White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today took a shot at opposition to President Obama’s planned speech to students next week. “We’ve reached a little bit of the silly season when the president of the United States can’t tell kids to study hard and stay in school,” Gibbs said.
Obama is scheduled to address students across the country on Tuesday, urging them to stay in school and emphasizing the importance of personal responsibility. This week, conservative pundits such as Michelle Malkin began drumming up opposition to the address, saying Obama is trying to push liberal propaganda on school children.
The White House will release the text of the speech on Monday for parents to read. But some parents have said their children will be staying home from school that day, and some school districts have said they won’t show the address to students.
Gibbs brushed off the opposition when talking to reporters today.
“Look, there are some school districts that won’t let you read ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ” Gibbs said.
“If staying in school is a political message, then somebody should tell the NBA,” he said.Some groups have come forward to support the president, such as Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers.
“The bottom line is we need the president of the United States of America to use his bully pulpit to talk to kids about the importance of education and to help inspire kids,” Weingarten said Friday.
Chuck Saylors, the president of the National Parent Teachers Association, said on CNN today that it’s “sad” the event has become politicized. He said the president should be able to give a “pep talk” to students at the beginning of every school year.