School Lessons from Obama

Any minute now, President Barack Obama will address the nation’s schoolchildren in a planned televised speech that caused a partisan furor after Florida Republican Party chairman Jim Greer accused the president of using the speech to indoctrinate students with his “socialist ideology.”

The Department of Education released a copy of the prepared speech on its Web site to stem the controversy and even Greer admitted he saw nothing wrong. But we caught a few eyebrow raising statements. Among innocuous exhortations like “Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future,” and “Don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox,” Obama encourages the nation’s children to consider a career in (gasp) journalism:

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide. Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class.

He then equates the digital communication revolution with the actual American Revolution:

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

Shocking stuff.

Every network should be scrambling for reaction from 14-year-old Republican cult-star and “Define Conservatism” author Jonathan Krohn and “kid reporter” Damon Weaver, who demanded upgraded cafeteria food in an interview with Obama last month.

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Alexandra Fenwick is an assistant editor at CJR.