Monday, August 9, 2010

President Obama's Actions Speak Louder than His Words

Could it be that President Obama and Secretary Duncan displayed a bit of hypocrisy this weekend? The media has been making a big deal about the basketball game played by our President and his educational sidekick at the Fort McNair military base in Washington, DC. NBA participants in the game included Joakim Noah, Derrick Rose, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Bill Russell, amd Earvin "Magic" Johnson. The game was billed as an opportunity to "entertain wounded soldiers and participants of a White House mentoring program."

While I certainly admire President Obama  and Secretary Duncan's efforts to "entertain our soldiers and the young people in the mentoring program," I could not help but wonder about some of the words in President Obama's speech at the National Urban League Centennial Conference. He stated:
"Instead of a culture where we're always idolizing sports stars and celebrities, I want to build a culture where we idolize the people who are shaping our children's future."
This even made me think about a couple of things. Was having this game with NBA stars contributing to the "culture where sports stars are idolized by our young people"? It would seem to me that President Obama's actions here are a contradiction to what he stated in his speech. He talks about changing a culture where sports stars are idolized, then the next week, he holds an event that seems to continue the culture of idolizing sports stars. It is no secret that President Obama idolizes basketball players. Just Google images of NBA and President Obama and thousands of images come up with the President standing with NBA players, playing basketball with them, and sitting in the stands watching them play. I do not fault the President for having his interests, but his actions this weekend seem to continue to support the same kind of culture he wants to change.

Perhaps I am being too critical of this President, but if President Obama is going to win back credibility with educators, he is going to have do more than give speeches full of empty rhetoric and start acting like he means what he says. The American Education System suffered under No Child Left Behind. Their patience with politicians spouting flowery words about supporting teachers is gone. President Obama and Secretary Duncan need to do more than travel the country making rosy speeches about how Race to the Top is changing education and how they want to support teachers. They need to genuinely listen to educators and stop dismissing opposition to their policies as simple "resistance to change."

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