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President Obama Pushes Accountability in Back-to-School Remarks

With most U.S. schools now back in session, President Barack Obama relayed a message to American students Tuesday that nothing is beyond their reach as long as they’re willing to dream big, work hard and stay focused on their education.

In his second annual back-to-school speech broadcast to schools nationwide, the president addressed students from Julia R. Masterman Laboratory and Demonstration School in Philadelphia. Last week, the Department of Education named the highly selective public school a 2010 National Blue Ribbon School for its exemplary achievement rates.

“You have an obligation to yourselves, and America has an obligation to you to make sure you’re getting the best education possible,” President Obama told students.

At times, the president reminisced about his own childhood and the decisions he had to make, acknowledging he made his “fair share of mistakes,” but eventually got serious about his studies and began to make an effort to improve his grades and his prospects.

The president also touched heavily on accountability: “the kinds of opportunities that are open to you will be determined by how far you go in school. In other words, the farther you go in school, the farther you go in life.”

This year’s presidential address to students went off with little controversy, unlike last year when critics accused President Obama of attempting to indoctrinate children in an address at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va. This year, the White House decided to forego a curriculum to accompany the speech, which drew widespread criticism last year.

President Obama also announced another Commencement Challenge contest among high schools to book him as their commencement speaker. Kalamazoo Central High School in Michigan won the last challenge.

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