The Department of Education has now changed their supplementary materials
on President Obama's upcoming address to schoolchildren on the importance of education -- eliminating a phrase that some conservatives, such as the Florida GOP, happened to have been bashing as evidence of socialist indoctrination in our schools.
In a set of bullet points listed under a heading, "Extension of the Speech," one of the points used to
say: "Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals."
However, that bullet point now
reads as follows: "Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their shortâterm and longâterm education goals. These would be collected and redistributed at an appropriate later date by the teacher to make students accountable to their goals."
As I learned during my interview today with Florida GOP press secretary Katie Gordon, the bit about "help the president" was turned by conservatives into an example of socialist political indoctrination. I thought the "Extension of the Speech" heading made the context clear enough -- that it's in relation to Obama's speech about working hard in school -- but nevertheless it was raising eyebrows. The new version is now unambiguously related to those educational goals.
I asked Department of Education deputy press secretary Sandra Abrevaya why this was done, and whether it might have been in response to any political attacks. "We clarified some of the language," Abrevaya told me in an e-mail.