About AJ DiCintio
A.J. DiCintio is a Featured Writer for The New Media Journal. He first exercised his polemical skills arguing with friends on
the street corners of the working class neighborhood where he grew up.
Retired from teaching, he now applies those skills, somewhat honed and
polished by experience, to social/political affairs.
Obama’s Shameful Education Affair September 4, 2009
It’s safe to say political analyst Norman Ornstein doesn’t agree
that President Obama’s K-12 educational happening is shameful in every sense
of the term, which includes its being offensive and downright indecent.
After all, according to the Washington Times, Ornstein sees only "a
standard issue speech by a president, with a good, common sense, even
conservative message about education, school, hard work and
Moreover, he finds criticism of the speech an indicator of "how
dysfunctional our politics are” and condemns critics as people who are
"blinded from common sense by their visceral hatred for Obama and his
side of the aisle.”
Of course, it won’t affect the American left’s view of Obama’s
critics as a mob of racist, swastika waving, Know-Nothing, artificial
turf loving slobs; but the case against the affair deserves to be made.
To make the case, we need simply consider its "Menu of Classroom
Activities” designed for administrators, teachers, and students.
Now, as the Washington Times reports, President George H.W. Bush
didn’t order up such a menu when he spoke to the nation’s students in
’91. Yet, without a word of thoughtful analysis about an unconscionable
attempt to place the spotlight on the president and not on ideas (a
tactic on which the White House has already pulled back somewhat),
Ornstein speaks of an innocent "standard issue.”
(Who just might be the mad, fawning, true-believing ideologue
So, let’s do what real education teaches us to do and carefully
examine the Menu’s text.
Goodness, gracious! What do we find even before we get to
"September 8, 2009,” except the perversion of language politicians call
an "oversight” but the rest of us call "another damned lie of omission.”
We read, "Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department
But here’s the whole truth as exposed by the Washington Times:
The idea of adding a lesson plan to the package of materials being
sent to schoolteachers was hatched during meetings between the White
House and officials from the Department of Education.
The lessons themselves were developed by educators, White House
officials said. But some of the assignments, they later conceded, may
appear to be inartfully worded without also knowing the context of the
"Inartfully worded.” What a perfect example of gobbledygook
employed to cover up the fact that White House political operatives
couldn’t honestly say this:
"We want to make sure students come away from this speech with the
image of Barack Obama as their personal Educational Savior.”
An unwarranted conclusion? Then, consider this:
The "Before” segment of the "PreK-6” section contains seven
questions teachers can ask students to build "background knowledge about
the President of the United States and his speech.”
Six of the questions contain a direct reference to the president
with a total of nine specific references to him throughout the segment,
insuring that at all times information given to students and responses
elicited from them are associated with President Barack Obama.
Similarly, the "Guided Discussion” segment of the 7-12 "After the
Speech” section contains nine mentions of or references to the
president, again keeping him at the Center of All Things, even to the
extent of asking students to place themselves in the Mind of Obama:
Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being
educationally successful. To whom would he speak? Why? What would the
"What would Barack Obama say?”
Well, pardon me; but if I were asked to develop a "Menu” to get
students thinking about the importance of education, learning,
achievement, responsibility, and individuality, I wouldn’t care a whit
about what an ordinary politician has to say — much less one who was
incubated, hatched, and fattened in a repulsively malodorous coop over
whose door reads, "Chicago Political Machine.”
I’d invoke, in as simple language as possible, ideas bequeathed to
humanity by the greatest figures in religion, the arts, and philosophy.
Furthermore, I’d make sure to ask students to think about what kind
of mothers and fathers they ought to become so that they can give their
children the opportunity to develop to their full potential as human
And as far as offering students some thoughts about responsibility
and individuality, I’d ask them to think about and discuss a few quotes
from those quintessential American thinkers Ralph Waldo Emerson and
Henry David Thoreau.
About what counts in life, Emerson observed,
Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.
About being an individual, he said this:
These roses under my window make no reference to former roses or to
better ones; they are for what they are; they exist with God to-day.
Thoreau, too, always recognized the existence of a higher purpose
in human life:
Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and
export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an
hour...but whether we should live like baboons or like men is a little