Obama’s upcoming address to students

President Obama makes a national address about the importance of education and finishing school at 9 a.m. (Pacific) Tuesday, Sept. 8. Do you know if any local schools or classrooms are planning to watch it?

If so, in addition to sharing your plans on the blog, feel free to send the details to me (kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com) and to my colleague Theresa Harrington (tharrington@bayareanewsgroup.com), who’s writing a story about it.

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is urging schools to participate. In a letter to school principals, he writes:

 …This is the first time an American president has spoken directly to the nation’s school children about persisting and succeeding in school. We encourage you to use this historic moment to help your students get focused and begin the school year strong. I encourage you, your teachers, and students to join me in watching the President deliver this address on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. It will be broadcast live on the White House website www.whitehouse.gov 12:00 noon eastern standard time. …

Do you think this would be a valuable experience for kids?

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • http://www.brokensaints.wordpress.com Ann

    I wish I was in the classroom this year – this is exciting!

  • http://www.movingforwardeducation.com Lacy Asbill

    What an incredible role model for so many of our students in Oakland–I am so overjoyed that he is taking the unprecedented opportunity to speak directly to our youth! I hope his talk is inspirational and relevant.

  • ulno13

    “I pledge allegiance to Obama” – videotape to play at event.

    This is the most appalling event I’ve ever heard of.
    After 22 years of being a Democrat, I’m quitting this party that has become one of slavish despotism.

    In traditional Hitler-like fascism, schoolchildren around the nation will be required to watch Obama and then participate in daylong activities. Look at the Grade7-12 program for next week:

    Here is a short excerpt of the multipage orders:
    Grades 7‐12 Menu of Classroom Activities: President Obama’s Address to
    Students Across America
    Produced by Teaching Ambassador Fellows, U.S. Department of Education
    September 8, 2009
    Before the Speech:
    • Short readings. Notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from
    President Obama’s speeches about education.
    • Brainstorm or Concept Web: Why does President Obama want to speak with us today?
    How will he inspire us? How will he challenge us? What might he say?
    During the Speech:
    • Listening with a purpose: personal responsibility, goals, persistence. Teachers might
    ask pairs of students to create a word bank from the web of any one of the terms
    (personal responsibility, goals, or persistence) at the top of a double‐column style notes
    page. On the right‐hand side, students could take notes while President Obama talks
    about personal responsibility, or goals, or persistence, trying to capture direct
    quotations. At the end of the speech, students could then write the corresponding
    terms from the word bank in the left hand column, to increase retention and deepen
    their understanding of an important aspect of the speech.
    • Listening with a purpose: Inspiration and Challenges. Using a similar double‐column
    style notes page as the one above, the teacher could focus students on quotations that
    either propose a specific challenge to them or inspire them in some meaningful way.
    Students could do this individually, in pairs or groups.
    Transition/Quick Review: Teachers could ask students to look over the notes and collaborate in
    pairs or small groups. What more could we add to our notes? Teachers might circulate and ask
    students questions such as: What are the most important words in the speech? What title
    would you give it? What’s the thesis?
    After the Speech:
    Guided Discussion:
    • What resonated with you from President Obama’s speech? What lines/phrases do you
    • Who is President Obama addressing? How do you know? Describe his audience.
    • We heard President Obama mention the importance of personal responsibility. In your
    life, who exemplifies this kind of personal responsibility? How? Give examples.
    • How are we as individuals and as a class similar? Different?
    • Suppose President Obama were to give another speech about being educationally
    successful. Who could he speak to next? Who should be his next audience? Why?
    What would he say?
    • What are the three most important words in the speech? Rank them.

    Imagine if George W. Bush had done this. What would you have said for a day for students dedicated to figuring out how they could “help George W. Bush to be successful”?

  • Nextset

    The day should be used for a reading of George Orwell’s “1984”.

    Obambi will become a case study in hubris.

    It’s interesting to compare Obama & Wife with Colin Powell & Wife. Schoolchildren should do so.

  • Caroline

    Come on, Nextset, you’re a valued contributor to these discussions. Please stay out of the tinfoil hat camp.

  • Caroline

    By now most people do know that Ronald Reagan made a speech to students nationwide in 1988 and George H.W. Bush did the same thing in 1991, right? Without some mass clamor comparing them to Hitler?

    Please, folks, get a grip.

  • Ms. J.

    Of course Obama (as a person of color and the son of a single mum, raised by grandparents much of the time, a situation which resonates with many, many of our youth) is in a position which no previous Pres has been to do this–to encourage teens to stick it out and stay in school. Fine; great that he’s using the bully pulpit this way.

    On the other hand, as a teacher or a parent with kids in school when W or George HW were Pres, I’d have been pretty outraged by the idea that such people were being, in effect, endorsed by the schools–given a day focused on their speech or their ideas. Of course I don’t feel that way with Obama because I agree with Obama’s politics, for the most part, but I can see how some conservative folks might say, wait a sec, is the school saying my kids *should* listen to this guy whose politics I find so wrong?

    But what I take issue with in this is that Obama supports NCLB–in fact Arne wants to ‘give it more teeth.’ And NCLB is all about scripted, every-minute-of-the-school-day teaching-to-the-test. In a traditional public school in an urban school district which serves children of color and the poor (the people whom this address is presumably supposed to motivate) there is not time for such extracurricular activities as watching the Pres give a speech.

    I feel disrespected as a teacher because every minute of my day is decided by someone else; now I’m supposed to revise my lesson plans (which aren’t even mine) to squeeze this in? It shows a lack of understanding of the constraints which his own ed policy is only worsening. I think that’s arrogant.

    Why couldn’t this address to the nation have occurred outside of school time? If school is really so important (as this speech will claim it is, presumably) then shouldn’t Obama respect school curricula and give the speech when kids are outside of school and can watch it with their families, who can then make their own comments, positive or negative?

  • Caroline

    Ms. J, I fervently agree with you that Obama is misguided and wrong in supporting NCLB, charter schools, privatization and the whole “school deform” package — I can only hope he listens to some of the growing chorus of voices that are telling him that Arne Duncan is pursuing false gods.

    Regarding the Obama speech to schoolchildren, Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush (Bush One) both made speeches to schoolchildren nationwide. Nobody batted an eye. The protests over Obama’s making a speech are insincere; those people don’t genuinely object to a president speaking to schoolchildren.

    Now the folks in the tinfoil hats are claiming that Bush One and Reagan spoke to A CLASS or A SCHOOL but not to schoolchildren nationwide, and saying that’s the distinction that is making them angry. But surprise — that’s a lie too. Both Reagan and Bush One spoke to schoolchildren nationwide.

    The first sentence of Bush’s speech was:

    “Thank you, Ms. Mostoller, and thanks for allowing me to visit your classroom to talk to you and all these students, and millions more in classrooms all across the country.”

    And Reagan began his speech by offering “a special hello to those of you who are watching on C-SPAN or the Instructional Television Network.”

  • Katy Murphy

    Here’s a transcript of this 1991 presidential address by the first President Bush: