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. Karen

    I am concerned that this will start a movement that requires all teachers to be "politically correct" in the classroom. Will the conseratives try to re-write history next, so that we can only teach their view of how it was? I thought one of the goals of education was to teach kids how to think, not tell them what to think.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  2. Tanisha

    I think people are jus makin a big deal out of nothin. If my school had the priviledge of President Obama making a speech about Education i would most certainly attend. I'd rather see President Obama talk about education and etc. then some spokesperson the school district required.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  3. LaToya

    Well...I've been seeing all of this fuss from a different point of view. People have disagreed with different Presidents in the past on their views; however, there is something quite differrent about this time. Look...I didn't even vote for President Obama, but He's still my president. Everything this guy does is being scrutinized. I think race plays more of an important role in people's heart than anything, when it comes to the President. Some people may be for the things that this President wants to do , but will go against their own beliefs just because he's black. Why keep your kids home. Let them go. You go with them, and if something is said that you don't want them to here...politely excuse yourself and your child from the room. I think America should at least give Him a chance. You will never agree with 100% of what anyone says, but he is our President, and if some of these conservatives are Christians shame on them. Why? We are taught to pray for our President . If the President speech did not inspire the kids; then, allow the kids to write the truth. Come on...do we have to make a mountain out of an ant hill on everything with this guy? I've never seen such drama until now. Why? Go head people keep telling yourself it's not because he's black...Yeah right!!!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:20 pm |
  4. T Michele

    Everyone needs to take a deep breath and seriously look at your individual contribution towards our efforts to bring together or divide this country. And Mr. President, we elected you for change. Stop giving into people that will never be happy with you no matter what you do. Anything you do will be criticized by these people. Don't lose your base, which is a great majority in this country. You won't be popular all the time; do what the people elected you to do. Reach across, but move on when they don't reach back. Remember the people that elected you. Luv ya!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  5. João Pedro

    This controversy would be laughable if it wasn't insane. American parents in tears on TV saying they won't expose their defenseless kids to Obama's speech??? Yet they don't hesitate to expose them to radio talk shows full of hate and ignorance, they don't hesitate to send them to school where some kid might go on a shooting spree just because Americans are so "free" they will literally die rather then surrender their own house arsenals...

    America the beautiful, yes, but also America the narrow minded, obtuse and ignorant. And in accordance to its greatness, its shortcomings are also extra-large.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:19 pm |
  6. Wesley Staples

    Well, since swift boating and claims of death panels and even birth certificate propaganda seem to be what the far right wants, and since the far right has hijacked the once sensible party of my family, I'm truly not surprised at the way this fringe is indoctrinating its children. What a stupid, stupid, stupid issue this speech to children is! I AM surprised, however, that the moderate Republican majority has not been more vocal. I can no longer vote the party line when its only real representatives are Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, but bless them for their sane and thoughtful wisdom.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  7. willie

    this is so sad that we still have folk who will use even their children in an attempt to keep racism alive. Folk, let's just call it what it is. Yet in school they will allow their children to place their hand over their hearts and say, "with liberty and justice for all." To the commentator and guest on with the character who claims he is concerned about his children, I think rather than try to cover the shame with laughter, you should have covered it with tears. Lord have mercy on this country. Racism is alive and well and will continue if no one has the guts to stand up to the group who wants to hold onto the idea of one group being superior.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:18 pm |
  8. Linda from NJ

    This isn't about keeping kids safe from some socialist agenda from the President. It's about telling their children that the President isn't legitimate and it is blatantly racist in origin. What gets to me is the "tears" from the mother who is so upset and plans on keeping her kids home from school rather than have her child subjected to a speech designed to motivate him/her to stay in school and be a productive member of society. I agree with James Carville. There will always be the people who believe that dinosaurs went extinct because they didn't fit on the Ark.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  9. Gilbert

    As a parent and local school board trustee I am surprised at the uproar over the Presidents Speech. Our district stresses civility and respect. Regardless of a parents oppinion of the President we should teach our children to respect the office if not the man. President Obama is a talented speaker and could serve as an inspiration to many. It would be a shame if we teach our children to disrespect any individual by not listening to his thoughts let alone the President of the United States.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  10. Megan D

    Where is the moral outrage? The President of the USA is talking to children about the importance of education and the Republicans and conservative blogs/radio/TV folks are enraging their listeners. This is politics, plain and simple. It doesn't matter what is good for the country or our children. If Obama is for it, conservatives are against it. What does it tell us about their opposition to Health Care Reform? Probably has no more merit than their opposition to telling children that they should study hard and stay in school. These people disgust me. And, it has not gone unnoticed that I haven't seen one minority parent or minority Republican on TV complaining about the president encouraging kids to stay in school. Does make one wonder what is really behind their fear of the President.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  11. Rose

    I feel that there is no problem with President Obama speaking to our children. It is disrespectful that the schools who have declined to allow it. Where is the respect for the Commander and Chief of our country?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:17 pm |
  12. Shelby

    Taking a child out of school for a day sends the message that school is not important. Even if I didn't agree with the President's message, I think the greater harm would be in telling kids it's OK to miss school.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  13. Shabnam

    It is not propoganda! It is a great move that the US President takes out time to talk to children; children who are often ignored in matters serious. Regretable that parents are scared–what for? And from whom? From their own President who they themselves elected to represent them for the next four-years?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  14. Kathy

    Keeping your children home goes directly against what President Obama is going to try to encourage YOUR children to do. I can't think of a better example of where dreams, goals, staying off drugs, going to school and succeeding than President Obama. What is wrong with him sharing that with our children. Keeping them home – what kind of example does that give. Grow up and realize we are ONE country.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  15. Leslie Shrode

    All this negative hype has intrigued my teens to the point they will probably actually listen to Obama's speech. Interesting result!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  16. Carol Therrell

    I have taught elementary school for 21 years and have never had a U.S. President talk directly to the school children. I thought it was refreshing that the President would take the time to care about the school aged children of our country. We were taught to respect the Office of the President even if we did not agree with everything that they stood for. Do we understand now why students do not have respect for teachers, administration, and police officers? It is a sad time for our country when the President cannot talk to the school children to inspire them in their educational endeavors. Don't we need people to want to grow up and be President?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm |
  17. maria

    this is unbelievable. i cant even think of anything to say, the disrespect to our president is unreal. what is generating this hate ?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  18. Latoya

    I think that people are just being flat out racist. President Bush never had to threw none of these things. I can believe that people are acting this way.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:14 pm |
  19. Katie

    As a 13 year old I feel kind of insulted that people think I'm so dumb that I will believe anything people tell me. Even if it is political, which I doubt, I'd like to think that I'm smart enough to figure that out. Knowledge is power, even for kids, and anyways we'll find out eventually, trust me, and you'd probobly rather have some influence over the conclusion we come to after we do.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  20. everydayvegmom

    I'm a mother and I vote. I don't understand what the big deal is about President Obama making a speech to school children about the importance of education, and asking about ways children can help the President of the United States. The mass hysteria in this country has gotten completely out of control. This is ridiculous! We have serious issues to work on in America – let the President do his job, let us do our work, and let our kids be kids. Don't catch the kids up in this foolishness.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  21. Pat

    This is amazing. These parents do not want their children exposed to the President of the United States.. They show no trust in their children in not allowing them to hear a speech. I think it would be a great discussion about it at the dinner table.. then the parents could indoctrinate their children in any way that they wanted to. The children might have an opportunity to use their own minds and have their own opinions.
    The fact that parents will not allow their children to hear this is extremely frightening to me.. this has been something that has been done so many times in the past– The children having to write " How can I help the president" The parents think that is dangerous and indoctrinating?? Wow!! I think it is a wonderful thing.. Remember, " Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country?" was that a dangerous thing to ask.. the partisan right wingers are a very frightening element in this country and I would be very afraid of them being able to muzzle everything that does not agree with their ideas–

    September 4, 2009 at 10:13 pm |
  22. Paris

    With so many ignorant people in this country – as evidenced by the number of parents up in arms about this – it's not only advisable but imperative that President Obama address schoolchildren about the importance of education!

    And that blonde woman crying her eyes out because the President cares enough about the future of America to give this address to the kids who will someday be running this country – completely, utterly ridiculous and embarrassing.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  23. T Michele

    It is a sad day in this country that the blatant racism from the right is spilling over to our children. I'm sure the whitehouse didn't expect this outcry because what civil minded person would? Also, I agree with another viewer's comment that this office has been totally disrespected because this wonderful multi-racial man is in office. People have a right to protect their kids? Are you kidding? When I was in school, we were taught to respect the position; honor is no more in this country!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:12 pm |
  24. layla

    i am in shock over the blatant disrespect of some people towards our president.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  25. hani

    this is sad. i think it all boils down to race once again. white president..no problem, but someone of color...big problem.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  26. Horton Hears a Who

    I hate to say this, but sadly, I think we are seeing unacknowledged rascism.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  27. Leigh Halan

    Obama should leave the educational guidance to his Secretary of Education and dial his own outreach back. He's trying to redefine the role of the President and it's not working. He means no harm, but he's very naieve with regards to Washington DC. He'll learn or he'll head back to his home state in about 3 years.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  28. Bob New York

    Just more indoctrination tricks, masters of deception!! Has history taught us nothin? Tyranny is the order of the day!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  29. robin r

    how sad that some parents in this country have so little faith in their parenting skills that they believe the president can brainwash their kids about anything in a 20 minute speech. Children need to be taught to respect our president....not just those whose policies you agree with.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  30. Sheila Paul

    What a sad time we are living in when the President of the United States is attacked for wanting to address and encourage the children of our nation, and where children are being taught to fear him via blatant racism, false rumors, and ignorant accusations of him being a terrorist, Hitler or Lenin. I was raised to respect our President no matter which party won. HELLO? He was ELECTED! That's democracy...get over it!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  31. Ivan Vazquez

    Schools aren't the place for politicians speak about their projects. If he want kids to keep studying, why not use artist? Or better yet, fix the system.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  32. Disgusting....Simply Disgusting

    How can a parent teach their child to be disrespectful? It is a shame that some school districts are allowing students to miss school due to the presidents broadcast. What happen to open ideas and even allowing your child to voice a different opinion if they do not like what the President says?

    We are going backwards in this country and our children will suffer.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm |
  33. layla

    i absolutely cannot believe the reaction of the president's message to school children. are these people for real? under what circumstances would one keep their children out of school because the president has a message? i am in shock over this. this is 2009, right? he is our president, right? what gives?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  34. Helen M Hardy

    This is ridiculous! The lesson plan - as any teacher will tell you - is based on the lesson. If the lesson is about staying in school - and it's the President's lesson - then the question "how can you help the President?" would be answered by saying you will stay in school - is it really that hard to figure that out?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  35. Cristina, Upland, CA

    I wish I could have had a President speak to me while I was at school. And it's a great idea to have the commander in chief send a positive message to the kids- especially with drop-outs so high. I really don't think this is about President Obama talking to kids, it's just another excuse for the Republicans to get into a frenzy against the president which seems to be happening every day since January 20th. It's a disgrace to our democracy (especially since other presidents have talked to school children and nothing to this degree has occured) and detrimental to the kids whose parents think that it's the best thing for them to miss a day of school just because they're becoming paranoid about things that aren't even there.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:09 pm |
  36. jill

    as one of those "right wing republicans" I have no problem with the President addressing the children on the importance of education. I think it's a great idea and hopefully will inspire today's youth.

    i did however, have a problem with the original "worksheet" questions regarding with the question about "how can I help the President". That was a big, giant mistake by the DOE. I think they have taken the right steps to correct it though, and now I'm back to being fine with it.

    I think alot of people nowadays are just very overly conscious about what they expose their children to these days - the "helicopter" parents who want to guide their child's every step. that is who I think is making the biggest deal out of President Obama'a speech.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:03 pm |
  37. Tanya

    I truly believe this is being blown way out of proportion! Its just ridiculous!! I feel President Obama should not have changed what he initially wanted to do. Have the children write down how they can help their president. Maybe they would have answered volunteer in my community, help my elderly neighbors, get all A's in school, etc.. I feel the ignorance speaks for itself when these "parents" would rather take their children out of school for a day and miss out on LEARNING instead of hearing the President speak. Will they take this stand to get better pay for teachers? Healthier food in the cafeterias? Better curriculums for our children? Or to even get drugs out of schools? I don't see these "parents" threatening to keep their children home for these important issues!!! If parents teach their children to study, work hard and stay in school our president wouldn't have to! Parents raise your children properly and stop leaving it for the teachers, athletes, or cartoons to do! Take a stand to do that!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  38. Bero

    What I would like to know about the 90 people killed in Afghanistan is how many were Taliban and how many were civilians? Obviously, we'll never know that. God help the poor afghan people! They get it from all sides

    September 4, 2009 at 10:00 pm |
  39. Natalie C

    To the people keeping their kids home: do you have so little faith in your parenting that you are too afraid to let your kids listen to a Presidential speech in case they might hear things you don't agree with???? Sorry, but I think there are a lot "scarier" things your kids face without you at school than that! All you're teaching them by keeping them home is how to be INTOLERANT of others.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:53 pm |
  40. Amy

    All I can say is that I am so very embarrassed by these "Americans" who are making this huge ordeal out of a President talking to our children to tell them to stay in school and work hard. This is disrespectful for our President, and the rest of the nation that thinks our children should do just that. Remember when it used to be a good thing when we had the highest of dreams for our children, remember that? Like, possibly they could grown up to BE President?

    September 4, 2009 at 9:49 pm |
  41. Annie Kate

    Seems that the anti-Obama forces who have publicly said they want him to fail are trying to hasten the deal by pushing him and his administration down that path. They don't care that it causes hardship in the country as well just as long as their agenda comes first. Many Europeans have said our nation is not "governable". I'm beginning to think they are right.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:47 pm |
  42. Jack, Montauk, NY

    Why was it okay for G W Bush to go on TV into classrooms and ask all American school children to send in one dollar for Afghani children? No one said anything then! This is ridiculous political cr_p!

    September 4, 2009 at 9:45 pm |
  43. mike

    I don't understand it...why are people upset. Obama is our president and other presidents have done this in the past. It makes me think that there are reasons other than politics why parents would pull their kids from school that day. Is it a race issue or is it just stubborn republicans showing their hate for a democratic president?

    September 4, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  44. Katz

    All the Republicans have done since Barack Obama won the election is engage in petty vendetta tactics that aren't worthy of anyone whose IQ is above room temperature. Imagine how good things could have been if they'd used the same energy to do something constructive for this country.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:42 pm |
  45. Miriam Cooper, NY

    Hi Anderson,

    This is really very sad news !

    September 4, 2009 at 9:41 pm |
  46. Chris, Ohio

    I really don't understand how ONE speech by President Obama can brainwash an entire country of students. Apparently no one gives credit to a parent's ability to sit down with their children and talk about what the speech contained and what the child thought. Definitely a knee-jerk reaction to paranoia. Here's an idea: since the speech text is scheduled to be released on Monday, why not read it for yourself? This way you can make an INFORMED decision as to whether you are over-reacting or not. Or it is easier to make a fuss about something you can't be bothered to read for yourself? My children will be watching the President's speech and as parents we will be exercising our responsibilities and talking to them after.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:36 pm |
  47. Deborah

    If this is considered by some to be "reaching too far into the classroom" then what is No Child Left Behind. I cannot get over the fear being generated by some in this country.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  48. Jan

    Doesn't the Dept. of Education report to the president regarding their "proposed" lesson plans, especially since Obama would be gearing hs speech based on their plan? The DoE and the president are equally to blame for proposing a plan for kids to write about how they could help the president. It should be the other way around. The DoE and president should only be concerned about how they can help the kids.

    September 4, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  49. Richard, Kankakee, IL.

    The Republicans are making a total mockery of our country, the rest of the world is have a good long laugh at us because of the right wing nut cases! They are showing the world, that only hate and fears rule this country! We have gone back 100 years because of their hate, and have learned nothing!

    September 4, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  50. Rich

    I am an officer in the Army stationed at Fort Hood, TX. Today I received a disturbing letter and voice message from my two daughter’s school principal. The message from the principal of their school, Meadows Elementary, which is located on a military installation. The message stated that they will not be watching “Obama’s speech on Tuesday”. We were disturbed by this disrespect for the office of the Commander in Chief on a military installation. This principal did not even have the common decency address the president by his appropriate title.

    When GW Bush was president he was given appropriate respect for his office and position even though many people disagreed with his policies. However, since the President is of mixed or African-American descent, his presidency is constantly delegitimized, even on a military installation.

    We will be at this school Tuesday morning demanding an explanation for this stupidity.

    Thank you,

    September 4, 2009 at 8:54 pm |
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