As a prestigious blogger, I've been allowed an early preview of the speech, and I have to say, Obama is doing a wonderful job of reaching out to America's students. I saw the California version, which begins:
"Buenos dias, estudientes. Para Ingles, marque numero uno; para Espanol, marque dos."
"Good morning students. Yesterday, as you know, was Labor Day, a special holiday that we Americans celebrate in honor of the various labor unions that have made the American workplace a safe and happy place for some of your parents. The labor unions, as you know, are foundational to America's prosperity for without them, ALL of your parents would be forced to work consistently without any hope of long-term unemployment benefits. Instead, Americans all over this great land have the ability to stay home a good part of the year and live comfortably, thanks to the wonderful benefits that the labor unions have been able to extract from over-wealthy business owners.
"But I wanted to take a few moments to talk to you today about the importance of the public school system. As you know, we in the Democratic Party have made public education a priority. We have invested enormous amounts of money in your education, and we are committed to giving you the best education available in this country. And we listen to you: as you know, I ran for President last year on a platform of Change, and we are working to make the public education system even better.
"First, there are over 40 million children between the ages of 1 and 4 here in America who are not in a school. I firmly believe in education for everyone. That's why I have instructed congress to pass the "Private Helps Public" act of 2009, in which every dollar that a wealthy parent pays for tuition so that their child can attend a high-priced private school, they must donate a dollar to the "Private Helps Public" fund.
"And what will those funds be used for? You noticed that, as part of my "Change You Can Believe In" campaign, I made some promises to better the public education system. True to my word, this year, when you came back to school, things had changed. Now, EVERY student gets a free breakfast at school; EVERY student has access to either reduced price--or even free--lunches. The money we receive from the "Private Helps Public" program will go to support a student free dinner fund, so that every child in America receives three meals a day. That's the kind of change you can believe in: we here in Washington are committed to ensuring we provide you with everything you need.
"This, American students, is my great dream: a nation in which your government ensures you have three meals a day at no cost to you; that you have all the health care you need at no cost to you; that you have an apartment in which to live that costs no more than 1/4 your monthly net income; that you have a fuel efficient, new car.
"This is my dream for you. There are those who don't want you to have that dream, though. Look around you: the parents of some of your fellow students, sitting right there in that room, would like to strip away all of the positive changes we've made, and keep us from doing this great work. But it need not be that way. You have a voice; you have an untapped source of power greater than any America has ever seen (you have, after all, given the guy with the flyless, elastic waisted camoflauge pants a swirly three times already this year).
"Use that power! Be a force for change! Go to my website and give us your email address; we'll forward links to free flyers you can pass out in your neighborhood. And talk to your parents; educate them. And if they refuse to listen, get them hopelessly drunk this November the night before voting.
"Remember children: you are the America of tomorrow. Our hope lies in you--and so you MUST stay in public school and continue to believe in the change that we continue to bring. And soon, we will have the country we have envisioned.
"Thank you, and may America be blessed."
OK. So, I'm not a prestigious blogger, and I certainly haven't been given access to Obama's speech in advance, but I have a somewhat active imagination, and based on all the uproar, this is what I imagine it'll be like.
Maybe not...who knows.
Thing is, a few years ago, I wouldn't have cared, but as I age (and become, I think, a better parent), I realize how raw my children are. They're literally begging for someone to shape their beliefs and values. And, regardless how noble--or ignoble--our President's intentions, if we're not careful, this speech and others like it will do much to shape those raw, searching children, many of whom have no real force in their life to provide the value structure.
And those children, a few short years from now, will project those values by way of a vote in the voting booth.
Hitler had it right when he formed the Hitler Youth: shape them while they're young, and they'll never depart.
The question you have to ask yourself: is this the message that I want to influence my child's value system?
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