President Barack Obama’s speech to school kids across the country next week is raising concerns from parents in the Nashville area and across the country.
Obama’s speech, which will be televised by CSPAN at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 8, will be directed at children beginning in kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.
A media release from the U.S. Department of Education said “history will be made” when Obama delivers his one-hour address.
But some parents don’t see things that way. The Tennessee Department of Education has received complaints from parents, mostly in the Nashville area, who fear Obama will push his health care agenda, according to Communications Director Rachel Woods.
“Since yesterday morning, most of the calls are complaints,” said Woods, who added there has also been one call from a parent upset his child’s school was not planning to air the address. “Some of them said this is just a method to push his health care agenda. Other parents were irate saying, ‘It’s not the president's job to tell [my] kids to do homework and be good students. That’s my job.’”
Metro Nashville Public Schools had been receiving various calls from parents about Obama’s address, but did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The head of Florida’s Republican party called Obama’s speech an opportunity for the president to spread his socialist agenda.
Locally, the state Republican party stopped short of such harsh phrasing.But Chris Devaney, chairman for the Tennessee GOP, said it was his hope Obama’s speech stayed within the confines of stressing the importance of education.
“I think presidents addressing school children about the importance of education is not a bad thing,” Devaney said. “But if President Obama tries to hawk his big government ideas, like health care and the like, now that is out of line.
“I certainly think parents have a right, if they feel a speech like Obama’s is going to be out of line, I think they certainly have a right to take their kids out of school.”
The U.S. DOE media release said educators should use the address as an opportunity to get students motivated for the newly begun school year. Additionally, the department is offering a video contest following the speech to encourage student engagement. The contest, entitled “I am what I learn,” will ask students to submit two-minute video responses describing steps they will take to improve their education.
“The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning,” the U.S. DOE media release stated.
Besides CSPAN, the address will also be shown online as well.
The Tennessee DOE sent a note to school districts across the state, which said they were free to participate if the address worked well with their schedule.