By Sandy Belknap
I was surprised this weekend to hear that people have such strong opinions about President Obama's speech to America's school children that is taking place today.
Not a parent, myself, I initially glanced over the 'news' about the speech. But then the opinions "for" and "against" both the timing and audience for the speech made me take pause to seek input from others across the Nashua community.
Interestingly, most of the parents in my neighborhood have been so busy with last week's start of school and this past weekend's Labor Day holiday, that they had no idea that there is a national discussion taking place about today's speech -- and none of them seemed to have a strong opinion either way as to whether or not such a speech is appropiate in the classroom.
But don't think that the Nashua community is apathetic. There were nearly 200 online comments to a local newspaper article about the speech - - and most people seemed to support the speech in the schools (of course a few comments were very far to the right and left, but like any online community, contributors seemed to monitor one another's comments and keep each other in-check.)
As the national debate about the speech continued into this morning and the text of the speech was made available for preview, it's difficult to argue that encouraging the youth of this country to stay in school and apply effort to their studies is a bad thing. (Especially when there is no hidden political agenda.)
And while it's easy for opponents to use the excuse that such a speech should be watched at home with parents, this is exactly why such a speech needs to take place at school, where children have equal access to the cable television or webcast information. Even a 'monied 'burb' like Nashua has residents that don't have access to the Internet to watch the speech online at home.
While I'm sure that many parents will discuss this speech at the dinner table with their children tonite, there are probably just as many children whose parents aren't engaged at all and will never have an idea about today's speech.
In the end, to me, the biggest success of this speech is that before it even happened, it opened a conversation in this country (that hasn't taken place in a long time!) about the need to encourage education and motivate our students so that we can to build our leaders for tomorrow.