President's talk to kids leads to planning

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Since taking office, President Obama has repeatedly focused on education. Now he's wanting to directly tell school children to work hard, set educational goals and take responsibility for learning.  The President is scheduled to address students on Tuesday at 11 a.m.

"From all indication, it's simply a pep talk to encourage the youngsters to take responsibility for their own education, to do the very best in school, and to help," Dr. Rodney Hutto, Nacogdoches superintendent explained. "It's up to them to make sure the world is a better place."

Yet a visit from the president via the Internet is requiring some administrative decisions. Some adults don't believe the president needs to be talking education to kids. "Nobody to do that? Isn't that what teachers do?," was one response from a man heading into a discount store.

In Nacogdoches teachers may show the speech live in the classroom if the technology is available. All schools will record the message so it can be shown later. Parents who don't want their children to watch can opt out. In Lufkin, the speech will be recorded and screened. Permission slips will be sent to parents in advance. Other school districts in the area had similar policies to Nacogdoches and Lufkin.

There is a national movement organizing a skip day on Tuesday. Administrators know if that happens locally, it would only hurt education, not help it.

In addition to the speech the Department of Education sent a suggested "menu of classroom activities" to schools. Secretary Arne Duncan stated, "These are ideas developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives."

The chairman of the Nacogdoches County Republican Party, Jackie Yates noted concern that the president's address could set a precedent for more speeches, on other topics to come. The chairman of the Nacogdoches County Democratic Party, Stephen Wright said in a requested statement, "President Obama's Tuesday speech should be beneficial to our nation's public school students. Criticism of the president's efforts to motivate students during their educational years is unfounded and quite frankly reeks of paranoia."

Other's agree.  "Wonderful thing for the children to here him," said a mother of a 13 year old. "Can't harm anything. I don't have a problem with it," said another randomly selected shopper.

Others question the president's priorities. "Obama has a lot more on his plate than right now sitting down and talking to the nation's school kids, what with health care going on and our troops deployed over seas,"  Brent Rogers said.

The Department of Education reports Obama's focus on education in the midst of all the other problems exhibits the president's belief that education builds new foundations.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.