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STUDENTS QUESTION OBAMA'S PLAN
Thu Feb 19 2009 09:46:55 ET
EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE
A Dobson High School Advanced Placement government class with strong opinions about Barack Obama watched the president's speech Wednesday on a small, grainy TV in the corner of their classroom.
Some of the students attentively watched the speech, giving questioning looks and comments, shaking their heads and laughing at some of Obama's words. Other students listened, occasion ally glancing up to watch, while texting on their cell phones, reading a book or finishing school work.
The gymnasium's events were shown simultaneously in rooms throughout the Mesa school, and teachers were given discretion on whether to show the speech, the students said. The students in the class were hopeful things will work out but questioned whether Obama's plan would actually work to dig the country out of its economic woes. They also expected a longer speech.
Senior Syna Daudfar took some notes during the speech and was among the most vocally opposed to Obama's words.
At one point, when he talked about the costs of his stimulus plan, senior Maaike Albach and Daudfar looked at each other and said, "uh-oh."
"Overall I think it's a good idea, but he's not addressing the issues of the economic crisis," said Daudfar, a John McCain supporter who added he leans more toward being a moderate conservative. "The spending bill he just passed is just progressing the Democratic agenda rather than addressing the economic issues in the country."
Daudfar thinks Obama's plan is backward and deals with the "less important stuff" first. "Bailing out businesses" and "providing better regulatory systems for giving out money to businesses" should have been first, he said.
"If businesses can't afford to hire people, then people won't be able to work and pay off their mortgages," he said. "It's kind of like putting money into20a funnel." Albach, who is also a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good but questioned how Obama can want to rely on "people's responsibility" when that is "what got us in this economic crisis in the first place."
"This puts us more into debt," said Albach, 18. "It's a horrible situation we're in."
Senior Brandon Miller wore a shirt with the words, "Hitler gave great speeches, too" above a picture of Obama.
Miller said he had been an Obama supporter "because of his speeches," but after debating the issues in this class and looking more into Obama's policies, his vote was swayed toward McCain.
He showed a video on his camera he had just taken of the president's minutelong motorcade and talked about what a "great experience" it was to watch it. Miller had also spent a couple of hours in front of the school, hanging out and watching the protesters.
"Even though I don't support him, I think it's cool he's here," said Miller, 18. "I just don't believe all the things he's telling us. His goal is just too big and broad."
Miller wanted to hear more about the costs and guidelines the stimulus bill entails.
Senior Katelyn Meyer, who also leans more toward being a Republican, said Obama's plan sounds good, "but it's easier said than done."
"I like the refinancing part, and I like the part about mortgages, but I'm afraid we're going to put the money in but won't s ee any effect," said Meyer, 18, who still thought it was "cool" to say the president was at her school, even though she didn't get to see him live.
The students also questioned why Obama chose their school for his speech since he wasn't talking about education and wondered how much money the district spent on beautifying the campus while district positions and services are being cut.
District officials noted this week that the landscaping project completed over the weekend at Dobson was already in the works and was just expedited by the president's visit. Funding came from voter-approved bonds.
New sod was laid in front of the school Tuesday, and Daudfar said, "The joke at the school is they're going to take it away when he (Obama) leaves."
AP government teacher Jeff Sherrer said his students "feel very strongly about the issues, maybe more than the general population." He thought at least one of his students was outside protesting, and he had planned to take his students outside as a class project to show them what was going on but didn't get the chance.
"These kinds of kids really get into it," Sherrer said. "During the election we had lots of debates on the issues."
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