Many schools across Iowa will be carrying a televised speech from President Obama at 11 o’clock this morning. The president will be tailoring his address specifically for kids, speaking from a high school in suburban Washington D.C. about the importance of staying in school. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican, understands why other members of his party were initially against Obama’s talk.
“The original plan was very, very political,” Grassley says. “I think that was a big, big mistake. Maybe it’s been toned down, but it’s the extent to which the local school board or local administration decides to use it or not. As long as that decision isn’t shoved down anybody’s throat, then I think it’s all going to work out pretty good.” Grassley says he supports the president addressing kids in this way, as long as he stays on message. It’s unclear how many Iowa schools in the state’s 350-some districts will air the address.
“The local boards are going to control everything so it’s going to be up to the local boards whether people listen or not,” Grassley says. “Quite frankly, anybody encouraging everybody to stay in school is very, very important.” A version of Obama’s speech that was released to the media includes the line: “If you quit on school, you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.”
Grassley, referring to himself in third person, says he still plays an active role in teaching one particular child about the importance of studying and staying in school. He says, “Senator Grassley even works with a grandson to keep him in school, so I think I have that responsibility and I think the president can do a great deal of good by emphasizing it.” Obama’s message to students is said to be very straightforward: take responsibility for your own education, go to class and pay attention, and don’t let failures define you.