Back to School? Butt Out, Barack

When I was in grade school, if I did a certain number of push-ups, pull-ups and performed the shuttle run in under 10 minutes I received a certificate from the Oval Office.

Apparently squat thrusts and jumping jacks aren’t good enough for Barack Obama. With a video address next week he’s instructing teachers nationwide to assign students a paper on how to "help the president."

Among the unprecedented activities the government initially suggested for pre-kindergarten to sixth-grade students (well, unprecedented except for North Korea and the former Soviet Union): that they "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

Another task recommended for students immediately after listening to the speech: to engage in a discussion about what "the president wants us to do."

At least that’s what the first memo said.

What happened to Hamlet? Fractions, anyone?

The administration had to quickly walk back those instructions for a more toned-down approach. Now they’ve moved away from what turned out to be a politically prickly idea and are merely insisting “Obama just wanted to tell the kids to stay in school!�

Good thinking. The drop out rate among third graders is really spiraling of control.

Obama’s had a rough summer and it’s reflected in his polls. This is, no doubt, an effort to help recast his image, but also butt into the lives of our next generation. And he’s called in his base to help: Hollywood. Apparently when the going gets tough, the tough call…Ashton and Demi? A video has been cut entitled “I Pledge� and one school principal is already getting heat for showing the footage at an assembly program. (To see the video visit

The video features several celebrities designed to serve as moral compasses for the kids. Names like Courtney Cox, Cameron Diaz – figures that many kids idolize – are featured pledging what they can to help the president. For instance, end world hunger, not give people "the finger" and uh, smile more.

Nothing says real sacrifice like a toothy grin.

The White House is crossing a very fine line with its video message to kids. It's one thing to talk about the president's duties; it's quite another to create a program that, by design, forces children to ponder his or her wonderfulness. America's school kids should know who the president is and what his powers are – that’s called civics class – but they shouldn't be discussing what he wants them to do. It reeks of propaganda and a cult of personality taken to the extreme. It also sets a precedent. Will the commander-in-chief use this mechanism going forward to reach potential new voters to push his agenda?

Opening the door to the federal government getting involved in local schools equals politicization. It’s the parents’ job and the role of teachers to help set educational goals, not the executive branch of our government. But Barack Obama, at his core, is a nanny state leftist, indoctrinated in the progressive radicalism that believes big government knows best.

From the stimulus to "Cash for Clunkers" to the bailouts, the administration has screwed up enough in the last nine months; our kids won't be next. But maybe that's why he's speaking to them. With the American electorate skeptical of his policies, he needs to address people who really were born yesterday. contributor Andrea Tantaros is a conservative columnist and commentator. Follow her on Twitter@andreatantaros.