The speech will do little harm in itself. Schools shovel nonsense down boys’ and girls’ throats every day; today’s menu will offer just a slight change of flavor. But that’s why the protests are healthy. It’s a rare day when parents across the country explicitly tell their kids to take their lessons with a grain of salt.
Children shouldn’t be taught that the president—any president—is a beloved paternal figure with a grand plan for everyone. (From the original lesson plan:Students might think about: What specific job is he asking me to do? Is he asking anything of anyone else? Teachers? Principals? Parents? The American people?) Children should be taught the truth: that presidents are polarizing figures who are constantly dogged by controversy. That Americans don’t always agree about proper public policy, and sometimes they disagree enough to do something as drastic as keeping their kids home from school. That politics is about conflict, not listening in unison while a friendly face on a TV screen dispenses instructions.