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. Mari T.

    Now that I have read the comments, I don't feel as bad as I did when I first heard about the uproar over the President addressing our school children. Most people who have responded have shown intelligence and respect. So sad to hear the people who are so against this proposed speech. I thought we were the UNITED States of America. What a lesson we are showing our children. Our President is the leader of our country, and our children need to see that we respect the office of the president. Who better to inspire our children to be all that they can be? Who better to reinforce that we are a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? It isn't a speech by President Obama that should instill fear into our hearts. Intolerance and close-mindedness are going to be our downfall if we are not careful.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:24 pm |
  2. Donnajill

    A thought provoking question, it's the same as what can you do for your country or better yet don't ask what your country to can do for you ask what you can do for your country. Do you remember the movie pay it forward-another thought provoking question-how can you change the world. Am I missing something. What is wrong with everyone? I think these negative reactions are teaching disrespect.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  3. Helm

    It's disrespectful teaching the kids about our President this way. It's time for the Republican to accept the fact that it has lost power – Presidency, House and Senate majority seats. Comments like what we have heard or seen on this subject are ridiculous and absurd. Move on & get on with your life and help him (President Obama) to make this country economically healthier & live better life.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:21 pm |
  4. Monique

    I am a college student and in all honesty I feel really sad that people are making such a big fuss over the speech that the president will give. In all honesty seeing individuals cry over this is something that makes me angry. There are alot of things that go on in life that deserve tears. If you do not agree with our president that is up to the individual.. Children who are exposed to opposing views are more likely to be open minded. What is so wrong with giving President Obama some support. He is proof of the ability to do something with your life, even if your not the 5% rich..

    September 4, 2009 at 11:20 pm |
  5. Linda from Mich

    And what's with the racism charges?? Cannot question BO without it being racist? What a mess!! Just makes the lines on both sides deeper.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:18 pm |
  6. Susan

    The negative reaction to President Obama's speech is over the top.
    The Republicans and conservative commentators have been stoking hysteria over health care and now a speech. It's too bad the conservatives like to appeal to the ignorant and uneducated. For the mother to be in tears because the President plans to speak to her children is laughable. I seriously believe that this is racism. Presidents Reagan and Bush spoke to the children and where was the concern then. But I guess that was okay because they were white Republicans.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:17 pm |
  7. Linda from Mich

    Bottom Line–Obama has lost the trust of a huge part of the populace due to the actions of the past 8+ months; and the health care fiasco in particular. Work at rebuilding trust & stop feeding suspicions–and the Van Jones mess just raises suspicions and feeds distrust. And boot out the stupid staffers that had the Ed Dept send out the lesson plans!!

    September 4, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  8. Judi from Frisco. Texas

    I get it. It is an attempt to, at best, marginalize the President, and at worse to make him appear dangerous. Trust me the people that deliberately started this controversy are no more afraid of what the President will say than I am. Talk about indoctrination. This is the indoctrination- the president is dangerous, be very afraid. I can't believe the American people are this stupid. In fact I don't think that many of them are. Why aren't you showing the people who know that this is ridiculous on television.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  9. Vic

    The interview with that young couple & the mother crying saying "I don't want my kids listening to THAT"....is totally ridiculous.
    How pathetic & narrow minded.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  10. Dawn Farber

    I am aghast at the relentless, truly psychotic, sociopathic and entirely politically -motivated and lying GARBAGE being spewed by Republicans in response to any move Obama makes, these months to motivate and inspire people and to provide for us. They make me so ashamed to be an American. We become a laughing stock of the civilized world, if seen as they project us. I feel so sorry for Obama and his great team having to trudge through this mire of moronic nonsense.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:12 pm |
  11. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    My daughter had a high school teacher who told the class that Republicans don't care about people. I was livid. My daughter begged me not to complain to the school because she was afraid of retaliation. That's what you get when politics enters the classroom. The teaching material implied there could be a political message. Since the outcry the White House has backpedaled. Was this just an honest mistake by a stupid staffer, or has a politically motivated speech been nipped in the bud? We'll never know.

    @Belvia, feel free to leave if you are ashamed of this country.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:08 pm |
  12. Sandra

    This is the very first time that I have "blogged" on a subject whcih is indicatvie of how appalled and upset I am over this issue. This is such a no-brainer. This is our President. He wants to address the school children of this nation to encourage them in their sutdies, underscore the importance of education and get their feedback as to what they can do individually to meet their goals. What could possibly be worng with that? Perhaps some of the individuals who are responding negatively to this might have benefited from such a "pep talk"!

    September 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  13. Dylan

    I am stunned by the lack of respect shown to the President...since when do we censor our President? If he wants to speak to the kids of our country and inspire them, because like it or not parents, they admire and look up to him. If you're worried about him indoctrinating your children, realize the speech is not going to be politicized and regardless will be much better than the bias passed on to children by parents. Let the kids decide for themselves whether or not to listen to the president and keep your mouths shut-end of story. This is America, he can speak, we should respect him.

    September 4, 2009 at 11:02 pm |
  14. Rich


    As long as President Obama doesn't start reading "My Pet Goat" on national television........what's the big deal.......lol


    September 4, 2009 at 10:59 pm |
  15. Sarah

    While the office of the President deserves respect some respect must be earned. The president should focus on the issues he can fix at his fingertips. The minds of adolescents are not easily swayed by words on a television unless they are delivered by the most popular celebrities of the times and by celebrity I mean Justin Timberlake and not the president. Other problems are reasonably within the scope of the presidential office such as unemployment and aliquoting the stimulus package to effectively stimulate the economy. A televised address to children about educational stamina is hardly in the scope of what this country currently needs.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:55 pm |
  16. Linda

    I am so sick of these whiny conservative,religious right republicans!!! Who do you people think you are and how can you consider yourselves as Christians. Jesus must be rolling over in his grave listening to all the lies your party spews to our citizens. I think that the President speaking to our school children is fabulous.We finally have a president with a brain who has something intelligent to say to our children and give them advice about how important it is to do the best job you can to learn and succeed in this crazy world..He is a role model we should all look up to and he inspires us to be better citizens. We should be so proud to have a President that is so articulate, caring,loving and interested in improving our lives through education,health care,our economy and representing us in such a diplomatic way to the world. You should be ashamed of yourselves calling yourselves Americans. I have an idea. When Texas succeeds from the union you all can move there and be with George Bush and let the rest of us get back to the business of rebuilding the country your party destroyed.Get over yourselves and grow up.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  17. Helen, PA

    I respect and admire President Obama for his efforts. Our nation's high school drop out rate is increasing yearly, and this issue "drastically" needs to be addressed. For those parents who feel indifferent towards President Obama's speech, would you feel the same if John McCain had been elected president, and was going to give this speech?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  18. Jack

    I just don't know how republicans who are sensible remain quiet while these extremists speak for their party. Never in our history have we censored our American children from the speeches of the president? And what is wrong about writing about how you can help the president. Isn't that exactly what the republicans in congress are SUPPOSED to be doing? It's obvious to everybody but the naysayers, black white, young and old that the real issue here is Obama's race. These people in Texas who all of a sudden became unsure whether Hawaii was a state and had not problem with Alaska are now wanting to secede. The lines are drawn by those still fighting the civil war, and the republican party has retreated back to the south with its original confederate mentality. Until sensible republican speak up, this is going to be the death of the GOP, and I pray that nothing or nobody else dies. It's time for these republicans to start "acting" American, like I did for the last 8 years. You can hate it deep within, but just "act" better than what you are.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:54 pm |
  19. Joan Schneider

    Unbelieveable!!! Where is the outrage against the right wing causing all of this. Some might even think this is an example of racism!
    As a former school librarian and head of the material selection policy for our school district, if a parent objected to something we planned to show we would provide an alternate activity.
    Let those parents who are upset request their child be given another activity. Please do not deprive all children of this wonderful learning opportunity!
    Parents must stand up against these right wing attacks!
    I will be calling the school district I live in on Tuesday morning and I plan to let them know what a wonderful opportunity this will be for the children. If they don't provide this opportunity I will attend the next school board meeting.
    We must fight back, NOW!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  20. Shamsa

    Why is it such a big deal that the president is talking to kids about the importance of hard work ad staying in school. THE RUBLICAN CALL THIS A PROPOGANDA SHAME ON YOU. It make me feel sad there is a campaigne by the republican to make every thing that the president says or do, to call it controvical. It make America look like an country of stone ages where we are always scared about something or the other. These republican hate and scare tatics are not going to work forever.At times it seem to me now that we have a african american president the white supermacists want to tell people that every thing he says or does is wrong.
    very sad in Plano
    Shamsa Shahab

    September 4, 2009 at 10:48 pm |
  21. Cathy Gross

    I am an elementary school teacher. Students in our school have already written to the president, and he an Mrs. Obama responded with signed photographs and a personal letter.
    I think that just having the President of the United States on television, in classrooms across the country, addressing all children at the start of the school year is what speaks volumes, and that is what children will remember. My stuydents remember watching President Obama take the oath of office. The student body watched it in the school gym together, and afterwards they spoke about how special it felt watching that moment with their classmates.
    Regarding the first question - I can just imagine the responses my students would have given to the first question - .
    'President Obama, I will help you. I will walk your dog.
    I will help water the new garden.'
    Personally, I don't have a policitcal concern with the first question, but I think from a developmental point of view, younger children would respond to the second question better.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  22. Shelba Reeves

    After reading peoples comments I feel a little better. Most people want to hear what our president has to say. I wish he could be left alone to do the job he wants to do for our country. I truly believe he wants to change things in a good way. It is very important that our children know this President, because he is going to be a very big part of our history.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:43 pm |
  23. Julie

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I can't believe I actually watched a lady in your news story cry because she said it upset her just thinking about her kid having to listen to the President's speech! Are you KIDDING ME?! That's what upsets her? I can think of a zillion more reasons she should be crying. Our country has officially become ridiculous. Can't the president do anything without the right wing lunatics making a controversy out of it? Disagree on his policy, fine. I disagree with the President sometimes, but this is more than that. The hatred oozing out of the Republican party whenever they aren't in power is sickening and unpatriotic. I'm tired of the continued polarization of this country. And no, the Republican's aren't the only political game players, but they are certainly the best at it.... much to the detriment of the country they claim to love.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  24. Bob

    if the gop had wrote the speech the far right would oppose it.. they will oppose any thing speech action taken by this pres so that they can saidsee nothings done so elect us

    September 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  25. Lisa

    I am totally baffled by this news. Like Katz said above, imagine what good things could have been if republicans put their energy into something more constructive.
    I really don't understand why this woman was crying on television about her kid being exposed to a speech by the President of this nation encouraging kids to stay in school and keep on with their studies. I don't see what is wrong either in asking kids to write about what they can do to help the President. We all have a duty in this country as citizens to do something to help the President make our country a better country. Why not let kids think and have their minds working on how they can help. Parents should sit down with their kids and do this homework with them. Even if they have different opinions they can still find a way to help. Open your minds people, even with different opinions we must all put our minds together and work together to get ourselves out of this difficult time. So we all have a duty to help the President in one way or another. Teach THAT to your children. Not hatred and intolerance.
    Bashing everything the President does, does not help America and it's image. It is not constructive and does not help the people of America who need help. This looks very ridiculous, especially to foreigners who are already seeing Americans and the US as a big joke. I am an American living in a foreign country right now so I can tell you how the US is becoming more and more of a joke to foreigners. Shame on America and Americans and parents out there crying and keeping their children home from school the day they will show the President's speech. This is so shameful. Congratulations America for making the US a bigger joke everyday.
    Brainwashing our kids??? Come on. This is ridiculous. It really makes me sick to my stomach what this country is coming to. To know that there is so much hatred still in this country. It's the only explanation for this madness, because it makes so sense to me.
    Congratulations Americans!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:35 pm |
  26. Stephanie Estrada

    I am saddened by how so many are speaking out against our President. It is admirable that President Obama would take the time to address our children to encourage them to stay in school and be the best they can be.
    We should show more respect to our President and in doing so we show our children a lesson also.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:34 pm |
  27. Arbura

    There have been several President's that have addressed Americas school children. The fact that President Obama addressing Americans school children has created such an uproar is a clear indicator that racism is still alive and thriving in "the land of the free and the home of the brave." This slap in the face is a true indicator that we as a society have a lot a growing to do to reach EQUALITY. My prayers are with our First Family and all Americans

    September 4, 2009 at 10:33 pm |
  28. seawhimsy

    I am very disgusted with these complaining parents. They should be glad that we have a LEADER who is leading instead of ignoring the people who voted for him. He was elected by the majority of the people and the right-wing goof-balls are just stupid. They certainly aren't the majority and don't deserve air time. They are already full of air - hot air.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  29. Dee

    For the White House to actually send teachers a "lesson plan" tells me there is more to the agenda than just stay in school. We (Americans) need to wake up and face the possibilities of Obama's New America. He does have an agenda and so do the rude non-listening people he has speaking for him. As a parent and grandparent I am very concerned for the America they are facing. Now his "own" health care plan? This is not good.............. As a country we should be very scared!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  30. Douglas

    Not want their children to be inspired by this President? Perhaps this sillyness is a mask for a fear of having their children exposed to an African American role model.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  31. Belvia Levkus

    I am ashamed to say I live in this country and today is one of those days. Public schools take money from the Federal Government. I cannot believe the stupidity of the DOE in any state and the total and complete disrespect for our President. I am so upset over all this I could hardly work today. This is a sad day in this country that all of these American Idiots have let the Republican party of hate feed them propaganda. How about a little more facism from the Republicans. And you the media, you are feeding right into this craziness. I am also disgusted by all of you.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  32. rosie wayne

    I have lived in a socialist country in my younger life. We would have to site in rows and listen to the president on national broadcast & we all marched when the soldiers came...if this speech isn't initating socialism this country is more niave than we thought. All that we are seeing now from this man is the initiation of socialism. The torture inquest of past admin is gestapo tactics & this insurance along with banking regs is leading to total control of the people. Do you honestly believe obama and congress will experience their national health insurance. Don't kid yourselves...

    September 4, 2009 at 10:32 pm |
  33. Christopher In PA

    Simply irrational and ridiculous!! These unfounded fears and tired scare tactics thr these right wing idiots are displaying are getting further and further out of control. It's only now, a matter of time before they really do something STUPID, and that's what should scare us. That they never had a complaint about GW in schools just really goes to show where their intellegence levels are...LLLOOOWWWW.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:31 pm |
  34. Char

    comment by Rich from Ft. Hood Texas:


    I too am on Ft. Hood Texas, and this is the most ridculous thing I ever heard. I know many parents who will be at that school on Tuesday to see what is going on and will go from there to the KISD Administration Office. There is no respect for our President and enough is enough. The City Council will also be hearing from them.

    It is our wish that every Soldier on Ft. Hood will stand up and refuse to fall for this propoganda. President Obama is our Commander In Chief!!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  35. Jo-Anne Hanley

    It is unfortunate that the American public is unable to listen and to be open to other points of view especially when it comes from your elected President. What better way to open a dialogue with your children then to have them listen to a speech from the leader of your country and ask them how they interpreted the message and let them form an opinion, after all isn’t that what America is all about freedom of speech and expression. It is my believe that Americans are about freedom of speech as long as it is line with the mainstream opinion. Unfortunately most Americans are uninformed when it comes to crucial decision making as in their knowledge of health care reform. It will be impossible to make positive change in your country until you are ready to listen with and open mind and heart which I thought would happen when you elected President Obama after all his platform was about change.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  36. rurh

    one word "stupid"

    September 4, 2009 at 10:29 pm |
  37. Robin

    Any of our elected Presidents should be able to address our children at school. It is embarrassing, unpatriotic and possibly even treasonous to vocalize such disrespected for our elected President this way. It saddens me to witness our inability to recognize our common values, values that can strengthen our ties and common values to pull us together as a nation. We need to let go of our fear and separatist ideas and we need to realize we are all in this nation together.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:28 pm |
  38. Mickey

    The Right needs to get over it they lost the election and to make matter worst they lost to a black man. Nothing our president do will be good enough for them. They won't stop because they want their country back. The question back from whom or what.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  39. Tom

    Whatever happened to patriotism? The right wing is destroying this country. Whatever happened to decent engagement? Parents who keep their children home because they don't want them to hear the President are teaching a sad lesson to their children.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:25 pm |
  40. Tochanna

    can someone logically explain what is wrong with helping the president?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  41. Patricia Willever

    I am so angry and upset over how people have it in their heads to try and hurt our President. He is doing everything we voted for him to do. Talking to children included. Ta;king tp people. Trying without success to talk to Republicans. What is the matter with everyone. Even Democrats and Independents are much less supportive than I ever would have imagened. The majority wanted change but now everyone is afraid to go with it..
    I love this man as my President. I am eager for the changes he wants to make.
    I think its wonderful if he talks to kids/ if he holds school "town meeting". Iwant to hear what the kids think.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  42. Rebecca

    I'm an Independent and I'm disappointed with Republicans that are not giving this President his due. Remember, the majority of the country voted him into office. I would hope that most people would be thrilled if their children accomplished what he has accomplished. I wonder how much of this has to do with the fact that he's not a white male! I've seen what I consider to be a double standard for President Obama and for the women in political positions recently. I would love to see this country get past these double standards. I would love to see conservatives demonstrate a more civil attitude as an example to their children, since those children will be unleashed on the world at some point. Obama is trying to make this a better world by encouraging children to study and stay in school. That's a no-brainer in my book.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:24 pm |
  43. Ken - Long Beach, ca

    I don't get it. I just don't get this delusional logic these people are propogating as truth. Do they really believe our commander in chief is trying to bury this country in communism. They are only fooling themselves, and in the end, it will come backand haunt them in ways they cannot imagine.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  44. marc

    As i think of it.. Is it the children who help the President? Or the President who helps the children? All americans should respect the (office) of the president. But, the President works for the american people no matter which party they may belong to.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:23 pm |
  45. Tammy

    As a teacher, I have looked at the lesson plans and if they are done correctly, they should take a couple days. How do you plan for something like that without notice? My plans have been on my website for a week. Now what? I guess my issue is that it came out as a 'thou shalt'. No consideration that teachers are professionals that use their time wisely to reach the standards that are set by the state board of education and NCLB. It just felt like one more thing. Goal setting for my students is done during the first week of school. I guess I am wishing to be treated like the professional that I am.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  46. anita allen

    I am a 40 yr old female, conservative christian and I am disgusted with conservatives that continue to show disrespect to the President. When Bush was president, they scoffed at disrespectful remarks people made who disagreed with his policies. These same conservatives are doing exactly what they ‘preached’ against. Honoring those in leadership whether we agree with them or not, is a top conservative value of which these particular conservatives choose to ignore. President Obama is a great family man that cares and has tried, since day one, to bring everyone together amidst our differences. I want to say to my fellow conservatives, “GROW UP!” and quit acting like the world is going to end because you can’t have your entire way. As the bible says, Let us come and reason together…. Thanks CNN for being the balance!

    September 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  47. Z Clarke

    I am so disgusted with the way these American people are treating our President. Some of these people are the most arrigant and out right pregidist. Mr Obama reading to there children should be the least of there concerns. What they and all the rest of us should be worried about is supporting our President in trying to bring our soldiers home and to get our economy going again. This President has been criticized up and down in and out. This is the most protest I have seen in my life. Every thing that he has suggested to this country is a huge issue, there have been thousands of people turned out to try and stop health care reform but I didn't see all these people show up to protest Mr Bush war that he started. These people that are saying these nasty things about the President sounds so ignarant, maybe they need to have a seat in class with there children so that PRESIDENT OBAMA could read to them what is the meaning of United States (UNITY)

    September 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  48. Anita

    As a teacher and more specifically a U.S. History teacher, I am appalled that parents are upset that the president wants to reach out and speak to their children. Since when is it a bad thing to encourage student to work hard and stay in school? Shouldn't this be encouraged all citizens. It's not propaganda or indoctrination to tell children that education is important. Opportunities to education is something that people have fought and died for and for anyone to criticize the president for encouraging students to value education shows a level of shortsightedness and ignorance that disheartens me. That said I have personally felt the pressure not to show the speech and am questioning what I should do. Isn't it my job as a history teacher to teach civic values and promote the welfare of this country? Isn't promoting the value of education my job? Isn't it all of our jobs?

    September 4, 2009 at 10:22 pm |
  49. Tam

    I can't begin to understand why this is even an issue. Why are people so afraid of our President. These people are so ignorant. Since the school district my child attends will not show the speech, I will show it to my child.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
  50. Sion Mangione

    I am truly sadden that the republicans and their followers are taking this once in a lifetime opportunity away from the majority minority american children in the united states of america based upon their own racist and self serving political gain.

    September 4, 2009 at 10:21 pm |
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