President Obama drew on his own childhood today to encourage students to stick with school to discover their passions and talents, a message nearly overshadowed in advance by criticism from conservatives who feared a socialist agenda. Some of the furor had died down before the noon address—the Florida GOP chief who started much of the "socialist" criticism deemed it "a good speech" after reading the prepared text, and Newt Gingrich and Laura Bush also voiced support.
Obama recalled growing up overseas and said his "mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school." To make up for it, she tutored him herself at 4:30am. Having great parents and teachers like that is great, he said, but "none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. 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."