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Obama speech linkJISHOU, HUNAN — Maybe I can stop foaming at the mouth now. Two polls by Survey USA of Verona, New Jersey, shows people overwhelmingly favor President Barack Obama speaking directly to schoolchildren.

In fact, the people surveyed said it was entirely appropriate for any president to speak to schoolchildren. Most said they would want their children to hear the speech. And most said school districts should make the decision whether students should watch or listen.

Two identical polls were taken of 500 adults each in Fresno, California, and statewide in Missouri. Here are the results of the Fresno poll. The results of the Missouri poll are almost identical; you can check them for yourself.

Question 1: President Obama plans to deliver a national address to school children on the importance of them taking responsibility for their own success in school. Do you think it is appropriate? Or not appropriate? For President Obama to deliver this address?
Obama speech appropriate?

Question 2: Do you think it would be appropriate? Or not appropriate? For ANY President to deliver this address?
Any presidential speech appropriate?

Question 3: If you had a child attending a school that was going to show the address, would you tell your child to pay attention? Would you tell you child to NOT pay attention? Or would you keep your child home?
What tell your kids?

Question 4: Who should decide whether to show President Obama’s national address to school children? School districts? Or individual teachers?
Who should decide?

While many school districts have been cowed by the noisy wingnuts protesting Obama’s speech Tuesday, two school superintendents are standing their ground.

Students in Broward County Public Schools in Florida will in fact watch the president’s talk, although the super there says teachers have the final decision. From the district website:

According to Superintendent James F. Notter, there have been several calls into the Superintendent’s Office suggesting and/or requesting that alternative space and activities be provided for those students wishing to “opt out” of this activity.

“As one of the premier major school systems in America, we have consistently encouraged civics education in the broadest sense, e.g., Kids Voting, elected officials participating in Career Days, countywide broadcast of Inaugural address, etc.,” said Notter. “Therefore, providing for a separation from this Address does not align with our practices and responsibility to provide a well rounded, quality education for all students. This is the first time an American President has spoken directly to students on the importance of education and the challenge to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for one’s learning.”

Meanwhile, up north, the superintendent of the Westport, Connecticut, school system sent a similar message by email to parents. Here’s an excerpt:

As the integration of the President’s speech into our instructional practice will constitute a vital learning experience for all our children, it is my expectation that any child in any class where the president’s speech is incorporated into instruction will be a part of that instructional activity.

What a contrast to other superintendents who say Obama’s speech cannot be shown in class because it doesn’t “fit” their districts’ curricula. Note also neither superintendent is suggesting students can go do something else — an alternative activity — if their teachers choose to show the speech in class. If parents want to keep their kids from such pernicious influences as presidential talks, they’ll just have to keep their kids at home.

Maybe these superintendents’ courage and the poll results will encourage other school bosses to have some cajones and stand up to the tiny wingnut factions in their communities.

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