Education Letters 9/14

Heavens! They’re teaching social studies

I thought I was mad about health care reform, but now President Barack Obama has gone too far. He delivered a speech to my kids telling them to work hard and stay in school. I will not stand for such brainwashing of my children! This is clearly another attempt to indoctrinate our children into socialism. Next he will be telling them to wash their hands! Do you know what they are already pushing in my son’s school? SOCIAL studies. Can you believe it? I suggest you check your own children’s schools because I’ll bet they are pushing the EXACT SAME agenda.

I don’t know about folks from those liberal school districts with so-called “high SAT scores,” but I don’t believe in government schools. My kids’ schools are paid for by school districts — not some commie government program. I urge everyone to oppose Obama’s sinister plan. We must rise up as patriots to oppose his speech and the ideas it contains. Say “NO” to personal responsibility. Say “NO” to commitment. And most of all, say “NO” to learning.

Jim Mayer, Carrollton

The speech was far from an innocent message

Maureen Downey makes it all sound so innocent. She makes it sound as if we parents don’t usually care about what our kids hear at school from guest speakers, so why should we now when it is such a positive, encouraging message?

This was not career day. The original intent of this speech was loaded with ulterior motives and was purely political. Our children’s instructional time should not be interrupted for politics. If parents want their kids to hear it, they can videotape it and listen to it at home. Please don’t insult our intelligence by making something serious sound so harmless and treat concerned parents as if they are overreacting. I get enough of that from the school I pay taxes to support.

Angie Vonderhaar, Marietta

Systems taught kids disrespect is fine

Congratulations to Cobb County schools and all other school districts in the metro Atlanta region and nationwide that chose not to broadcast President Barack Obama’s speech.

Instead of teaching our children the very valuable lesson of staying in school, working hard to achieve goals and dreams, and working for the betterment of our country, these school districts have taught our children that the office of the president of the United States of America is not to be respected. They have taught schoolchildren that a president is only to be respected if the president’s political party is aligned with that of their parents or the majority vote of the county where they live.

They have provided kids with the fundamental basics needed to show disrespect to elders — after all, if you can disrespect the president, why not the local sheriff, the mayor, the principal?

These school districts have done the equivalent of what the Iraqi journalist did when he took off his shoes and threw them at President George W. Bush. What a sad day for our children and for our country.

Melissa O’Brien, Kennesaw

Americans don’t trust this U.S. president

With all due respect, Maureen Downey answers her own question, “How could anyone fault that message ...?

The answer is simple and provided often throughout her piece. Most Americans do not trust this man.

He promised the world to get elected, captivated the majority of the electorate with abstractions like hope and change. He has delivered absolutely nothing; even his core constituents haven’t received the improvement in their lives they were led to believe would happen by now.

Most right-thinking (that’s correct and political) Americans see this “speech” as Obama’s chance to pander to our most vulnerable and easily manipulated population segment, young people.

Ed Letts, Decatur

Time for pep rallies, but no time for the president

A letter arrived from our school superintendant stating that Mr. Obama will be speaking to the nation’s students but that the schools are not under any obligation to take time out of the school curriculum to let the children watch. I am absolutely appalled at such an attitude.

Certainly, the schools are under an obligation to hear the president’s words in support of education. This was not a political speech. I expect our school superintendant to respond to this request with the respect and import due any president. I expect him to relay that respect and import to the school administrators and students.

And if the school curriculum is so tight that we cannot take “precious time” out to listen to a discussion about the importance of education, I expect that there will not be time taken out for pep rallies or any other frivolity, either.

Anne Petherick, Cherokee County

No one should ever hope that a president fails

When I think of my years in school (including college and graduate schools) and close to four decades as a teacher, the only speeches that stand out are those which were extraordinarily good (inspiring, informative and even entertaining) or extraordinarily bad (“boring,” to use an overused word, rambling, polemical, even irrational).

Note that the words “good” and “bad” reflect my point of view, and undoubtedly others in the audience would have disagreed with me.

Not once, however, did my parents, my peers, my colleagues, or (except in one or two very rare cases) the parents of my students ask to be excused.

The governing assumption of education was that listening to ideas with which we disagree was a valuable occasion to examine our own ideas and sharpen our own defense of these ideas. I question the fate of a democracy in which faked “evidence” and bombastic voices provide a basis for hopes that our president will fail.

Even as I have lived through presidential administrations for which I did not vote, the hope of failure was not one I voiced. My prayer was that the policies with which I disagreed would somehow turn out to benefit both our country and the world; my assumption was that I might be wrong and that someone else might be right.

For those who are concerned about students missing class time to listen to the president’s speech, I suggest a serious look at the time spent on rote learning for standardized tests, athletic schedules that take students out of class and the disruptions to class time for other assembly programs throughout the year.

Helen Smith, Atlanta

If a presidential speech is vital, show it at night

I have two thoughts regarding Maureen Downey’s column. First, when former President George W. Bush was reading to a classroom on Sept. 11, it was not broadcast live to all schools across the United States. Secondly, if Obama’s message is so important, why not broadcast it at 8 p.m. instead of during the day?

How many parents would make it mandatory that their children watch an 8 p.m. presidential speech about “persisting and succeeding in school,” especially if their children had sports commitments, church activities, homework or were on the phone with their friends? Would you, Ms. Downey?

Patrick Shaul, Lawrenceville

Perfect SAT students all attend public schools

Did anyone else notice that all four of Georgia’s perfect SAT test takers attended public high schools (“Four score 2400 on SAT — perfect,” Metro, Sept. 6)?

That fact should lead to some interesting dinner table discussions in area homes.

Joni Pelta, Atlanta