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September 14, 2009

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September 14, 2009 

On the President's Speech and Bill Gates

Dear Friends of the

This e-links is a little different from most we send out, but we think you'll find a lot to chew on.

You are probably familiar with the controversy surrounding the President's speech to school children. Well, the speech  is over, and everyone is already forgetting about it - or are they?

Whatever you thought of President Obama addressing the nation's school children, and whatever you thought of the speech itself, it looks as if one very good thing is coming out of the uproar - people are paying attention to and talking about education in more significant ways.

Below you'll find two very thought-provoking articles about the speech, with a different take on what we should think about it.

You'll also find information about another event that occurred the day of the speech but generated little controversy, though we think it's something we should be paying close attention to, and that is The Get Schooled Initiative of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

We hope you had a good Labor Day weekend and feel refreshed for the work ahead of setting families and education free to be all they can be.

Alan Schaeffer
Alliance for the Separation of School & State

Is Obama's Speech Indoctrination?

Jacob G. Hornberger tells us we're missing the point. It's ridiculous, he says, to talk about indoctrinating children who sit in state schools all day. He concludes his article with a chilling personal example of how an authority figure can repress free inquiry and discussion, especially among young people.


But hey, let's all get up in arms about indoctrination when one more government official decides to add his perspective to those that the other government officials are placing in the minds of the children every day for 12 years.

Is it possible to break free of the indoctrination that children receive in government schools? Sure! ...

But it's not an easy achievement, especially given the deep regimentation, conformity, and respect for authoritarianism that is drilled into public-school students for 12 years.

Parents Sense Lack of Control

Jay P. Greene is a proponent of school choice. We believe the best choice is total freedom from state schooling, while Mr. Greene supports choice of public schools, something we think will have little impact on improving education and no impact on freeing it from the grip of politics. Nevertheless, Mr. Greene makes some excellent remarks in his post-Obama-school-speech article, Mostly Harmless.


Parents sense a lack of control over what their children are taught in school.  This is as true of every day's social studies lesson as it is of Obama's speech....

But on a fairly regular basis schools teach (or fail to teach) some things that are contrary to the values that parents would like conveyed to their children.  To those of us who see education as an extension of child-rearing, compulsory education privileging government-operated schools is an intrusion of the government on this parental responsibility....

As I've argued before, I prefer to trust even poorly educated parents to make decisions in the best interests of their own children than well-trained but differently motivated bureaucrats.

So, beneath the over-reactions and counter-over-reactions on Obama's speech today is a real issue -- Who should have primary responsibility for raising (educating) children?

Not only the President on September 8 -
Bill Gates, et al, too

The Get Schooled Initiative

President Obama was not the only star on September 8 - The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation unveiled its Get Schooled Initiative that evening at a Hollywood Gala, without the sort of controversy the president's speech generated. This alliance of the Gates Foundation, big businesses, and the Department of Education, though, is something that should be watched.

The Gates Foundation has tried a wide variety of reform efforts aimed at shaping public schools into what it thinks they should be, mostly with results that have disappointed them. Get Schooled: You Have the Right is the next try - a partnership with business leaders, policymakers, entertainers and others:


"The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Viacom Inc. will join other corporations and nonprofit organizations, as well as education thought leaders, policymakers and concerned entertainment industry professionals at the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood to formally launch the Get Schooled initiative and engage students, families and community members in efforts to reform the nation's public schools and provide American youth with a world-class education."  

The opening ceremonies featured, among others, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Tony Miller, New York City Department of Education Chancellor Joel Klein, and Los Angeles area high-school athletic director Stephen Minix.

The documentary was aired at 8 P.M. (EST) "in the first programming "roadblock" of any kind across all Viacom networks, including BET, MTV, VH1, CMT, Comedy Central, Spike TV, TV Land, and Nickelodeon."  


The Department of Education offers this explanation of its own part in The Get Schooled Initiative on its web site:

Is the "Get Schooled" television event in the evening on Sept. 8 hosted by the Viacom network and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation connected to the president's speech?


While the U.S. Department of Education is a partner in this effort, the president's noontime address is a separate event. Get Schooled is a five-year national platform developed by Viacom and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that connects, inspires, and mobilizes people to find effective solutions to education challenges....

The grand finale of the opening ceremonies of the September 8 kickoff of The Get Schooled Initiative: "[T]he Gates Foundation and Viacom will welcome corporate partners AT&T, Capital One Financial Corporation, and NYSE Euronext, which have each signed on to the Get Schooled initiative..."

One can't help but feel that this effort is reminiscent of the powers that contributed so heavily to the government takeover of education to begin with, as documented in John Taylor Gatto's book, The Underground History of American Education.

Also of interest...

Civics Exam: Schools of choice boost civic values
By Patrick J. Wolf

[This examination of many studies is longish and a little complex, but the basic conclusion is that the idea that we need government schooling in order to instill common values in children is a false idea.]

Quote: Even the most rigorous studies with few exceptions, studies consistently find that schools of choice instill civic values to a higher or the same degree as traditional public schools.

Related Blog Entry: What Everyone Needs to Know

If you would like to help parents gain education freedom for their children, please
donate at our website or call our office toll free at 888-325-1776.

Wishing you peace, happiness, and liberty!

Alan Schaeffer
Alliance for the Separation of School & State

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President, Cato Institute

John Taylor Gatto
1991 New York State Teacher of the Year

Fr. John A Hardon
The Catholic Catechism

Don Hodel
Former Secretary of Interior

D. James Kennedy
Coral Ridge Ministries

Rev. Tim LaHaye
Left Behind

Rabbi Daniel Lapin
President, Toward Tradition

Tom Monaghan
Founder, Domino’s Pizza

Ron Paul
US Congressman, Texas

John K Rosemond
Parenting Author, Columnist, Speaker

They and thousands of others have signed Our Proclamation:

"I favor ending government involvement in education."