Parents, Schools Divided Over President Obama's Speech
By Dave Jordan, NEWS 9
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Tuesday morning, President Barack Obama will chat with students in classrooms across the nation. But the idea of beaming his speech into schools is dividing districts and parents.
Sixty-nine percent of Oklahomans say they don't want the president talking to their children. That's why the White House has released a copy of the speech Obama will say to students.
The criticism started long before anybody knew what President Obama was going to say, and after the White House released the text of his speech, the president came out swinging.
"So we've got to do a better job educating our sons and our daughters. And yes, I'm going to have something to say tomorrow to our children, telling them to stay in school and work hard because that's the right message to send," President Obama said.
It's that message that got lost in a sea of criticism and controversy. Pundits and some parents across the country vow to keep their children home rather than subject them to a message from the president.
"I just don't think my child should be forced to watch the president on TV," said concerned parent Kimberly Martin.
The fear behind the address was mostly fueled by a lack of knowledge on what Obama planned to say.
The text of the speech could best be described as part pep rally, part patriotic battle cry. In his speech, Obama urges children "to show up to schools, pay attention to teachers and put in the hard work it takes to succeed... if you don't do that --if you quit on school,-- you're quitting on yourself, your quitting on your country."
"I'm trying to figure out what the uproar is about. I really don't understand it," said Amy James with Knowledge Essentials.
Amy James, a former civics teacher turned education reform expert, read the speech in its entirety.
"The speech is not in any way an indoctrination to anything other than getting good grades and taking responsibility for your own education," James said.
Obama's speech also points out the unlimited potential of a good education --he invokes the founders of Facebook and Google-- and mentions his own humble beginnings.
"He was trying to hold out to children that you cannot lean on your circumstances as a reason not to do well in school," James said,
School districts in some parts of the country are divided on whether to show the president's live Web address. James said if she was still in the classroom, the decision would be a no-brainer.
"Certainly, we would be watching it in its entirety, just as it has happened with both Bush presidents, Clinton and Reagan," James said.
Part of the controversy also stemmed from a lesson plan of questions the White House wanted teachers to discuss with students. The White House has changed some of those questions.