Our View: District made right call Obama's school addressSome classrooms in District 833 began their first day of school last week with a special message from a special guest – President Barack Obama.
Some classrooms in District 833 began their first day of school last week with a special message from a special guest – President Barack Obama.
Well, it wasn’t exactly the beginning of the day. The message was broadcast live at 11 a.m., our time, which was right around the time when some students were shuffling (or racing) from their classrooms to the lunchroom.
And not every classroom in District 833 broadcast the special message live as Superintendent Mark Porter left it up to teachers to decide whether airing the president’s speech “would be an instructional choice appropriate to their first day.” The teachers also had the option to broadcast the message at a later time that fit in with their lessons plans.
Considering all the political hubbub that arose after the Department of Education’s announcement of the president’s plans to address the nation’s school children, the speech itself turned out to be quite refreshingly non-partisan.
In hindsight, parents who called the district office concerned their children would get a dose of politics they might not agree with, may even concede after the fact that pulling their children from class during the speech was a slight overreaction. But we all know hindsight is 20/20 and national politics has been nasty business as of late.
The Department of Education delayed its release of an advanced text of the speech long enough to cause some Obama critics to express worry the speech would be too political in nature, and those critics aired those concerns to the mass media. It’s not our intention to judge whether those concerns were warranted. But we will say that in light of those concerns, Porter’s Sept. 3 message to parents was an appropriate response to any concerns leading up to the address.
Shortly after the federal Department of Education announced the president was planning to address students, Porter released an official statement that explained the school district’s decision to allow teachers discretion to air the speech if it did not impede on their first-day lesson plans. He also let parents know what actions they could take if they did not want their children viewing the address.
Porter said in his statement that the school district had received numerous calls “on both sides of the issue.”
Parents of elementary or middle school students who didn’t want their children to view the president’s message in the classroom could “provide written notification to the school administration of your desire to ‘opt out’ of this opportunity.”
Porter acknowledged the independence of high school students who would make up their own mind to “opt out” and said they could do so by informing their teachers.
We believe the school district handled this situation with tact and prudence. The president’s speech was quite inspiring and is one we think all parents of students in the district should consider viewing as its message is simple: Work hard this school year and make your parents proud.