"ABC" stands for All Barack's Children. On Sept. 8, young students across the country will be watching television. Yes, they'll be parked in front of boob tubes and computer screens watching President Obama's address on education.
Instead of practicing cursive, reviewing multiplication tables, diagramming sentences or learning something concrete, America's kids will be lectured about the importance of learning. And then the schoolchildren, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, will be exhorted to Do Something -- other than sit in their seats and receive academic instruction, that is.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan dispatched letters to principals nationwide, boasting, "This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation's schoolchildren about persisting and succeeding in school." But the goal is not merely morale boosting. According to White House event-related guides developed by the U.S. Department of Education's Teaching Fellows, grade-school students will be told to "listen to the speech" and "think about the following":
-- What is the president trying to tell me?
-- What is the president asking me to do?
-- What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about?
Students can record important parts of the speech where the president is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?
After the speech, teachers will ask students:
-- What do you think the president wants us to do?
-- Does the speech make you want to do anything?
-- Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
Obama's White House Teaching Fellows include Chicago high-school educator Xian Barrett, a fierce opponent of charter schools who founded a "Social Justice Club" and bussed students to protests, and Michelle Bissonette, a Los Altos, Calif., teacher who is "focused on developing my leadership as a more culturally and racially conscious educator."
The activist tradition of government schools using students as junior lobbyists cannot be ignored. Zealous teachers unions have enlisted captive schoolchildren as letter-writers in their campaigns for higher education spending. Out-of-control activists have enlisted their secondary-school charges in pro-illegal immigration protests, gay marriage ceremonies, environmental propaganda stunts and anti-war events.
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