"Yes I'm going to have something to say to our children, telling them to stay in school and work hard, because that's the right message to send," Obama said.
It's President Obama engaging the opposition as conservatives question lesson plans that called for students to write how they could "help" the president.
"Is the president pushing a hidden agenda onto America's youth?" Glenn Beck asked in a promo for his Fox News Channel show.
Senior Nicholaus Langlois' McHenry West High School won't broadcast the president's speech, citing its lack of applicability to the local curriculum.
He's stepping out of class in protest to watch online, along with at least 50 schoolmates who've signed up to his protest page on Facebook
"I believe I should be able to listen to what my President has say to me. If I have to take a cut in a grade to do it, so be it," Langlois said.
Eighteen years ago, President George H.W. Bush asked students to help him help America.
"Write me a letter about ways you can help us achieve our goals," Bush said then.
Now his daughter-in-law is saying students should hear President Obama out. From Paris, former First Lady Laura Bush said it is important for everyone to respect the President of the United States.
But in places like Virginia, some worried the speech would attempt to "indoctrinate" children.
To quell such criticism, the White House released Tuesday's speech early. In it, President Obama talks about responsibility, telling students to "do your part," "get serious this year" and that their education will "decide nothing less than the future of this country."
It's a message that's already changed some minds.
"The speech tomorrow is a speech that any president should give, and my children will be listening to it" said Jim Greer, of the Florida Republican Party, who was a previously outspoken critic of the speech.