Idaho schools field questions about Obama's speech - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Idaho schools field questions about Obama's speech

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BOISE, Idaho. - The Idaho State Department of Education is fielding questions about a national speech President Barack Obama plans to make to students next week.

Obama plans to speak directly to students Tuesday about the need to work hard and stay in school.

Conservative columnists and talk-radio hosts have criticized address, calling it an attempt to indoctrinate children.

Idaho Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna says he is seeking additional information from the U.S. Department of Education before he offers guidance to schools and notifies parents.

Luna says ultimately the decisions will be made at the local level.

The Republican who holds Idaho's top elected education post has asked federal education officials in a letter dated September 2 to explain the purpose of the speech, offer details on the content of the president's remarks and clarify whether schools are supposed to air the address live or if it will be available online for later viewing.

The Department of Education has provided a menu of classroom activities for students to stimulate discussion on the importance of education in students' lives.

The menu offers suggestions of what activities students could perform after the speech:

"Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:

What do you think the president wants us to do?

Does the speech make you want to do anything?

Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?

What would you like to tell the president?"

Late Wednesday, the White House acknowledged one of the sections of materials provided to teachers to prepare for the speech could have been written better.

It originally asked students to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

It's now been changed to ask students to write about how they can achieve their own education goals.

The planned speech has outraged some parents across the country and whether it's optional or mandatory, parents believe it should be up to them to decide whether their child watches.

There are already Facebook groups devoted to boycotting the speech and encouraging parents to keep their children home sick.

The menus, along with more information about the speech are listed the White House web site. You can view the menus by clicking on the links to the right of this story.  

The speech is set for Tuesday, September 8 at 9 a.m. (PDT)

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