Schools don’t show Obama speech

Published 11:59 pm Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Most area schools did not show President Barack Obama’s national address to students, live on television Tuesday morning, but the reason had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with scheduling.

Obama delivered the speech from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., at 11 a.m. Tuesday, a time that conflicted with most students’ lunch times.

“This speech was on during our lunch period, and many kids would not have been in class,” Andalusia Superintendent Dr. Beverly McAnulty said. “Some teachers may have shown the speech live, if they were in class and had broadcast capabilities in their classrooms.”

Opp Superintendent Michael Smithart said the speech conflicted with his schools’ lunch periods, but he had the opportunity to preview the speech and believed it had a “timely message.” Teachers will be able to download the speech for future viewing.

“The value of education cannot be over-emphasized,” he said. “Despite some criticism and skepticism, this was not a political speech.”

The White House released the president’s remarks Monday, allowing parents and teachers the opportunity to read the speech ahead of Tuesday’s broadcast. Obama, a Democrat, had come under criticism by several groups and Republican officials, who said the president could use the address to push his domestic agenda.

Terry Holley, interim superintendent of the Covington County Schools, said although the speech was not shown live Tuesday, teachers have the opportunity to show it to students later.

“We’re going to put a link to it up on our Web site, and then we can let social studies classes or other classes look at it,” he said. “It was a difficult situation for us, because it conflicted with lunch.”

McAnulty said she agreed with Smithart that there was nothing political about the president’s remarks.

“I supported the showing of the speech because President Obama is our president, the highest leader in our nation,” she said. “His message was, ‘do your best in school.’ That is our message to students, as well — do your best, set goals and stay in school.”

The speech, which was a little shorter than 20 minutes, is available on the Internet for viewing at the White House’s Web site (

“Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer,” Obama told students. “And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.

“There is no excuse for not trying,” he said. “The truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject that you study. You won’t click with every teacher that you have.”

Obama is not the first president to directly address the nation’s children. Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush also gave such speeches.