Some parents and conservative commentators had feared that Mr. Obama would use the occasion to indoctrinate their children with his political ideology.
But only one paragraph hints at Obama's political agenda. In it, he exhorts students to “protect our environment” and to “fight poverty … and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free.”
In the history of presidential rhetoric, these could hardly be considered inflammatory or even unusual words. But the Obama administration is on the defensive, with polls showing the president’s support slipping, and critics are sensing an opportunity to parse his every statement.
At one point, Obama will say in Tuesday's speech: “You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math … to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment.”
This hits upon what he sees as the need to transform the US economy by developing environmentally friendly technologies – a stance that grows from his desire to strongly combat climate change, something conservatives are less eager to do.
Directly afterward, he adds: “You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free.”
Though typical Democratic fare, the comment could draw the ire of some who feel that Obama is encouraging young people to see America as an unfair and discriminatory society.