Obama To School Kids: I Expect Great Things From You

Monday, September 7th 2009, 1:54 pm
By: News On 6

By Craig Day, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Tuesday morning, President Barak Obama held an historic presidential address to the nation's students. 

Students all across the country including many in the Tulsa area listened to the President Obama's address.  Some critics and parents feared the president would use the address to push his political agenda.  But, the president stuck to a message about staying in school and the importance of education.

Whether it's the small group packed into a library media room at Tulsa's Central High or kids at Remington Elementary, students at several Tulsa schools and schools across the country listened as President Obama addressed the nation's students.

"There is no excuse for not trying," said President Barack Obama.

President Obama urged students to take responsibility for their education, to go to class, listen and not let failures define them.

"If you quit school, you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country," said President Obama.

Many students at Central High were inspired by the speech.


"It's really nice.  It's time that people start looking at education first before anything else, and like he said any problems are not an excuse to say no and to drop out," said Central High senior Diego Huerta.

"I think there are a lot of students who are really going to step it up this year," said senior Bree Williams.

But, the speech drew fire, even before it was delivered, mostly from conservative groups and concerned parents, worried that the president would use the opportunity to promote his political agenda.    

TPS didn't require teachers to show the address, instead leaving it up to their discretion whether to enable students to watch it.  Also, parents could opt out their children.

"You cannot drop out of school and just drop into a good job," said President Obama.

In the end, the President's pep talk, kept clear of politics.  And, many educators believe it can have an impact on our nation's young people.

"I think it was important because many of his words reiterated what we believe in education.  Be here, listen to your teachers, do your homework, set a goal," said Remington Elementary teacher Clara Sutherland.

"If this speech saves one child from dropping out or encourages one student to do better in school, I think it's worth it," added Central High Principal Oliver Wallace.

The uproar was caused in part by an accompanying lesson plan encouraging students to "help the president."

The White House later revised that idea.

Tulsa Public Schools says most schools reported only a few students who opted out of President Obama's speech.

9/3/2009 Related story: Oklahoma Schools Prepare For President Obama's Address To Students