Obama's Speech Stirred Controversy

By: Rachel Alig Email
By: Rachel Alig Email

A speech by President Obama to students via the Internet Tuesday caused a controversy, locally and around the nation.

When the president announced he'd be giving that speech a couple of weeks ago, many conservative parents feared that it would be a case of political indoctrination.

Former presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush also spoke to students during their presidencies.

Local school officials got plenty of calls about the speech, but went ahead with making it available to students anyway.

"Yeah, it was controversial," said Lauderdale County superintendent Randy Hodges. "I would say last Thursday and Friday, we did have some concerns and some calls, which surprised us."

With that surprise, Lauderdale County schools decided to give students and their parents the option of watching the speech.

"As a school district, we definitely wanted to present it, but we would honor the request of a parent if they chose not to," said Hodges.

After reviewing the script of the speech, county administration felt like students would benefit from it. They reassured one skeptical parent that the speech seemed to offer students motivation.

"And we assured her that we had read the script and felt confident that it was quality information and a good opportunity," said Clarkdale principal Cheryl Thomas.

With the controversy, the heart of the speech was almost lost, the children. One student from Clarkdale High School reacted positively to the words of the president.

"I thought that it was a good speech to help encourage everyone around the nation to stay in school and try to get a quality education to make their lives better in the future," said Henry Scott.

Parents may have worried about the purpose of the president's speech, but some students thought it was rather neat.

"It makes me feel that he cares about us and he wants us to try to do good to make us better."

As President Obama put it, "where you are right now doesn't have to determine where you'll end up."


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