President Barack Obama stuck to the script almost word-for-word in his address to schoolchildren across the nation earlier this month. Critics of the speech complained that Obama would try to indoctrinate schoolchildren with his “socialist ideology.” Some said they would keep their children home.
The White House posted the speech text online the day before the speech was given so that concerned parents could read the text themselves and decide whether the content was suitable for their children. Some parents still insisted that Obama could stray from the text and deliver extemporaneous subversive ideas.
Roger Cooper, an insurance agent who was out shopping with his wife and three school-aged children, told the Wall Street Journal said he hadn’t read Mr. Obama’s speech but had read about it on the Internet. “It’s propaganda,” Mr. Cooper said as he emerged from an Apple Store in Dallas’s Knox-Henderson neighborhood. “I don’t trust the man. He’s been nothing but a deceiver. Why would I want my children exposed to that?”
But former House Speaker Newt Gingrich defended President Obama’s speech to school children, urging “every child” to read the remarks. Gingrich said during an interview on NBC’s “Today Show” that the attacks are without merit.
“President Reagan did it, President George H.W. Bush did it,” he said. “I read the speech yesterday when it was posted and I think the White House was smart to post it.”
“It’s a good speech,” Gingrich added. “I recommend it to everybody if you have any doubts. I would love to have every child in America read it, think about it, and learn that they should stay in school and they should study.”
Former first lady Laura Bush on Monday expressed support for president speaking to the nation’s school children, saying it is “really important for everyone to respect the president of the United States.”
In an interview with CNN, Mrs. Bush, a former school teacher, said, “There’s a place for the president of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children” to stay in school. And she said parents and others also need to send that message.
“I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them,” the president says in his prepared text. “Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community.
“Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn.”
Real life is not what one sees on television, said Obama. “I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work – that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
“But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.”