President Obama’s address to American students
By Robin Scott
All of the objection and disapproval that lead up to Tuesday’s speech given by President Barrack Obama to American school children had largely died out by early Tuesday morning, as the written speech was provided on the Internet the evening before. School children all over the United States had a rare opportunity to have their interests reach the forefront of the Administration’s agenda, and the Administration made a few changes to the scheduled speech that squelched opposition.
For those who had the chance to view Obama’s speech on the Internet on Tuesday they should have discovered that the President gave a brief, but fully encouraging message to the nation’s youth. “Stay in school, do your best and don’t short change yourself in what you may accomplish,” was the message that many argued would “Indoctrinate our children to a socialist point of view.” President Obama stated what parents tell their children every day, but somehow hearing it from the leader of the free world held special significance. He delivered the speech in language that young people could relate to and gave examples of why an education is necessary and important.
The point of Obama’s speech on Tuesday was that no matter what endeavor a student plans or hopes to undertake in their future, the classes that they take today make a difference, even if they don’t like the class now or don’t get along with every teacher now. A potential young scientist will need to master math and science, a potential city Mayor or state Senator will need to master history and social sciences and almost all careers will require the ability to write a paper. Obama spoke of his own childhood and how he could easily have made decisions that would have sent him on the wrong path, but he did his best in school, and he hopes that his experience will be an example and send a message to today’s students to do their best, and someday, 20 years from now, their experiences will encourage yet another generation of students to do the same.
DISD Superintendent David Foote stated on Tuesday morning that many parents had contacted the schools as well as the Administrative offices objecting to their children being forced to listen to Obama’s speech. The district didn’t have plans to force students to watch the speech and as it turns out, many of the students wouldn’t be able to view it at all. He also stated that due to some technical problems, some students would have to wait until they got home to view the speech.
Addressing school children in an address was a new invention by Obama, but something past presidents have also done. In Dalhart, each school principal had the discretion to air the 11:00 a.m. broadcast to students with the caveat that any student who provided a parental waiver for the activity would participate in an alternative activity. At the time of the interview with Foote, the daily attendance at the junior and high schools were not yet available to determine whether or not the threatened absences had occurred.
The ruckus of last week that the President was going to ask students to pledge allegiance to him personally never occurred. No political statements were made and in fact, Newt Gingrich endorsed the speech after reading its contents, saying, “All students should see this speech and I encourage kids to watch it.” His comments were made on Tuesday morning’s Today Show. He added, “If the President would give a similar quality of speech tomorrow night in his joint session of Congress, the U.S. would be in a much better place.”
Foote said Tuesday that if an issue such as this comes up in the future, parents are requested to follow state guidelines for pulling their children out of class.