They are there for learning,’ not to be ‘indoctrinated,’ parent says
Some parents are drawing a line and making sure their children are away from a television set Tuesday while attending school.
Other parents are embracing the chance for their children to watch President Barack Obama welcome children all across the nation back to school.
“This president has become so controversial with everything he is trying to pass,” said Aaron Jimenez, a 27-year-old father of two School District 51 students attending Scenic Elementary and Redlands Middle schools.
He does not want his children watching Obama’s message until he has had a chance to preview it.
“I feel that school is for learning. They are there for learning and not to be indoctrinated,” he said.
Angela Garcher, mother of 11-year-old Megan Garcher, a student at East Middle School, said she wants her daughter to watch Obama while she’s in school.
“I didn’t vote for Obama, but I think it is a good message,” Garcher said of Obama’s stated intent to welcome children back to school and encourage them to further their education.
Her daughter, Megan, on the other hand, said if it were her choice, she would not watch.
When the speech airs live at 10 a.m., she will be in language arts class. She knows some students’ parents are not allowing her classmates to watch, and she said she will not think differently of those students who leave the classroom as the broadcast begins.
Megan said then she will know only that their parents “don’t care for Obama,” she said. “It’s not their (the students’) fault.”
School District 51 is giving parents an option. Many schools sent notes home with children Thursday, advising parents of the broadcast, which will be streamed over the Web on WhiteHouse.gov/live and aired on C-SPAN.
Other schools, such as the K-12 Gateway School, which does not have the capacity to receive live streaming Web broadcasts, did not send notes home with children. Each school is handling the particulars of the broadcast independently, with some broad guidance from the district, said Jeff Kirtland, spokesman for District 51.
Some schools are asking parents to excuse their children from classrooms that are televising the speech, while other schools are asking parents to give permission for their students to watch.
The permission slips and the national political mood are stirring emotion.
“We are getting calls from parents, and we are receiving information on both sides of the issue,” Kirtland said.
Parents picking up their children from Chipeta Elementary School on Friday had a variety of opinions.
“I wouldn’t mind him watching it,” said Kim Ochoa, who has a son in second grade. “I feel (Obama) is doing wrong on the health care thing, but he is not doing everything wrong. My son loves Obama. I wouldn’t mind him watching it.”
Theresa Gross, a parent of a Chipeta fourth-grader, said, “I think if our president is going to speak to our children, it is a good thing.”
But Denise Rodriguez said the president has no business in school.
“If they are in elementary school, I don’t think they should (see the telecast),” Rodriguez said.
“It is plain and simple: They don’t need to be involved in politics.”
Another parent, Samantha Serrato, said she wants her first-grader exposed to modern events and welcomed the president’s time in the classroom.
“I think my son should be able to understand what is going on in the world,” she said. “He shouldn’t be held back from that.”
Even some heavyweight Mesa County Republicans are handling the situation differently.
“My wife and I had the discussion last night,” said Mesa County Commissioner Craig Meis, who has four children, two in middle school and two in elementary school. “They are going to watch it.”
Meis said he is not concerned they might be indoctrinated into a left-wing ideology.
“I have more face time with them than the president,” he said.
Charles Pabst, chairman of the Mesa County Republican Party, has three sons at Caprock Academy.
“I want my child to watch it, but with me,” Pabst said. “I do not believe that in the early elementary school age that politics has any business being discussed on either side of the aisle. That is something that should be left to the parents. That is why my child goes to a charter school.”
Pabst said he would record the program and watch it with his children at home.