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White House Releases Transcript of Obama’s Back-to-School Speech

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In response to the blizzard of controversy over President Obama's planned back-to-school speech which was announced by the DOE last week, the White House has now released the transcript of the speech and posted it online so parents, principals, teachers, and those interested can read it in its entirety at www.whitehouse.gov.

Late last week, The Associated Press reported on their interview with White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom, who stated, "I think it's really unfortunate that politics has been brought into this," and also noted that President George H.W. Bush made a similar address to schools in 1991. Like Obama, Bush drew criticism, with Democrats accusing the Republican president of making the event into a campaign commercial.

The AP also noted that most of the criticism was about the lesson plans that were created to accompany the speech, particularly the ones recommending students to "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president." Higginbottom admitted that it was "inartfully worded" and the White House has since revised the wording to say "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."

The actual Back-to-School Speech is set for Tuesday, September 8th at 12:00 PM EDT at Wakefield High School in Arlington. The President's message will be streamed live on WhiteHouse.gov/live, and broadcast live on C-Span, or you can read the text in advance and decide how controversial it is for yourself.

Will this calm the storm and nullify the criticism? Time will tell, but maybe we will put our rulers and pencils back into our backpack, learn a few lessons from this current event and move on.

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About Christine Lakatos

  • Okpulot Taha

    I finished reading Obama’s prepared “school” speech, several times. English teachers, those who are talented, will have fun with his speech.

    This English professor counts 72 serious grammar errors, a dozen unacceptable writing style errors, 3 run-on sentences and a few logical fallacies. No spelling errors, though!

    Most of Obama’s grammar errors are inexcusable.

    Overall, his theme is self-aggrandizing, written at an early high school language skill level and contains a few hints of partisan politics.

    Obama needs to hire himself a professional ghost writer.

    Interesting to me, personally, English is not my native tongue yet I know much better than to make those language usage mistakes made by Barack Obama.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • http://NotionsCapital.com Mike Licht
  • Clavos

    Obama needs to hire himself a professional ghost writer.

    As do all presidents, he has several speech writers. The one who’s been with him the longest is named Jon Favreau.

  • T

    It just annoys me that every year teachers prepare and try their best and some politician (I don’t care if he is a Senator, Congressman, President or whatever) apparently feels that the people earning the salary to instill the joys of learning (…along with the students’ families) are apparently not doing an adequate job…. please, spare me.
    If the people in Washington were SO smart, they would wake up and realize that they work FOR us, and WE pay their salaries. Let the teachers go to school and DO THEIR JOB — if only the elite in DC could work with as much dedication and determination as the average teacher! If politicians were held to the same standards of success that a typical American employee is held to, most of them would be waiting in line at the unemployment office (Democrats, Republicans alike…)

  • Zedd

    Let’s see if I get this….

    The problem is that the Leader of the nation is talking to kids about the importance of education?

    According to #1 the other issue is that his speech (not essay) has errors and sounds youngish. Anyone want to chime in? I’ll volunteer. Considering that we are talking to children from 5yrs old to 18yrs old using a simple, conversational, youthful tone MAY be appropriate. Also, after GW uhmmm, can we really, really even bring anything up even touching on that subject? Is it not REALLY embarrassing to call attention to those memories?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Sign of the times, Zedd, that’s all it is.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    Okpulot, do you want to know the number of errors and logical fallacies in your comment?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I didn’t think the comment warranted a response, but . . .

    “Talented English teachers” is a good one, though. I suppose the rest are just dumb.

  • STM

    Okpulot Taha: “Most of Obama’s grammar errors are inexcusable.”

    You don’t think he writes the bloody things himself, do you??

    He’s got a swag of speechwriters/press secretaries who do that stuff.

  • Zedd

    Roger,

    What happens next? I’m an optimist and see the low levels that we have stooped to as a catharsis of sorts. Things will have to get “stupider” however before party loyalists (who enable the ridiculousness) call it quits.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I wish I could share your opinion. I’ve been reading some French thinkers lately (Foucault, Lyotard), and I’m not very hope inspired. I’m not talking about individual consciousness but the humanity at large.

  • Zedd

    Why Roger

  • Zedd

    I’ve just completed a study of Ben Franklin (my kind of “philosopher”) and I do feel hopeful.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It’s getting away from us. Let me cite:

    “The new stage is slowly being set. Some of the highlights: the cosmos is the fallout from an explosion; the force of the original shock is still scattering the debris; as they burn, the stars transmute the elements; their time is running out; so is the sun’s; the chances of a synthesis of the first algae occurring in water on earth were minuscule; the human being is even less probable; its cortex is the most complex material organization that we know; the machines this cortex engenders are its extensions; the network these machines will form will be like a second and even more complex cortex; the network will have to solve the problem of evacuating humanity to another place before the death of the sun; the selection of those who can go and those who will be left to face the implosion has already started – according to the criterion of ‘underdevelopment.’

    “A final blow to humanity’s narcissism: it is at the service of complexification. At this very moment the stage is being set in the unconscious of the young. In your own.”

    “Ticket for a New Stage” in The Postmodern Explained, (Lyotard)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t want to comment on good old Ben. Later perhaps.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    It’s no use, everyone.

    Obama has committed a Serious Grammatical Error and under the Republican Party Const… ahem, of course I mean the U.S. Constitution… he Must Resign Immediately.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Rog, as fascinating as the subject is, do you really have to turn every thread into a discussion of philosophy?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I was only responding to Zedd. I’ll move it over to the my own thread the next time around.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Should his response be fuck the right wing or fuck the left win Dr.D?

    (don’t marginalize his way of thinking)

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    It’s especially egregious considering the ‘progress’ made by everyone else.

  • Zedd

    Roger,

    Off course we wont always exist in this form. However, I don’t think that we are nearing that time. We will be extinguished as all species are (or evolve).

    However right now we are missing the relevance of our existence. The pursuit of mythological ideals keeps us from apreciating our state. I know… ramblings.

  • Zedd

    Doc,

    Aren’t we all having philosophical discussions?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Zedd,

    I’d rather move this thread (of thought) to another site – my own. It’s not that I can’t take criticism from others, but if they feel I am imposing on their categories of thought, I’ll respect that. Here is the link.

    Cindy, Mark and I sort of started a group discussion concerning what I think are some key issues, and you’re welcome to join.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    Roger, I defended you again. I hope you don’t mind too much. It led to a good point by Zedd. #22

    Dr.D, My method of delivery was unnecessary. I regret it.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    No worries, Cindy.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    No problem, Cindy. I just don’t want you to make enemies on my a/c.

    Yes, Zedd’s comment was on target. Besides, I was responding to her at a level she could understand, so I didn’t think it necessary to process it for her in “simpler” language. I don’t use the same terms of discourse, as you know, with everyone. I believe one should always gear their communications to their audience, and that’s all I was doing.

    I just think that Dreadful kind of jumped the gun. No biggie.

  • Clavos

    For shame, Doc…

  • Okpulot Taha

    Clavos comments, “…he has several speech writers. The one who’s been with him the longest is named Jon Favreau.”

    Favreau is a Jesus Freak.

    Nonetheless, Obama’s “school speech” is personally written by Obama, not by a ghost writer.

    In the absence of a TelePromTer, Obama is well known for slaughtering our English language but not as much as George W. Bush slaughters our English language.

    Too bad Obama and Bush could not have debated; this would be real comedy, a Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum thing.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • Okpulot Taha

    roger nowosielski comments, “‘Talented English teachers’ is a good one, though. I suppose the rest are just dumb.”

    There are good teachers. There are bad teachers. There are good presidents. There are bad presidents. There are good people. There are bad people.

    I am dismayed you are unaware of this; your naiveté is dangerous to you and all around you.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • zingzing

    mr. taha, you’re being disingenuous and condescending. i’d bet you aren’t “dismayed” in the least, nor do you believe that roger is “unaware” of anything like what you suggest.

    and bitching about grammar while forgetting about rhetoric, audience and the fact that this is a speech and not a piece to be read by its audience (meaning that punctuation is stressed for timing and rhythm rather than running along strict grammatical rules), suggests that you were either looking to bash obama “just because,” or, and this is more likely, you just wanted to strut around like some peacock.

    either way, you’re making yourself look like a pretentious know-it-all.

  • Clavos the spelling Nazi

    TelePromTer

    Not such a hotshot speller yourself, Mr. English professor. It’s TelePrompTer

    Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum thing.

    Tweedledee and Tweedledum.

    Serves you right.

    And then there’s your non sequitur:

    Favreau is a Jesus Freak.

    What has that to do with his position as a speech writer for Obama?

  • zingzing

    clavos, sometimes your evilness is put to a good purpose.

  • Clavos

    No one’s all bad, zing.

    Not even you…

  • Okpulot Taha

    Clavos comments, “Tweedledee and Tweedledum.”

    Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum are second cousins to those two you reference.

    Twiddle, as in “standing there dumbfounded while twiddling his thumbs.”

    Maybe I will dumb down my language level or perhaps use a chalkboard.

    I am quoted, “Favreau is a Jesus Freak.”

    Clavos asks, “What has that to do with his position as a speech writer for Obama?”

    Seems I expect too much of readers. Favreau is a hardcore Jesus Freak. Any speech he writes for Obama will display telltale signs of Favreau being the ghost writer. Favreau cannot escape from his intense religious background.

    This is rather amusing as well. Jesus Freaks are almost always conservatives. This is inconsistent with a left liberal philosophy, a typically godless philosophy.

    Amuses me Obama would select a Jesus Freak for a ghost writer; this is bound to have Obama in trouble, sooner or later. Perhaps this explains why Obama flip flops like a fish out of water.

    Does not matter, Obama’s school speech is written by his own hand.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Favreau cannot escape from his intense religious background.

    Do you know him?

    I thought you were an English professor, not a psychology professor.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Favreau is a hardcore Jesus Freak.

    In what respect? You keep repeating this claim, which is appreciated I’m sure, but what evidence do you have to suggest he’s a “hardcore Jesus Freak” beyond your own interpretation and/or smugness?

    Any speech he writes for Obama will display telltale signs of Favreau being the ghost writer.

    Do you have any examples you could provide or is this just a presumption?

    Jesus Freaks are almost always conservatives.

    An outdated and incorrect idea if there ever was one.

    This is inconsistent with a left liberal philosophy, a typically godless philosophy.

    Again: an outdated and incorrect idea if there ever was one.

    Incidentally, I find it amusing that you go on and on about the speechwriter and then conclude your diatribe by stating that it “doesn’t matter.”

  • zingzing

    “Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum are second cousins to those two you reference. Twiddle, as in “standing there dumbfounded while twiddling his thumbs.” Maybe I will dumb down my language level or perhaps use a chalkboard.”

    i’m not sure that using a more obscure reference to make a culture reference is the best way to go about it. “tweedledum and tweedledee” would have sufficed, as that is the commonly accepted literary reference, but i think we all got the idea anyway.

    all that said, i’d like to know where these two come from, as the only place i can find any such names being mentioned as second cousins to the tweedles is on stormfront.org, and i don’t even think that is actually saying they’re second cousins… i think it’s a spelling error. are they in carroll’s book, or just in fan fiction?

  • Jordan Richardson

    By the way, Okpulot Taha, is this your website?

  • Okpulot Taha

    Problem here is young kids and to a measured degree, teenagers, are highly impressionable. An example. Third grade children typically absolutely adore their teachers. Whatever message a teacher imparts, whatever lesson, those children take this into mind and into heart. This establishes, in part, thinking and personality for life.

    A teacher says, “Ain’t Obama the greatest man ever!” Those third graders now have burned into their minds, “Obama is a great man.” Subsequently, all which Obama says, writes, imparts, will be viewed by those third graders as true and “great” unless taught otherwise by a responsible person, perhaps parents.

    Political indoctrination of children is very easy and very insidious; children are yet to develop skeptical critical thinking. Children are easy prey.

    I would write the same critique whether a conservative president or a liberal president when this event is at a “national” level, when an event like this is not arranged with a teacher or is not monitored for content, one-on-one.

    Bush Jr. reading about a Goat to a single classroom of kids while New York is being destroyed, this is not a problem, setting aside this destruction of New York.

    Bush Sr. lecturing kids in a classroom to stay away from drug abuse, this is OK.

    Laura Bush, she is to be welcomed into a classroom without hesitation, without thought; she can be trusted.

    I cannot write the same compliment for Michelle Obama because of her prior slip-of-the-tongue revealing her black nationalist thinking; she cannot be trusted.

    Obama has well proven he cannot be trusted and his “national” level address to kids is highly inappropriate; he is grandstanding for America and using our American children to do so.

    Almost all of this issue is about trust. Many Americans mistrust Obama and their mistrust is justifiable. Obama should display respect for those folks. He does not have to cancel his speech but he should have released his speech a month back, sans an unlawful lesson plan, so American parents could discuss and decide what is best their children rather than have Obama impose what he believes is best for American children, at the last moment.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • Jordan Richardson

    an unlawful lesson plan

    In what way is the “lesson plan” aspect of this “unlawful?”

    Furthermore, reading the speech now as it is, what would you say would have changed regarding the public’s interest in it had they read the innocuous, boring thing MONTHS in advance??

  • Jordan Richardson

    Nevermind that, who the hell wants to hear about Obama’s “back to school” shit when they’re still on summer vacation?

  • zingzing

    hey taha–what about reagan preaching reaganomics to kids? was that ok?

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    “Political indoctrination of children is very easy and very insidious; children are yet to develop skeptical critical thinking. Children are easy prey.”

    So then you are against them saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school?

  • Jordan Richardson

    Incidentally, Okpulot Taha, I’m going to need a few weeks advance notice before you comment so that I can prepare myself to avoid indoctrination. I just can’t handle this “at the last minute” shit.

    You talk about trust, which is amusing because your diatribes do more to facilitate mistrust in EVERYTHING, including but not limited to our children’s ability to comprehend and think for themselves. Your idea simply presents an opportunity for you to indoctrinate them first before somebody else with a different point of view gets in there and messes about with the wiring.

    It’s shameful, wrong and dangerous to leave kids so unprepared for the world around them and so unequipped to handle discussion and debate with those with differing ideologies.

    We shouldn’t not “trust” someone simply because they hold differing views, nor should we subject our children to such moronic thinking.

  • zingzing

    oh jeez, that website’s awesome!

  • Okpulot Taha

    You boys need to perform your homework on Favreau. Holy Cross seems a fitting hint.

    On Obama’s unlawful lesson plan, you also need to perform your homework on this. U.S. Code Title 20, Chapter 48, Section 3403 seems a good hint.

    How are you boys to intelligently debate while not performing your homework?

    You are not giving attention to Obama’s school advice!

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • zingzing

    “You are not giving attention to Obama’s school advice!”

    paying?

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    You boys need to perform your homework on Favreau. Holy Cross seems a fitting hint.

    Graduating from a Catholic college automatically makes one a Christian fundie?

    U.S. Code Title 20, Chapter 48, Section 3403 seems a good hint.

    Funny. I thought Obama was the President, not the Secretary of Education, whose department this section is concerned with.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Holy Cross seems a fitting hint.

    I was well, well aware of that. Google’s hot.

    But what you’re not seeing is the jump in logic you make from someone attending the same school Clarence Thomas and Chris Matthews went to (are they also “Jesus Freaks?”) doesn’t lead to the conclusion you infer. As I asked you before, what are some “clues” in Obama speeches that they were written by this so-called “Jesus Freak?” Or, as I asked also, is this line of thinking a figment of your prejudice/improper logical conclusions?

    And how the establishment of the Department of Education clash at all, in any way, with “Obama’s activities?” It doesn’t and you know it.

    You chastise people for not doing their homework, but nobody can dig around inside your head and reach the conclusions you reach without wandering through a maze of paranoia and logical fallacies first.

    Try, try again.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Now, now, my fellow liberals – we must be circumspect about how we discuss matters of the English language with Mr. Taha – because if we’re not careful, we might misunderestimate him.

  • STM

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who smells a rat here of prodigious proportions.

    And, seriously, is Okpulot Taha a fair-dinkum name or a pseudonym for someone named Purl Gurl (or should that be the other way around)??

    Remember, this IS the internet. Nothing is as it seems.

  • STM

    Or, could MR be baaaaack??

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Please tell me I’m not the only one who smells a rat here of prodigious proportions….

    “What of the rat, then?”
    Sherlock Holmes took a folded paper from his pocket and flattened it out on the table. “This is a map of the Colony of
    Victoria,” he said. “I wired to Bristol for it last night.” He put his hand over part of the map. “What do you read?”
    “ARAT,” I read.
    “And now?” He raised his hand.
    “BALLARAT. ”

  • STM

    Lol. Very funny Ruvy. You’d have loved it there once, though, Ruve – Ballarat was absolutely awash in gold.

    (On June 10th 1858, the great Welcome Nugget was found. It weighed 68,956 grams and contained an estimated 68,272 grams of pure gold). Not bad, eh, for one rock stuck in the ground?

    On Holmes’ trick: You could the same trick with WANGARATTA (which isn’t far away from BALLARAT), except you’d need to use two fingers.

    Which is the salute I offer Ms Taha.

  • Mark

    Christine. ooops! you did it again.

    U.S. Code Title 20, Chapter 48, Section 3403 seems a good hint.

    Oy! How does one read this Code and come up with the lesson plan’s illegality?

    Surfer dude, Taha doesn’t hold a candle to MR’s righteous anger.

  • Clavos

    zing,

    i’m not sure that using a more obscure reference to make a culture reference is the best way to go about it. “tweedledum and tweedledee” would have sufficed, as that is the commonly accepted literary reference, but i think we all got the idea anyway.

    “Obscure” indeed. Entirely made up within the noxious depths of his (her?) fevered “mind.”

  • Clavos

    “Professor,”

    Maybe I will dumb down my language level

    It couldn’t get any dumber.

    But you have succeeded in one thing: you have united the conservatives and liberals on this site, if just for a brief interlude.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    (snicker)

  • Mark

    Here’s the most offensive part of the speech, imo:

    …God bless you, and God bless America.

  • zingzing

    “But you have succeeded in one thing: you have united the conservatives and liberals on this site, if just for a brief interlude.”

    *clinks his glass on the computer screen* to taha!

    *pours some out onto the keybzzzzoardzzzz* tozzzzxxx allzz zzz myzxzx deadzxzzzzzz homiezzzzzz.

  • Baronius

    BC is like the angry overweight girl at the high school dance. We’re desperate for someone to pay us attention, but whenever a new person wanders by we drive him away. Or maybe we’re like the New Yorkers in Atlantic City in the movie Rounders. We’re so versed at destroying each other that it holds no interest for us anymore. We just wait for a stranger to sit down at our table.

    The text of Obama’s speech was everything I would have hoped for. Yes, it had flaws, but the tone and the message were excellent.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I ain’t that desperate, B-man. I have no idea what planet our Mr. Taha materialized from, and I don’t want to know. You can always get a sympathetic ear in the agora – among the lame and feeble-minded and intellectually challenged. That kind of response I don’t need, and I’m certain neither do you.

    Mr. Taha appears more intent on displaying his rudimentary knowledge of English, along with that of the Western culture – to the detriment, no doubt, of his national/ethnic origins – while forgetting all the while that true mastery comes with breaking the rules, whether in literature or ordinary discourse.

    That said, he’s got a long way to go.

  • Okpulot Taha

    This red skinned girl is flattered you boys elected to render me the hot topic of discussion rather than Obama’s school speech.

    I am simply irresistible.

    Okpulot Taha
    Choctaw Nation
    Puma Politics

  • zingzing

    gettin’ out me double bass n’ playin’ you a tune…

    (and there are other threads about the school sppech, which was a non-issue to begin with. you just made this one a lot of fun in itself.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, Mr. Taha, I can’t but agree with zing in that the whole matter of president Obama’s speech was a non-issue. But you have surely made it interesting. So why don’t you just enjoy your time in the sun.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    STM’s comment is a gem: Nothing on Internet is as it seems. For all we know, Mr. Taha could be a transvestite with stiletto heels.

    Or a hemaphrodite.

  • zingzing

    roger, there’s a hyperlink to a website up there in the comments. go find it. it’s taha’s. it’s… incredible. just cruise around there for a while.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yep, I’ve seen it, zing. Jordan posted it in #38. Talking about freaks?