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Viewpoint: Airing president's speech to schoolchildren the right choice

Presidents have often called on Americans of all ages to work to make our country the greatest society in history. Kennedy brought the moon closer, started the Peace Corps and called us to service. In 1991, Bush's nationally televised address to junior high school students instructed them to study hard and avoid drugs. Ten years later, his son asked children to each donate a dollar to help poor children in Afghanistan. Now his successor calls on our nation's school children to make the most of their education. He does so, not just with words, but by example of how, in America, hard work, especially in school, enables you to overcome obstacles and achieve your dreams.

Obama's address has been met with extremist vitriol and instructions to skip school. One media commentator called our president "the fascist in chief" and accused him of taking "his special brand of brainwashing to the classroom," saying she didn't want him "indoctrinating my children." She encouraged parents to tell schools to "keep communists and their propagandists away from small children." A Republican state senator from Oklahoma compared Obama to Saddam Hussein and North Korea's Kim Jong-Il.

If our president wants to indoctrinate youth into an ideological mindset, he could follow Ronald Reagan's example. Judge for yourself if these 1988 statements to students across America were political or designed to get kids to apply themselves in class: " We find that more countries than ever before are following America's revolutionary economic message of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade. These days, whenever I see foreign leaders, they tell me about their plans for reducing taxes, and other economic reforms that they are using, copying what we have done here in our country...The message at the Boston Tea Party -- have you studied yet in history about the Boston Tea Party, where because of a tax they went down and dumped the tea in the Harbor. Well, that was America's original tax revolt, and it was the fruits of our labor -- it belonged to us and not to the state. And that truth is fundamental to both liberty and prosperity." Reagan left out the truth that the revolt was not about taxes levied by democratically elected leaders in lawful furtherance of the common good, but taxation without representation, paid to a king.

In his 1986 talk to schools, Reagan said, "We have to remain economically competitive, and that means being aware of two things: first, what makes economies tick, and second, what works in other societies. We've been trying very hard in Washington to make America even more economically fit by really overhauling our entire tax structure." What a way to persuade all students to have educational goals, hit the books and stay in school.

Commie, fascist, Hitler-like, alien, brainwashing, indoctrinator, evil dictator. The extremists painting our president as such a sociopath must think 53% of U.S. voters, including 54% of Minnesota voters, were idiots to elect such a dangerous guy. How insulting, not just to him, but to us. And how discouraging to those following our Commander-in-Chief in fighting terrorism to know that he is being so vociferously equated with the very evils against which generations of our finest patriots have fought and sacrificed so bravely.

Superintendent Mark Porter and the local board of education members who support him deserve loud thanks for airing the address and not letting fear, hate and distortion sway them. Several Minnesota districts have buckled to those who would censor our rightful president, not because they fear political content, but because his politics are not Reagan's. Porter's online statement says, "We will not disregard the efforts of our President to address the nation's children." In deference to dissent, the district's policy allows students, with parental consent for younger ones, to opt out "without penalty or embarrassment." True to its mission of preparing our children to succeed, the district will give students the chance to have our history-making president speak directly to them about how they, and all of us, succeed if they stay in school, dream big dreams and work hard to make them real.