Obama gets an A in talk to nation’s schoolchildren

Degree of difficulty high as president speaks in summer’s afterglow, extolling responsibility.

Degree of difficulty high as president speaks in summer’s afterglow, extolling responsibility

Here’s a challenge: Write an encouraging speech about a desert-dry demand: to work hard in school. Direct the message to an audience of children wholly distracted by the first few days of school. Be sure it connects with kindergarten kids who haven’t learned to read (or even sit still for very long).

At the same time, engage high school students still in summer vacation mode. Be sure it makes sense to students of every level of ability, in every part of the nation, across every economic level, and from every social strata. Make everything nonpartisan, not bipartisan and in no way partisan. Don’t offend those who see an agenda in every word the speaker says (including “but” and “and”), but also be sure not to throw any bones to those who wish you would plump for your agenda anyway.

Schedule it in the middle of the most contentious (and unrelated) policy debate in the speaker’s brief tenure. Make sure it’s inspiring, too—remember the weight of history. Oh—and try to actually get something in there about the value of education and staying in school.

Got that?

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