DALLAS - President Obama's back-to-school address next week was supposed to be a feel-good story for an administration battered over its health-care agenda.

Now Republican critics are calling it an effort to foist a political agenda on children, creating yet another confrontation with the administration.

Obama will speak directly to students Tuesday on the need to work hard and stay in school.

His address will be shown live on the White House Web site and on C-SPAN at noon Philadelphia time, when classrooms across the country will be able to tune in.

Schools don't have to show it. But districts across the country have been inundated with phone calls from parents objecting to it and are struggling to address the controversy that broke out after Education Secretary Arne Duncan sent a letter to principals urging schools to watch.

Districts in several states, including Texas, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Virginia, and Wisconsin, have decided not to show the speech to students. Others are still thinking it over or are letting parents have their kids opt out.

Senior Obama administration officials are to fan out to districts across the country to listen to the speech along with students and teachers.

In Philadelphia, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School.

Some conservatives, driven by radio pundits and bloggers, are urging schools and parents to boycott the address. They say Obama is trying to promote a political agenda and is overstepping the bounds of federal involvement in schools.

"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education - it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma State Sen. Steve Russell. "This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq."

Arizona's state schools superintendent, Tom Horne, a Republican, said lesson plans for teachers created by Obama's Education Department "call for a worshipful rather than critical approach."

The White House plans to release the speech online Monday so parents can read it. He will deliver the speech at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va.

"I think it's really unfortunate that politics has been brought into this," White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom said in an interview.

"It's simply a plea to students to really take their learning seriously. Find out what they're good at. Set goals. And take the school year seriously."

She noted that President George H.W. Bush made a similar address to schools in 1991. Like Obama, Bush drew criticism, with Democrats accusing the Republican president of making the event into a campaign commercial.

Critics are particularly upset about lesson plans the administration created to accompany the speech. The lesson plans, available online, originally recommended having students "write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president."

The White House, acknowledging "that was inartfully worded," revised the plans Wednesday to say students could "write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals."

In the Dallas suburb of Plano, Texas, the 54,000-student school district is not showing the 15- to 20-minute address but will make the video available later.

PTA council president Cara Mendelsohn said Obama was "cutting out the parent" by speaking to kids during school hours. "Why can't a parent be watching this with their kid in the evening?"

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, said in an interview that he was "certainly not going to advise anybody not to send their kids to school that day."

"Hearing the president speak is always a memorable moment," he said.

But he said he understood where the criticism was coming from, saying, "Why didn't he spend more time talking to the local districts and superintendents, at least give them a heads-up about it?"

In Wisconsin, the Green Bay district decided not to show the speech live and to let teachers decide individually whether to show it later.

Florida GOP chairman Jim Greer said in a statement that he was "absolutely appalled that taxpayer dollars are being used to spread President Obama's socialist ideology."

Two of the larger Florida districts, Miami-Dade and Hillsborough, plan to have classes watch the speech. Students whose parents object will not have to watch.

"We're extending the same courtesy to the president as we do with any elected official that wants to enter our schools," said Linda Cobbe, a Hillsborough schools spokeswoman.

One Idaho school superintendent, Murray Dalgleish of Council, urged people not to rush to judgment.

"Is the president dictating to these kids? I don't think so," Dalgleish said. "He's trying to get out the same message we're trying to get out, which is, 'You are in charge of your education.' "