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Schools Shouldn't Have Blacked Out Obama's Speech

| Edutopia

With all the hubbub of September, many of us found ourselves dealing with an unexpected issue -- the decisions of our local school districts not to air President Obama's back-to-school speech. Regardless of your political leaning, we hope you'll agree with us at Edutopia that it's a sad day when society limits the ability of our president to talk to young children, future citizens, about the importance of working hard in school and pursuing dreams.

Will Richardson, a leading education blogger and a member of The George Lucas Education Foundation's National Advisory Council, published a must-read post about the controversy and what it implies about the role of schools. If you haven't read Richardson's post, we encourage you to do so and forward it to others who care about protecting schools as a place where ideas can be presented, debated, and critically assessed -- and where the highest elected official in our country has an opportunity to encourage our next generation to embrace opportunities available to them if they work hard in school.

Many of Edutopia's success stories about public education showcase the very personal stories of students who have turned their lives around through hard work and discipline. Two such examples:

  • Terrie Gabe, who worked the night shift, from 11 p.m. to 5:45 a.m., before going to West Philadelphia High School's Academy of Applied Automotive and Mechanical Science for her 7 a.m. class. Gabe went from being a dropout to graduate with straight As and no absences. You can read her inspirational story in "Auto Motive: Teens Build Award-Winning Electric Cars".
  • Luis, an 18-year-old son of immigrants who has propelled his learning through new media and community engagement in Oregon. Luis is featured in a video profile as part of Edutopia's Digital Generation Project.

We welcome your continued thoughts, reactions, and stories on Obama's message and how schools can be best positioned for the future. Please share them here.

-- Cindy Johanson, COO



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Comments (36)

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L Kurne (not verified)

I feel that many parents

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I feel that many parents over-reacted when it came to the President's speech. Many people have commented that a presidential speech in days past would be a special day at school and an important event. Many assumed that the message would be tainted with political undertones and would be inappropriate for students. The message could have helped to inspire youngs students to do their best and better their lives. Unfortunately, the message did not get through to a lot of students because parents/districts did not allow them to view it at school.

Judy (not verified)

Missed out

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Unfortunately, my school district is the only one in the state of Colorado to have actually banned the speech by President Obama. This decision was made by a superintendent who said later said that she had not read the informational sheets sent out by the White House and made an uninformed decision based on the complaints of a handful of parents.
It was a sad day for our students to not hear such an uplifting message from their president. It was especially sad because I believe that so many of our students could have benefited from his words. Roughly half of the students in our district are minorities, not African-American, they are Latinos, but children of color nonetheless. President Obama is the American dream personified. He is a man that all of our students can see themselves in, in one way or another. Students could have related to his message and it was presented in a non threatening, bipartisan manner. The students of this district really missed out and received a message from the district that says, the words of the President of the United States don't matter. I don't think that is what we want to teach our kids, is it?

Judy (not verified)

Missed out

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Unfortunately, my school district is the only one in the state of Colorado to have actually banned the speech by President Obama. This decision was made by a superintendent who said later said that she had not read the informational sheets sent out by the White House and made an uninformed decision based on the complaints of a handful of parents.
It was a sad day for our students to not hear such an uplifting message from their president. It was especially sad because I believe that so many of our students could have benefited from his words. Roughly half of the students in our district are minorities, not African-American, they are Latinos, but children of color nonetheless. President Obama is the American dream personified. He is a man that all of our students can see themselves in, in one way or another. Students could have related to his message and it was presented in a non threatening, bipartisan manner. The students of this district really missed out and received a message from the district that says, the words of the President of the United States don't matter. I don't think that is what we want to teach our kids, is it?

Judy (not verified)

Missed out

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Unfortunately, my school district is the only one in the state of Colorado to have actually banned the speech by President Obama. This decision was made by a superintendent who said later said that she had not read the informational sheets sent out by the White House and made an uninformed decision based on the complaints of a handful of parents.
It was a sad day for our students to not hear such an uplifting message from their president. It was especially sad because I believe that so many of our students could have benefited from his words. Roughly half of the students in our district are minorities, not African-American, they are Latinos, but children of color nonetheless. President Obama is the American dream personified. He is a man that all of our students can see themselves in, in one way or another. Students could have related to his message and it was presented in a non threatening, bipartisan manner. The students of this district really missed out and received a message from the district that says, the words of the President of the United States don't matter. I don't think that is what we want to teach our kids, is it?

Judy (not verified)

Missed out

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0

Unfortunately, my school district is the only one in the state of Colorado to have actually banned the speech by President Obama. This decision was made by a superintendent who said later said that she had not read the informational sheets sent out by the White House and made an uninformed decision based on the complaints of a handful of parents.
It was a sad day for our students to not hear such an uplifting message from their president. It was especially sad because I believe that so many of our students could have benefited from his words. Roughly half of the students in our district are minorities, not African-American, they are Latinos, but children of color nonetheless. President Obama is the American dream personified. He is a man that all of our students can see themselves in, in one way or another. Students could have related to his message and it was presented in a non threatening, bipartisan manner. The students of this district really missed out and received a message from the district that says, the words of the President of the United States don't matter. I don't think that is what we want to teach our kids, is it?

Alissa (not verified)

Now a month after President

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Now a month after President Obama's speech and I am still pretty fired up about the fact that so many school and districts reacted the way they did, with such skepticism. Truly people really believe that the President would be preaching a political agenda. Our school showed the speech in the library and if they wanted to go, they were able to do so. I had 4 students left in my room, so who really was being banned from watching this message from the president, me! I was so disappointed how this issue of the president and leader of our country, who was voted by the majority of our was so shunned and unrightfully disrepected. There have been many other speeches from previous presidents addressing the youth of America. Were these as criticized? I heard a report on NPR the other day discussing the idea that this may be a way the American society is showing the prejudices against the 1st African American president. Would this have happened if Obama was white??

Ralph Cuda (not verified)

Our district did not show it

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Our district chose not to show the speech. I think that our administration was caught off guard, with no notification of the speech, when the parents called. The administrators were confused by the parents calls they got on Thursday, and I'm sure they were also embarrassed about not having heard about it. They couldn't properly answer the parents.

Our district chose to handle it that students could watch the address at home, with their parents, if they so chose. Not being informed about the speech caused a bit of a panic, since the parents called on Thursday, there was no school on Friday, and the speech was on Monday. There should have been MUCH BETTER co-ordination at the national level, to let each state (and school districts) know about the speech, much earlier than 5 days before the speech was to be given!

Shani (not verified)

That is a very good

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That is a very good thought...air it again at night so parents and children can watch it together! I am happy for the internet however because I had my children watch it on the computer. It was a fantastic message and completely kid-friendly. I am sad to say that we did not show it at our school and that was a mistake on my part because it was teacher choice and I followed the pack. :(

Shani (not verified)

Obama's Speech

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I completely agree with you! No one at my school chose to show his speech and that was odd considering every teacher chose to show his inauguration?? I listened to the speech afterwords on the computer and it was terrific! He had a powerful kid friendly message that every child and adult for that matter should have heard. It was 18 minutes long and NOT a waste of time!

Cecilia Gaugh (not verified)

Our county made it mandatory

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Our county made it mandatory to watch however if a parent called ahead of time, they were allowed request that their child be removed from the classroom while it was being shown. This infuriated me. I truly believe that if it was any other president, there wouldn't have been an issue. When parents show their children it is ok to show disrespect to the president of the United States, how will they treat us???? I had a student that said he needed to leave the room because his parents didn't "believe" in Obama... so is he a religion now????

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