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Readers say Obama's upbeat speech lacks specifics

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Fox Chapel Area teacher, students live-Tweet speech

Fox Chapel Area American government teacher Jennifer Klein indicated she couldn't Tweet as much as she'd intended about witnessing Tuesday's State of the Union address from her seat at the White House.

But her students picked up the slack.

“I am struggling to tweet, think, read tweets, and reflect all at the same time. I may be tweeting less than I thought I would,” Klein wrote on social media website Twitter about 9:20 p.m., a few minutes into the president's speech.

Klein was invited to watch the address with presidential advisers, tour the White House, sit in on a Congressional hearing about the Iranian nuclear deal and participate in a post-speech session with the advisers.

Klein may not have been able to offer as many real-time observations as she'd hoped, but she referred her Twitter followers to the comments of her current and former students who were watching the speech from home and Tweeting using the phrase #fcapgov.

“You are doing a super job tweeting thoughts and ideas. Keep them coming,” Klein wrote from her account, @jkleinfc. “#fcapgov students — I am very proud of you! Both current & former #fcapgov students — I am the luckiest teacher EVER!”

A sampling of comments from the group included:

• Patrick Sheerer ‏@psheewar: “Obama should consider shortening unemployment benefits. Nobody has incentive to work!”

• Paula Lee-O ‏@PaulaLeeO2014: “MEDICAL RESEARCH WAS MENTIONED. YESSSSSSSS could not be happier”

• Adis Juklo ‏@ajuklofc: “Measurement of a student's learning is not how accurately they can bubble in answers”

• Hannah Song ‏@hanahaenahannah: “so... nothing on supporting the arts? Education is not just about STEM subjects.”

• Annette Kukunas ‏@annettekukunas: “When women succeed, America succeeds”

• Jorden Alfery ‏@jalfery31: “Actions speak louder than words. We've heard some/most of this. #comeonnow”

• Jon Stebbins ‏@worldwidestebs: “If anyone in Fox Chapel had to actually live off a minimum wage job, they'd change their views in a heartbeat”

Klein wrote that she hoped Tuesday's State of the Union address would be the first of many for her students: “For the first time SOTU watchers — please do not let this be your last time!”

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Several Alle-Kiski Valley residents said President Obama's State of the Union address offered a positive message, but was light on details.

“I thought it was an optimistic pep talk to the nation,” said Bill Godfrey of Harrison. “I was glad he concentrated on the positive and the accomplishments of his administration. I think people dwell too much on the negative.”

At the same time, Godfrey, a Democrat, said the president didn't offer much in the way of a road map for accomplishing his goals.

“It wasn't specific on what he's going to do,” Godfrey said. “He didn't really go in-depth on any particular thing.”

“It was kind of weak,” said Linda Alworth, a Republican from Gilpin. “Everything is perfect according to him. I couldn't get a lot out of it.

“The best part was the end when they clapped for that poor soldier,” said Alworth, referring to the standing ovation dedicated to Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Cory Remsburg, who sat next to First Lady Michelle Obama.

President Obama lauded the Arizona man, who was nearly killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. The president urged Americans to emulate Remsburg's determination to never give up.

“He did touch on a lot of things that are on the minds of the American public,” said Mable Mazza, a Democrat from Allegheny Township. “But I think we need to implement these things to rekindle our confidence in the government.”

Obama's speech dealt largely with improving the economy, touching on tax and immigration reform, boosting education, manufacturing jobs, entrepreneurs and research, supporting clean energy and raising the minimum wage.

Mazza and Alworth said they can see both sides of the argument to raise the minimum wage.

“It's beneficial to some, but it might reduce the workforce for others,” Mazza said. “Some smaller businesses can't afford this expense.”

Alworth, who owns two businesses in Armstrong County, said she doesn't necessarily mind increasing the minimum wage, but wants to make sure people are working hard enough to earn the raise.

“You don't want anyone to suffer. I don't mind paying people that work,” she said. “Everyone is supposed to take responsibility and work harder. But it seems like sometimes the harder we work, the further behind we get.”

Alworth said she has a similar impression of the push to make sure everyone has health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

She said the goal of the law may be to insure more people, but her policy was canceled and now she's facing a plan with higher deductibles and premiums.

“I'd like to see people with health care, but it's going to hit the middle class again,” she said. “The middle class ends up paying for everything. That and the small businesses.”

Mazza said she's been disappointed in the rollout of the health insurance program: “When you can't trust your government, something is wrong.”

Alworth and Godfrey noted the president's intent to use executive orders when possible.

“It was interesting when he was saying if the Congress won't do it, he's going to forge ahead on his own,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey said he particularly liked Obama's message of working together.

“Everyone working together, individuals doing their part — that's my creed, too,” said Godfrey, who helped found the Natrona Comes Together revitalization initiative. “I feel like getting up tomorrow and doing more for the community.”

Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 or

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