Schools Shouldn't Have Blacked Out Obama's Speech | Edutopia
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Schools Shouldn't Have Blacked Out Obama's Speech

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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

Comments (36)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

Cheryl Stock's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I totally agree with you. Because I don't agree with his politics in any way what so ever, I didn't feel that my children needed to hear what he had to say, especially when i wasn't sure what type of "socialist" view he was going to share.

Cheryl Stock's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

President Bush wasn't a proponent of Socialism either.

Cheryl Stock's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

Why does the "race" card seem to always get pulled. It's not about his race, it's about his beliefs!!!!

Tammy's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

As I remember throughout history, no other President had an impact on the public as Obama. I remember sitting in class watching several President address American's youth throughout my life span. Within the school district that I teach, the phones were flooded with calls from parents protesting the showing of his speech. We received an email from our principal stating that our school district wouldn't be participating in showing his speech due to parent protest.

Michelle Williams's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I must admit I did not listen to the speech until I ran across it on the blog. I read the comments first and then listened to the speech so that I could form my own opinion. I agree with others! His speech was motivational and I think it did addressed students on a more personal level this year. I applaud the fact that Obama is a president that gets it! IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD! Why not allow the president to uplift children in a positive manor. Yes....parents to have the right to sensor what there child may watch or listen to...however, do not be bias because of your own personal opinions of him. I am a parent myself and I glad my child's school aired the message. Anything that can encourage her a to be a better person....I am all for it!

Richard Redding's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

In my opinion the school districts that failed to air President Obama's speech should have their funding pulled. At what point in time has President Obama said anything in a public forum that you or I wouldn't want our children hearing? He was elected by the majority of the voters last November while running on the very things/topics he is trying to accomplish now.What exactly is it he has tried to do that he didn't campaign on? Since when is the thoughts and words of "Our President" not good enough for the school children of America? He didn't get elected being an "idiot" that doesn't have enought sense to give a descent speech to school children. Some of us need to grow up and put our personal prejudices aside and stop making fools of ourselves!

Jean Marie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I remember it differently. I have been teaching for 20+ years and I don't remember a time my kindergarteners were suppose to listen to a speech from any president. I think addressing our children is an awesome idea. Why not do it at a time in the evening when parents could encourage a family viewing? It would have avoided a lot of controversy, alleviated much unneeded fear and maybe reached many more people. Leave the public schools out of political debate-unless it is a debate class.

Jean Marie's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think President Obama's speech was excellent. I only wish it had been aired at night so that families could have enjoyed it together. I believe it would have had a much more positive effect that way. I thought it was a bit overboard showing it k-12 across the nation. I can't remember in my twenty years of teaching having my kindergarten students be required to watch a speech by anyone. I thought it was handled well by my school. We taped the speech and showed it after parents had a chance to sign permission slips. If they didn't sign the student watched the speech. It was handled just like any other sensitive issue-and face it politics is a sensitive issue. I believe it was a matter of flawed publicity. If it had been aired at night, then available to be shown by teacher choice, I think people would have supported it for what it was-a very inspirational speech by the US President.

Abby's picture
Anonymous (not verified)

I think the Obama speech should have been aired in all the schools. No matter what people think, he is the president of the United States and we should respect him. If it were a professional football player, singer or actress/actor I'm sure they would have aired the speech, but due to political issues the speech had people upset. They didn't even realize Obama was not even gonig to talk about political issues, strictly about school and how to succeed. It was a wonderful speech and the schools who chose not to watch it really missed out on a great message!

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