participate in our communities?    I would say YES, why bother!  

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    I am APPALLED that we have people here who are victims of the hatemongers among us who are demonstrating the ugliest side of character I have ever witnessed in all my life as an American.

    President Obama's appeal to students is about staying in school, working hard, striving for higher education.  People who say that he wants to "indoctrinate kids to a socialist agenda" are either IGNORANT  or MISLED or RACIST or any combination thereof.  I've never been so disgusted.

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    I am saddened to even have to address such a topic. However I feel compelled to. I am shocked and embarassed that some parents would push to block the presidentianl message re: the importance in staying in school. Moreover apphauled that some of the schools are actually doing so. First we take prayer out of the school, then a moment of silence. THEN the Pledge of Allegiance.  Now we are attempting to block a message from OUR President on a message that is SO very important at a time when so many students are dropping out of school and our teachers are being laid off. What type of message are we sending to our children by not backing are president and by devaluing such an important message. As a society in stead of working together as we certainly have the capability to do, we unfortunately tend to tear apart those appointed to represent us,,,,is this the message we want to send to our children?

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    Thank goodness it has been a rainy 2 days, because I have spent the better part of these two days on the internet trying to understand why any parent would not want a/his/her child to view or listen to President Obama's conversation with our school age children.  Tonight I read his speech on our local NBC affiliate's web site, www.wect.com.  I also read Mr. Reagan's speech and the senior Mr. Bush's speech to our school aged children...I do not understand the controversy.    Hey I have found Mr. Obama's words to be motivating and inspirational.  Just what our children...and maybe all of us need to hear at this time.

    I usually do not express or even state my political view, but I feel our country is at a crossroads.  Please do not allow right or left wing opinions to set your moral compass. 

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    Let me first state that I do not support President Obama's policies in the least.  I am one of those parents who strongly weighed the option of having my children skip hearing the message.  But before I blindly made that decision, I read the entire speech online last night.  Having read it, I did not find anything offensive, or even coming close to "indoctrination".  Therefore, I allowed my children to hear the speech today as it was a carefully crafted message on "doing your best".  However, most of those who commented on your essay missed the real point.  The real issue behind the controversy wasn't the content of the speech itself, but rather the teaching guide that went with it.  Of particular concern was the question "What can you do to help the President?"  Even the Dept. of Education agreed that this was mis-worded and it was changed.  And in response to one earlier commenter, I am not a racist for not agreeing with the President.  We need to get beyond that type of name calling.

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    I think you are absolutely correct. What's the big deal. I read his message and found nothing to be wrong with it. The president made very good comments. I've heard some people are saying he was gonna try to push the health care issue. Come on. Really. To elementary and middle school kids. At that age I don't think they would understand what the president was talking about. Please push the issue to my kids. Education is very important. Especially with the economy we live in.

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    The reason so many are not allowing their children to view this is because Obama is the most left,radical president we have ever had.Its not all about politics but its all about Obama and his arrogance , I did not allow any of our children to watch his speech and he was voted in by the majority of Americans but he does not have their support now and it shows.When Reagan and Bush gave their address to school children they were not nearly as controversial as Obamas whole administration. I dont believe that any president should speak in public schools ....If you cant have religion then there is no place for politics!

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    How could anyone who watched the president's speech to the school children, have not applaudeded the content. I 'm a registered republican and could not have agreed with him more.  I only hope my grandson was watching at his school.

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    Sincere thanks for your thoughtful comments re: the President's school address.  Very impressive.

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    Mr. McNair,  I totally agree with everything you said.  I hope all my grandchildren were watching and I hope they have a copy to keep reading.  There is nothing political about this speech.  I hope some adults are ashamed of the way they are acting

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    I believe that President Obama's message to the students in this country had the intention to be "solution focused". Focused on the current ills and inequalities of this supposedly "global society". We have to become future directed, we can no longer be satisfied with our students being just focused on what is going on in the moment. We are more concerned with where this country has been, rather than where it is going.Take a look at where we are now, and how we got here. We are here in part because we did not look far enough ahead, and put things in perspective in a timely manner.

    There is clearly a relationship between what President Obama's message was to our students today, and where the future of this country lies. It lies in the minds and hands of our students. How inspiring to have the President, the Ambassador that we have chosen to lead us to reinforce what our parents, mentors friends, relatives, etc, have been telling us. Not to mention he used himself and First Lady Michelle as shining examples. How empowering! Everyone may not be getting this info at home. Don't we want all of our students to receive the same information? Or do we? 

    Certainly, it is your right as a parent to make decisions that you believe are in the best interest of your child, but keep in mind that the ultimate goal would be to have all students to be able to be successful in school,and be able to contribute to a global society. We do not live in a box. If you are not able to see the true purpose of his message to the students, then perhaps you are not able to perspective take.

    There have been two past Presidents who recently attempted to do "the same'. I don't recall such controversy in the past. Be honest about this, and ask yourself, "what's different" here in this near same scenario? Basically the same, save for one variable. Go figure, if you haven't by now.

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    It is a sad day in America when we have parents showing disrespect and outrage because our President wants to encourage children to stay in school and get an education to better their future.  What do they think they are teaching their children by this behavior.  Not only should they be using every effort to keep children in school, they should be doing a self examination of their values and what they are giving to their children.  Maybe the non-interest and lack of respect is being generated from within the home atmosphere.  Turn off the computer games, talk and encourage children to be the best at what they want to be.

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    You are right on target again!  I watched coverage of the president's speech on the news tonight and saw some high school students watching him speak.  It occurred to me that the students were watching him speak to them...not the nation or congress or world leaders, but to children and teenagers.  If I were one of them, it would make me feel important that the president would take the time and make the effort to speak just to me and my peers....it would be empowering and make a lasting impression.

    The parents who have opposed their children listening to the president's speech have missed a very important lesson they could have taught their children:  that is that we will not all agree on issues or politics but we should respect others' rights to speak even if it is an opposing point of view. 

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    Thank you.  I couldn't have said it better myself.  It obviously wasn't the message, but the person delivering it that caused such an uproar.  It's very sad that there are still so many narrow-minded, prejudiced parents teaching their children to think and act like they do

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    Bravo to the topic of Obama's speech to the school children.  In fact, my husband and I were discussing the topic right before you came on, and used some of the vary same vocabulary in expressing our surprise that anyone -- anyone -- would oppose such a universally accepted bipartisan philosophy spoken to our children. 

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    I suggest you try watching Fox News to acquaint yourself with the concept of "fair and balanced" news reporting and editorializing.  Of course there were some parents who did not vote for Obama and who did not want the President to address their children.  But the vast majority of people who were opposed to the address took that position because Obama, after proposing to pass along important guidance and suggestions to the children,  then wanted kids to write a report on how they could help him as President.  You failed to mention this aspect of parental opposition, and it was a critical component.  He politicized the process, something Bush and Reagan simply did not do.   He has taken President's Kennedy's sage message of "Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather, what can you do for your country"...and bastardized it by asking "...what can you do for your President". 

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    I think that it is important that the kids stay in school .but why does the president have to talk to our kids about politics they have a lot to learn.

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    Thank you so much for expressing what I feel regarding the President's speech and those who were against it. I saw the Mayor of Hartford, CT earlier, and he commented that whereas 80% of public high school students in the state graduate, only ~30-35% in Hartford do so. I do not know what the rate in New Hanover County is, but judging from some of the youngsters I meet who can barely articulate, it must be close to the Hartford average.

    I know that public education is a far cry from what I experienced...HS grad in 1962 in an affluent suburb of Philadelphia. I hope that the current administration's efforts to improve graduation rates will produce substantive change.

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    I am embarrassed beyond words that any parent would object to the President of our county implying he has no business encouraging our young people to do the right thing and take their education seriously, stay in school and be productive adults. To those parents I say, you are doing your children a great injustice to teach them to mock the President or any authority figure. Let me know how that serves them in the workplace or society as they make their way in the world.

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