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Federal

Obama’s Back-to-School Speech Coming Tuesday

By Dakarai I. Aarons — September 10, 2010 1 min read
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President Obama will address America’s schoolchildren in his second back-to school speech Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The president’s address will be given at 1 p.m. EST at Julia R. Masterman School, a middle and high school magnet in Philadelphia. The public school, which has ranked No. 45 on U.S. News and World Report‘s list of top high schools, boasts of sending 93 percent of its students on to college, according to Rita Giordano of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It serves students in grades 5 to 12, including the mayor’s daughter.

The White House and the U.S. Department of Education have been notably silent this year on the details, no doubt trying to avoid the massive furor that erupted last year, which caused a political drama that went on for nearly two weeks. The debate over Obama’s speech rose to such a level that even former first lady Laura Bush was compelled to publicly defend him.

Last night’s announcement, coming after days of inquiries from education reporters across the country, gave no details on what Obama plans to say, but it is likely he will emphasize personal responsibility and the importance of graduating high school, as he did in last year’s address.

School districts found themselves scrambling to figure out how to deal with the controversy, as some parents called demanding the school not show the speech, while others demanded everyone should see the address.

With very late notice this year, districts find themselves with an even shorter window to prepare and make accommodations. Arlene Ackerman, Philadelphia’s superintendent, told the Inquirer she got the call just yesterday that Masterman would host the president’s speech.

The Katy, Texas, school district has an opt-out form for concerned parents and the Houston Chronicle reports most districts in its area are leaving it up to principals to decide whether the speech will be shown or not. In a number of cases last year, schools decided to tape the speech and show it later on as part of a lesson for students.

The president’s speech will be streamed live on the White House website and likely by several broadcast outlets so students can watch live (Obama didn’t take Jay Mathews’ advice not to speak midday.)

If you need a refresher, here’s Obama’s back-to-school speech from last year:

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A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.