A.J. DiCintio
Obama's shameful education affair
By A.J. DiCintio
September 5, 2009

It's safe to say political analyst Norman Ornstein doesn't agree that President Obama's K-12 educational happening is shameful in every sense of the term, which includes being offensive and downright indecent.

After all, according to the Washington Times, Ornstein sees only "a standard issue speech by a president, with a good, common sense, even conservative message about education, school, hard work and perseverance."

Moreover, he finds criticism of the speech an indicator of "how dysfunctional our politics are" and condemns critics as people who are "blinded from common sense by their visceral hatred for Obama and his side of the aisle."

Of course, it won't affect the American left's view of Obama's critics as a mob of racist, swastika waving, Know-Nothing, artificial slobs; but the case against the affair deserves to be made.

To make it, we need to consider the "Menu of Classroom Activities" the Department of Education designed for administrators, teachers, and students.

Now, as the Washington Times reports, President George H.W. Bush didn't order up such a menu when he spoke to the nation's students in '91. Yet, without a word of thoughtful analysis about an unconscionable attempt to place the spotlight on the president and not on ideas (a tactic on which the White House has already pulled back somewhat), Ornstein speaks of an innocent "standard issue speech."

(Who just might be the mad, fawning, true-believing ideologue here?)

So, let's do what real education teaches us to do and carefully examine the Menu's text.

Goodness, gracious! What do we find even before we get to "September 8, 2009," except the perversion of language politicians call an "oversight" but the rest of us call "another damned lie of omission."

We read, "Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education."

But here's the whole truth as exposed by the Washington Times:

The idea of adding a lesson plan to the package of materials being sent to schoolteachers was hatched during meetings between the White House and officials from the Department of Education.

The lessons themselves were developed by educators, White House officials said. But some of the assignments, they later conceded, may appear to be inartfully worded without also knowing the context of the speech.

"Inartfully worded." What a perfect example of gobbledygook, employed to cover up the fact that White House political operatives fully understand they can't say what they really mean in Plain English:

"We want to make sure students come away from this speech with the image of Barack Obama as their personal Educational Savior."

An unwarranted conclusion? Then, consider this:

The "Before" segment of the Menu's "PreK-6" section contains seven questions teachers can ask students to build "background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech."

Six of the questions contain a direct reference to the president, with a total of nine specific references to him throughout the segment, insuring that at all times information given to students and responses elicited from them are associated with President Barack Obama.

Similarly, the "Guided Discussion" segment of the 7-12 "After the Speech" section contains nine mentions of or references to the president, again keeping him at the Center of All Things, even to the extent of asking students to place themselves in the Mind of Obama:

Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being educationally successful. To whom would he speak? Why? What would the president say?

"What would Barack Obama say?"

Well, pardon me; but if I were asked to develop a "Menu" to get students thinking about the importance of school, learning, achievement, responsibility, and individuality, I wouldn't care a whit about what an ordinary politician has to say — much less one who was incubated, hatched, and fattened in a repulsively malodorous coop over whose door reads, "Chicago Political Machine."

In addition to recounting the lives of ordinary folks who left the world behind better than they found it, I'd invoke, in as simple language as possible, ideas bequeathed to humanity by the greatest figures in religion, the arts, and philosophy.

Furthermore, I'd make sure to ask students to think about what kind of mothers and fathers they ought to become so that they can give their children the opportunity to develop to their full potential as human beings.

And as far as offering students some thoughts about responsibility and individuality, I'd ask them to think about and discuss a few quotes from people such as the quintessential American thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

About what counts in life, Emerson observed,

Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.

About being an individual, he said this:

These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day.

Thoreau, too, always recognized the existence of a higher purpose in human life:

Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour . . . but whether we should live like baboons or like men is a little uncertain.

Finally, Henry was no economist, sociologist, or anthropologist; but he knew enough of common sense to tell every student the truth about what really makes a culture go around:

Governments show . . . how successfully men can be imposed on . . . for their own advantage. It is excellent, we must all allow. Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way. It does not keep the country free. It does not settle the West. It does not educate. The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way.

That's my kind of menu.

Unfortunately, ideas that celebrate individualism and personal responsibility are never well regarded in Washington — especially these days in the shameless, dangerous, cultish Obama White House.

© A.J. DiCintio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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A.J. DiCintio

A.J. DiCintio posts regularly at RenewAmerica and YourNews.com. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up. Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and polished by experience, to social/political affairs.


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