Obama message to be previewed by principals

Published 11:53 am Saturday, September 5, 2009

President Barack Obama’s message to students nationwide will not be seen directly by students in the Demopolis City Schools system.

The speech, set to last 15 minutes and encourage students to work hard and stay in school, will be seen by Demopolis principals and school board members at the board office on Cedar Avenue when it is aired Tuesday at 11 a.m.

The speech will be recorded by school officials and made available to students who may want to view it.

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“The tape will be given to the principals with the instructions to show it at their discretion at the time that least interferes with instruction,” said interim superintendent Dr. Neil Hyche.

“It’s an issue of instruction, and I feel that it’s appropriate for the principals to use their discretion. They’ll use it wisely.”

Hyche prepared packets of information to give to teachers regarding the speech, including a letter from State Superintendent of Education Dr. Joseph B. Morton. In the wake of the decision not to show the speech in the classrooms, however, the packets will not be distributed.

Conservatives were angered when news of the upcoming speech was announced, believing it to be a means of influencing or “indoctrinating” school children.

White House officials note that the speech is not unprecedented, pointing to George H.W. Bush’s 1991 speech to school children, asking them to say “No” to drugs and work hard.