Obama's school talk not drawing as much GOP fire this year

Amid less controversy than last year, North Carolina students will hear a back-to-school message Tuesday from President Barack Obama.

The lead-up to last year's speech by Obama drew calls from some Republicans that schools not air what they argued would be a political talk by the Democratic president. But after last year's speech turned out to be a pep talk about staying in school, calls for schools to forgo showing this year's speech have subsided.

During last fall's election campaign, then-minority Wake County school board member Ron Margiotta criticized showing the speech in school. But Margiotta, now chairman of the new Republican school board majority, said he isn't as concerned about this year's speech.

"I don't think it will be a problem," he said. "It didn't turn out to be as bad as we thought last year."

Tom Fetzer, chairman of the state Republican Party, said Friday that it was inappropriate for the Obama administration to use school time that could be used for teaching and learning. But Fetzer didn't repeat his call from last year for schools not to show the speech.

"I don't think the fate of the republic is in the balance," Fetzer said of the speech.

Obama's supporters have noted that other presidents, including Republicans Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, delivered similar speeches to students.

Like last year, Triangle school officials said it will be up to individual school principals to decide whether to air the speech.

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