Those are the topics I've decided to gloss over today. What bothers me is his holding himself out as the prize for The Race to the Top Challenge for improvement of graduation rates in schools.
I'm all for inspiring youngsters to want an education and to stay in school. It shouldn't require the President delivering the commencement address to be the incentive. But it was. He had to know the minute the winner was chosen it would be politicized and of course it was. The winner, Booker T. Washington High School, in Memphis won. It is predominantly black in a sorely impoverished area and the students are thrilled that the President will be visiting. And they should be.
It is also in Tennessee, a state that went Republican in 2008 and has eleven electoral votes. In articles about the winner, the politics was the first thing mentioned.
Especially since the other two of the final three schools are in safe Democratic states. California and Washington. The school in Washington, Bridgeport, is small, mostly Hispanic and in the middle of nowhere. The kids were thrilled to be among the final three and anticipation of the announcement was palpable. The local news has been doing stories on it daily. Tiny Bridgeport was on the map.
The body language of the kids, as pictured in this morning's Spokesman Review, shows far better than words how they felt about the results. Crushingly disappointed seems mild. The consolation prize? An as yet unnamed Cabinet member and the Governor. They couldn't even tell the kids who the Cabinet member would be. What are they going to do, draw names out of a hat?
Speaking of that, perhaps that might have been a better way to pick the winner from the final three. No peeking as to the politics of the State or community!
Personally, I think the President would be better off not involving himself as a prize. The disappointment is too great and it's no fault of the kids. It's a good lesson for them? A lesson in how to accept losing with grace. Heck, their sports teams can teach highschoolers lessons like that.
But to lose out on a visit from the President? What made the other kids so much better? Well, what did? Is it just that they made a better video? Put together a package of scholarships ft and have someone like the Secretary of Education award them at each of the schools.
Let the President do what he does best. Like deny Texas federal aid for the 2 million acres that burned while collecting campaign donations in El Paso. Leave the kids and their teachers out of the equation. They deserve better.