Katie Couric's Notebook: School Speech

It's the first day of school for millions of kids around the country, and the fall semester began with a lesson in politics.

Last week the White House took some heat for a proposed speech to children, and an accompanying lesson plan for teachers. The plan called for kids to write a letter stating how they could help President Obama.

Critics said that sounded a bit too "Chairman Mao," so the Department of Education changed it to a letter about personal goals.

But the controversy spread like the H1N1 virus, and lots of parents and pundits washed their hands of the speech and dismissed the entire effort.

In the end, the President's message today was uplifting and completely nonpartisan. He told kids to stay in school, work hard and to keep a positive attitude.

To paraphrase Freud, sometimes a speech is just a speech and with a 30 percent dropout rate in this country education should be on everyone's political agenda.

That's a page from my notebook.

I'm Katie Couric, CBS News.