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UPDATED: Flap Continues: Rep. John Kline Asks Obama to Release His Remarks

By Alyson Klein — September 03, 2009 1 min read
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Rep. John Kline, the top Republican on the House Education and Labor Committee, sent a letter to the White House asking President Barack Obama to publicly release the text of his back-to-school address to kids, to be delivered next week. (According to this Washington Post story, Obama already had planned to do just that). UPDATE: And indeed, the White House said today that the text of the speech will be available on Monday at

As you may know, some Texas districts have expressed qualms about letting kids listen, because of language in one of the lesson plans accompanying the speech that gave students suggestions for how they could “help” the president, prompting claims that the speech would politically indoctrinate kids.

Releasing the speech would allow parents to look at what Obama’s message will be and decide whether or not they want their children to listen to the speech, Kline said.

Kline was joined by Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., who heads up the House Republican Policy Committee.

Here’s a bit of Kline’s letter:

As you know, parents play a pivotal role in their children’s education. Just as parents are able to review a textbook before it is used or consider a planned field trip before children leave the classroom, public consideration of your remarks in advance of the live address would ensure parents can review them, make an informed decision about whether the material is appropriate for their children, and engage them accordingly.

What’s your take on the politics at play here? And if you work in a school or district, have you heard concerns from parents?

Comments section is open!

UPDATE: Tom Horne, Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction, put out his own statement, with an education-oriented critique of the speech and its lesson plans.

Here’s a snippet from his statement:

The White House materials call for a worshipful, rather than critical approach to this speech. For example, the White House communication calls for the students to have 'notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on the board),' and for the students to discuss 'how will he inspire us,' among other things. ...In general, in keeping with good education practice, students should be taught to read and think critically about statements coming from politicians and historical figures.

And a spokesman for the South Carolina Department of Education told my colleague, Catherine Gewertz, that his office has been getting calls, both from districts and the general public about the speech, including one woman who said she planned to keep her granddaughter home from school. District officials themselves are “getting swamped” with questions and comments, he said.

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