A Different Lesson Plan for the President's Speech

Just in case you don't like the “Menu of Classroom Activities [for] President Obama's Address to Students Across America on September 8, here are ten suggested alternative questions to explore with students from pre-K through high school.

1. President and Mrs. Obama have chosen to send their daughters to private school, at a cost of about $29,000 a year for each girl. What choices, if any, should other parents have about where their children go to school and about how to pay for educating their children?

2. Why is it important that the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of Congress, or the governor listen to what citizens say, whether in town hall meetings or in any other form of citizen communication? Why is what citizens say important to these elected officials?

3. When elected officials pass laws should they and their staffs also be obliged to follow those same laws or should they be exempt--and in either case, why?

4. If an elected or appointed public official breaks the law what should be done about that?

5. When elected officials publicly make a promise, what should be done if they go back on their word and do something completely different--including the exact opposite of what they said they'd do?

6. President Obama is a big believer in personal responsibility. How does "personal responsibility" apply to elected officials and to citizens, in general?

7. How much control should individual citizens have over their lives versus the amount of control given to government when it comes to things like education, health care, saving and investing for retirement and any other issue?

8. What limits, if any, should there be on freedom of speech, such as on the radio, on TV, on YouTube, in print, in classroom discussions, etc.?

9. What do you think about giving some students special preferences in admitting them to schools or awarding them money or prizes: what guidelines do you suggest?

10. What is the one piece of advice that you would to each of the following groups: Teachers? Principals? Parents? Your fellow students? The American people?

Communications consultant Jon Kraushar is at www.jonkraushar.net.