In a letter sent to the nation’s school principals, the U.S. Department of Education has announced that, on September 8, at 12 noon Eastern Daylight Time, President Barack Obama “will deliver a national address to the students of America.” The letter “encourages students of all ages, teachers, and administrators to participate in this historic moment by watching the president deliver the address, which will be broadcast on the White House website.”
In this broadcast, the letter tells us, the President “will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school.”
Additionally, the letter “encourages educators to use this moment” to modify their first-day-of-school lesson plan by drawing from a “menu of classroom activities” prepared by the Obama administration’s own “teachers-in-residence” and “Teaching Ambassador Fellows.”
The letter also promises that the President will inspire the nation’s school children “to improve their education and the role education will play in fulfilling their dreams.”
To top it off, the letter announces that the Obama’s Department of Education is “launching the ‘What I am to Learn” video contest,” offering three grand prizes of $1,000 cash to the best responses to the President’s educational challenge, to be awarded in October by a “panel of judges including” Obama’s own Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
While President George Washington was the father of our country, Barack Obama would be the father to the nation’s children.
While President Washington was the nation’s first commander-in-chief of America’s armed services, responsible for training America’s army and navy, President Obama would be the nation’s first principal-in-chief, empowered to oversee the education of her boys and girls.
While President Washington was the first man to be vested with the sole power to execute the laws enacted by Congress pursuant to the Constitution, President Obama would be the first man who would extend that power to administer a constitutional to America’s schoolchildren.
President Obama as First Father
Hear ye children the instruction of a father, and attend
To know understanding (Prov. 4:1).
According to the Education Department, on September 8, President Obama “will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.”
No doubt, the president and the First Lady have already rehearsed Obama’s upcoming address by having a talk with their two daughters. Apparently, the President does not have confidence in the parents of the children in any American household to do the job, other than the one currently occupying the White House. Hence, he is bypassing America’s fathers and mothers to speak “directly” to the children.
In a press release, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that, in his speech, the President will “call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators.” But, it will be for the President, not the students, not their parents, and not even their teachers to fix the overall goal of the American educational enterprise: “to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so that they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.”
Indeed, President Obama will be the star of the show, both before the speech and afterwards. In the Education Department’s “menu of classroom activities” for Pre-K-6, teachers are encouraged to “build background knowledge about the President … and his speech by reading books about the presidents and Barack Obama.” And teachers of Grades 7–12 are encouraged by the department’s “menu” to guide their students in discussion of “what resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines or phrases do you remember?”
Gary DeMar and Dr. Herb Titus discuss President Barack Obama’s public school live broadcast scheduled for September 8th, 2009. Surprisingly there has been widespread outrage from parents and schools alike. Many parents are opting not to send their children to school that day and schools are also refusing the allow the broadcast in.
To be sure, the President will undoubtedly tell the children to listen to their parents, but the message will inevitably place the parents in a subordinate role, encouraging obedience to fathers and mothers so long as they conform to the President’s educational standards and goals. The Scriptures, however, teach that children should “obey” their “parents in the Lord,” not in the President (Eph. 6:1). Further, the Bible exhorts the parents to bring up their children in the “nurture and admonition” of the Lord, not of the President (Eph. 6:4). And the New Testament reminds us that a satisfying and long life is God’s promise to those who “honor their father and mother,” not the President (6:2–3).
This does not mean that children should not honor the President, but President Obama ought, in turn, “fear God” (e.g., 1 Pet. 2:17). By speaking directly to the nation’s children to work hard, set goals and take responsibility, the president has elevated the duty to honor the nation’s chief executive officer and other elected officials, over that owed to parents. How else explain the Education Department’s “menu” for student classroom activities for Pre-K-6 that the teachers prepare their students before President Obama’s speech with questions such as—“Why is it important that we listen to the president or other elected officials…? Why is what they say important?”
President Obama as Principal-In-Chief
He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging
Not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
Increasingly the hallmark of the Obama presidency is that nothing is outside of his official authority as President of the United States. From the car business to health care, and from the Cambridge, Massachusetts, police department to a Florida lady’s desperate need of food, clothing and housing, President Obama has assumed the role of president as busybody.
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution vests in the President only the executive authority of the United States government. As broad and extensive as those powers may be, they do not include the exercise of the powers of principals in America’s local public schools, or of headmasters in the nation’s private schools, or pastors of church schools, or the parents of home schools. But, with this inaugural speech as principal-in-chief, the President wants the American people to swallow yet another unconstitutional camel.
Article II, Section 2 provides that the president is “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States and of the militia of the several States, when called into the Actual Service of the United States.” As the nation’s commander-in-chief, the president is vested with the executive power to train and discipline the members of the nation’s land, water, and air forces, but only in accordance with the rules for the government and regulation of those forces enacted by Congress pursuant to Article I, Section 8. Pursuant to these express grants of power, Congress has established military academies for the purpose of raising up and supporting the nation’s army, navy and air force. The curricula of these academies is thus within the powers of Congress and the President.
There is no comparable grant of power, authorizing Congress to act as a school board, much less for President’s education secretary to assume the role of school superintendent, as if he were back in that role in Chicago. While Congress has authority to prepare an American citizen for war in defense of the country, it has no authority to prepare an American citizen for the so-called “global economy.” Thus, President Obama has no authority to “ensure” that the nation’s school children are being prepared to “compete for good jobs” and to “live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.”
In the early years of the first Reagan administration, there was talk of abolishing the Department of Education on the ground that it was unconstitutional. That goal has long been abandoned even by “conservative” Republicans, many of whom fell in line with former President George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative. Having so laid the foundation for the Obama education initiative, the GOP can only complain, as the chairman of the Florida Republican Party has done, condemning Obama’s speech as an attempt to “indoctrinate America’s children to his socialist agenda”:
The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is infuriating, but goes against the beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power.
Not only must the American taxpayer foot the bill for President Obama’s speech, but he is already paying for “the menu of classroom activities” hatched in the Department of Education, not only for implementation of the presidential lesson on September 8, but future lesson plans marketed to compliant teachers by the department’s “teachers-in-residence” and “teaching ambassador”programs headquartered in Washington, D.C. Under the tutelage of this President’s totalitarian vision of his office, the educational bureaucrats will not stop with their political agenda, but will do everything in their power to impose their secular irreligious beliefs upon the hearts and minds of the children in violation of the First Amendment’s prohibition against an establishment of religion.
The President as Head Psychologist
There is a way that seemeth right unto a man
But the end thereof are the ways of death.
Aware that a presidential address—no matter how eloquent the speaker—has its limitations, the Obama administration has devised ways to get people to actually listen, and to take action. The flagship follow-up effort is the “I Am What I Learn” video contest. Luring students who are age 13 and older to participate, the Government is offering to the creators of the top three videos a prize of three pots of 1,000 Federal Reserve notes each at the end of a rainbow. Students are enticed “to have fun and be creative” by inventing videos “up to two minutes in length, describing the steps they will take to improve their education and the role education will play in fulfilling their dreams.” To further stimulate the students’ creative juices, the Education Department has suggested that the two-minute vignettes could be in the form of a “video blog, public service announcement (PSA), music video, or documentary.”
And to pour a little “fame” on the fire, the Education Department has created a nationwide reality show, announcing that the every video produced will be placed before the “general public” which “will then vote on their favorites to determine the top 20 finalists.” Those videos, in turn, will be reviewed by Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s hand-picked judges who will choose the three winners of the top cash prizes.
Education as entertainment! Just what is needed in the digital age “to help students get focused and inspired to begin the new academic year.” And to what end? A two-minute “documentary” or a “karaoke” video. With only a month allowed for “uploading their videos to YouTube,” students will either have to be engaged full-time in producing the video with lots of professional help from Michael Moore, or the nation will be treated to amateurish nonsense.
But fear not. Most students will not be so occupied. According to the Education Department’s “menu of classroom activities,” students in Pre-K-6 will be busy sharing their “ideas they recorded” or “exchanging sticky notes” or “placing notes on a butcher-paper poster in the classroom to discuss the main ideas from the speech.” Additionally, these youngsters from ages 4 to 12 will be asked by their teachers to discuss such questions as: “What do you think the president wants us to do? Does the speech make you want to do anything? Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us? What would you like to tell the president?” By going directly to the youngest students—bypassing their parents whose life experiences might stand in the way—President Obama seeks the “change” that he campaigned for.
For the older children from 13 on up, they will be treated with “large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President Obama’s speeches on education” and discussion sessions interpreting these excerpts. And they will be encouraged to set step-by-step goals to improve their grades, complete their homework, study more, get tutoring help, if needed, and “ask an adult in my life to check on me often to make sure that I am completing each of my steps.”
It is not, however, for man to “direct his steps,” the prophet Jeremiah reminds us, for “the way of man is not in himself” (Jer. 10:23). Rather, “the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalm 37:23). And though that man “fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand” (Psalm 37:23). As the prophet Isaiah testifies to all those in need—even America’s school children and their parents: “For I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:13).