Our view: Over-reaction

No reason to assail president's stay-in-school speech

September 4, 2009 

President Barack Obama will speak from a Virginia high school on Tuesday. He will urge American kids across the nation to stay in school. Learn, strive, be better citizens. Make better lives for yourselves, families and neighbors. Well, sound the alarm! Obama is going to invade our schools! Like Hitler! Or is it Stalin? Che? The devil?

No, like the president of the United States, using his office to spread a message that every thinking American can support, from anywhere on the political spectrum. Well, almost anywhere.

Every U.S. president from George Washington to George W. Bush, Obama's predecessor, would back that message.

Some Anchorage parents have brewed a tempest in a tea bag against showing the speech in our schools. It's political, they say. It's propaganda, some argue.

You know what it's really going to be? Good advice that students and families in Anchorage, which has suffered a high dropout rate, should take to heart.

Carol Comeau, schools superintendent, has logged a flurry of complaints.

"I can tell you I have never heard so much hate spewing forth from people on the fact that the president wants to talk with our young people about the value of education!," she wrote in an e-mail. "It is scary and sad."

She will let individual teachers choose whether to show the speech; protesting parents can opt their kids out. Practical decision. Pity she has to make it.

President Obama needs to inspire Anchorage youngsters to stay in school. That way they won't grow up to make idiotic allusions to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, as one of those complaining to Comeau did.

But if a few Anchorage parents are buying the line that Obama is out to indoctrinate their children, then schools will indulge their fears and let the kids do something else, like go to the library.

There's only one encouraging thing about the outburst from this clutch of closed-minded complainers: Though noisy enough to grab headlines, they are still a tiny minority.

BOTTOM LINE: Fear of Obama's school speech testifies to the need to stay in school and learn critical thinking.

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