Is Obama's Speech to Schoolchildren "Socialist?"

Next Tuesday, President Obama will address the nation's schoolchildren. The White House says the speech is a "welcome back to school" message that will emphasize the importance of academic achievement to the country's future -- the same theme as the education portion of Obama's February speech to Congress. The White House also provided teachers with suggested lesson plans for the speech. The original plans called for teachers and students to discuss questions including, "What is the President asking me to do?" and "Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?"

Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer complained Tuesday that the speech and lessons were an attempt "to spread President Obama's socialist ideology." Other Republicans followed suit, expressing concerns. So now the administration has revised the lesson plan to emphasize a discussion of "how [students] can achieve their short‐term and long‐term education goals."

The Dallas Morning News has a good report on this tempest in a teapot. In a nation with almost no social safety net, the public schools remain just about the only institution that touches the lives of 90 percent of Americans. How sad to oppose a discussion there about national service and civic and personal responsibility. If that's "socialist," it sort of makes you wonder if critics like Jim Greer even believe in public education.

--Dana Goldstein

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