Many Metro Students Won't See Obama's Speech | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Many Metro Students Won't See Obama's Speech

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President Barack Obama addressed the country last night about Osama bin Laden's death.

President Obama delivered a back-to-school speech to students this morning emphasizing personal responsibility, but not all Mississippi students got the message. The speech, which was televised and available as a webcast on the White House Web site, had attracted criticism from conservative commentators and politicians who considered it an inappropriate political gesture.

The U.S. Department of Education fueled conservative outcry when it released a suggested lesson plan to accompany the speech that asked students how they could "help the president." The White House revised the lesson plan, however, and the final text of Obama's speech bore no traces of anything resembling controversial politics.

Still, the opposition may have given some districts pause. On Sept. 3, interim State Superintendent of Education John Jordan sent a letter to school districts responding to the "many calls" he had received from school superintendents.

"I encourage you to consider participation and give your students the opportunity to hear the President of the United States deliver a motivational message to help students stay in school," Jordan wrote. "The decision rests entirely with you and your school board as to whether you show the event live, through a delayed recording or not at all."

Jackson Public Schools Superintendent Lonnie Edwards asked principals to make plans for students to watch Obama's address. Many students would watch the speech in class, said director of media relations Peggy Hampton, while others would watch it afterward.

"We're doing our best to make it available where all classes and all students get to see it at some point," Hampton said.

Students in the Madison County Public School District were home today while teachers attended a scheduled professional development program. Assistant to the Superintendent Jennifer Minninger said teachers will have access to the speech when students return tomorrow.

"The president's speech is being taped by our media coordinators at each of the schools," Minninger said. "If the teachers have need of it or want to show it in their classes, it will be available."

In Rankin County, however, students did not view the speech. A call to the Rankin County School District was not immediately returned, but in a statement to The Clarion-Ledger, Superintendent Lynn Weathersby indicated that logistical concerns prevented the district from airing the speech.

In Simpson County, district officials adopted a hands-off policy, allowing individual teachers to decide whether to air the speech. "Our teachers have their own individualized lesson plans, and I'm sure some of them will take advantage of it at a later date, but I'm not sure how many of them had an opportunity to get to it today," said Tom Duncan, director of federal programs for Simpson County schools.

Despite the controversy over his speech, Obama was not the first president to address the nation's students directly. In 1991, George H.W. Bush gave a televised back-to-school speech in which he exhorted students to take control of their own education. Like Obama's speech, Bush's address emphasized individual responsibility and the value of education.

"Education means the difference between a good future and a lousy one," Bush told students at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C.

Three years before Bush's speech, Ronald Reagan set a more politicized precedent with a 1988 speech that repeatedly touted the economic conservatism that Reagan claimed was at the core of the Revolutionary War. Reagan's speech, given in the White House to an audience of students, was also televised and made available to schools afterward. Reagan lauded "America's revolutionary economic message of free enterprise, low taxes, and open world trade" and referred to the Boston Tea Party as "America's original tax revolt."

Previous Comments

ID
151651
Comment

people have gone crazy, banquan. and i mean that literally. the pharmaceutical companies would never go out if the nut jobs of this world would medicate. the next thing you know, school districts will be asking potential hires what their political views are. if they are applying in rankin county, and aren't southern bred, white christian, conservative republicans, then there's no job for them. and i mean that literally, too.

Author
2599
Date
2009-09-08T14:26:43-06:00
ID
151654
Comment

if they are applying in rankin county, and aren't southern bred, white christian, conservative republicans, then there's no job for them. I gather that this is already largely the case in Rankin County. This reminds me of the stories we heard just after the election, when some school officials disciplined black students who were excited about Obama's victory.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-09-08T14:51:38-06:00
ID
151658
Comment

Thank goodness we live in an age of YouTube, C-Span, iPods, and DVR's...

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-09-08T15:39:35-06:00
ID
151663
Comment

My youngest at Clinton JR High said they did not see it today,don't know if they will show it later or not. My oldest at DSU said she watched it on YouTube, she didn't see what everyone was getting their panties in bunch about, said it was the "standard stay in school, you can be what you want be speech"

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-09-08T15:50:48-06:00
ID
151665
Comment

Regardless of which side of the aisle you lean towards, he's been on TV so much, that he's lessened the value of what he has to say. Remember the days when the President was going to be on TV, people planned ahead of time to watch it. Now it's like he's on every week almost like another sitcom.

Author
commonsense
Date
2009-09-08T17:06:41-06:00
ID
151666
Comment

Pretty weird coincidence that the students of Madison County were convienantly out of school on the day Obama broadcasted his speech to the schools. How long ahead of time do teachers have to play for professional development? Or better yet, how long ago did we get the notice that this speech would happen?

Author
Katie G
Date
2009-09-08T17:08:23-06:00
ID
151667
Comment

Baquan: You're a riot. Bubba: I heard that Clinton's problem was timing (speech came during lunch for most kids) and techinical abilities (couldn't broadcast it to everyone without nuking the system). It will be available for later use, I hear.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-09-08T17:16:04-06:00
ID
151671
Comment

Exactly right. Clinton taped the speech and will make copies available for every school to view. We taped it today, and will watch it with our kids after dinner.

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2009-09-08T17:35:51-06:00
ID
151673
Comment

Katie G- the teachers professional development program was most likely scheduled before end the last school year, long before the Prez scheduled his speech. I don't know for sure but I don't think Obama's speech was schedule till a couple of weeks or maybe a month ago.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-09-08T17:48:58-06:00
ID
151674
Comment

What's so sad is that the original homework assignment was considered controversial in some way. I makes one (almost) miss the old days when the president asking kids to "help" him do good things int he country would have been considered honorable and patriotic. I really hate what FOX News, et al., have done to our country. They are ripping us apart in the most unintelligent way. Meantime, we have a president with remarkable intellect, deep faith, endless compassion and very good ideas, and it's turned into a ridiculous circus with a complete lack of respect for the man. And this is led by people who (a) defended Bush for nearly eight years and (b) actually think that Sarah Palin would be a good president. Meanwhile, the primary goal is to protect the power corporations have over all of us. The old story about a camel and a needle comes to mind.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-09-08T19:37:36-06:00
ID
151675
Comment

The other remarkable part is how much power the right wing gives Obama in assuming he can change their children in a short school address. I guess calling on them to to "help" him means they are going to run out and sign up for the communist party?!? Have people lost their friggin' minds? This must be how frustrating it felt back during the McCarthy Era. The relief at Bush being defeated, as well as the Republican Party that nearly ran our country into the ground, is short-lived, considering just how far into lies and deception and pure old racism so many partisan Republicans are willing to go. They want him to fail no matter what -- regardless of whether his ideas are good. They will stop at nothing. Nothing. It is a sad time in America, and the rest of us have to fight back for our country. I feel quite strongly that we're at a defining moment. Are you willing to stand up to the lies?

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-09-08T19:41:25-06:00
ID
151676
Comment

Donna it's not the end of the world. Surely you recall that the Democrats pilloried Regan and Bush the elder when they did the same thing, right down to House and Senate Investigations? It's all sound and fury, signifying nothing. I mean you have to face it: there's going to be a chunk of the population that'll dislike the president. I can recall Bush being compared to Hitler, Regan being mocked... and hey, there's Nixon (who did muck it up) and Ford and Carter. It's normal.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-09-08T19:57:19-06:00
ID
151678
Comment

It's not normal Iron. The rise of conservative talk radio (90+ percent of all talk radio) and stations like FOX news only came about when the Fairness Doctrine was abolished in 1987. I'm not expressing an opinion here about the doctrine itself, but it did require stations to present both sides of controversial issues. That's no longer true. Now "news" stations get to be mouth-pieces for whatever political leaning they want to represent, without telling their viewers about the other side of the equation, or that another side even exists. That kind of "journalism" makes us all stupider and more arrogant about our opinions. Today, right-wing hate-mongering is the only thing that a lot of Americans ever hear or see. That wasn't true in the days of Reagan or Nixon. It's a modern phenomena that doesn't benefit anyone except the stations (and the talking heads) profiting from it. Combine that with the McNews/entertainment mentality of most of the big corporate-owned networks and its the people who are truly getting shafted.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-09-08T20:39:37-06:00
ID
151679
Comment

Ronni: I listen to a lot of that "right-wing hate-mongering" radio as you call it... and I'd have to say there are a much larger number than you think of us that aren't crazy about Obama and didn't like Bush (after he showed more of his spending colors). Folks are simply looking for some middle ground where common sense abounds. I think there's a lot of "hate" on both sides, and I certainly don't think that the "Right" has the corner on that market. For Pete's sake, let's all stop all the yelling and talking heads, and try and find that common ground. The radio market you speak of is a free market. The listeners decide what goes on there by creating a place where the advertisers have a voice. Very much like the JFP. If there wasn't a market for the things they talked about here, they'd be out of business because we wouldn't see the ads that pay the bills. It's not the media that you dislike, it's the message. Talk radio is no different than blogging, TV or anything else, it's just a media to carry the message from one place to another. The bottom line is that there's a big market because people want to listen, just like the JFP has a big market for those who want to read.

Author
commonsense
Date
2009-09-08T20:53:59-06:00
ID
151680
Comment

Donna- has a president asked kids to help "him"do good things for the country before? Kennedy's big speech "was what you can do for your country" not "what you can do for me"

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-09-08T21:35:21-06:00
ID
151681
Comment

I can recall Bush being compared to Hitler, Regan being mocked... and hey, there's Nixon (who did muck it up) and Ford and Carter. The funniest part about that statement is that it indicates that only Nixon mucked it up among the Republicans you named. Did you keep up during the Bush administration!?! As for school-gate, I don't actually remember the Reagan incident being nearly as dramatic as this one. But even if it was, the funny part is that Reagan was blatantly ideological and partisan in his remarks to kids then, and didn't withdraw a thing; meantime, Obama pulled back from saying that kids should help him. And yes he should have said him. I hate to be the bearer of difficult news for some of you -- are y'all sitting down -- Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America. And got more votes than Ronald Reagan. ;-) There's nothing "normal" about the way Obama is being pilloried by the radical right and the people who are blindly following them, just as there is nothing normal about the number of threats against his life that all the fearmongering is conjuring up.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-09-08T22:03:15-06:00
ID
151682
Comment

Donna- has a president asked kids to help "him"do good things for the country before? Kennedy's big speech "was what you can do for your country" not "what you can do for me" The editor in me needs to inform you that "help me" does not mean the same thing as "what you can do for me." Why the witchhunt? This is absurd and disappointing from otherwise intelligent people.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-09-08T22:04:29-06:00
ID
151683
Comment

...Barack Obama is the president of the United States of America. And got more votes than Ronald Reagan. There's nothing "normal" about the way Obama is being pilloried by the radical right and the people who are blindly following them, just as there is nothing normal about the number of threats against his life that all the fearmongering is conjuring up. SING IT, SISTER!!! Thank you!!! My point EXACTLY.

Author
2599
Date
2009-09-08T22:35:29-06:00
ID
151685
Comment

Donna- The editor in you is right. I was just asking you a question, no witchhunt from me, :) I read the speech, it was ok. Why is the Dept of Ed even giving out lesson plans for the speech? They are posted on the website they are harmless but I don't think students should be required to do them or even watch the speech. How do you grade personal opinions?

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-09-08T22:50:38-06:00
ID
151686
Comment

"I feel quite strongly that we are at a defining moment." I wholeheartedly agree with you, Donna. The fact that any American would declare that a speech from the President of the United States was off limits is bizzarre. Racism by any other name is racism. Baquan2000, you are right, too: Fear is the reason for all the fuss. Fear is sly and insidious and disguises itself so skillfully that sometimes when fear takes hold, the one gripped hasn't a clue he/she is fearful. Too, the one thing that W. and Chaney and their clan did really really well was create a climate of partisan divide and hate in our country; it is entrenched and many of their supporters are pouting big time, seizing every opportunity that comes along to puff up their lips. And, from the Rush Limbaugh's, anything is preferable to linking arms with the now Democratically controlled administration. So they feed the pouting and hate. Corporations are looking us in the eyes and picking our pockets and stuffing our money into the pockets of those that can keep them in the driver's seat. So much of the media hasn't a clue. And is lazy. Droning on and on about the miniscule, fiddling. It's a time for Truth, in the spoken and the written word. Truth.

Author
J.T.
Date
2009-09-08T22:51:17-06:00
ID
151687
Comment

J.T.: "The fact that any American would declare that a speech from the President of the United States was off limits is bizarre[e]. Racism by any other name is racism." Interestingly enough, didn't Obama change what he was going to say, after his content of his message was questioned?

Author
commonsense
Date
2009-09-08T23:06:24-06:00
ID
151688
Comment

Did you keep up during the Bush administration!?! Nope, slept through the whole thing. Sorry!

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-09-09T07:41:55-06:00
ID
151689
Comment

Ironghost, apparently, lots of people slept through the Bush Administration: it waterboarded, fired lawyers in justice for political reasons, entered Iraq on lies and started a war without provocation, took the reins off big corporate finance and left it at the trough sucking us dry, and then, as Bush was exiting, he and his finance "WIZARDS" bailed out the suckers and sent their lead guys home with big cash, havihng ignored the injured and dying in N.O. and the coast during Katrina [Good job, Brownie]. I think I've forgotten some stuff but I was in a daze, myself, during the 8 years, in part because I couldn't believe anybody anywhere could support such baseless bald-faced hatefulness and in part because I saw that people around me, many of whom I know and love, did. Thank you, Pres. Obama, for waking us up, regardless of how grouchy we might be now that our eyes are open.

Author
J.T.
Date
2009-09-09T08:01:49-06:00
ID
151690
Comment

How can a group of people have selective hearing when it comes to our President? Surely they listen when they want answers for a bail-out, or tax incentives. So the phrase, "train up a child the way you want him to go", will eventually come back and bite them in the behind. When their children have to respect other authority figures and choose not to,they will see the fruit of their labor come to pass. Children are impressionable and you only get out what you put in.

Author
classy
Date
2009-09-09T08:18:26-06:00
ID
151691
Comment

common, technically, radio and the JFP (print) are indeed different. Radio and television use the public airwaves; we pay a private printer to put the paper out (and we do the same thing online). That said, no one here to my knowledge is saying that the wingnut talkers (or the nutballs on the far left either) don't have the *right* to say what they're saying. They do up until the point they commit libel (or someone has the energy to sue them for it). This isn't a First Amendment issue because the government isn't trying to stop them from saying what they're saying, and no one here is calling for that. So keep that part straight. It's important. Ronni, I and others are challenging people not to believe everything these people say, though. They are outright lying in many instances, which our issue today will really highlight. Lies are never good, and should be called out every time. And, yes, both "sides" lie, but we've never seen anything quite like what we're seeing right now. It's also a good reason to do as many of us do and not choose a side. It's when you choose a side that you become blind to whatever your side is saying, and start mindlessly excusing it by repeating, "both sides do it," "both sides do it," both sides ...." Right now, at this point in history, it's Republicans and the wingnuts they defend and prop up who are being the biggest jerks. If the Republicans reading it decide to take a stand against that (as I have many times against Democrats who do wrong), then you might, just might save your party and turn it back into something to be proud of. Right now, though, not so much. I'm rooting for you, though: Make it happen. If they could end Jim Crow in Mississippi, y'all can remark this mess of a GOP that sold out to bigots back in the '60s and is still trying to sort through that. Be brave. Stand up. Do the right thing.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-09-09T09:10:19-06:00
ID
151692
Comment

common, I don't know who changed what. Seems pretty irrelevant to me. What is not irrelevant is that any education system would hysterically bar the showing of a speech of the sitting President of the United States--be he named Bush, Clinton, Obama, Carter--to a classroom, when the speech was given for the students in our country. It is absurd, bizarre, crazy. Talk about trust issues!!!! Talk about closed mindedness! Talk about paranoia!! Need I go on! I think you have hit the nail on the head, common, in that we need to find common ground. I think what is detering that is that our psyches were infected during the last 8 years with a profound distrust of govt, generally, and, so much of what is going on now, over Obama's speech, is knee-jerk response based on that psychological damage and the expectation that any administration would be as blatantly dis-honest as the administration we suffered for 8 years. One of the jobs we have in America right now is learning to trust govt and not fear it. If these pundits that keep feeding the fear frenzy really loved our country, they would become the bridges that we need.

Author
J.T.
Date
2009-09-09T11:05:31-06:00
ID
151693
Comment

Ironically, some of the people who want us to distrust and fear government are the ones in government!

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-09-09T11:44:04-06:00
ID
151694
Comment

J.T.-What schools barred the showing of the speech? From the atricle it said some were not showing it live, some where taping it to show later, some were taping it a giving teacher the choice to use it, but no where does it say any are out right barring it.

Author
BubbaT
Date
2009-09-09T12:09:44-06:00
ID
151695
Comment

I'd have to say there are a much larger number than you think of us that aren't crazy about Obama and didn't like Bush (after he showed more of his spending colors). Folks are simply looking for some middle ground where common sense abounds. common, I wholeheartedly agree that many of us are looking for common sense in our national policies. I also believe there are plenty of folks who don't like the status of current politics, regardless of party or philosophy. And, regardless of where you stand politically, there's a lot of room for improvement, IMHO. I think there's a lot of "hate" on both sides, and I certainly don't think that the "Right" has the corner on that market. For Pete's sake, let's all stop all the yelling and talking heads, and try and find that common ground. Here's where we part ways, however. Currently, the right is where the fear-mongering is originating, whether you're talking about people like Rush Limbaugh, Anne Coulter, Glen Beck or a host of other "conservative commentators," these people are giving new meaning to low brow, pulling what was once considered radical fringe thinking into the mainstream (like needing to "protect" your children from a presidential speech). The left simply doesn't have anyone to match their vitriolic brand of b.s., which unthinking people consider "the truth." It's not for the most part, and it tends to be a particularly nasty version of attack politics that does nothing but produce more fear and hatred. The radio "free" market is not determined by listener's preferences; it's determined by advertiser's preferences. And the biggest advertising money is in the hands of big business, including health insurance and pharmaceuticals. Market share is determined by who screeches the loudest, getting more people to tune them in. And yes, people tune in, but it seems to me like it's the same reaction as slowing down to gawk at a traffic accident—you just can't help it. And with 91 percent of talk radio dominated by the right, it's awfully hard to ignore.

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-09-09T12:34:01-06:00
ID
151696
Comment

JT, the upcoming comments do not reflect my opinion on any one person in the government just in case you try to label me according to my political allegiance which isn't the issue regardless of where that might be and trust me, it doesn't attach firmly to either side. I don't know why you think it is our job to trust the government! It is my responsibility as a citizen of this country to stay informed on actions taken by elected officials regarding the issues that affect me and my family. To do that, I try to listen to both sides of an issue and that does not mean that by listening to someone or reading something I automatically believe it to be the whole story or even the truth for that matter. The minute we blindly trust someone else to tell us what to think or what is in our best interest is when we are all in deep trouble. The truth always falls somewhere between what the each side is pushing.

Author
jacksonmissmom
Date
2009-09-09T12:34:34-06:00
ID
151699
Comment

Bubba, a mother from Rankin County was on the news last night very upset about her child not getting to see the President's speech. I, therefore, assumed that at least one of the schools in that county had not shown it. Maybe I was wrong, but, regardless, even any school system hesitating to run the speech of the President of the United States who is addressing students speaks volumes. Jacksonmissmom, my comments about lack of trust do not go to my feeling I should be able to abdicate my responsibilities as a citizen to anyone in government. I don't. I think for myself. My comments go to the fact that the Bush administration misled the American people consistently about so many issues that it is likely that at least some of the citizenry has been burned and regardless of their research, find trusting the government, per se, an issue. At some point--though personal responsibility as a voter and a citizen are paramount--trusting our elected officials until they prove they deserve otherwise is an ingredient in the governmental process. If we never trust anybody in government, the system becomes so dysfunctional as to become inoperable. I agree, Jacksonmissmom, if we would all listen and try to become informed and make decisions on our own, we would be better citizens. As you well know, that is hard work and requires one to be willing, on occasion, to take risks and step out of the herd.

Author
J.T.
Date
2009-09-09T14:04:58-06:00
ID
151700
Comment

Trust has to be earned and all that I see, hear and read just proves to me that the government has not done that at this point. There are many things that are broken in our society and I don't look to the government to fix them. Personal responsibility is a great start.

Author
jacksonmissmom
Date
2009-09-09T14:14:28-06:00
ID
151702
Comment

The more I think about it, the more a question comes to mind. Why are these parents so fearful that a 20 minute speech will turn their kids away from the way they think? To me, that is a flagrant showing of their insecurity in their position. Do they somewhere know, deep down, that their ways are destructive, hurtful and outright lies? Do they fear their children will hear the Truth and not love them any more? Do they fear their children will be motivated to learn and surpass them in achievement? Is that not what all parents should want for their kids - to surpass their learning and achievements? ( I mean, keeping your kids out of school an entire day to skip a 20 minute speech reveals they don't care too much for no edumocation. ) How is refusing to let a child hear other points of view preparing them for real life? If they are lies and empty words, do they not trust the kids to be able to tell? Would they not answer any questions the kids had? I really don't understand.

Author
BobbyKearan
Date
2009-09-09T14:27:57-06:00
ID
151703
Comment

And WHY will no news station bring up GHW Bush's "I want you all to write me a letter telling me how you can help us achieve our goals." quote. http://thepublicinterest.freedomblogging.com/2009/09/06/write-me-a-letter-about-ways-you-can-help-us-achieve-our-goals/ http://www.jackrice.org/blog/2009/9/5/write-me-a-letter-about-ways-you-can-help-us-achieve-our-goa.html http://blog.sojo.net/2009/09/08/did-liberals-freak-out-in-91-when-george-hw-bush-asked-school-children-to-help-us-achieve-our-goals/ and where G. Dubya Bush was on 9/11 (indoctrinating second graders)?

Author
BobbyKearan
Date
2009-09-09T14:29:34-06:00
ID
151712
Comment

Jacksonmissmom, you say you don't look to the govt to fix the things broken in society. That "Personal responsibility is a great start." The great irony is the President's speech to the school children of all races was a message of the importance of their own personal responsibility. For on that, after all, is what our future depends. I'm big on personal responsibility. But, it's not either personal responsibility and no govt attention to society's ills or no personal responsibility and govt fix it all. It is both/and: personal responsibility creating a government that functions to address society's ills. Sadly, over the years, oppressed minorities have sometimes been held down with one foot, and kicked with the other, while the one with the foot in the back shouted: "personal responsibility." Of course, that is not the vein in which you use the phrase; nor I; nor President Obama. And, that was the exquisite beauty of that message of personal responsibility in his speech. He changed a paradigm!

Author
J.T.
Date
2009-09-09T16:29:07-06:00

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