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Nontroversy: Obama Speech Coverage and Reaction

President_note I'll post reaction to the speech here.  Meantime, check out the pool report about the school visit below, describing a handful of protestors, the President's admission that he was kind of a goof off in high school, and a joke about Ghandi.

Obama Coaches Students to 'Get Serious' and Study Hard NYT
Education Secretary Arne Duncan visited the school in February and was “struck by its sense of urgency,'' he said in an interview.

Look who's opposing President Obama's speechs Small Talk
It's none other than WaPo's Jay Mathews.

2 speeches Tom Vander Ark
Young people need adults that believe in ability to succeed in school and life.

On Politicians and School Visits Curriculum Matters
In Iowa, there's a long tradition of national political figures paying visits to schools.

Jay and Valerie Debate The Speech Washington Post
Class Struggle and colleague Valerie Strauss, of The Answer Sheet, staged a head-to-head debate over President Obama's speech at Wakefield High.

Duncan Hangs Tough on Obama's Speech EdWeek
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said today that the controversy surrounding Obama's speech has “absolutely not” undermined the president's intended

Motorcade departed the White House at 10:39 and arrived at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. at 10:51. A handful of protesters could be seen among the bystanders lining neighborhood streets holding signs with messages such as "Mr. President, Stay Away From Our Kids" and "Children Serve God, Not Obama."

POTUS and Education Secretary Arne Duncan spent 20 minutes in the school’s library addressing a group of 32 ninth graders on their first day of high school. The president twice told the kids how he was "kind of a goof-off" at their age, more interested in basketball and having fun than tending to his studies. He credited his parents and those of the First Lady’s for stressing the importance of education when neither family had much.

"You guys remind me of me and Michelle. You have the same opportunities we had. The key is for you to see those opportunities," POTUS said. (full transcript coming)

At the very end of a Q&A that followed, one student named Sean appeared to read a question about why the United States lacked universal health care when 36 other countries have such a system. Obama replied it was a question he is asking Congress "because we think we can do it." He said he would dwell on the subject Wednesday night during his address to Congress, then explained how health insurance in the United States has its roots in an employer-based system that on occasion leaves some people – the self-employed, small business owners, among others – falling through the cracks. He said his goal was to enable people who have health insurance through their jobs to keep it, to give those who don’t have coverage an opportunity to get it and to save money over time (assume he meant national health spending).

During a response to an earlier question about goals he set for himself as a student, POTUS urged the students to explore community service programs or similar efforts run through churches, synagogues or mosques. "You can learn a lot about the world not just inside a classroom, but outside of it," the president said.

A student named Jesse told the president he wanted his job and asked for advice. "Be careful what you post on Facebook," the president replied. He then urged students to find something they’re passionate about, adding the best elected officials build their careers after learning something about organizing or motivating people. "We have a lot of politicians who just think about how to get re-elected" and never get anything done, the president remarked.

Asked to name someone dead or alive he’d want to have dinner with, the president paused, then replied Gandhi, adding, "It would probably be a really small meal." He cited Gandhi’s ability to change the world "through the power of ethics."

President is now delivering his nationally televised address in a gymnasium filled with 800-1,000 students, faculty and others.


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