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."

Do you think President Obama should have been allowed to speak to school children nationwide?

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  • by Nana of 3 Location: Meridian on Sep 14, 2009 at 04:05 AM
    I feel as though if Obama can speak to our children during their time of education then we can darn sure have our prayer first thing in the morning. If a child does not want to pray then they do not have to, but allow those who do want to be allowed that right. We have prayer before our games, we need it in our schools too.
  • by Mom of 2 Location: Lauderdale County on Sep 11, 2009 at 12:46 PM
    In it's original form, I was opposed to the speech President Obama intended to give to our children. After removing the proposed "how you can help Pres. Obama" portion, the speech was quite positive for students. However, I have to agree with the person that posted if prayer isn't allowed in schools, politics shouldn't be either (by any politician). I am not racist, but I do not agree with all of Pres. Obama's plans for our great nation. Socialized health care is the WRONG choice- no matter who proposes it. Why in the world would any person with common sense want the govt running healthcare- their track record is appalling (look @ Medicare & Medicaid- these programs are going bankrupt). The people that want to make everything about race should really be more open minded and get with the 21st century. Everyone is free to his/her own opinions- that doesn't mean you're a racist.
  • by Teacher Location: Neverland on Sep 10, 2009 at 09:15 AM
    Our students were given an opportunity to view Mr. Obama's back to school message during an assembly and had class discussions and writing assignments to complete afterwards. I do not understand why there was so much controversy about the speech in the first place. Everything he said was well worth listening to and gave much encouragement to students, teachers, and parents. The youth minister at our church has downloaded the speech and plans to show it during children's church on Sunday. As a teacher, we need as much positive reinforcement for education as we can get. With the proposed cuts in education coming, it is evident that there are many leaders who do not value education.
  • by Yvonne Location: Meridian on Sep 9, 2009 at 07:38 PM
    I feel that the President should be allowed to speak to our children in their classrooms. Afterall, he is the President. The ones who are making a big deal out of this is people who have a problem not just with him, but with the color of his skin. I firmly believe though, God is with him and will not allow any weapons to form against him. So people grow up and not hating the man for what he is trying to do.
  • by Amused Location: MS on Sep 9, 2009 at 02:00 PM
    Seems like the parents need to take a lesson from the children and be more open minded...what are your children listening to while they have ear buds in, ( if if they have downloaded the speech ? What are they texting about and what are they watching on T.V. take some time to focus on that. You can not and will not be able to Control your child's environment forever let them grow up and think for themselves!!!
  • by Anonymous on Sep 9, 2009 at 12:27 PM
    I really believe that one of the things that brought so much attention to this issue was the suggested "lesson plan" that was originally put out with the announcement of the speech. Part of this lesson plan had children write an essay about how they personally could help the president achieve his goals. Now if you don't agree with his goals and you don't have a copy of what the speech will say then as a parent I would have been very concerned that my child was going to be encouraged to have opinions of which I did not approve. I do have one question for a lot of folks who got really upset about other parents not wanting their children to hear this speech. Why is it automatically racist to question ANYTHING that Mr. Obama does, says, or advocates? Is he always right just becasue he is half-African American?
  • by Pete on Sep 9, 2009 at 08:54 AM
    Come on, get real. I don't care if the president speaks about education. But Democrats have called for investigations of Republicans for anything and everything for decades. Don't come off making this 'oh they don't like Obama because he's black or a Democrat'. That's just stupid. There is no group more divisive than leftist Democrats and there will be no administration more prone to micromanagement than the current one. Where have you been the past eight months? Obama-micromanaging the auto industry, health care, banks, the housing market! Open your eyes.
  • by CARL Location: PHILLY on Sep 9, 2009 at 06:09 AM
  • by David Location: Meridian on Sep 9, 2009 at 03:47 AM
    I don't understand the uproar over the President addressing school children. It is an unfortunate state of events when the uproar occurs only because of WHO the President is rather than the fact that the President is addressing them at all. I have a feeling that the nay-sayers be singing a different tune if it were a Republican president. Let's move on from divisive politics and not micro-manage government - we've done too much of that over the last nine years.
  • by gimme a break on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:10 PM
    Here's a new thought. President Obama is overexposed. Can he not stay out of anything? I see him on the sports channel, doing endless announcements for this or that, TV speeches every day somewhere, commercials, and now in my child's school. Mr. President, just give us a break, would you? We can function day to day without your guidance. Just take care of the big stuff.
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