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Mr. Elleithee called the moral outrage “beyond silly” and said it was “the kind of hyper-partisanship that people so soundly rejected last November.”

The idea of adding a lesson plan to the package of materials being sent to schoolteachers was hatched during meetings between the White House and officials from the Department of Education. The lessons themselves were developed by educators, White House officials said. But some of the assignments, they later conceded, may appear to be inartfully worded without also knowing the context of the speech.

“Does the speech make you want to do anything?” is one suggested question for the discussion. “Are we able to do what the president is asking of us?”

The packet of activities was sent out electronically with an Aug. 26 electronic letter from U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Mr. Duncan encourages school administrators to air the presidential broadcast, which was timed to coincide with the start of school for most of the country.

“The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning,” Mr. Duncan says in his letter.

Of the activities, Mr. Duncan added: “These are ideas developed by and for teachers to help engage students and stimulate discussion on the importance of education in their lives.”