CHS to air president’s speech three times this week


By Blake Seitz

Sports Editor

Last month, President Barack Obama announced his intention to make a speech during the school day to the youth of the nation. Despite conservative backlash and parents’ concerns, Coppell ISD has decided to air the speech this Wednesday and replay it on Thursday and Friday.

Alex Burckle, 10, center, listens to President Barack Obama's back-to-school speech in his fifth grade class that Georgia Nelson teaches at the Hough Street School in Barrington, Illinois, on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. (Lane Christiansen/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

Alex Burckle, 10, center, listens to President Barack Obama's back-to-school speech in his fifth grade class that Georgia Nelson teaches at the Hough Street School in Barrington, Illinois, on Tuesday, September 8, 2009. (Lane Christiansen/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

After receiving worried phone calls from parents and conducting a meeting of administrators, CISD decided to play the president’s address during A and C lunches in the lecture hall on the remaining three days of this week, citing its nonpolitical nature. It will be up to the teacher’s discretion whether to attend.

“It was pretty much what I expected,” principal Brad Hunt said. “[President Obama] was encouraging and referenced his background, about how he didn’t have the easiest road to travel—no surprises there.”

Obama’s speech, about working hard to get ahead, has received praise from the left wing and vitriol from the right.

Conservatives claim that the speech oversteps the bounds of the national government, and have labeled lesson plans created around the speech as leftist indoctrination.

However, other traditionally conservative figures have supported the speech.

“I think that there is a place for the President of the United States to talk to school children and encourage school children,” former first lady Laura Bush said in an interview with CNN.

Each school district was left to decide for itself whether or not to air the speech. However, Democrats and the White House have done their best to remind the opposition that Obama’s speech is not without precedent – presidents as recently as George H.W. Bush have addressed schoolchildren – and also released the transcript of the speech on Monday for school districts to review.

While many are up in arms in regards to the president making a speech to schools, much of the controversy revolves around the lesson plans that are included, which asked students what they could do to “help the President.” Since then, the wording on that section has been changed.

“That was inartfully worded, and we corrected it,” White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom told the Associated Press.

CHS will not be using the lesson plans.

“We are taking advantage of the fact that we have intelligent students who can handle independent conversation on political issues,” Hunt said. “We’re showing this primarily for its historical value.”

Some teachers, such as English teacher Zack Sherman, have developed their own curriculums for the speech.

“[My lesson] fits with the curriculum of the eleventh grade, on political rhetoric,” Sherman said. “So the speech is being analyzed for rhetoric, not politics. No one has to read it, so we’re being sensitive in that regard.”

Parents who do not wish their students to see the speech can send a note with their student to school.

“I find it silly that parents are angry about it, thinking it will indoctrinate their kids,” junior Arden Radford said, “It’s about studying and doing your best—I don’t see why parents would be opposed to that.”


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