Responding to critics, the White House plans to post the text of a presidential address to students online Monday, the day before the live national event.
This will allow parents to view the president's message, before their children to hear it live at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
And after allegations surfaced accusing the administration of seeking to indoctrinate children into embracing left-leaning political agendas, the U.S. Department of Education removed one suggested activity from lesson plans accompanying the speech.
In the East Bay, districts that have received calls from concerned parents are encouraging students to attend school, with participation in the presidential classroom moment being made optional. "Know the facts: students will not be asked to sign any sort of 'pledge' related to Mr. Obama's speech," Pleasanton school district spokeswoman Myla Grasso wrote in a message to parents. "For every day a student is absent from school "... the district loses over $30 in revenue."
Conservative groups such as the Center for Education Reform blasted the administration for teacher materials that originally included the suggestion that students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."
"Having the president of the United States use the bully pulpit to speak to our schoolchildren isn't new, but it's only a good use of the office if executed with a clear vision," Jeanne Allen, president of the center,
"That vision was blurred by overzealous staffers who counseled teachers to use the speech to focus on President Obama himself and not on the nation's education crisis," she said.
Following similar attacks, organizers changed the activity, instead suggesting that students write letters about "how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."
A Walnut Creek principal said the speech would be option at his school. "We always try to be aware and sensitive to a lot of points of view and would never want to indoctrinate or impose a belief," Kevin Collins, principal of Walnut Creek Intermediate. "But, understanding and awareness of what's going on in the world is important and we let kids draw their own conclusions from that."
In Oakland, Barack Obama Academy teacher David Hicks said he is looking forward to sharing the speech with students.
"Part of being a student at Barack Obama Academy," he said, "is knowing something about the president and also educating ourselves about what we can do better to bring about change in our own lives."
The text of the president's planned address to students will be online Monday at www.whitehouse.gov. The live speech will occur at 9 a.m. Tuesday on that site and on C-SPAN. Suggested lesson plans for teachers are at www.ed.gov.