I've kept my mouth shut on this issue, mainly because we homeschool, making it a non-issue for our family. Let me explain.
We are living in a brave new mucho-divided world. Bush and Obama both are extreme opposites and have engendered great dispute with every decision they have made. That's the cultural climate.
Mommies and daddies can be pretty aggressive in protecting their children from "perceived" threats. That's the specific context.
So, when a so-called "radical" Govt official (conservative or liberal) tries to force children to sit at his or her feet, there's gonna be fireworks on the home front.
I think the Obama administration could have avoided every bit of this controversy by one simple change: Do the speech on TV in the evening, say 7pm or so. Doing the speech on TV in the evening would have made most of this controversy go away because he would have, theoretically, only been graded on content, not context or even motive because anyone could opt out and never be questioned about their decision. Of course we all know that kids would NOT have watched then, hence the need for a "captive" audience via the public schools -- government owned and operated institutions.
Personally, I think it's the "coercive" nature of this event that had so many people riled up. But I could be wrong...