Obama's message gets through to KC students

President Barack Obama's much-ballyhooed speech to schoolchildren got a thumbs-up Tuesday morning from the third-graders at Grant Elementary School in Kansas City, Kan.

"The president told me to work hard and listen to your teachers and have confidence in yourself," said Angela Gutierrez.

"Think about what you're doing in school," agreed Mon-Sulla Stevens.

"He said don't give up," said Erik Cervantes.

Angela, Mon-Sulla and Erik were among millions of students across America who listened as Obama urged them to ask questions and do their homework.

But many other students — in part because of concerns expressed by conservatives over the past week — missed the address, which centered on individual responsibility.

"I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. So don't let us down," Obama told a cable TV and Internet audience from the stage at a Virginia high school.

It wasn't possible to know exactly how many students watched the speech nationally or locally, since most districts allowed teachers, schools and parents to make their own decisions and did not keep a tally of viewers.

Some students missed the address because they had other classes or lacked the technology. But some skipped the speech, or stayed home, or weren't offered the opportunity to watch, after concerns that Obama would use the speech to influence students politically.

"They — the government, the meddlers, the nannies — they are coming for our money, our doctors, our guns and our kids," wrote Adam Schaeffer, an analyst at the libertarian Cato Institute, in a Tuesday essay. "They won't stop until they control everything. That's how it looks to millions of Americans."

Other conservatives, having read the presidential address, said it was appropriate.

"I would love to have every child in America read it, think about it, and learn that they should stay in school and they should study," former House speaker Newt Gingrich said on NBC.

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