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EDITORIAL: Some students missed historical opportunity

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By The Staff

It’s safe to say that a number of students all across America, even here in Anderson County, missed out on a historic opportunity Tuesday.

President Barack Obama addressed all of the country’s students through a webcast with one goal in mind: instilling in them the value of education.

Perhaps if a president had been capable of making such a speech to the parents of today’s students when they were students themselves, Obama’s speech would have been more effective.

This time last week, tempers started to flare at the mention of our president speaking to all of the nation’s schools at one time via the web.

Unfortunately, many tempers kept flaring even though information gathering came to a screeching halt.

A case in point: An unidentified woman called our office Friday and said she had just heard that the middle school would be showing Obama’s speech. This woman planned on keeping her child out of school that day and wanted a reporter to contact Superintendent Kim Shaw and get to the bottom of this.

When asked if she had visited our website to see that a story regarding this speech and where it would be shown in Anderson County’s schools had been posted there the day before, she said no.

The woman did not leave her name. No one at our office knows who she is. She just stands as an example of far too many parents across the county and the country.

These parents are entitled to their own political opinions. That’s the beauty of America — citizens can believe what they want, support whomever they want and voice their opinions.

However, America’s ugly side is that in what has become mainly a two-party system, Mr. and Mrs. Average Citizen pick a party and, because it’s easy and requires minimal effort, go with whatever their liberal friends say or agree with whatever Fox News tells them.

Too many citizens stand ignorant of the issues at hand, not because they’re unintelligent, but because they select to remain uninformed.

Anyone with Internet access or the ability to go in the doors of the public library could have researched the president’s speech. In fact, because so much controversy sparked over the webcast, a full transcript of the speech was available online 24 hours before the first classroom logged on.

Parents who were afraid of what would be said in their absence were given the opportunity to see the speech word-for-word in advance. Perhaps if they were open-minded enough to view the transcript, they would have seen that the only idea the president wanted to push was that students should take responsibility for their own education.

It used to be an honor to hear the president speak. When Franklin D. Roosevelt came into the living rooms of citizens on the radio with his fireside chats, families tuned in. Before these broadcasts, very few people had ever heard a president speak, but because of gasp! new technology, there was his voice right inside their homes.

President Obama is also a president who embraces technology. Not only did all students have the chance to hear his voice, they could see his face in real time on the computers at their schools. Let’s hope that didn’t present a different problem.

Obama is not the first to address school children. Ronald Reagan did so in 1988 and George H. W. Bush did so in 1991. Those speeches were also broadcast although not online. Minus the Internet, what makes this address any different?

Very few people will argue that education is unimportant, yet when the president decides to stand with the vast majority and tell tomorrow’s leaders to stay in school, it presents a problem.

It’s a shame that ignorance kept students from hearing a historical speech on education.