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You may have heard about the uproar over President Obama’s desire to address the nation’s schoolchildren. Although the White House has not yet released the text of the speech, many people wondered whether the speech would be pushing Obama’s policy goals.
The idea that the speech would be political in nature is not something that people fantasized; it was related to the fact that the Department of Education’s lesson plan asked students to “help the president” and write about “what the president wants us to do.”
The Obama administration has since removed such language from the lesson plan, and has issued a rather lame excuse. The Associated Press reports:
Critics are particularly upset about lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans, available online, originally recommended having students “write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president.”
The White House revised the plans Wednesday to say students could “write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.”
“That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it,” [White House deputy policy director Heather] Higginbottom said.
Of course, the only way the “inartfully worded” excuse works is if the new wording is a clearer way of saying what the original statement intended to convey.
In what universe is “what they can do to help the president” even remotely related to “how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals”?
One is not a more “artful wording” of the other. The administration’s new phrasing represents a completely different statement altogether.
If the president had intended to deliver a speech asking for students’ help achieving his political goals, I suspect this controversy will dissuade him from doing that.
We shall see.