On Wednesday, Sept. 28, President Obama is to deliver his annual back-to-school speech at Washington High School. Like many schools across the country, MacArthur plans to air the non-mandatory speech at 12:30pm in all classrooms. Simple as this decision may seem – allowing American students to view a message directed at them by their president – it was met with great controversy.
When Obama gave his first back-to-school address during his first year in office, parents threatened to pull their kids out of class rather than let them watch the speech. Many conservatives felt Obama was infringing on their children’s education, without their consent. As Texas has always been predominantly conservative, the speech evoked considerable conflict across the state, even in NEISD.
An examination of the speech’s apparent controversial content seems in order. In the past, Obama’s annual back-to-school message has encouraged students to actively take part in their educations, capitalizing on the good they can do for themselves and for their country.
“Your future is in your hands. Your life is what you make of it. And nothing – absolutely nothing – is beyond your reach. So long as you’re willing to dream big. So long as you’re willing to work hard. So long as you’re willing to stay focused on your education,” Obama said in his back-to-school speech last September.
His message is clear: students should study hard and take responsibility for their educations, a lesson many parents instill upon their children already. However, to appease those parents who do not want their children watching this revitalizing declaration, schools in North East have sent a letter saying parents can elect to have their children do an alternative activity while the speech is airing – in the hopes of keeping everyone in school.
As to the students of MacArthur themselves, according to an estimating poll, 55% would like to watch the speech, less than 10% don’t want to, and 40% don’t care either way.