Obama's school pep talk

Ok, so here is the (in)famous President Barack Obama (D) inspirational back to school pep talk for the start of the 2009-2010 school year. Fairly innocuous, fairly bland, fairly expected but aside from a few minor quibbles that follow, a perfectly fine, perfectly forgettable speech for young people.

I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working where students aren't getting the opportunities they deserve.

Uh, no this isn't the government's responsibility; this is the responsibility of the immediate community especially the parents and the students.

Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, "I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed."

Michael Jordan may indeed be the best basketball player ever but President Obama, you're dating yourself. His glory days were over 10 years ago--ancient history for most students. Not a good reference.

I have no objections to the speech as it now is. It is curious that he talked about his mother (she made him get up at 4:30 in the morning? why not tutor the poor kid at night so he could get enough sleep?) and how he felt the absence of his father, sadly a common situation for many students, but he neglected to mention his grandparents who raised him while his mother wandered around, in a way also abandoning him, and who sacrificed so much so he could attend a private school.

However after the talk, students being students will shuffle off to greet friends and catch up, look at their new books and groan and mumble when teachers ask them to comment on the president's talk. And they'll groan even more if their teachers follow through on the White House suggested lesson plans that accompany the speech. For example,

What are your strengths? What do you think makes you successful as a student and as a person?

Students being students will either prefer to di-i-e! rather than reveal such information about themselves to a teacher and/or their fellow classmates, if they can even coherently phrase it or else come up with something they think the teacher would want.

I wonder though if this is the original talk he--and his speechwriters--planned to give or if he changed it when protests erupted after lesson plans urging students to list the ways they could help the president were publicized. Those lesson plans were dropped and altered; did the same occur with the speech?

In the meantime, wash your hands a lot and stay home if you don't feel well so people don't get the flu. Good advice for everyone so thank you Mr. President.