DPS: Obama speech optional for students
An online speech slated to be made by President Barack Obama on Tuesday to students has some schools receiving calls from concerned parents. Doug Sullivan, superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools, said district-wide, about six calls have been ...
An online speech slated to be made by President Barack Obama on Tuesday to students has some schools receiving calls from concerned parents.
Doug Sullivan, superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools, said district-wide, about six calls have been received so far questioning how the speech will be handled.
"The approach of the district is simply that it is going to be treated like all other presentations, field trips, that are supplemental to our curriculum," Sullivan. "Our principals, when they are working with the teachers, will take steps to guarantee that the activity supports the curriculum of the district and that it is age-appropriate."
Obama plans to speak directly to students at noon Tuesday about working hard and staying in school.
Sullivan said there will not be any mass viewings of the speech and those teachers that do choose to watch the speech will send out letters to the parents of the students involved.
"It's important for parents to know that if it is going to be viewed in the classrooms, one of the requirements is that the parents be notified and they will have an opportunity to opt out of it," Sullivan said. "Then an appropriate alternative activity will be provided to those children."
Larry Helvik, superintendent of Beach School District, said he hasn't received any calls about the speech, but was unsure if the high school or elementary principals had received phone calls.
Cheryl Kelly, a mother to two children who attend Dickinson High School, said she's OK with students having a choice in watching it.
"As long as it's not a mass viewing where they are required to watch it, that's fine with me," Kelly said.
Sister Dorothy Zeller, superintendent of Dickinson Catholic Schools, said she is unsure whether or not the speech will be shown in the schools.
"It's late notice and we haven't really visited with the teachers yet to see what the plan is," Zeller said.
Mandan Superintendent Wilfred Volesky and Bismarck Superintendent Paul Johnson say callers have asked if it's a good use of school time.
Volesky says he hopes the speech is unbiased. Johnson says a presidential address has always been viewed as part of a civics lesson.
He says children are not forced to take part in an activity if parents are uncomfortable with it.
Republican critics call it an attempt to push a political agenda.
The White House plans to release the speech online Monday and says it's unfortunate that politics has been brought into it.
-- The Associated Press contributed to this story