Sick response to Obama's speech to kids

Our item yesterday about a Douglas County school allowing parents to opt out of letting their kids watch a Tuesday speech to the nation's schoolchildren by President Barack Obama has been followed by plenty of mainstream coverage on the topic, including a front-page story in today's Denver Post and an extended segment on Channel 4 this morning featuring Gloria Neal raising her eyebrows at the kerfuffle. Still, the real action over this ideologically driven dust-up will take place on talk radio -- expect plenty of right-wing hosts to pop blood vessels at the mere thought of Obama advising America's youth today -- and online at sites like, a spin-off from the Independence Institute. "Ed" is supposedly a five-year old, although he talks and thinks suspiciously like the Institute's Jon Caldara -- meaning he's a conservative with a sense of humor. Still, Ed doesn't laugh off next week's scheduled address in a blog headlined "Obama Speaks to Schoolchildren... Where's the Local Control?" He plucks out several lines from study-guide materials produced by the White House that "parents may rightly see as stepping over the line," including these questions: "What do you think the President wants us to do?," "Does the speech make you want to do anything?," and "Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?" (Of course, Obama plans to ask kids to study hard and take their education seriously -- awfully radical stuff.) In Ed's view, "What the President and the Department of Education is trying to do looks bad. Some students and parents will feel uncomfortable participating in this unprecedented activity -- maybe that makes September 8 a good time to observe those swine flu warnings and stay home."

So kids should feign illness to get out of something they don't want to do at school? That's a good lesson.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts