Parents Against Obama's Speech to Students Growing in Number
What was supposed to be a speech from President Obama to high school students across America has turned into a political debate among congressional leaders and parents.
Obama's speech to students has sparked controversy and another rift with republicans who believe the President is using his address as a platform to push his health care agenda on children.
According to the Associated Press, the president planned to speak to students Tuesday about striving for greatness, working hard and staying in school. His address is scheduled to air live from the White House Web site at noon EDT so classroom across the country can tune in.
Schools are not obligated to show the video, however, but district school boards have been flooded with phone calls from concerned parents who are struggling with the controversy that has plagued the speech.
Some school districts in the states of Texas, Minnesota, MIssouri and Illinois have already refused to air the address to students, while others are still deciding or allowing parents to have their kids decline the viewing.
Conservative Republicans across the nation are using talk radio shows and blogs to encourage parents to boycott the broadcast. Many conservatives believe Obama is overstepping his boundaries of federal involvement in schools.
"As far as I am concerned, this is not civics education — it gives the appearance of creating a cult of personality," said Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Steve Russell. "This is something you'd expect to see in North Korea or in Saddam Hussein's Iraq."
The White House has announced the speech will be released Monday in efforts to quell parents' apprehensions behind suspected political rhetoric.
"I think it's really unfortunate that politics has been brought into this," White House deputy policy director Heather Higginbottom said.
"It's simply a plea to students to really take their learning seriously. Find out what they're good at. Set goals. And take the school year seriously."
In the the Texas suburb of Plano, the 54,000-student school district has already declined the broadcast but will make the video available afterwards. Cara Mendelsohn, PTA council president, speaking to the kids during school hours is "cutting out the parent."
"Why can't a parent be watching this with their kid in the evening?" Mendelsohn said. "Because that's what makes a powerful statement, when a parent is sitting there saying, 'This is what I dream for you. This is what I want you to achieve.'"
Texas Governor Rick Perry, a Republican, said he's "certainly not going to advise anybody not to send their kids to school that day."
"Hearing the president speak is always a memorable moment," he added.
He also said he understood the parents' concerns.
"Nobody seems to know what he's going to be talking about," Perry said. "Why didn't he spend more time talking to the local districts and superintendents, at least give them a heads-up about it?"
Murray Dalgleish, an Idaho school superintendent urged people not to rush to judgment.
"Is the president dictating to these kids? I don't think so," Dalgleish said.
"He's trying to get out the same message we're trying to get out, which is, `You are in charge of your education.'"
The president will deliver the speech at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia.
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