September 4th, 2009
01:49 PM ET

Dear President Obama #228: Speaking of school kids

Reporter's Note: As school kids across the nation return to their classes, the White House will offer a televised address from the president to young scholars everywhere. That’s the subject of my daily letter to the White House. I hope my old English teacher is proud.

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Tom Foreman | Bio
AC360° Correspondent

Dear Mr. President,

Wow! As if you did not have enough hornets swirling around you over the economy, now you’re being swarmed over your plan to speak to the school kids of America.

As I understand it, you’re going to talk to students coast to coast next week, encouraging them to stay in school, study hard, and not bite off anyone’s finger while protesting about health care reform…(oh, sorry, lapsed into thinking about a different story which also left me shaking my head.)

Some conservatives think you are trying to indoctrinate the nation’s children into accepting a socialist point of view. They suspect it will be not so much a “Welcome Back to School, Kids!” as a “Welcome Back to the Factory, Comrades!” speech. (There is more to it, of course; the whole kerfuffle over the extra materials and lessons that may or may not be taught around this speech. I have no idea what to make of it all.)

As a father I appreciate the concern of other parents about what their kids are taught. I’ve known teachers to occasionally interject their political views into the lesson plan, and I’ve had long conversations with my children about those views.

On the other hand, you and I grew up in a time when most schools had a picture of the president on the wall, and we were taught that whoever held the office deserved a degree of respect, support, and…yes…trust.

So I guess my only advice is this: Imagine how you might feel if President Bush had come to speak at your daughters’ school, and ask yourself what words you would want your child to hear from that president. Then pick your own words accordingly. There are many wonderful words any president can and should say to the young people of our nation; words that are inspiring, uplifting, full of the common wisdom that has made our country great; words with which fair-minded folks in either party can find no honest fault.

Call if you need help with adjectives. I’m good at those!



Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Joe Fattal

    Unless President Obama wants to take each students financial obligations, he needs to stay out of it, and let parents make that decision.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  2. Betty Gonzalez

    Betty Gonzalez
    We are seeing what America really still think about, Blacks and having a black President. If they (WHITES) had one drop of humanity ,White Republican party should be shame.(disgraceful).
    Its not about political policy its about President 0bama (blackness).
    The Law have change toward Blacks, but the mind and heart of white America have not!
    God bless us................

    Betty Gonzalez
    Charleston, SC

    September 4, 2009 at 11:39 am |
  3. Dr Michael T Noble

    I was amazed over comments made last night by The Florida Republican Party Chairman. It seems that the Republican Party is "Hell Bent" on trying to erode anything the President says by promoting outright lies over health care, and education.

    The parties leadership knows that a majority of their extreme right members do not, and never will bother to get the facts. It is easier for them to let someone else do the thinking for them and the party leadership is using them to promote their own political agenda at the expense of our children and our countries well being!

    The Republican's have become the party of lies! It would serve people well to look at history and see how other fascist regimes promoted their ideology and ultimate control over the people. What the President was asking the students to do was totally appropriate. Students need to think about the country and consider what we can do to make things better for all of us. If given the opportunity students can be very insightful, and have much to share if we just take the time to listen, as the President wants to do.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  4. Dave Rowntree

    After reading the comments on the blog it looks like CNN reporting doesn't report the feeling of people. CNN has had the person from FL for the past two days saying that the President should not speak to schools but most people are happy and proud that he is speaking.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:21 am |
  5. LaSharion

    Stay in school work hard bang you are brain washed. If it wasn't about hate this would be funny. Some schools in small towns and cities across the country will suddenly loose cable on the day this talk broadcast and still others will do just as they are yelling keep their kids at home. If you followed most of them home for a week or even a day what they here and see daily does more damage than anything the President could plant in his broadcast.
    Dress it up call it what you will racial hate is alive and posting it's face.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:18 am |
  6. kirstenf.

    and as a parent, i am thankful to ANY politician who will take the time to speak to our children, did bush???

    September 4, 2009 at 11:08 am |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    George W. Bush sat in a classroom on 9/11 reading a book to our kids when told about the attack and what did he do, just kept sitting there. Think about who and what is good for our children before joining the ranks of hate.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:06 am |
  8. kirstenf.

    Our country needs a wake up call!!!we are raising, liars, cheats, greedy young americans who are out for themselves!!!when are we going to see that we lack compassion as a society!!!!!!WAKE UP PEOPLE!im talking about YOUR kids!!!!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 11:04 am |
  9. Tina Hazen

    The Right Wing Republicans in this country are carrying this sour grapes thing too far . The loud boisterous attacks on the Health Care reform (which we all know needs to happen), and now President Obama can't even speek to the children of this country. One thing is becoming obvious. They can't accept that he is President. The hatred is so apparent (racism). Shame on the Extreme Right Wing. It is starting to look like treason. It is starting to feel like Civil War is approaching. And the Confederates, are the Extreme Right Wing. THEY LOST if memory serves me right. Hatred always looses.

    Do they honestly believe, with all their loud, misleading commentary that they are convincing the rest of us? How can they think that is kind of behavior is constructive? We are all just calmly taking it in, and at some point will be right back at them, in their face. Maybe this is what needs to happen.

    If our country does not work together for it's good, it is doomed. There will be no country left to fight over.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:02 am |
  10. Lupita





    September 4, 2009 at 10:53 am |
  11. Donna Wood, Lil' Tennessee

    I think it's ridiculous! If my two boys were still school age children, I would be honored to have President Obama speaking to their class. Actually, so would my sons! Has anyone bothered asking the kids opinion on this matter? I'll bet they would give us all an ear full! Seriously, I would love to hear what the kids have to say about this.

    Donna Wood
    Lexington, Tennessee

    September 4, 2009 at 10:47 am |
  12. Tricia Earle

    I think the country has gone crazy in their fear of Obama, as if he is lurking to ruin everything. Their attitude is accomplishing that.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:41 am |
  13. Ebony

    This is all much ado about nothing. I welcome the President to address my children and hope it is played in my son's PreK class and my youngest daycare class. Children must know who their president is and listen to what he has to say, parents should also listen and address any concerns they have with their children regarding what the President has said.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:26 am |
  14. kristin

    Way to go Roland! I saw him yesterday on CNN speaking out against this absurdity. I am appalled that my state is one that has stricken the President from its schools! Not only is it an afront the the respect for our President, but it is a slap in the face to freedom of speech. This morning, I watched a man on MSNBC explain how he wanted to block his children from hearing any bi-partisan information the President wanted to share. - It struck me as ridiculous. I thought the point was to expose my child to all points of view and to teach them CRITICAL THINKING!!! That is why I send my child to school! Lastly, his inspiring story of overcoming adversity, becoming the first black President should trump any message he could give. I would LOVE to have him speak to my child's school. It would be an honor.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:22 am |
  15. suzi beard

    The county I live in is not going to show his speech to the schools and has said they have to watch and improve it first. This competely insane to me. My children should be allowed to watch. It makes me sick what a way to show small children to support our conutry and it's leaders. I

    September 4, 2009 at 10:21 am |
  16. RLWellman

    Do you think the President will tell the kids that he doesn't believe in the same things his "green czar" Van Jones believes in? Do you think he will tell the kids, "Don't pay any attention to the man behind the curtain"?

    The President surrounds himself with those he is most like. These 30+ non-elected czars have got to go. Two are communist and others have socialistic views. But, this is okay because this is what the left wants!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:17 am |
  17. MARY


    September 4, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  18. RLWellman

    President Bush would have been stoned by the left if he would have tried this same stunt!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:06 am |
  19. Stephen

    What ever happenned to our respect for the president? When I went to school, we aspired to be politicians and we always supported the president even if our parents didn't get the person they wanted elected in the previous election. My country is falling apart because of culture wars.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  20. Marcelle in PA

    Tom u r right on. I suspect the president agrees with your point of view. Those who object are probaly the ones who want to ban books and lets not forget Harry Potter. None of which they have read.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:40 am |
  21. Gen Avant

    I have been listening to the recent complaints concerning the Presidents speech and am so disappointed at the amount of pure venom being spewed by so many. There was so such angst when the first President Bush did nearly the same thing. Everything that comes out of President Obamas' mouth is turned into something evil, harmful, un-American or political. We have one of the worst educational systems in the world. Our students are being out-performed by children from Third World Nations. Our dropout rate and rate of illiteracy are shameful. But people are up in arms about the President telling students to work hard, stay in school and keep education a priority. Why is that?

    September 4, 2009 at 9:21 am |