Students can opt out of president’s talk

By: Julie Eng Journal Correspondent
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Faced with concerns about potentially censoring the president, the Auburn Union School District has amended its original plan to require a permission slip to view Obama’s speech, which aired on Tuesday. Several schools will be showing the president’s address in classrooms on Wednesday, and will offer the opportunity for students to opt out. As of Tuesday, E.V. Cain Middle and Rock Creek Elementary schools planned to air the speech for students on Wednesday. At E.V. Cain, social studies teachers were given the option to show the speech but were told to remind students of the option to opt out with a note from their parents. Officials at Rock Creek Elementary said the speech would be shown in classrooms, and had copies of the transcript available for preview in the front office. Sam Schug, principal at Auburn Elementary School, said on Tuesday that they do not plan to air the president’s speech. Schug said he gave the teachers the opportunity to show it in their classes, but that none had expressed much interest in doing so. Skyridge Elementary School officials were unavailable for comment Tuesday, but parents received an e-mail notifying them the speech will be shown “later in the week.” Superintendent Michelle Schuetz said on Tuesday that she thinks most parents are happy with the resolution. “Most concerns came from parents just not knowing what was in the speech and what their children were hearing,” Schuetz said. She added that given the chance to opt out, no students at Rock Creek Elementary School had done so. Brad Kearns, father of two students in the Auburn Union School District, said he was glad the school board changed its initial plan, but is somewhat disappointed with the outcome. “The speech was on live during school hours so people could gather,” Kearns said. “I’m glad they’re playing the tape, but some of the magic of gathering together and watching it is lost.” The Kearnses were among a number of residents who contacted the school district and the Journal about what they saw as the president being censored. There were some concerns at the high school level, but Placer Union High School District officials didn’t postpone screening the speech. Jeff Tooker, district assistant superintendent, said that in response to calls from parents they put word out to the campuses to remind students they could opt out. Obama’s remarks received positive feedback after the speech was aired on Tuesday at noon, Eastern Time. The president spoke about the importance of education, and related personal anecdotes intended to inspire children to stay in school. The California Department of Education released a statement on Tuesday from Jack O’Connell, state schools chief, applauding the president’s message. “I would like to strongly encourage parents and teachers to further discuss the importance of the president’s speech with students,” O’Connell said. “And for those students, parents, and teachers who have not seen it, please take a moment to read, listen, or watch it. It has never been more important for us, collectively, to rally behind our students and in support of education. The president’s address today represents a tremendous opportunity for us to achieve this.” --------------------------------------------- Where is the Speech Being Shown? • Auburn Elementary School: School officials do not plan to show the speech. • E.V. Cain Elementary School: Social studies teachers have the option to screen the speech on Wednesday, but students can opt out with a note from their parents. • Rock Creek Elementary School: The speech will be shown on Wednesday. Copies of the speech transcript are available online or in the school office. • Skyridge Elementary School: Speech will be shown “later in the week.” Students can opt out with a note from their parents. Click here to view a transcript of the speech. Transcript Click here to view footage of the speech. Video Footage