Obama’s speech opportunity for students

Published 10:17 am Tuesday, September 8, 2009

At noon today a speech by President Barack Obama – billed as a “stay in school” speech – will be made available to schools throughout this nation. Similar speeches have in the past been offered by presidents from both sides of the aisle. This one has been different in that it has drawn much criticism and opposition. In part, at least, that has been due to the fact that some of those around the president tried to use it to support partisanship.

That has been taken care of, but the opposition has continued.

Why? What are we afraid of?

Aren’t those who oppose the president’s speech in fact risking depriving students of a great opportunity to learn to think for themselves?

Why run away from the possibility of hearing an opposing point of view?

Would it not be better for the school administrators and teachers (and parents) to tell their students that they can view it, but they have an equally important responsibility to decide whether they agree or disagree with the message?

Why would school administrators, teachers and parents not use this opportunity to say it is important for an United States citizen (and students are citizens) to respect the office of the presidency, but that each citizen has a right to agree or disagree with the person who holds the office?

Why would educators and parents not use this opportunity to explain that whoever holds the position of president serves at the pleasure of its citizens?

Why would they not see this as an opportunity to explain that the president works for us, the citizens?

Why would teachers and parents not want to use this opportunity to explain that our form of government works with a rule-by-majority, rights-to-the-minority philosophy and that this “loyal opposition” concept is fundamental to preserving a well-functioning republic.

It means you can disagree with the president or the majority rule of Congress and be no less of a patriot or good citizen.

Why would teachers and parents not use this opportunity to say: “Listen to those who might believe differently than you, especially if it’s the president of the United States?

Why not explain that by listening to those with whom you disagree, you might understand your own position better?

Why not explain that refusing to listen to other points of view leads to uninformed bias and ignorance?