From NBC's Mark Murray
This coming Tuesday, President Obama is set to deliver a speech on education and its importance to students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA.
The speech also will be broadcast on the White House's Web site, and Education Secretary Arne Duncan has encouraged principals across the country to have their students tune in.
Yet somehow, the chairman of the Florida Republican Party, Jim Greer, believes Obama's speech as a platform "to spread" his "socialist ideology."
Says Greer: "As the father of four children, I am absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology. The idea that school children across our nation will be forced to watch the President justify his plans for government-run health care, banks, and automobile companies, increasing taxes on those who create jobs, and racking up more debt than any other President, is not only infuriating, but goes against beliefs of the majority of Americans, while bypassing American parents through an invasive abuse of power."
More: "While I support educating our children to respect both the office of the American President and the value of community service, I do not support using our children as tools to spread liberal propaganda. The address scheduled for September 8, 2009, does not allow for healthy debate on the President's agenda, but rather obligates the youngest children in our public school system to agree with our President's initiatives or be ostracized by their teachers and classmates."
Has the state of our political discourse devolved to the point where a president's speech about the importance of education gets called a socialist power grab?
*** UPDATE *** We just spoke with Florida Republican Party spokeswoman Katie Gordon, who said that Greer's concern is the recommended lesson plan from Education Secretary Arne Duncan. One example for pre-K to 6th graders: "As students listen to the speech, they could think about the following: What is the President trying to tell me? What is the President asking me to do? What new ideas and actions is the President challenging me to think about?"
Gordon tells First Read that the Florida GOP believes that students should be taught to respect the office of the presidency. Its beef, she said, is that parents should be able to decide whether their children should be allowed to participate in this kind of discussion.