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Critics Say Texas District Picking Bush Over Obama

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A suburban Texas school district finds itself in hot water over a decision involving a president and students. This complaint involves not just one president of the United States, but two.

The Arlington Independent School District did not show President Barack Obama's much-ballyhooed back-to-school speech live yesterday, opting instead to tape it and make it available for use later. Students were allowed to take an excused half-day absence to watch the president's speech at home or somewhere else off school grounds.

But when it comes to the 43rd commander-in-chief, former president George W. Bush, Arlington schools are taking a different tack: 28 5th grade classes are being bussed to Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 21, where Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will be among the speakers at an event launching the Super Bowl's education program. The new stadium will be the site of the 2011 Super Bowl.

Bush, who was governor of Texas for six years before his two terms in the Oval Office, lives in nearby Dallas, where his presidential library is being built at Southern Methodist University.

The difference in reception of the two presidents has some locals angry. Pastor Dwight McKissic of Arlington's Cornerstone Baptist church says the school district has some explaining to do.


"Why is it appropriate for students to hear from former President Bush on Sept. 21 at the Cowboy[s] Stadium, but inappropriate for the current president to address students while they remain on school campuses?" McKissic asked. "Why is President Obama's message considered to be an intrusion on the school day, a disruptive and unplanned class activity, a message 'not deemed appropriate' for students to hear or a message regarded as 'something students should not be exposed to?' Yet it is accepted as an appropriate message for students to hear from unnamed Dallas Cowboys, business and community leaders?"

In a statement released last night, the school district says the trip to the stadium was planned months ago and all the parents of the involved students granted permission. Parents will be able to opt their students out of any showing of Obama's speech in Arlington schools, the statement says, apparently equating the opt-out for the Obama's speech with the opt-in required for the field trip that features Bush.

What do you think? Is there a double standard at work or are some people being overly sensitive?

19 Comments

This comes out of Texas... enough said.

"What do you think? Is there a double standard at work or are some people being overly sensitive?"

It's impossible to tell from such incomplete coverage. In order to answer the question, we've got to dredge up the information EdWeek didn't - or that EdWeek didn't bother to lay out for us.

EdWeek has also failed to explain what the Super Bowl ed program is about. By reading this summary, you'd think the event revolved around George W. Bush. Does it? To what extent? What's on the docket at this event?

Research it yourself, folks - EdWeek's not interested in telling you.

We want to read facts about the story - real details, not gossipy, incomplete speculation or the illogical rambling of yet another interview subject residing on the fringe.

Give us something to work with and we might be able to answer your question.

I think that there is more to consider than just 1 president vs. another president. President Obama's speech was being addressed to all students K-12. Those going to Cowboy stadium are from 1 grade level. From what I saw, President Obama's speech may not have been appropriate for students in the lower grades. Not all of them think globally or think about their personal responsibilities. From the clips I have seen, I think that it was really geared more for the jr. high and high school students. For the 5th graders, it is more than just a former president. He was governor of our state, he is a local celebrity, he is an involved citizen of the community. When Pres. Obama visitis his community in Illinois, I am sure the school districts there would offer a similiar field trip.

But most importantly, parents have the final say. The parents had the option to let their kids watch President Obama's speech at home during school hours. The 5th grade parents have to sign consent for their kids to leave school to hear another president speak. Both of them are taking place during school hours, neither one of them are occuring on school property.

It would be interesting to see how the school district handled the speech that President Bush (41) gave to school children. Did the students stay home? Did the school district set aside time during the school day to hear the speech? That would be the more logical comparison. Failing that, I believe there is a more fundamental problem with those who did not support President Obama and continue to reflect that view in their actions. School districts should not introduce partisan politics in the administration of their duties. The handling of the president's speech is, in my view, crass partisan politics. Moreover, it teaches a shameful lesson to students: it is OK to ignore the President of the United States when he attempts to encourage you to stay in school. The lesson of patriotism and respect for the office of the president is also lost here. Is racism part of the calculus? I believe so.

Perhaps Texas should secede. It would not be missed.

Rednecks and right-wingers are unashamedly hypocritical when it comes to expressing their bias and bigotry. These folks will NEVER get over the fact that Obama was elected president, and find any excuse to further polarize the debate. On the other hand, the Dallas Cowboys organization, fronted by owner and face-lift fan Jerry Jones, represents good ol'fashioned family values, like players' lengthy arrest record for drug abuse and debauchery. Go Cowboys!

So what is this anyway. We now have to give parents the right to say whether their child should be exposed to the President of the United States or not?


This is just another consequence of the vitriolic politics we live with today.
My father always told me.."My country, right or wrong, my country." I believe that he would have extended that to accord the freely elected President of this nation a little respect.


I applaud those free thinking educators who supported our children's right to listen to their President. I condemn those who let politics win out over reason.
This is sick, sick, sick!

I like the comment of the administrator of a Chicago suburban school: We don't allow parents to dictate our lesson plans we have on a day to day basis. (paraphrased)

Wow. So..... A voluntary trip to an event at the COWBOYS' Stadium where Fmr. Pres Bush and Laura will be speaking as a part of MANY OTHER speakers, = racism? double standard?
Look, I told my son to go to school, take notes, and we'd discuss it after he got home. I read the speech.... blah, blah, blah, with 56 mentions of the word "I" from Pres. Obama
His PE class opted not to watch the speech live, as it didn't fit in with their class planning for that day. No big.
What IS a big deal is when parents have no say over who gets access to their kids. Parents opting their kids in, or parents opting their kids out, that is exactly how our school system SHOULD handle it.
The final decision should rest with the parents, not the school, and for sure not the federal government.

Look, Tim, you as a parent do not get to decide every minute of every day what students do in school. That's just insane to even suggest.

If the President of the USA has a live speech to encourage studying and taking responsibility and having goals...what nutjob parent could possibly object?

Answer: YOU, Tim! You call the speech, "blah blah blah" and suggest that it was egotistical because Obama said "I" 56 times. He was telling his own story as an example of how hard work and studying can lead to success. Get it?

Some parents think that evidence of their fertility is somehow evidence of wisdom.

Tim has the right idea: "Parents opting their kids in, or parents opting their kids out, that is exactly how our school system SHOULD handle it."

So the offspring of creationists can opt out of Biology class. Problem solved!!!

If my kids do all their chores, and mow the lawn, I'll let them opt out of Math class! Why not?

And I'm no Cowboys fan. So my kids can't go to that Superbowl thing. Indoctrination, I say! I demand equal time. Send them to Lambeau Field! I demand it as a parent!!!

If the President of the USA can't speak to our children, who can? What's next? Should each teacher submit a transcript of each daily lesson plan to each parent so they can sign a permission slip for the next day's lessons?

Its tragic that a few fear-mongering zealots have manipulated a group of parents in this way.

As an AISD parent I was never informed that I could keep my kids home to watch President Obama's speech, yet that is what AISD is telling folks today. I checked the website last Friday and saw they were not going to broadcast it but would leave it up to the teachers to "incorporate it into a future lesson plan". We had their permission to keep them home(an excused absence), really?? Sounds like a back pedaling cover up to me!
By the way, not everyone in TX is a redneck, biased or racist!!

Unfortunately, we are surrounded by many ignorant hicks here in Texas. If Tony Romo wanted to speak to students, the schools would probably drop everything to hear whatever he had to say! I am thankful that during the 60's, there were courageous administrators willing to stand up against ignorant, bullying parents who didn't want their children going to school with "colored" children.

As an educator, I could not believe my ears. Since when does the administration say to parents, "You are in charge of curriculum. Therefore, you should decide what is taught to your children."? Sometimes pleasing the community and its biases takes the place of our rational thinking. This not only shows disrespect for the President of the United States, but it says that our future Presidents male or female, don't deserve it either. Our students learn from adults and follow their actions.

As it turns out, the message from our President was watched by more than those who were excused. His message was encouraging and uplifting. Besides that the speech was only 17 minutes.

Educators have spent many years studying what is good for children, certainly they should be able to make the proper call when it comes to respecting the President of the United States.

Since parents have so much power to choose curriculum these days, I've decided to join in by opting my children out of photosynthesis, commas and semi-colons, Presidents with first name of George, and all of algebra, since they will never use it in real life.

Awe! It is a shame that schools have assumed the status as poor role models for our kids. It is our responsibility, as educators, to live, model, and encourage our students to participate in democracy. That all men/women are equal; regardless of their race, creed, or color. Personal feelings are suppose to be far removed from the school environment. Our kids are very observant and attentive to what is being taught right now. In most cases, kids reflect the views, biases and racisim that they are exposed to at home. Furthermore, exposure to schools that perptuates rather than challenge their views, are hindering their develomental process. The world is much bigger than Texas. Our world is forever evolving. The face of our country's leader is evident to that fact. We are America always...

I am an AISD parent. I was never informed that I could keep my kids home to view the president's address. I received no information about the address from the AISD. Not a word was said at my kids' school prior to the address. My fifth grader attends one of the "lucky" 28 elementary schools that was selected to go to the new stadium to hear Mr. Bush speak, but the school has not sent out any information regarding this event. Only one randomly selected home-room class from each of the 28 schools will go to the stadium (this I learned from asking our principal directly after reading an editorial in our local paper). This is ironic in light of the AISD's "concern" not to interrupt classes for Mr. Obama's address: Fifth grade classes in the AISD rotate, so the lesson plans of the entire fifth grade at 28 schools will be interrupted so that some kids can go to the Super Bowl event while the others are "left behind." It is my opinion that the AISD is (unwittingly?) letting its kids become marketing tools for the stadium and the Super Bowl and that the AISD was afraid of damaging its relationship with the stadium rather than avoiding "interrupting" lesson plans to let its students listen to the president's address. I guess I should not be surprised, though, since our elementary school interrupted grades K-6 last year so that Bible-thumping weight-lifters could karate-chop soda cans and bricks to "motivate" the kids (without parental consent).

Historically, students have been allowed to watch current events especially of presidential speeches without consent from parents as part of the curriculum in AISD. And, I am writing this as an employee and former student of the district. What made this time different? We can only speculate. However, I know that the decision to not air the speech has created division in the community that we did not need. The facts, moreover, have not been truthfully presented in regard to parents being informed about the stadium event or the presidential address. And, this is truly sad. At least be honest about the decision. However,until the hearts of men are changed, we will always have this great divide and injustice in our country.

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