September 8th, 2009
02:11 PM ET
9 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. Mike

    I think the 'education' speech was great. Why, because my kids wanted to talk about it. They listened to President Obama. Heck, they don't listen to me or my wife. So, President Obama.., nice going. Maybe, my kids will take a closer look at school and their 'education' and their future. Mike in Montana P.S.: President Obama, your turning out to be a good 'role model' for a parent or father.

    September 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. The Voice

    Not unsual to see the right wing, neo-cons continue to use fearmongering tatctics.

    What is wrong with the president asking american children to stay in school and work hard.

    September 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. Stuffit

    The speech never was the controversy, it was the "study guide" that accompanied it. Have the children write a letter to themselves about how they can help Barack. Maybe they would be creative and pledge to be a servant to the president, like those Hollywood dopes have that kids like to idolize. That's the rub.

    Who in their right mind would have a problem with the President of the nation encouraging kids to stay in school and work hard at their studies, certainly not me. But, when attached to that message is one of how the child can best serve the President's initiative, sort of reminds me of a leader of the not too distant past.

    September 8, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. g canada

    i taped his speech so my grandkids could listen iam canadian

    September 8, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  5. Judith Golub

    Anyone with a brain knows that the decision to block our PRESIDENT's speech from schools around this country is based on two things – the fact that our president is an edcuated black man and a Democrat. I am sure that when President Bush gave a similar address during his first term in office, the speech was not blocked in these school districts. Can you imagine what would have happened if a black school district had boycotted then President Bush's address? They would have dismissed as uneducated bigots. The same applies to these districts' leaders and these parents – they are uneducated bigots and they are raising uneducated bigots!!

    September 8, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. One Brainwashed American

    I guess I will now have to get my child therapy to counter all that brainwashing that was done during the President’s speech according to republicans.

    Anyone have a suggestions where the best brainwashing deprogram center is ?

    September 8, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. bella

    This speech was entirely appropriate and full of encouragement for America's children. Years ago, it was a part of school curriculum for a Principal and/or Superintendent to REGULARLY call school assemblies to speak to and encourage students to do their very best in performance, behavior and achievement. It is a very sad situation in America, when PARENTS of our children do not encourage them to RESPECT our President, or ANYONEELSE for that matter. It is no wonder there are bullies, trouble makers, drop-outs, etc. etc. As the old saying goes - Our children mirror our own behavior! So it seems to me, that those who were very verbally disrespectful of our President in challenging his speech today, are the ones who need to take a class on RESPECT #101!! And interestingly, as usual, it is the Bible based, Evangelistic, GOP, Republican Right who have once again demeaned our President! These people are the VERY ONES in America who should have learned all about RESPECT of Country, President and each other, along time ago! As the old saying goes, "The Apple doesn't fall far from the tree"!!

    September 8, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Lane

    Ohhhhhhhhh. . . . scary. The Republicans should be ashamed for creating and promoting such hatred.

    September 8, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  9. mary

    congratulations President Obama!
    I am so glad you don't listen to all those republican idiots that have labeled you Socialist.
    Our children have to be repeatedly reminded to go to school and do good.
    I am a parent of grown children but I always made sure they were in school and did their homework. Today they are all doing great. I am proud of them.
    Parents have to be involved.
    I really think republicans want our youth to fail so they can scare them into thinking Democrats are bad.
    Keep up the good work president we are behind you.

    September 8, 2009 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  10. Seth

    How dare Obama try to fill our children heads with, reading books and striving for excellence, those are un-American values that we need to reject, according the the Republicans.
    We are proud American Idiots Mr. Obama, you can't force us to be smart, we will fight for the right for every kid to be dumb and uninformed because it's the American way. How dare you sir!!!!

    September 8, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  11. Mike, Albany

    This is an inspirational and eloquent speech that comes from the heart. What parent wouldn't want their children to hear this? The "controversy" is just further evidence of the republican obsession/fixation with wanting Obama to fail. They hold onto this obsession even to the detriment of the country, and this controversy is a clear example of that. They should be ashamed. Obama WILL succeed, and he will do it despite the climate of extreme rancour out there. Healthy debate is fine, but the case of Obama's speech to school children is unmitigated nonsense. Stop it, everyone and grow up!

    September 8, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  12. sharon

    Conservatives............................................there was no politcis in the Pres. Obama's

    let me say it so you will understand.....................................................................NONE>

    September 8, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. alpha_nu_916

    oh the republicans; obviously, what good for the goose is not good for the gander.
    reagan was permitted to tout reganomics 2 decades ago to school children but obama can't tell kids to reach for the stars? smacks of hipocracy & racism. with more & more children coming from ethnic backgrounds, obama shows kids of all races that anything is possible.

    September 8, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  14. LiLa

    As usual, much ado about nothing.

    Great message for our kids - thank you, President Obama.

    September 8, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  15. VitaZemaitis

    The goals of young people in schools are so different from the more mature students who already accept their responsibility to learn for achievement. Basically, I think its commendable that our President want to encourage children to learn and would make time and effort to speak to the young generation. So, where is the problem?

    September 8, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  16. Ken

    It is really pathetic when the Rabid Right-Wing can't even agree with the President encouraging kids to stay in school and study hard.
    They are opposing things just for the sake of opposing them.

    September 8, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  17. nitro

    Now that they got their hand caught tin the cookie jar. Its a shame that everytime there is controversy in the United States it always originates in Florida. We shouldchange the name to Them States because nothing we ever do has anything United about it.

    September 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  18. amoore

    Will the right wing fringe ever realize how much they are embarrassing themselves? Maybe that's the whole point of Obama's speech. If they would educate themselves, maybe one day they would realize.

    September 8, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  19. ran

    And the world did not end.

    September 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  20. Democrat For Life

    The speech was very encouraging. I am not sure the INDIVIDUALS made an ISSUE out if this. It is very pathetic how we still possess such prejudice and racist ways.

    If my child can be brain washed into staying in school, I welcome it. Some of these parents need to be tested psychologically.

    September 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  21. Jauntel

    Hats off to you Mr. President. When did it become a terrible thing to have the President of The United States, speak to the children of America??? Did the right think President Obama would tell the students..hey go home & tell your parents to vote Democrat. My, my, my, we have some shallow people in this country.

    September 8, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  22. Ryan Indy

    Wow this guy really loves himself.....Whatever he would tell my kid I would tell them to do the opposite. After not even shaking President Bush's hand at the Kennedy Funeral that showed me how low this classless fool could sink to. Obama really is a Pathetic individual.

    September 8, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  23. Katherine

    The grand old party is so insecure they make up lies about the president addressing our children. I have never seen so much disrepect as we have seen from a bunch of ignorant cry babies. The media needs to stop feeding the frenzie and lets get back on track. Everyone is so worried about Obama being a socialist, where were they when the Bush/Cheney administration denied United States citizens their rights under the constitution? The GOP brings out the same old issues; abortion, gun control and gay marriage. They had 8 years to do something about those issues, but didn't, what would they run on if they did? Now we have crazies toting guns to public events because it is their right under the constititution, really?

    September 8, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  24. Sally

    Horrors! The president talked about personal responsibility and the future of our country. We should all be outraged!!!!

    September 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  25. Lila

    SO controversial. Obama,stop trying brainwash my kids into doing well in school!!!

    September 8, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
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