Schools to show Obama’s speech

All School District 51 classrooms will screen President Barack Obama’s second annual address to schoolchildren Tuesday.

Teachers and administrators were given the option last year to show his speech, which focused on studying hard and staying in school. The District 51 Board of Education decided this year that each school should show the new speech because information about the event was released to the district early enough to inform parents and have them fill out permission slips, District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said.

Students were sent home with permission slips Wednesday, and the announcement also is available on Parent Bridge, an online parent-notification system available through the district.

If parents opt not to have their children view the speech, their children will partake in an “alternative learning experience” while other students watch a recorded or live version of the speech, according to the permission form.

Amber Hinkle, a mother to two elementary students in District 51, said Wednesday she would rather take her children out of school for the day than have them see the speech before she knows what Obama will say.

“If I don’t see it first, I don’t want my kids exposed to it,” she said.

Patty Holloway, whose daughter, Haley, is in first grade in the district, said her daughter has expressed interest in seeing the speech.

“I’m not against it, but I’m not too excited about it,” Holloway said. “I’m hoping it’s just encouraging them to stay in school and work hard.”

School Board President Harry Butler said that’s exactly what parents and students can expect the president to talk about. Butler said he’s praying there won’t be controversy this year because parents will be fully informed of the event and have the option to decide what their children will do while the speech is shown.

Butler said the board wanted to show the speech because “it’s the president.”

“Regardless of what people’s views are, he’s the president of the United States, and we should honor the office,” he said.

A time has not been set for the speech. Whether children view the speech live or in a recorded format depends on what technology is available at each school. If recorded, students will be shown the speech at a later date.


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