President Bush will have to work harder if he wants to convince county students he's the "education president."
During a television broadcast yesterday from Alice Deal Junior High in upper northwest Washington, Bush urged students to stay in school and away from drugs andto ignore peer pressure -- a sermon students at Annapolis High School said they've heard time and time again.
"I don't believe what he's saying will have an effect on anybody," 12th-grader Beatrice Siller said. "People who have drug problems need greater help than just some presentation. He's talking to us, the ones who are doing OK. He should be talking to the ones doing drugs. It was fake."
About 75 students in two social studies classes gathered around a color TV monitor to watch the president's address. Teachers George Rossiter and George Pease interrupted lessons on the Constitution and territorial growth during the 1840s to make time for thepresident.
"Every time you walk through the classroom door," Bushtold students, "make it your business to get a good education. Do itfor your future. And while you're at it, write me a letter. I'm serious. You know the address."
But after the TV volume was turned down, students overwhelmingly gave the president a poor rating for a talk that was meant to inspire.
Seated in the rear of the room, 11th-grader Andre Stringer said, "It seemed pretty phony to me.
"It waspublic relations, something his political administration thought of.It had nothing to do with us. If the government tells you not to hang out, it doesn't mean you won't do it. Students do well if they choose to hang out with people who are positive and like school."
Sophomore Nikki Pritchett, like most students, seemed bothered that the president waited so long to address drugs, teen pregnancy and the dropout rate.
"I don't understand why he's bringing it up now," Nikki said. "It doesn't make any sense. It was a nice idea, but what took so long?"
Richard Henson was among those who found something positive in Bush's message.
"It might not reach those who are already gone," Richard said. "But it might help those in between, who might be able to be pushed in the right direction."
Students said they wanted to see Bush talking to the students seated in the Washington classroom rather than simply looking at the camera in a staged recital.
"He should have been talking to people like us," Andre said. "I would have wanted him to listen to what students have to say and talk about how to solve problems."
Overall, the students said they agreed with the president's message; they just didn't like his style. In addition, the presentation will offer timely material for comparisons with the 1840 presidential campaign, said Pease, who teaches 11th-gradeU.S. history.
"The campaign of 1840 is a good example of modern day mudslinging," Pease said. "There's a connection with (Bush) and Willie Horton. Students know he is campaigning."