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There’s been a lot of controversy about President Barack Obama’s plan to give a speech to the nation’s public (only public) schoolchildren on September 8 (the Tuesday after Labor Day), a controversy Caleb Howe comprehensively summarizes here. The problem isn’t the President giving a pro-education message to the nation’s kids, something that’s part of any president’s job; the problem is the specter of enlisting of public school teachers, already a core interest group supporting Obama, in indoctrinating kids in his agenda. The conservative uproar over the Department of Education’s proposed materials for the speech seems to have already scored a victory in forcing the Administration to scale back its plans.
But I’m from New York. When I mentioned this speech to my wife, her immediate reaction was that Obama wasn’t looking at the calendar: the New York City schools, public and private, aren’t even in session yet the day after Labor Day. Obama’s effort to roll this into a massive PR blitz with the following day’s health care speech to a joint session of Congress will fail in my neck of the woods because nobody paid attention to the school calendar.
I suspect Obama rushed to coincide the speech with a Bill Gates-produced back to school education documentary that Obama will be appearing on the same evening on a battery of cable channels (because really, what Obama needs is more press). But either way, I’ll be keeping my kids home September 8 from their (Catholic) school – because they don’t have school anyway.