Wednesday, March 05, 2008

A speech I never thought I'd hear from a politician !

Joanne Jacobs ran a post last week featuring the following portion of a speech by Barack Obama: (If you go to Joanne's post, she has a YouTube video of the speech.)

“It’s not good enough for you to say to your child, ‘Do good in school,’ and then when that child comes home, you’ve got the TV set on,” Obama lectured. “You’ve got the radio on. You don’t check their homework. There’s not a book in the house. You’ve got the video game playing.”

Each line was punctuated by a roar, and Obama began to shout, falling into a preacher’s rhythm. “Am I right?”

“So turn off the TV set. Put the video game away. Buy a little desk. Or put that child at the kitchen table. Watch them do their homework. If they don’t know how to do it, give ‘em help. If you don’t know how to do it, call the teacher.”

By now, the crowd of nearly 2,000 was lifted from the red velveteen seats of the Julie Rogers Theatre, hands raised to the gilded ceiling. “Make ‘em go to bed at a reasonable time! Keep ‘em off the streets! Give ‘em some breakfast! Come on! Can I get an amen here?”

Whooooooooooooooooo, went the crowd. “You know I’m right,” Obama laughed. “And, since I’m on a roll, if your child misbehaves in school, don’t cuss out the teacher! You know I’m right about that! Don’t cuss out the teacher! Do something with your child!”

Now, I have been following the presidential primary and caucus contests closely, but I still haven't made up my mind who I think should be the next president. Barack Obama has inspired many people, and I think that's terrific, but I've got my concerns about him. I'm concerned about his Iraq policy. I'm concerned about his inexperience. I'm concerned because I know that someone can run a terrific campaign to become president, but then that same person might not be able to govern effectively, like Jimmy Carter. I think about John Kennedy being unable to get things through a Congress controlled by his own party, and I have to wonder how Obama would do with a Congress that is divided much more sharply along partisan lines than it was in the 60s, and with a Senate that has decided filibusters should be thrown around like candy. I am concerned because Kennedy was also able to inspire people, but mistakes he made in dealing Cuba and the Soviet Union early in his presidency almost led to World War III. I am concerned because while Obama talks about bipartisanship, he is the most liberal Democrat that we have in the Senate, and he has never really reached across the aisle like John McCain and Hillary Clinton have.

I won't say, yet, that I will vote for Obama, but I am thrilled by this speech. It is a speech that I never thought I would hear a presidential candidate give. It is so much easier to blame teachers, schools, or government for the poor performance of kids in school. Never did I think I would hear a presidential candidate tell parents that they've got to do their jobs better.

Many of the commenters on Joanne's post reacted to the speech by questioning his policies, and I guess that's fair. One commenter said that Obama's speech was just a warmed over version of what Bill Cosby has said. That may be true, but Bill Cosby wasn't running for president, and if he offended anyone by saying it, he really didn't have anything to lose. Regardless of what policies he has supported in the past, and what policies he's proposing for the future, I believe that a presidential candidate saying the things that Obama said is a huge step forward.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dennis, how is the hockey team doing? That's what we really want to hear about!

3/05/2008 6:24 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

We play Litchfield today at 1PM. If we win, we play again Friday morning at 11AM. If we lose, we have to go over to the Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis and play tomorrow morning in the consolation bracket. Stay tuned!

3/05/2008 6:30 AM  
Blogger Amerloc said...


Just saw the headline in the Trib.

3/05/2008 3:19 PM  
Blogger Amerloc said...

Now, to actually deal with what you wrote....

One of the most telling things I've read about Obama I read yesterday morning, as I was preparing to vote and then caucus here in Texas. Actually, I wasn't preparing for either, since I had voted early and had no real intention of caucusing, so it was more about killing time till the returns started coming in. But I came across a couple of resolutions with local impact that needed introducing at the caucus, so I printed out the requisite copies and went. Good time, but that's a post in itself which I may or may not get to.

Anyway, the post I'm referring to is this one:

The gist of it is that Obama is not a candidate as much as he is a movement. I'm not sure I agree that there's a real difference between a movement and an incredibly charismatic candidate, but I suspect only time would tell.

However you look at it (the post I reference or the post you quoted, it's beyond time any candidate recognized that many of education's problems can't all be solved with money, or even with tests, and I applaud Barack Obama for being the first presidential candidate to do so.

3/05/2008 4:29 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Warroad 4 Litchfield 0. We will be the underdog against Duluth Marshall in the semi-finals on Friday. I'll put the result of that one in the comment section of the "Goin' to the Show" post.

3/05/2008 4:31 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Amerloc, I agree with your applause!

3/05/2008 4:39 PM  
Blogger Mr. McNamar said...

Yes, we can! O-Ba-Ma.

3/05/2008 5:32 PM  
Blogger Mrs. C said...

Hello! Thought I'd drop my two cents in on the homework issue. I'm a homeschool *and* public-school mom.

Personally, I'd rather homeschool for five hours straight teaching my own kid, and do it all *my* way, than to work even one hour on homework each night. The way they teach math or just about any other subject isn't how I did it in school, or my children come home with unclear directions or forget their textbooks. Often they get the most homework just when you have NO time or a bunch of activities to do that day. I'd much rather have a *small* packet and two weeks to get things done so that I can budget my time, rather than the school deciding my evening schedule for me. It would give me a good idea of what my p.s. kid is doing, without wrecking our childrens' social life or our family harmony.

I'm not opposed to working with my children and in fact I do a lot of work with the children I homeschool. (I pick their curriculum, teach their classes, grade their work, etc. etc. just like you do in school.) I do object to the public schools having my child for the entire day and then sending him home tired, hungry, needing a shower and some down time... carrying an entire backpack full of homework.

To my mind, if I'm sending my child on the yellow bus, I am contracting out MY work of educating MY children to the public school. My job, to my mind, would be to oversee that process. Not to have to spend hours of my family time each week dickering and fighting with my children over some assignment I hate just as much as they do.

I hope you hear my heart on this issue. I want to be an involved parent, but I refuse to let homework dominate family time. It won't happen. It's very easy to criticise parents, but most of them (that I know, in any event) do a good job and would like to back the teacher up most of the time.

IMO Obama is a poor candidate; however, I won't hijack your blog counting the ways. Bless you! :]

3/07/2008 11:17 AM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Mrs. C., you sound like a concerned parent. There are a lot who aren't, and that's the issue Obama seemed to be addressing. I can understand your not wanting your kids' homework to dominate your family time, but I think the overall theme of his message was right on.

It sounds like you have more problems with Obama than I do, but this post was not meant as an endorsement of him for president. (Although he's a lot closer to getting my vote than he was before I read what he said.) It was, however, an endorsement for political candidates saying that kind of thing.

And bless you, too!

3/07/2008 4:59 PM  
Blogger The Vegas Art Guy said...

It is nice that Obama and I finally agree on something. It's simply amazing what a difference a concerned parent makes in the life of a teacher.

3/12/2008 10:03 PM  

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