Editorial: A learning opportunity
Last October, The Spoke published an editorial urging the Conestoga student body to get active in the political process. At the time, we wrote, “Before we can appreciate our generation’s full potential to succeed, we must first recognize the difficult problems that entangle our country…There’s no more waiting. More politically interested youths become more politically informed adults, and together they can build a better democracy. We can build a better democracy.”
Nearly a year later, all students in the Tredyffrin/Easttown School District—from the newly-anointed first grader to the well-seasoned high school senior—were presented with the perfect opportunity to make this wish come to pass. This opportunity came in the form of an address given by President Barack Obama to the youth of our nation. While some school districts jumped at the prospect of using the president’s remarks as a platform to educate, T/E missed out on a golden opportunity by choosing to keep what ended up being a perfectly benign speech out of the classroom.
Just think about it: How often do students get the idea that a sitting president, or any public officeholder for that matter, wants to talk directly to them? Usually, politicians (save for a few obligatory photo ops) have nothing to say to those who have yet to reach voting age.
The values we teach at school, at home, in our places of worship are what we hope will place our children in good stead as the challenges we face grow and amplify. Learning to take pride in our work, to get along with others, to apply ourselves fully to the task at hand, to try our very best in our daily pursuits—that’s what school is all about. That’s what the president’s speech was all about.
A school district like T/E should know tht when you fail to confront ignorance and intolerance, you perpetuate it by default. And when you demonstrate to students that the President of the United States does not have the right to free speech, it tells them that their own prospects for speaking their minds are pretty dim.
But when you boil it all down, when you look at all that has been said over the last month, now is not a time to harp on the past. Did the district make the correct decision in choosing not to air the speech live? We, as students, believe not. But we also believe in the redemptive power of second chances, in the fact that we must learn from the past before setting out on our path to a bright future. Let’s use this situation as a learning opportunity, a way to ensure that the proper decision is made and carried out from now on.
We urge all students in T/E—whether it be in school or at home—to watch the president’s speech. Hear his words, yes, but truly listen to them. As Obama said, “Even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you, don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.” You give up on your country.
Printed originally on p. 7 of The Spoke’s Oct. 16, 2009 issue.
Unsigned editorials represent the views of The Spoke editorial board, and not necessarily those of the administration, student body, community or advertisers.