My dad pounced at me as soon as I got home from work on Wednesday, saying something about "Obama Day" and telling me "a lot of people" will be keeping their kids home from school on September 8. I Googled "Obama Day" with no helpful results, then "Obama September 8 keep kids home from school," from which I found out that the President will be broadcasting an address to the nation's students. Actually, I found the forums on Sean Hannity's website, which were full of alarm and links to the the classroom engagement resources from the White House, with no real information as to why they were so alarmed. (For grades Pre-K-6 and grades 7-12. Real subversive stuff, y'all. *eyeroll*)
So I went to the White House website and found their official blurb on the Media Resources page, and ... honestly, I think it's a cool idea. I get the impression that this won't be propaganda as much as, "Be good, stay in school. It's important." I like that we have a President who is technologically savvy and who reaches out to the people, a la FDR's fireside chats.
Dad asked later, after I had done some reading on both sides of the argument, if I would be keeping my son home from school on Tuesday. I said no. He was plainly miffed when he asked why not. His irritation sparked my own when I replied, "Because it's a regular school day!" Dad stormed off with a parting shot about indoctrinating my son and the "Cash For Clunkers" program.
I do not understand why people are so afraid of what the President is going to say to their kids. I wouldn't have pulled Michael out of school if it were Bush addressing the students, either. For my part, I plan to watch the address myself when I get home from work and ask my son what he thought when he gets home from school. If I feel at that point that I need to do any damage control--and I doubt that I will--then I will discuss my opinions with my son in a calm and rational manner. Even if this is propaganda--especially if it is--this is a teaching opportunity. Talk to your kids about what you believe. Find out what they're learning in school and from their friends. Your kids will be exposed to dissenting opinions at some point; give them the tools to deal with that. You have more impact on your child's beliefs than anyone else.
UPDATE: I thought I remembered addresses by Reagan and Bush, Sr., when I was in school, but my parents were adamant that it never happened, and my contemporaries didn't remember. Google netted me nothing, so I figured that maybe my teachers had taped State of the Union addresses for Social Studies or something and let the matter drop.
However, my friend Meg backed me up. President Reagan addressed students in 1988 about the national debt, and in 1991, President Bush talked about his administration's education initiatives and encouraged students to stay in school. Thank you, Meg!