WH Insists Obama's Televised Message to High School Students Is Not Political

September 28, 2011 - 2:05 AM
In message to D.C. students, Obama encourages learning
Obama

President Barack Obama waves as he walks from Air Force One upon arriving at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver, Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)

WASHINGTON (AP) —President Barack Obama plans to tell students Wednesday in a back-to-school message that America needs their passion and ideas in these tough economic times.

The White House released the text of the president's message early to defuse any potential charges that Obama would give a political speech to the nation's school children.

Two years ago, some conservatives accused Obama of bringing politics into the classroom with a similar back-to-school speech.

The president plans to tell students they are the country's future and that "whether we fall behind or race ahead in the coming years is up to you."

He encourages the students to work hard in school and to pursue an education after high school.

Obama also confesses that he wasn't always the best student and didn't love every class he took.

"I'll let you in on another secret: I still don't always know the answers," he says in prepared remarks. "But if I'd have just tuned out because the class sounded boring, I might have missed out on something that I enjoyed and something that's still useful to me today."

Obama is scheduled to speak at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School in Washington. The magnet school, which opened in 1981, is designed to provide a rigorous academic background in preparation for college.

The address will be broadcast live on television and online.

Last week, Obama announced his administration will allow states to apply for waivers around unpopular proficiency standards in the Bush-era No Child Left Behind education law. To qualify, states must meet conditions such as setting evaluation standards for teachers and principals and meeting conditions such as imposing their own standards to prepare students for college and careers.