September 4th, 2009
06:43 PM ET

Evening Buzz: Presidential Lesson or Propaganda?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/09/04/obama.schools/art.obama.gi.jpg caption= "The White House says President Obama's address next week to schoolchildren isn't a policy speech."]

Maureen Miller
AC360° Writer

You would think that a President speaking to schoolchildren would be uncontroversial.  Other Presidents, democratic and republican have done it with little or no fuss. But that's not the case for President Obama.

Some school districts are vowing not to air his video message on Tuesday. Some parents are saying they'll keep their kids home. They say Pres. Obama is trying to brainwash their kids on his political propaganda. White House officials says that's not true. They say the speech will focus on getting kids to study hard and stay in school.

But the main issue seems to with a proposed lesson plan from the Department of Education. It called for students to write about what they can do to help the President. It's now been changed to suggest that children write about their own education goals.

What do you think of the uproar? Is the fear justified?

We also have breaking news on the killing spree in southeast Georgia. One person has been arrested for murdering eight people in a mobile home. The suspect even made a frantic 911 call last week after the killings. We'll have all the details on this developing story.

And, tonight we have a 360° Dispatch on the battle for Afghanistan. Are U.S. & NATO forces making any new progress? This morning, at least 90 Taliban militants and civilians were killed in a NATO airstrike on two hijacked fuel trucks. An Afghan government official says Taliban fighters had stolen the truck and when it got stuck trying to cross a river civilians stormed it trying to empty the fuel. Moments later came the airstrike. Anderson and his crew are heading to Afghanistan and will have live reports from the battle zone all next week.

Join us for these stories and much more at 10pm ET.

Filed under: Maureen Miller • The Buzz
soundoff (117 Responses)
  1. Anne Sessions

    It is hard to believe that this kind of stupidity is really happening in the U.S. You would think that parents would be glad that OUR president really cares about kids in our country and what they think. These parents that are going to keep their home should be ashamed...

    September 5, 2009 at 12:15 am |
  2. Christella

    I am a High School Senior, and I think that it is ridiculous that some parents want to prevent their children from hearing the Presidnets speech by thinking that he is going to brain wash us. I dont see the harm in President Obama talking to us as a class, because we only gain the Presidents' ideas and by being given the opportunity to write to the President so that we can express our needs and concerns on how to make our learning environment/experience better. So what have we got to lose? We're being given a chance to be heard why not take it instead of using it and seeing what I think is a inexistent controversy. I also think that President Obama has always reached out to the young community and made us feel that our voice matters in this country and that we needed to be heard even those of us who were not old enough to vote during the campaign. And I dont think this is political in any sense.

    September 5, 2009 at 12:07 am |
  3. David, Indiana

    @Cathy Gross Yes, thanks for your comment. Of course kids would see the President's request to help his as a chance to help out in just the ways you note, walking the dog, watering the garden, or planting a few trees, or getting together to clean up the yards in their community, etc.. Maybe the political passion from the congressional town halls on HealthCare has gotten tangled up with what is supposed to be a thrilling and exciting event for school children.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:58 pm |
  4. Jennifer

    Whether you like him or not he is the President of the United States of Americal. What ever happened to parents teaching children to be proud of their government and stressing they are living in the greatest country in the world. The president wants to talk to your kids because you're not. For the first time in my life I'm scared for the future of our government after seeing parents react like this.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:55 pm |
  5. Angela

    The fact is the packages being disributed to our kids are geared toward what THEY can do to "serve" President Obama. Same with the video.

    Famous entertainers pledging what they can do to serve and others pledging to "serve" Obama. One going so far as to "pledge allegiance" to Obama as he kisses each of his biceps! There are just SOME of the problems with the materials. It's not just about what's in his speech.

    I have no problem with children being asked what they can do for their country, or what they can do for themselves and how they can go about doing both. I have no problem with an educational pep talk from the President. I do have a problem with something like this that smacks of indoctrination. Parents have the right to be concerned enough to keep their children home. In Mesa, AZ., one principal has gone so far as to say he "won't permit" parents to interfere with the educational system. As a parent, do you think HE has the right to interfere with your right to raise your children as YOU see fit?

    For Carvel: I don't like your condescendingly superior sarcasm. I happen to be an atheist but I respect those who believe in creationism AND those who believe in evolution. There are those who believe in both... did you know that? I have respect for their opinions also. Please don't resort to talking down to people to get your point across and/or shut people up.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:44 pm |
  6. Dr Sue

    I believe that Right-Wing is insane to want to block the President of the USA to speak to children on education, how disrepectful! Since when do we censor information like China or N. Korea.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:43 pm |
  7. Jana Weigandt

    I never thought I'd see the day when there is controversy over the President inspiring students to work hard and stay in school. I am a teacher and will absolutely show President Obama's speech in my classroom as it directly correlates to what we are trying to instill in our students every day. This "controversy" is ridiculous. Thank you President Obama for supporting the message teachers try to get across to students every day.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:42 pm |
  8. Nadene

    In eight years of the Bush presidency, I never once disrespected the office of the President of the United States, even through a war based on false information, torture allegations, and our economy turning to dust beneath our feet. I also taught my three sons the importance of the President's role and the respect it deserves. The fact that some people are completely disrespecting President Obama makes me sick. What happened to the patriotism that sparkled on 9/11/01? Whatever your political views, President Obama is our elected leader and should be shown respect.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:40 pm |
  9. robin r

    For those afraid of the President brainwashing their children is a short speech: what we as a country have to be afraid of is not the time your children might spend listening to the President, its the weeks and months and years they will spend being brainwashed by you. All children should be taught to respect our President, regardless of party or whether we agree with their policies.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:40 pm |
  10. Candi

    It is not surprising that most parents don't want their children to hear the President of the United States speak, but do not have any problem with the You-Tube, Face Book or other very explicit internet connections they may have.

    I mean after all – the information they get is from around the world., why would they even want they children to listen to anyone from our country!:!:!:!:!:!:!:!:!:

    I'm 53 years old and I listened to John F. Kennedy, in his speeches and I may not have understood everything he said, but I knew it has important. I know their have been many Presidents after him – but he left a significant mark on the world as I think Obama will. And So It Was – and So it Will Be!

    September 4, 2009 at 11:39 pm |
  11. Dave

    This whole thing is stupid. The president should be able to speak to kids and encourage them to work hard in school.

    He should also not use the opportunity to inspire kids to do their best and instead use it as a political ploy to try to sell healthcare.

    Give the president a break and let him speak, hopefully he in turn will respect our kids and schools and not turn it into a political circus

    September 4, 2009 at 11:37 pm |
  12. De

    What is wrong with the students writing letters to the President. Maybe they can give him some ideas on how to make the education system better, seeing it through their eyes. And for these parents who want to keep their kids out of school. What are you thinking? The President will probably speak for what, 20-30 minutes if that, and you want to keep your kids home from school all day and do what – play video games, watch TV, play on the computer. To most children this is the closest they will ever get to seeing the President who will be speaking to them. Ask your children what they want to do. Maybe their answers will surprise you.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:35 pm |
  13. Cathy

    It's a shame Republicans continue to try and manage the country through fear. It is so ridiculous for them to say he is going to brain wash our kids. Do they know how ignorant they sound??

    September 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  14. David M. Kane

    Here in Scottsdale many parents are keeping their children home from school on Tuesday because in their and my opinion this speech and the follow-on test is clearly propaganda with a political agenda.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:29 pm |
  15. Marije

    Has anyone picked up on the irony of this? The parents keeping their children out of school because the President wants to talk to them about staying in school? This is ridiculous. He is everyone's President. As his opponents are quick to point out, keep politics at home. Teach your children a respect for the presidency, an openness to hear people out, and use this as an opportunity to connect with your children and discuss their experience as well as your opinions, at home.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:28 pm |
  16. Cindy P

    Amazed by the energy erupting over this school speech. Where is all this energy when it comes to quality of education in America?? quality of school food, chemical exposure in schools, self-esteem of our children... so many things that impact our children. I am embarrassed as an American that this is the most focus we have had on schools in years and it has nothing to do with improving the quality of our childrens education!


    September 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
  17. sean johnson

    The point adoring Obama supporters are missing is the fact that this is not merely a pep talk about education. The Dept Of Education, headed by a dubious 'czar', distributed class lesson plans that suggested teachers have students write letters listing what they 'can do for the President.' Why would the letters be about serving this liberal President? Instead, the letters, posters, and books read should be about how students can increase their chances of doing well in school.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:26 pm |
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