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Southern Eyes

In my home schooling history, I've had the privilege of sitting beside my sons in class and observing the teacher (who was on video). Some I liked and others, not so much.

The fact that they were on our TV screen and we could not converse with them increased the temptation to make fun of them.

Usually, the humor had something to do with the too-short ties the math teacher wore.

I know, I know -- as a parent, I should have discouraged my kids from rolling their eyes when the teacher first appeared on screen. I should have made sure they respected the teacher's position, knowledge and individuality. After I'd finished rolling my own eyes, I did that.

So, when I was listening to our president's speech to students last week and he told young people that they may not always click with a teacher, or a subject may not seem relevant to their life, I had to nod my head in agreement.

That was painful, not because my head ached, but because it hurt my pride. I am a Republican and have a tendency to be contrary when it comes to Democratic thinking.

But President Obama's words just happened to be the same ones that I -- and almost every other parent in America -- have been telling our children for years.

Although it took him 20 minutes, I'll repeat it in 20 seconds -- "Life is tough. School is hard. Don't give up -- your life will be better." (My 16-year-old son can be even more brief: "If life sucks, get a straw.")

In McDuffie County, we let a golden opportunity slip through our fingers by not letting the students view the motivational speech.

When I drive down the road and see groups of young black males walking around with their britches below their buttocks and seemingly no respect for themselves or anyone else, I can't help but wonder why we wouldn't want to provide them a positive influence when the opportunity arises.

I'm willing to bet the same people who complain the loudest about these "thugs" are the same people who did not want the president's speech to be aired.

I'm not saying the speech would have changed the world, or even made a thug pull his pants up. But it could have planted a seed of change in the mind of at least one child who was otherwise being influenced in a negative direction.

So, those who thought they were preventing bad health care reform, defeating Democrats or exercising their American freedom by denying children their right to hear a president exercise his American freedom of speech ended up hindering the young people who most need help.

In the end, that hurts us all. Toward them, I'm rolling my eyes.

Web posted on Thursday, September 17, 2009

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