Barack Obama's school speech urges students to take responsibility

"We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems," Mr Obama will say, according to a text of his speech published by the White House. "If you don't do that - if you quit on school - you're not just quitting on yourself, you're quitting on your country."

The president will deliver the talk at Wakefield High School in the Washington suburb of Arlington, Virginia. The speech will be broadcast live on a cable television network and on the White House Web site.

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Mr Obama's has been accused of trying to pitch his arguments too aggressively to his audience of children.

However Laura Bush, wife of Mr Obama's Republican predecessor George W. Bush, yesterday backed Mr Obama's decision to address the nation's school children.

"There's a place for the president of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children" to stay in school, Mrs. Bush, a former school teacher, said in a CNN interview. However, she also said parents who object to the president's address had the right to keep their children at home.

Mr Obama made no reference in his prepared remarks to the uproar surrounding his speech.

Schools don't have to show the speech. And some have decided not to, partly in response to concerns from parents.


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