My parents teach at a rural Oklahoma High School. The entire district has around 500 students. Many schools in the region and across the nation have decided not to show the President’s Speech to America’s Students on Tuesday. I’m proud to say my that my school is doing what’s right – they’re incorporating the speech into class curriculum.
My dad didn’t vote for Barack Obama (despite my best efforts to sway him). He doesn’t support many of his policies and he makes no secret about it. But when he found out that the President was planning to address the nation’s students, there was no question about whether to show it or not. It was just the natural thing to do – the President of our Nation wants to address students, just like others have before.
So Dad was surprised when school districts nearby decided not to show the speech. He was surprised when Conservatives in the media criticized the President harshly about what Dad sees as a non-issue. He was surprised when Oklahoma legislators started accusing the President of attempting to indoctrinate young people. But what really iced the cake was when parents started calling his school to complain.
“Are you sure this is constitutional?”
“Doesn’t the Constitution prohibit this sort of thing?”
“I don’t want my child brainwashed.”
“Will students be forced to watch?”
“Will my child be counted absent if I take them out of school?”
Luckily, the administration backed my him up. Students will be going to specific classrooms to watch the speech. Those who don’t want to view it will be sent to another classroom to work on assignments or study. Those who don’t come to school Tuesday will be counted absent.
Many students don’t receive any sort of support at home. There isn’t anyone encouraging them, pushing them forward, and congratulating them for their successes. And for minority students, there often isn’t any sort of role model or figure in their lives to prove that they can do whatever they want, with a little hard work. So I’m glad those students will have the chance to listen to the President speak directly to them. It’s not going to be about votes, health care reform, or anything else political. It’s about encouraging students to stay in school, get good grades, and work hard. What’s wrong with that?
I’m proud of my rural Oklahoma school district for making the right decision and I’m proud of my barely-Democratic Dad, too. For him, this was an easy decision…It was just common sense.