I wrote this piece in September of 2009. Apparently, this idea of protecting children from the President of the United States still isn’t dead, so I’m re-posting.
As I sit here watching and listening to President Obama’s speech for students on the first day of school, telling them the importance of staying in school, of taking control of their own education, and of growing up and doing great things, I think about the parents all across the country who had their kids stay home from school, or demanded that the schools not broadcast the message.
There was a conservative talk show host a few years back who referred to the public school system as the “government schools”. I actually think this is an accurate name for it. That’s exactly what it is. The Board of Education (a government entity) determines what should be taught in schools and then requires schools funded with public money to teach just that. Why should the President of the United States not be allowed to address the students in his schools? If you don’t like what the government teaches, then you can foot the bill to teach them whatever ridiculousness you want them to learn. (Just remember that, one day, those kids will have to grow up and deal with the products of public education. But I digress.)
There are some crazy ideas held by people in this country of ours–that the president wasn’t really born where his birth documents say he was, that the world is only 5,000 years old, that we all descended from one man whose rib was used to make the first woman, etc. I can now chalk one more up to this list of hair-brained conspiracy theories–that the President is trying to brainwash kids. As if these nut-jobs aren’t filling their children’s heads with enough nonsense, they apparently believe that the man elected for the people and by the people, through a perfectly acceptable, legal election process, is trying to destroy our future by telling kids to study hard and stay in school.
The people who believe this would probably also have you believe that even as we speak, President Obama’s education people are re-writing lessons so that the kids just starting kindergarten will be progressive, liberal thinkers by the time they graduate high school. They might even promote universal health care, anti-discrimination laws, or marriage equality.
These parents seem to think that if they leave their heads stuck in the sand and keep their kids home from school that change won’t happen. The change that the majority of this nation voted for–despite their staunch, conservative opposition. By ignoring the man who speaks of and hopes to bring this change, perhaps they think it will never come. In fact, the opposite will happen–it will come, but without them. By ignoring his speech, they make themselves the very definition of ignorant.
Yes, these ignorami have every right to choose what their children are taught. I just hope their children will grow with enough wisdom to make their own decisions and go through their lives as informed individuals, and not blinded by their parents’ ill-conceived theories.
For too many years, conservatives, republicans, and religious extremists had their way with this country, and look where it landed us. Fighting two wars, bearing economic crisis, and with millions of uninsured Americans. To these people, I say, “It’s over. You lost. The man actually volunteered to step in, despite the eight-year old mess that stood before him. You could at least have the decency to listen to him before you flat-out reject his ideas.”
But there’s no way to rationally argue with the irrational. So for our sake, I hope they’ll stay home, not just today, but every day. Stay out of my life, and believe me–I’ll stay out of yours.