Obama’s Speech to (My) Kids:  A PracticalDad Perspective

After all of the hoopla about the positives and negatives of President Obama’s speech to schoolkids today, I took the opportunity to read the president’s transcript.

And I’m actually going to discuss it with them this evening at dinner and reinforce his remarks.  Frankly, the content of the speech is refreshing in that it places some of the responsibility of learning on students themselves instead of focusing solely on teacher ratios or education spending.  Enough – too much – has been said about the failings of the educational system with the root causes being ascribed to:

  • broken families;
  • lack of economic opportunities;
  • inadequate resources, despite per capita spending among the highest in the world;
  • too few teachers;
  • inadequate diet;
  • other factors, depending on your political bent.

But it’s been in the past 18 months that I’ve begun to hear of the need for parents to become more involved and push the value of education.  And now the kids are being reminded that, like life, much of what they get from education is what they make of it themselves. 

It’s also a generational wake-up call for them, even if they don’t realize it.  Our nation is past the point of being able to support all of the promises that have been made to the citizenry and I believe that the generational groundwork is now being sown so that the kids understand there won’t be the financial support that was promised to the Baby Boomers and other adults.  Today’s kids are going to have to be able to compete globally and won’t be able to depend upon the government for its largesse.

For those who argue that this speech is a veiled attempt at political indocrination, I would point out the following.  Children and teens are, by nature, optimists and willing to trust those whom their parents distrust, especially someone who occupies the Oval Office.  And this is a generation noted for it’s unawareness of the greater social/political debate; many are unable to even name their Congressmen and Senators.  So are they really going to be able to read between lines like an experienced politics watcher? 

I highly doubt it.

This is language that actually reinforces what I’ve been telling the older kids for a few years now.  And I’m glad to have someone with some fame and power support me so I’m going to take this big, fat ball and run with it as far as I possibly can.


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