Educational Editorial: Obama's back-to-school speech

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Some lessons must be harder to learn than others. Last year the President decided to speak to the young people of America on the opening day of school. The decision brought debate about its timing and purpose.

While returning for an encore the President's staff has apparently learned the lesson that the first day of school is challenging enough… now scheduled for September 14.

Equally baffling is the way that the President's speech is being handled schools. As noted last year, whether you agree with him or not, he is the President of the United States.

However, some school divisions will air the speech live, some will ask teachers to replay it where it is appropriate, and some will ignore it!

Fascinating as well are the methods being used to accommodate both the President and parents. A Richmond City School spokesman said, "The speech will be aired live in the schools, but parents will have the option to opt out."

Virginia first experienced the nuisances of "opt-in" and "opt-out" during the debates over Family Life Education…sex ed.

Now semantically, this may sound insignificant, but the twist is critical. Opt-in means that the program is offered and parents may choose to participate. Opt-out assumes that the program will be offered to everyone unless parents chose not to participate.

The later assumes that the government knows what is best unless parents decide to withdraw. The uninformed will simply acquiesce.

The lesson: if we continue to do things for parents that they should do for themselves, we will teach them to abdicate their responsibility. The Government will do it.

As for the President's speech, either decide to let the students watch it or decide to let parents chose…to do both is perhaps to do neither.

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