Some school districts won't show Obama speech

An uproar over the president's planned address to public school students continues on the right


Alex Koppelman
September 4, 2009 5:30AM (UTC)

The controversy over President Obama's planned address to U.S. public school children next week shows no signs of abating. In fact, in some places, it's heating up.

ABC News' Jake Tapper and Karen Travers report that school districts in six states -- Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Virginia and Wisconsin -- are "refusing" to show the president's speech to their students.

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Other districts in at least one additional state, South Carolina, have announced they won't be screening the address, at least not live. The president of one, Spartanburg's School District Seven, said in a statement, "Because the broadcast has not been previewed and overlaps classes and lunch, we will not change our schedules to accommodate a live presentation. However, the district will be taping this webcast and making it available as a resource for use at a more feasible date and time for teachers who might wish to incorporate it into future lessons."

If teachers do choose to show the recording, the district will be offering alternative activities for students whose parents don't want them to see it. A link to the speech will also be added to the district's Web site, and hard copies will be provided to students whose parents want to discuss it with them but don't have Internet access. Similar policies are reportedly in place in other districts in the state.

The administration has also made a couple big concessions to critics. On Wednesday, language that opponents had focused on was changed. The White House has now said that Obama's speech will be released on Monday, one day before he gives it, so that parents can read it before their children hear it -- the lack of advance knowledge of the text has been a primary complaint on the right.

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Update: Add another state to the list: At least three districts in Ohio are opting out. One, though, will be showing the speech, and won't allow students who are in school the choice of whether or not to watch it.


Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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