Marc Cohen

Looking Back on the President's Address to Students

As a middle school principal, I am embarrassed to admit just how much time I spent planning for and responding to concerns about President Obama's speech to our nation's children that aired Tuesday, September 8. The newspaper headlines talked of communities outraged because they believed the president was stepping over the lines of power. The pundits opined about using our children for political gain. As for me...I just wanted my students to hear the most powerful man in the world talk about the importance of staying in school and getting a good education. I wanted my African American students, especially, to see a vision of success that can be within their grasp if they answer the president's call to take their education seriously.

It seemed that schools and districts were divided about whether the speech was an opportunity for the president to cheer on students as they started a new school year or an intrusion on instruction and a violation of federal authority over schools. I decided to give my students the opportunity to hear from the president with the understanding that parents needed only ask if they wanted to opt their child out of the activity.

Now that most of the hubbub has died down, how do you feel your school and community response to the president's speech? Were there legitimate concerns for the whole child, or was it simply political games?

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