Controversy Surrounds Obama's School Speech

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WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama spoke to school kids across the country, Tuesday, about staying in school and working hard, but not all students heard the message.

Some parents kept their children out of the classroom because of concerns about the president's ideology and a controversial lesson plan associated with the speech.

It was not an ordinary day at Virginia's Wakefield High School. As the president's motorcade drove by, a handful of protesters were outside the school holding up signs saying, "Children serve God not Obama."

Some parents believe President Obama's views on topics like abortion, or in their view his "socialist tendencies," make him unfit to speak to students.

"I'm here to let them know that if they listen to him and try to serve him the way he wants to serve America, which is not American, then they're dumbing down our students," said protestor Ruby Nickdao.

North Carolina parent Carolyn Jenkins kept her children from school because of the speech. 

Click play for more analysis on the speech with CBN News Washington Correspondent David Brody.  Also, click here to read the president's speech.

"I hope nobody in this county will have their children attend school on Tuesday," she said.

The president ignored the criticism, however, and delivered a speech via the Internet and into schools across the country, asking students to set personal goals for their education as a way of serving the country.

"We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems," Obama said. "If you don't do that, if you quit on school, you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country."

Most of the criticism surrounded the Department of Education lesson plan associated with Obama's speech, where students were asked how they could "help the president."  The White House changed the language, and then to relieve any doubt of what the president would say, they released a copy of the speech 24 hours beforehand.

For supporters outside of Wakefield High, it was the right move.

"I think it was great that the White House published the speech so that people could read it and get a feel for what he was going to say ahead of time," said Obama supporter Erin Sonn.

Still, for various reasons, some schools opted not to show the president's speech, even as former First Lady Laura Bush was defending the current White House.

"I think that there is a place for the president of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children," she said.

The president did just that, including a little tough love for those kids who like to make excuses.

"The circumstances of your life -- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home -- that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude," Obama said. "That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That's no excuse for not trying."

The White House is quick to point out that former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush also addressed school kids.

While that is true, critics push back, saying those presidents didn't have any sort of curriculum lesson plan associated with their speech. 

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CBN News
David Brody

David Brody

CBN News Chief Political Correspondent

David Brody is an Emmy Award-winning veteran news journalist who has interviewed many prominent national figures during his career of nearly 25 years. Currently, David covers the White House and interviews national newsmakers across the country.  Follow David on Twitter @TheBrodyFile and "like" him at