Conservatives wave red flags over Obama school speech

President Barack Obama waves as he walks across the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 2. An upcoming Obama speech to schoolchildren has caused an uproar in conservative circles.

It's pretty straightforward stuff: On Sept. 8, President Barack Obama is scheduled to deliver a major speech to American schoolchildren. According to Arne Duncan, the secretary of education, the president will discuss, among other topics, the importance of working hard, and setting educational goals.

"He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens," Duncan wrote in an open letter last week.

You know, the basics. The kind of things that most kids should know. But the prospect of this speech – which will be broadcast live on the White House's website – has sent tremors through certain corners of the blogosphere. At issue is a document the Department of Education has created to help teachers drive Obama's points home. Here's an excerpt:

Students can record important parts of the speech where the President is asking them to do something. Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?

According to commentator Michelle Malkin, the lesson plans have the whiff of subversive activism. "Schools have used students as little lobbyists on everything from illegal immigration to gay marriage to anti-war activism, and most recently, [c]ensus collection," Malkin wrote. "Will Obama be able to resist issuing a call to youth arms to marshal help in passing his legislative agenda?"

Meanwhile, the conservative radio host Dana Loesch has launched a campaign urging parents to keep their children home on the day of Obama's speech. In an email urging against the "Socialist Indoctrination of Americas children," [sic] Loesch explains that Americans must not "mind our Ps and Qs and blindly follow their directives":

That’s not the manner of governance upon which this country was founded – it is quite the opposite; even the hobbyist Constitutional aficionado appreciates this. So yes, keep your kids home on September 8th and teach them that the power of America rests in the hands of its people, no one else.

As of this afternoon, the email had gone viral, and made the phrase "Obama school speech" one of the most searched on the web.

So is the uproar having an effect? In some cases, the answer is yes. Dallas officials "are leaving the decision to [view Obama's address] up to individual teachers," the Houston Chronicle reports. "[P]arents who don't want their children to see it can opt out. In Houston, each school will decide."

And in at least one part of Missouri, kids won't be seeing the speech at all.

For its part, the White House says that conservatives misunderstand the purpose of the address. "The goal of the speech and the lesson plans is to challenge students to work hard in school, to not drop out and to meet short-term goals like behaving in class, doing their homework and goals that parents and teachers alike can agree are noble," a White House spokesman told "This isn't a policy speech. This is a speech designed to encourage kids to stay in school."

Coakley is in

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has officially become the first – and thus far the only – politician to make a bid for Ted Kennedy’s vacant seat in the US Senate.

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