By Shirley Jinkins Eva-Marie Ayala and Sandra Engelland
Star-Telegram staff writersPresident Barack Obama’s second annual back-to-school welcome to the nation’s students didn’t create as much controversy in North Texas schools as last year, with fewer parents objecting to their children viewing the address and more districts making it available.
Speaking to students at an elite school in Philadelphia, the nationwide speech lasted about 20 minutes. The president told students that “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.”
At Arlington’s Shackleford Junior High School, about 750 students viewed Obama’s address, either live or taped depending on their lunch periods.
Only two parents requested that their children be exempt from watching the speech, Principal Andy Hagman said.
“It’s just part of the school day,” Hagman said. “I have sensed no controversy about this at all.”
Students in Angelique Bell’s seventh-grade math class sat quietly during the address, though a couple of girls put their heads down on their desks as soon as the room darkened. . .
Keller district students, too, watched Obama’s address with little fanfare or controversy on Tuesday.
All 32,000 students in the district had the opportunity to view the speech, either live or on tape.
A year ago, many Keller parents objected to their children watching the speech during the school day, with about 5 percent of parents requesting that their children opt out of listening to Obama’s address. . .
Obama said students today may have many challenges to face, as the war in Afghanistan continues and the economy struggles. He said some students may be working to support their families and feel that they should scale back their dreams. But he encouraged students to follow their dreams no matter how hard they seem to accomplish.
“Nobody gets to write your destiny but you,” Obama said. “Your life is what you make of it.”
It is a very good thing that fewer parents are choosing to deprive their children of the opportunity to hear their President’s annual message. In my day it would have been unheard of for any parent to object, as far too many do these days. If that makes me an “old fogie,” so be it.