The Obama School Speech Controversy Continues
by: Ed Mayberry and David Pitman, September 4, 2009 4:09:03 pm
The White House is dismissing the furor over President Barack Obama's plan for a televised back-to-school speech on Tuesday to the nation's students. Presidential Spokesman Robert Gibbs says we've reached a little bit of the silly season, when the president can't even tell kids to study hard and stay in school. Some critics accuse Obama of trying to promote a political agenda. State Representative Sylvester Turner sees nothing wrong with students hearing an inspirational message from the President.
"The dropout rate in Houston, for example, is extremely high. Our kids need all of us to be encouraging them to stay in school, to work hard, to get themselves prepared. And people who can do that at the highest levels of the private sector, as well as the government sector — I think we should welcome that."
Turner speaks at area schools often. Back when he was a student at Kline, Congressman Bill Archer spoke at his school.
"I was a kid. I really didn't know which direction I wanted to go. He talked about his role in government and the value of government and how important it was. I have never forgotten the comments. It made a positive difference."
It seems there are as many different strategies on whether or when to show President Obama's speech to students as there are school districts in the Greater Houston area. David Pitman tells us about the plan school officials in Galveston will follow.
The Galveston Independent School District announced this morning that it will show President Obama's speech to students next Wednesday — the day 'after' he delivers it.
Superintendent Lynne Cleveland says the district settled on that plan after getting input from principals, who said carrying the Tuesday lunchtime speech live would be a logistical mess.
"Because you would have to change your whole entire daily schedule. It would affect the cafeteria in preparing for the lunches. And we don't want this to interrupt the instructional day. "
Superintendent Cleveland says the Galveston ISD will record Mister Obama's speech, and make it available through its own website — to be shown in social studies and advisory classes (which are like homeroom) the next day.
"And parents who do not want their children to view it can sign a sheet to opt out of the viewing and they will have an alternative assignment in a different location."
Cleveland says it's up to the principals of each school to determine exactly what that alternative assignment will be. Meanwhile, the Houston ISD clarified today that the decision to show Obama's speech on Tuesday is up to individual teachers. The HISD says parents will have a sign a note if they want their children to opt out of the viewing.