Federal

Former GOP Chairman: I Was Wrong on Back-to-School Speech

By Sean Cavanagh — September 14, 2010 1 min read

The controversy over President Obama’s back-to-school speech last year had several sources, but one of the main drivers was the criticism leveled by then-Florida GOP Chairman Jim Greer.

Now Greer, on the day of the president’s second back-to-school address, has issued a frank apology to Obama for his strong words back then, in a new statement in which he blasts his own party.

Greer was ousted from the chairman’s post amid a financial scandal. He now faces fraud and money-laundering charges.

“In the year since I issued a prepared statement regarding President Obama speaking to the nation’s school children, I have learned a great deal about the party I so deeply loved and served,” Greer said in a statement issued Tuesday to media outlets. “Unfortunately, I found that many within the GOP have racist views, and I apologize to the President for my opposition to his speech last year and my efforts to placate the extremists who dominate our Party today. My children and I look forward to the President’s speech.”

Obama drew criticism in advance of his speech last year when it was revealed that the U.S. Department of Education had put together a lesson plan suggesting that students should “help the president,” which some saw as unduly partisan. The department later reworked the lesson plan; Obama’s speech was widely regarded as non-ideological.

In the days leading up to last year’s speech, however, Greer had questioned the administration’s motives.

“As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama’s socialist ideology,” he said in a press release at the time, titled “Greer Condemns Obama’s Attempt to Indoctrinate Students.”

Evidently, Greer now wishes he could now have that press release back.

Check out our coverage of this year’s presidential back-to-school speech at Politics K-12.

Photo: Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel/AP-File

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A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.