President Obama Doesn’t Need a Visitor’s Pass to Speak to Students.

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The President wants to talk to the students of America. Evidently, his intention is to encourage students to take their school year more seriously and take greater personal responsibility for their education.

Not so fast.

We are going to need to see an ID.If Anyone See a Tall Slender Man in the Hallway Surrounded by Secret Service... Please Send Him to the Office.

Somebody needs to stop by the office, sign in, and get a visitor’s badge before he will be allowed to speak to kids.

Mr. President, you just can’t just show up and demand an audience with our students.

Who do you think you are?

This idea of the President of the United States addressing school children has sparked a great deal of discussion.

Educators have been debating this speech for the last couple of weeks. It has been a topic of discussion on Twitter, Plurk, listserv’s and blogs.

In my mind, schools have reacted rather predictably.

The speech is a new idea.

So it must be a bad idea.

Far too many adults seem to be forming their opinions based upon their political beliefs.

Personally, I think this idea needs to pass the “Say It Out Loud Test”.

This method is tried and true.

If you want to see if something is a good idea or a bad idea… simply say it out loud.

So here I go. “President Obama wants to speak directly to school children so he can encourage them to work hard and take school seriously.”

Sounds good to me.

Plus, I am willing to give him the benefit of that doubt because he is… The President of the United States of America.

All too often teachers and administrators complain about schools not getting well-deserved respect.

Now the President wants to help by encouraging students to do better… they must do better.

I say we give him a chance.

Just this once, let’s not be overly paranoid about a stranger speaking to our students.

Let’s give a new idea a chance before we sit around and come up with a long list of reasons why it won’t work.

This is a great opportunity to not only teach students the importance of listening, but also the importance of respecting the highest office in the land.

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9 Responses to “President Obama Doesn’t Need a Visitor’s Pass to Speak to Students.”


  1. Tracy Murdach
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 3:28 pm

    Great post. This speech is not the norm and some people are having a tough time with it. Hey, no matter who the Prez is, I listen. When I was younger, my parent’s taught me to have respect for authority and to listen to what they have to say. This is the President of the United States we are talking about. Plus, he is a father too of school age children. I am sure he has had and will continue to have this kind of conversation with his own children. So, I say, why not add a few more kids to the mix?? The message he will send cannot hurt.

    Have you seen this http://tweenteacher.com/2009/09/05/obamas-speech-to-the-schools/


  2. Mark Hettmansberger
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 3:31 pm

    Wearing my principals hat, i agree with you, however wearing my parent hat, I couldn’t disagree with you more. I think this president has done nothing to earn our trust or respect. I’m obviously politically biased, I also hated Bill Clinton but wouldn’t have minded him speaking to our students. I truly do not trust this man. The office of the presidency is one to be respected, however the man himself must earn that respect. In this particular instance, I do believe his intentions to be pure, but i just can’t trust anything he does. I will not do anything to curb my teachers from showing the speech, but my daughter and I will have a lenghty discussion about government and principals this nation was founded on. Perhaps that’s the issue here, parenting!!!


  3. AllanahK
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 3:41 pm

    I realise that I have no right to wade in here, seeing I’m not a US citizen, but I really can’t see the problem with a country’s democratically elected leader addressing kids and encouraging them to do well at school. What’s the harm in that?

    The more people who encourage kids to do well the better. I might even show it to my class if it helps them strive to do well and be successful.


  4. Deb Hanson
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 3:45 pm

    Michael – I agree with you completely. It”s nice to see a Principal with a rational mind!

    Mark – I’m glad that you will allow your teachers to show the speech and are willing – even as a parent who does not trust this President – to talk to your daughter about it afterward. That’s what all intelligent parents should do instead of banning the speech. How can we ever expect kids to learn how to listen and evaluate and think about the information they hear if they are not allowed to hear it in the first place? Kudos to you both!

    And Mark – I didn’t trust President Bush or VP Cheney at all, but I would have and did encourage my son to listen to him and respect the office and make up his own mind about what they said.


  5. Ira Socol
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 3:50 pm

    Schools are setting themselves up here for quite a nightmare. If the President cannot address students without permission slips and opt-out opportunities than surely no elected official, from the Governor down to a School Board Member can.

    Want a message from the Governor on your state test? Parents can opt-out (after all Mark Hettmansberger, it might be from Mark Sanford). Want the School Board President to speak at an assembly? Permission slips and alternative assignment opportunities must be provided. Want a State Senator to speak to a class? Oh no, inconceivable.

    Schools that have taken any extraordinary stands to limit access to this speech have now locked themselves into a political nightmare. Any elected official treated differently will, and should, generate lawsuits.

    As we continue to wall our students off from their world we do incredible damage. In this case, many of the wounds will be to the school administrators themselves.


  6. Kevin Killion
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 4:01 pm

    If any president — ANY president — of the United States wants to tape a video of five minutes or so to tell kids to work hard and then offer that to local schools so they can decide whether to use it and if so how, that’s just fine. But that isn’t what this president is doing. It’s not at all clear how long Mr. Obama and his famed teleprompters are going to drone on, and you don’t get to preview what he is going to say until the day before. That is odd, to say the least.

    A much, much bigger problem was the curriculum package that the USDOE was promoting for schools to use along with the video. Did you READ that, Mr. Smith? I DID, and in its entirety. I found THAT very scary indeed, much scarier than the notion of a president giving a speech.


  7. David Britten
    on Sep 5th, 2009
    @ 4:48 pm

    It’s not the idea he wants to speak to the kids, it’s the poor timing. Notice wasn’t received in our district until late Thursday. No kids, teachers or administrators here. School opens on Tuesday for all Michigan public schools. Multiple lunch periods run through the speech. Limited technology for lunchroom watching. Would have been nice had they checked to see if all schools were in session and then given us a day or two to plan for it. Just shows how out of touch Washington is with us folks in flyover country.

    Here’s a good use for technology. Dept of Ed could have set up an online survey with one simple question: What day do you start school? Wow! Innovative!


  8. Kelley Robbins
    on Sep 6th, 2009
    @ 7:42 pm

    I can’t believe educators are fighting this. I’m a high school teacher and we get military propaganda pushed at us all the time. I agree with Deb, I have always told my students that they do not have to LIKE the president, but you must RESPECT the office. And Kevin, why are the republicans such sore losers??? I patiently and respectfully lasted through eight years of George F****** Bush and never did I tell my students that I did not trust that man. When I NEVER TRUSTED THAT MAN, but he was the president and the office should be respected. And Kevin EVERYONE uses teleprompters, ok?
    The President of the United States of America wants to welcome students back to school with a five minute speech about the importance of education, can you right wing crazies just let him do that?


  9. Robert McLain
    on Sep 7th, 2009
    @ 9:21 pm

    I agree in theory with letting the students listen to the president’s speech. I however think that schools are basically forced to let parents have an “opt out” option. We are required, at least in Texas (home of George W. Bush as I really don’t know a George Bush with the middle initial of F, but have heard a few coaches referred to with that middle initial), to allow parents to opt out of any presentation that deals with or may deal with sex. Now, I believe that sex education is also a good thing in theory, but if you have to let them opt out in one how can you decide the criteria without becoming the judge of what students are allowed to hear or not hear. Fortunately (I believe), schools are to be an unbiased organization for presenting facts and ideas, but not necessarily opinions. Unlike the press, schools MAY be the last bastion of such an ideal. I believe people are finally worked up about something. One way or the other (as is obvious by the comment directly above). I do not think it is about Republicans or Democrats, but about people are fed up and want to be heard and represented not have our legislators (in this case President Obama) dictate what they believe are best for us and our kids.

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