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President Obama’s mixed message on school, vacations

Did the president send the wrong message when he decided to extend his family vacation in Hawaii, ensuring his children, Malia and Sasha, would miss two days of school this week?

Esther J. Cepeda, one of the new columnists we’re trying out on The Press Democrat opinion page, certainly thinks so. Cepeda, a former teacher, is a columnist for the Chicago Sun Times and the Washington Post Writers Group.

“ . . .  I hate it that a president who has demanded accountability from teachers for their performance in the classroom has not extended that accountability to himself as a parent,” Cepeda wrote in a column we recently posted. “Parents are supposed to get their kids back to school from vacation on time. No exceptions.”

She noted that many school districts with high concentrations of Latino students, such as those in Sonoma County, “have struggled with getting these kids in school for the first day of classes in the fall, then had to deal with ones who missed the last week before winter break or showed up three or four days into the next term. . . . When I was a teacher, these students were the bane of my existence,” she wrote.

By coincidence, my wife and I were having a discussion about this very subject on New Year’s Eve with some friends who were visiting from Holland. They have a 10-year-old girl and a 7-year-old boy. In the Netherlands, it’s against the law to have your children miss school for vacation, punishable by fine. And because our friends were going to have their children miss a few days of class – despite the fact there was a family health issue involved and a professional conference that their father needed to attend in the United States – they stood to be fined as much as 800 euros, around $1,050.

One can just imagine the squawking if we had such a system in place in the United States. Then again, if we did, maybe our schools wouldn’t have the funding problems they do now, as well as the problems with children falling behind in class.

Well, maybe not at Sidwell Friends School where Malia and Sasha attend. But certainly elsewhere.

- Paul Gullixson

11 Responses to “President Obama’s mixed message on school, vacations”

  1. Right wing says:

    You have to be kidding. I didn’t cote for him, I don’t like what he does politically, but he still has parental rights and I will back him on that to the end. Every parent can take their children out of school for vacation and extend it if they want. If the school is strapped for cash, they will kick and scream over the money/attendance. He has the right and that is the end of it.

  2. Dan Delgado says:

    I was nine years old and my sister seven in 1966 when our parents took us out of school for a week in early December for a trip to Hawaii. Needless to say, we were thrilled at the prospect of a week out of school. The occasion was the 25th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor where my father was stationed in 1941. To this day I have vivid memories of standing on the Arizona memorial and reading the names of the men who perished that day. I remember my father pointing out the gap in the mountains where he first saw the Japanese planes approaching. Being back at Pearl seemed to liberate his mind and allowed him to open up and share experiences he never mentioned back home. These were lessons the impact of which could never be matched in a classroom. My father is gone now, but the memories of that trip live on. If the president wants to spend a few extra days with his family, good on him. School will be there when they return.

  3. Really Big Fish says:

    He’s an absolute hyprocrite and elitist so what do you expect.

  4. Jo Ballard says:

    What a waste of time to read this rubbish.This is the USA folks. Freedom to go on vacation with the family is precious time in our stressed out lives. Often children can learn more on vacation with parents than being in school. Sounds more like sour grapes. Who is to say parents vacation must coincide with school year calender. Tell that to the big CEO.

  5. Jonny Boy says:

    Please. That this even grazes public interest is beyond belief. Given the President’s schedule, how much quality time do you think he really gets with his kids. Kindly let the man have his extra couple of days with his kids without calling for a revolution. Sheesh.

  6. Wm C. says:

    He’s pushing for us to become a 3rd world nation under his Gestapo rule.

    lmao…at at least our freedoms are no longer under attack as was under the bush/cheney fascist regime – wiretaps, rendition, etc.

  7. Just Me says:

    Excuse me? Give the President a break? I’m sorry NO! He IS the President and he SHOULD be setting the example. This is a very poor example to be setting. It says that vacations are more important than education. Oh wait…that’s just one more way to DUMB DOWN AMERICA!

    He’s pushing for us to become a 3rd world nation under his Gestapo rule. Please don’t encourage him! Please don’t give him a pass on this. Hold him to a higher standard, make him raise the bar for all of America to get back to the higher level of intelligence and morals that we had 30 years ago.

    Then from there we can continue to improve and become the Great Nation we once were to be once again respected and revered.

  8. Skippy says:

    Just don’t try it yourself.
    Rules are for the little people; you know, us.
    Once again the watchword for this elitist ruling class POTUS is “fail”.

  9. Steve Klausner says:

    Hey he’s the President of the United States, cut him some slack. If he wants to spend some extra time with his family more power to him.

  10. Mike Bonham says:

    Some would say Obama spends too much time on vacation and others would say he is always out of touch and and should stay on vacation.

    Obama has a bad habit of telling America one thing and doing another. It is a consistent pattern. Keeping his children out of school for two days while he is on vacation is another example of this “do as I say, not as I do.” He is suppose to be a role model for millions of Americans.

    With all of the promise he offered when he as elected, he has turned out to be an empty suit.

  11. JackC says:

    lighten up….