Every year, on the night before school starts, I announce that it’s time to take a walk. All six of us fan out throughout the house to find our flip flops, someone gets a leash for Scotty the dog, and we set out in a disorganized band up our street. But it’s not just a walk. It’s a ritual.
This year was no exception. On the evening before we took our second daughter off to college, my husband, our four children and I took turns confiding our goals for the coming school year. It’s an annual rite that connects us to our dreams and helps each of us to look forward to the challenges ahead, but also reminds us we’re not alone in our efforts – we have family cheering us on and faith to support us.
The message we deliver to our children as they reveal their fondest hopes for themselves is not unlike the message President Obama attempted to deliver in his address to school children yesterday.
Make goals for yourself and announce them to others so you’ll be accountable. Work hard. Take responsibility for your success. Get help when you need it.
Since the President’s message was so similar to the advice we give our own children every year, why am I so bugged by the fact that he took to the airwaves and the Internet to deliver this speech to America’s public school students?
Why does it seem so creepy to me?
I’ve wrestled with this question since last week when it was revealed that the speech would take place. I certainly don’t object to presidential addresses being aired in schools in the event of a national emergency such as 9/11, or during an historic occasion such as an inauguration.
So I asked myself, am I cynical about the overly political nature of this speech simply because I disagree with the President’s politics?
Those who favor the president’s speech to school children point to previous addresses by George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan as proof that a precedent has already been set for such an address.
I’m loath to be labeled a hypocrite, so I went back and read those speeches. Now I know why President Obama’s talk bothers me.