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Education news and notes from Tampa Bay and Florida

Here's the text of President Obama's back-to-school speech



President Obama will ask students tomorrow to take responsibility for their own education, because it's important to them and to the future of the country, according to prepared remarks released by the White House a few minutes ago.

"At the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world - and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities," the remarks say. "Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed."

"We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems," the text also says. "If you don't do that - if you quit on school - you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country."

Obama will also urge students to stick with school despite whatever personal obstacles they may have.

"Maybe you don't have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there's not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don't feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do thing you know aren't right."

"But 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 - that's no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That's no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That's no excuse for not trying."

The remarks do not address the controversy that has swirled around the speech, fueled by remarks from Republican Party of Chair Jim Greer that Obama was seeking to indoctrinate children with a socialist ideology. The furor has led some school districts to allow parents to opt their children out of hearing the speech. In Pinellas, students will be given an excused absence if they stay home to avoid hearing it.

- Ron Matus, state education reporter

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:34am]


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