Parents react to President's speech to students

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX)- "I'm here today because I have something important to discuss," said President Barack Obama in his address to the nation's students.

That "something important" had plenty of parents concerned.  So much so, that some schools across the nation refused to air President Obama's speech.

"I'm here because I want to talk about your education," Obama said.  The rest of the address did just that, in an inspirational speech about the payoffs of hard work.

"At the end of the day, the circumstances of your life- what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you've got going on at home, none of that is an excuse for not doing your homework or having a bad attitude at school," Obama said.

After Obama's speech, much of the controversy had seemed to settle.  Parents appeared pleased with the President's message as they picked up their children at Trent Lott Sixth Grade Academy in Pascagoula.

"I think it gives the children something to look forward to," said parent Lakelia Underwood.  "To see that a president is now taking the initiative to become involved in the children's education."

"I think it's good for the kids to hear," Erin Bennett said. "Growing up I can remember sitting in school and listening to every president speak, so I think it should be no different."

Plans for President Obama's speech caused such an uproar nationwide, the Pascagoula School District was prepared to accommodate parents who didn't want their children to see it at all. What they found is they received very few of those requests. Trent Lott only received one.  Dr. Shannon Vincent, Principal at Trent Lott, said she respected that parent's wish, but believes showing the President's address was the right thing to do.

"I just think that if parents want to opt out, they should, they can have that option," Vincent said.  "If they feel they need to teach that at home.  However, I felt it was very appropriate at school so teachers can follow up with discussion."

The parents who spoke to WLOX agreed.

"I only heard parts of the speech, but the parts that I heard were very positive and he was encouraging students on their part that they needed to play on their education," Underwood said.

"Just about confidence and things, about mistakes he had made and keeping kids on the right path," Bennett said.  "So I was all for my kids hearing it today."

Underwood added she plans to watch the speech again with her daughter, so they can have their own conversation about the President's address.

"I can't wait to pull it up on the internet to give her a chance to see it again, where she wont have the distraction of the classroom," Underwood said.  "And I'm looking forward for my family to watch it together."

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