Numerous conservatives have claimed that President Obama's upcoming September 8 speech about “persisting and succeeding in school,” along with classroom activities about the “importance of education,” will “indoctrinate” and “brainwash” schoolchildren. Conservatives have compared Obama's address to Chinese communism and the Hitler Youth, while also calling for parents to “keep your kids home” from the “fascist in chief.”
Secretary Duncan: Obama speech “about persisting and succeeding in school”
Duncan: Speech about “the importance of education” and “persisting and succeeding in school.” In an August 26 letter to principals, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described Obama's September 8 speech as being about “the importance of education” and “persisting and succeeding in school.” Duncan also offered K-12 “classroom activities” to “engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives.” From his letter:
In a recent interview with student reporter, Damon Weaver, President Obama announced that on September 8 -- the first day of school for many children across America -- he will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education. The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.
Since taking office, the President has repeatedly focused on education, even as the country faces two wars, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and major challenges on issues like energy and health care. The President believes that education is a critical part of building a new foundation for the American economy. Educated people are more active civically and better informed on issues affecting their lives, their families and their futures.
This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation's school children about persisting and succeeding in school. We encourage you to use this historic moment to help your students get focused and begin the school year strong. I encourage you, your teachers, and students to join me in watching the President deliver this address on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. It will be broadcast live on the White House website www.whitehouse.gov 12:00 noon eastern standard time.
In advance of this address, we would like to share the following resources: a menu of classroom activities for students in grades preK-6 and for students in grades 7-12. These are ideas developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives. We are also staging a student video contest on education.
Conservatives react: Communism, indoctrination, brainwashing, Hitler Youth
Glenn Beck: Obama speech more evidence of the “indoctrination of your children.” On his radio show, Beck discussed Obama's speech with a caller and said, “On Tuesday, the president is going to be speaking to classrooms and your children, if they go to school -- K through sixth grade, I believe. You know, hey, get 'em while they're young.” Beck added that he was planning on airing “a special one-hour broadcast next Tuesday on television on the indoctrination of your children,” explaining that he decided to air “it on that Tuesday because of Barack Obama speaking [to students] on that Tuesday.” Beck continued: “Gang, you have a system that is wildly, wildly out of control, and they are capturing your kids. As [special adviser for green jobs] Van Jones himself has said, the earlier we get the kids, the earlier we make this adjustment with the youth, the easier this transition is going to be. Stand guard America. Your republic is under attack.” [Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program, 9/2/09]
NewsBusters' Finkelstein: “The Sayings Of Chairman Barack.” In a September 2 blog post, contributing editor Mark Finkelstein repeatedly compared Obama's address to Chinese communism, writing: “Our leader will be addressing all schoolchildren on September 8th. ... Will our MSM report on the interesting parallel between our president's plan for our children and the approach of another Great Leader from the past?” From his post:
Say, here's an idea. Pres. Obama's quotations on a variety of topics could be assembled in a small book, and every citizen given one -- free of course -- by the government. Citizens would then be encouraged to meet and discuss “what can we infer the President believes is important” in every aspect of life.
Naturally, those citizens who improperly interpret “what the president believes is important” will be given additional educational opportunities to learn and reflect on his message. They will be housed in special government schools for people of all ages, to be set up across the country in quiet, rural areas, free from the stress of everyday life that can cloud clear thinking.
These schools will also be free, and staffed by special teachers, members of course of our wonderful labor unions, who correctly understand the president's message and will be sure to imbue every student with correct thinking in the wisdom of the president before he or she is freed, um, graduates.
Will our MSM report on the interesting parallel between our president's plan for our children and the approach of another Great Leader from the past?
Finkelstein also posted a picture of the book, Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong, next to his post.
Michelle Malkin: “School Indoctrination,” “No junior lobbyist left behind.” In her September 2 Creators Syndicate column, Michelle Malkin claimed that Obama's speech amounts to recruiting “junior lobbyists.” From her column, titled, “Obama's classroom campaign: No junior lobbyist left behind”:
The activist tradition of government schools using students as junior lobbyists cannot be ignored. Zealous teacher's unions have enlisted captive schoolchildren as letter-writers in their campaigns for higher education spending. Out-of-control activists have enlisted their secondary-school charges in pro-illegal immigration protests, gay marriage ceremonies, environmental propaganda stunts, and anti-war events.
So when the Department of Education directs schools to gather children 'round the TV monitors for Obama's pep talk and then do this...
- Create posters of their goals. Posters could be formatted in quadrants or puzzle pieces or trails marked with the labels: personal, academic, community, country. Each area could be labeled with three steps for achieving goals in those areas. It might make sense to focus on personal and academic so community and country goals come more readily.
- Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals.
...parents have every right to worry about their children being used as Political Guinea Pigs for Change.
In a blog post discussing her column, Malkin posted a graphic with the words, “School Indoctrination.” Malkin also linked the speech with “Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers' pedagogical philosophy.”
American Thinker: “Obama has turned his team of brainwashers on the task of indoctrinating America's youth.” In a September 1 post, Lauri Regan wrote that “Obama has turned his team of brainwashers on the task of indoctrinating America's youth. ... My children are off limits.”
In a recent article that I wrote for AT, I stated that while I feared it imminent, the Obama administration had not yet turned its attention to controlling the public education system. Little did I know that my fear would come to fruition so quickly.
Perhaps because he has had enough of adult Americans questioning his policies and his lies, or perhaps he would like to take some attention away from his falling approval ratings and failing healthcare overhaul, Obama has turned his team of brainwashers on the task of indoctrinating America's youth.
Well, I know what I “would like to tell the President” and it does not include praising him for his past 8 months of “serving” the country. I also have no intention of having my children write a letter to themselves or anyone else “about what they can do to help the president.” It seems to me that the president has enough help devastating the country with community service from the likes of ACORN, George Soros' cabal of organizations, and brainwashed liberals who still adore him. My children are off limits.
WND: Speech “raising the specter of the Civilian National Security Force.” WorldNetDaily news editor Bob Unruh wrote, “Parents across the country are rebelling against plans by President Barack Obama to speak directly to their children through the classrooms of the nation's public schools without their presence, participation and approval” and said the speech raises “the specter of the Civilian National Security Force.” WND also forwarded comparisons of Obama's speech to Hitler's youth brigade. From WND's September 1 article:
Parents across the country are rebelling against plans by President Barack Obama to speak directly to their children through the classrooms of the nation's public schools without their presence, participation and approval.
The plans announced by Obama also have been cited as raising the specter of the Civilian National Security Force, to which he's referred several times since his election campaign began, but never fully explained.
“He's recruiting his civilian army. His 'Hitler' youth brigade,” wrote one participant in a forum at Free Republic.
“I am not going to compare President Obama to Hitler. We'll leave that to others and you can form your own opinions about them and their analogies. ... However, we can learn a lot from the spread of propaganda in Europe that led to Hitler's power. A key ingredient in that spread of propaganda was through the youth,” wrote a blogger at the AmericanElephant.com blog, where the subject of the day was a national “Keep-Your-Child-at-Home-Day.”
“Totalitarian regimes around the world have sought to spread their propaganda and entrench their power by brainwashing the children. I guess it's easier to indoctrinate a six-year-old instead of fighting a 26-year-old or being challenged by a 46-year-old in the voting booth,” the blogger wrote.
Townhall.com's Meredith Jessup: “Massive abuse of government power.” Assistant editor Meredith Jessup wrote in a September 1 Townhall.com post: "[L]eave our kids alone. ... This massive abuse of government power -- reaching into our kids' classrooms -- is unacceptable." From her post:
Parents, prepare yourselves -- your kids are going to be made a captive audience to this forced nonsense. I suggest you plan your own civics lesson to teach your children when they get home from school on September 8. Teach them that “civic duty” does not mean doing whatever the President wants you to do, but instead, being strong-minded enough to stick to your principles and formulate your own thoughts about the role government should play in our lives.
Teach them that “citizenship” means something more than living within the geographical borders of the country and paying taxes; it means caring for and looking after your neighbor because it's the moral and right thing to do, not because the government told you to.
And teach them that personal responsibility is self-reliance and independence -- ideas that can only grow to their fullest potential when a person maintains his liberty.
Do not begin to relinquish your rights and responsibilities as parents to the government. This massive abuse of government power--reaching into our kids' classrooms--is unacceptable. We've watched as prayer and religion have been tossed out the schoolhouse doors, but big-government influence continues to be ushered in. It's unacceptable--and the best way we can fight back is to take pride in the America we believe in and empower our children to carry on its legacy. [emphasis in original]
Conservatives: “Keep your kids home” from “brainwashing”
Pamela Geller: “Keep Your Kids Home from School.” In a September 1 post on her blog, Newsmax.com contributor Pamela Geller encouraged parents to keep their kids home because the “fascist in chief” will “brainwash” their children. From her blog post:
The fascist in chief is taking his special brand of brainwashing to the classroom. Keep your kids home. I think this man is a threat to our basic unalienable rights. I don't want him indoctrinating my children. Seriously.
Ask your school what their participation is in this leftist indoctrination outrage. Keep politics out of the classroom. Keep communists and their propagandists away from small children.
Bryan Fischer: “Parents: Opt-out of Obama speech?” American Family Association radio host and conservative activist Bryan Fischer wrote in a September 1 column that Obama's speech “is likely to be an exercise in nation-wide indoctrination ... The capacity for mischief here is enormous. The president will have moldable minds, being led by enraptured teacher-acolytes, at his disposal. What better time to urge them to tell their folks to support health care reform, or his cap and trade taxapalooza?” Fischer later suggested that parents should opt their children out of the speech:
Unless we get public assurances from the White House that the president won't address health care or global warming or the homosexual agenda (under the color of “human rights for people different than us”) this might be a great time for parents to exercise their opt-out authority and give their students a biography of George Washington to read while the President turns the minds of an entire generation to mush.
Obama's actions not without precedent
George H.W. Bush: Encouraged “America's students to strive for excellence.” While president, George H.W. Bush gave a speech to schoolchildren intended “to motivate America's students to strive for excellence; to increase students' as well as parents' responsibility/accountability; and to promote students' and parents' awareness of the educational challenge we face.” According to The Washington Post, the “White House sent letters to schools across the nation to encourage teachers and principals to allow students to tune in the speech, which was also carried live by the Mutual Broadcasting and NBC Radio Network. The live television and radio coverage was arranged at the request of the Education Department.” [Washington Post, 10/2/91]
George W. Bush: Learning materials from White House. As Media Matters for America deputy research director Simon Maloy noted, former President George W. Bush posted a “teacher's guide” on the White House website intended to help students understand the “freedom timeline” and encouraged them to “explor[e] the biographies of the President, Mrs. Bush, Vice President, and Mrs. Cheney.”