Everybody panic! President Obama is going to speak to the nation's schoolchildren on Tuesday. And a new group of worrywarts -- call them "speechers" -- can't stand the idea.
The prospect of the nation's elected leader addressing its youngest citizens has turned into a coast-to-coast freakout, with parents threatening to pull their children from school lest Barack Obama pollute their minds with his thoughts about the importance of staying in school and getting an education.
Even schools in the liberal stronghold of northern California, where Barack Obama pulled nearly four times as many votes as John McCain in last year election, are begging parents not to pull their kids from class for the president's address.
The Pleasanton Unified School District east of San Francisco sent parents a note announcing that they may pull their children from the classroom if teachers choose to show the speech, joining a number of school districts coast to coast which are letting parents opt out.
In the note, Myla Grasso, a spokesperson for the district, wrote that "there have been some questions from families" about the speech and that "a few parents have expressed concern about their child viewing the President's address." She also added: "Know the facts: Students will not be asked to sign any sort of 'pledge' related to Mr. Obama's speech."
"Speechers," as Twitter's jillosopher has dubbed them, have been spreading the rumor that students would have to pledge support for the president's agenda, a charge tha tthe White House has denied. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has dismissed such talk as sign of a political "silly season."
The "speecher" silliness is akin to the persistent critics known as "birthers" who maintain, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that Barack Obama's U.S. birth certificate is somehow suspect.
Why dignify the conspiracy theory and let students opt out of hearing from their elected leader?
"We had enough concern about it that we wanted to set the record straight," Grasso told me. "We had parents say that they were going to keep their kids from school."
And that's a bottom-line concern. If enough "speechers" pulled their kids from school, an already-strapped school district would take a further financial hit. The Pleasanton School District has cut its budget by 16 percent -- approximately $17 million -- over the last two years, according to Grasso.
"I think some parents don't realize that any absence, excused or unexcused, costs the district money," says Grasso -- nearly $50 per absent student per day.
That's beyond silly, and speaks volumes about "speechers": If Obama's for education, they're against it.
What do you think? Have your say on "speechers" in the comments.