Obama’s educational pep talk will air in schools Tuesday

Parents, students have option not to view back-to-school address

President Barack Obama’s plans for a televised back-to-school address to students on Tuesday are drawing concern from local parents who are unsure of the president’s intentions.

In a letter to principals, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that Obama will challenge students to work hard, set goals for their education and take responsibility for their learning, not using the opportunity to discuss his political agenda.

“He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best educations possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens,” said Duncan in a press release.

St. Charles Parish Public Schools will air the address live at 11 a.m. for students who are not at a lunch period, says Rochelle Cancienne-Touchard, public information director for schools. Others who will miss the live speech will have the opportunity to view Obama’s message by the end of the day.

“Viewing the president’s back-to-school address will be a decision completely left to both parents and students,” said Cancienne-Touchard. “This is not mandatory. Students not viewing the address will be placed in a separate supervised setting.”

The U.S. Department of Education is encouraging teachers to create lesson plans around the speech, using materials provided on the department’s Web site that urge students to learn about Obama and other presidents.

“I am aware that there are tools available to teachers who want to incorporate the president’s speech,” added Cancienne-Touchard. “However, this also is not mandatory.”

In his letter to principals, Duncan said that his viewing of the speech is encouraged and points out that this is the first time a president has ever given a speech addressed directly to students.


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