September 8th, 2009
02:11 PM ET
5 years ago

Obama delivers controversial school speech

WASHINGTON (CNN) – One of the most unexpected controversies of the Obama administration came to a head Tuesday as the president delivered a hotly debated back-to-school speech to students across the country.

Many conservatives over the past week expressed a fear that the president's address would be used to push a partisan political agenda. Obama, however, avoided any mention of political initiatives. He repeatedly urged students to work hard and stay in school.

"There is no excuse for not trying," he told students at a high school in Arlington, Virginia.

"This isn't just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you're learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future."

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Filed under: Education • President Obama
soundoff (194 Responses)
  1. Change_Has_Begun

    yup! this speech is what was needed to make the kids socialists. dumb and racist parents who won't allow their children to watch this speech of encouragement are just simply mad that these words are not coming out from a white man's mouth. the world has changed and these silly people think the world is going to change for them – no you fools you better change with the world or else you will be left so far behind you won't be able to progress as the rest of us will.

    September 8, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  2. seymore, pa

    You Have to be an idiot, to think this school address is controversial.

    September 8, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  3. John M, NoHo

    To all who freaked out about this speech before even hearing it: we're all pretty embarrassed for you. What's the next "scandal" you're looking for?

    September 8, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  4. Tea Party Mike

    Perfectly fine speech. Would it have been so if watch dog citizens had not protested the creepy letter Obama wanted students to write about how they could help Obama? Was there going to be a different speech that included some of Obama political agenda and asking students to help advance it? Did he change his speech after the protest?

    September 8, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  5. Ron

    Don't republicans look like fools now!

    September 8, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  6. Jay T.

    How is it controversial? Only the Loonies are making a big deal about this, and, as what has become quite obvious to everyone now, they make a big deal about anything Obama does- which just kills their argument.

    September 8, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Peter

    Thank you Mr. President!, student from the minority needs your advice now more than ever!. God bless you and keep up the good job your government is doing.

    September 8, 2009 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  8. ThinkAgain

    Apparently, they took out the part about asking the kids to write to the President about what they would do to help him and the country; I just don’t get why anyone would be against that.

    I’ve always thought, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” was a good thing …

    September 8, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  9. Richardm

    Another non-controversy blown out of proportion by the right wingers intent on disrupting anything Obama does. The media – including CNN – bear responsibility in this charade.

    These people make up a small minority of the US population, but based on the media coverage one would never know this. The right-wingers spreading lies and mistruths are despicable, un-American and couldn't care less if they damage America in order to "bring down" Obama. The should be called out and exposed for what they are: extremists and political hacks who only care about Republicans getting back into power after 8 years of utter disaster under Bush.

    The media's behaviour is also reprehensible, they should know better.

    September 8, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Douglas

    Stay in school, study and try harder. Wow, he is so radical! Repubs are losing their credibility with this one.

    September 8, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Ed, Santa Fe, NM

    The GOP tried to create a frenzy about a speech they obviously had never even seen. What a pack of morons.

    BRAVO for the speech; it's about time someone charged our students with doing their work. And BOO to the GOP for trying to sabotage an important message from Obama.

    September 8, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Jim from Reno

    I watched the speech...and Oh My God! Obama asked kids to wash their hands to prevent the flu....must be some sinister Democrat plot behind that request. What does washing hands have anything to do with education, hard work and staying in school. I just knew those Democrats are up to something.

    September 8, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Judy Mia Fl

    If this deviciness continues we'll end up having "troubles." Everythng the Republicans do is promote hatred. & it's working – I hate them more than ever.

    Even Mrs. Bush said yesterday that the President. should speak to the children. He has a great message.

    A pray for our country which is so going down the wrong road.

    September 8, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  14. Ken

    Thank you Mr. President!

    Sorry that some children of the uber-partisan rightwing in this country were not allowed to listen to your well-thought-out speech concerning their lives and what their success means to our country. Those unfortunate children will no doubt have to go around school for awhile as if the letter 'L' (for loser) were tatooed on their forhead. But kids are resilient, and they will recover from the slight inflicted on them by their proudly know-nothing parents. The parents themselves, on the other hand, have more permanent damage, because there is little doubt that their skulls were breeched when the word 'STUPID' was branded on their foreheads.

    September 8, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  15. Nothing 'Stand Up' about Sen. John Ensign (R-NV)

    Why put "Obama delivers controversial school speech" as the title of this article?

    Was there anything controversial in the speech?

    NO.

    Kudos to the Reckless Republicans for successfully creating a distraction intended to achieve their true objective: to block needed health care reform that will improve the lives of millions of Americans, all so they can win political points against President Obama.

    Shame on the media for allowing this nonsensical story to continue as though it were real news.

    September 8, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    Our country would be nothing without it’s educated populace ... It's beyond me why anyone would be against their children hearing the President encourage them to stay in school, work hard, studying hard, for their own and their country's betterment.

    The ones who had the paranoid reaction about President Obama "indoctrinating" their chidlren are people who are guillible and easily swayed. These hysterics need to wake up to the fact that they are being used by the GOP who only want power and money, at the expense of our country.

    September 8, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  17. sean

    Staying in school, positive attitude, studying, academic success. I can certainly see why Republicans are against that.

    September 8, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  18. Al

    Excellent, motivational speech. Well done, Mr President.

    September 8, 2009 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Sarah

    How ludicrous! What is so "controversial" about a duly elected sitting president telling children to stay in school, study hard, ignore negative peer pressure and commit to goals of personal excellence???

    Knee-jerk Republican hacks are so blinded by partisanship that they will even attempt to demonize the president when he makes statements that should directly correlate with their own self-proclaimed values of hard work and self-reliance. Idiots, all!!

    September 8, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  20. warren smith

    and those that did not hear or listen
    missed a golden opportunity

    September 8, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  21. Pepou

    What a socialist speech ! Work hard and stay at school ! I am moving back to Cuba right now ....

    September 8, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  22. Jules Mugemuzi

    CNN, please stop misleading your viewers and readers. You have the transcript of the speech since yesterday, you already heard and televised the speech. Why such a misleading title ?? What is controversial in the President's speech to students that we all heard today.

    September 8, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  23. Barbara Independent in NY

    Keep trying, stay in school, make the most of your education? What's this? No brainwashing? No indoctrination? Go figure.

    September 8, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  24. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    YES! I hope the brainwashing took. We do not want kids to see a minority in a position of power. It might end bigotry.

    September 8, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  25. Republicans are the American Taliban

    I can't wait for Glen Beck to use his blackboard to show us the secret message in the speech if we only rearrange the letters in it like the Bible code....

    September 8, 2009 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
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