I'm not much of a diary guy, most of mine are bombs. Finally I got mad and took some action. I wrote this letter to my local School District - Dripping Springs Independent School District near Austin Texas.
They are not showing Obama's education speech in school, other than letting teachers in social studies or civics classes show them if they want to. This is only for the 11:00 Central time classes. So almost no students will see the speech. I doubt any teacher will dare show the speech. This is not acceptable.
I am organizing a viewing party so parents that want to can come with their student to watch the speech live, and we can do it together. People theaten a boycott of school if they show it. Well, I am threatening a boycott if they don't!
Below is the Letter I sent the school board. I will include emails and numbers so you can help and contact them and show them what patriotic Americans that care about education can do.
Dear DSISD School Board Members and Superintendent Herrick,
This statement is directly for the DSISD Website:
In a letter received last week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stated the following, "President Obama announced that on September 8 – the first day of school for many children across America – he will deliver a national address directly to students on the importance of education. The President will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens."
We have received a number of inquiries about whether President Obama’s speech to the schoolchildren of America next week will be available in Dripping Springs ISD. Due to the logistics of making a web cast available during that time of the school day and the belief that our limited time with students must be focused on our curriculum and instruction, teachers will not be required to show the address. However, Dripping Springs ISD will treat this address like any other national news event and allow individual teachers to determine whether or not their class will view the speech if it aligns to the curriculum and is timely.
We expect all students to attend school on September 8, just like every other school day; however, we want to make sure we are protecting our parents’ rights by allowing them to exclude their children from this activity if that is their wish. Any person who objects to their child viewing the Presidential address may request that they be excused from the activity by contacting their child’s teacher or campus. For parents who would like to view the speech with their children, a downloadable video will be made available after the speech at http://www.whitehouse.gov/...
What this says to me is that if I don't want my child to hear the speech to be given by President Obama, I can take my son out of class, but if I WANT to have my child hear him, I will probably have to do it on my computer at home, outside of school.
The School District has totally capitulated to the politics of this issue. I view the School Board and the Superintendent as very weak on this stated resolution of the presentation of the speech. This is the President of the United States of America giving a speech to schoolchildren about education. This has not happened since President George H.W. Bush gave a similar speech on October 1st, 1991 from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C. Here is the link from the Bush Presidential Library for the text of the speech:
This is by any standard, an historic speech that relates directly to my child's educational well being. How can a speech about education by the President of the United States of America not "align to the curriculum and be timely"?
I spoke with Principal Hays at the Meet the Teacher night at DSMS. He told me that, to paraphrase, (I don't want to be accused of misquoting), the state requires that we teach the curriculum and comply with TAKS regulations about subject matter, and therefore the School could not take the time to provide an assembly to watch the speech or broadcast it in all the classrooms. He also said that those students not in a class where politics, civics, and education are not being presented at the time of the speech will not get to hear it. The appropriate classes, i.e. social studies, humanities, civics and history, would cover a very small portion of DSISD students at 11:00. My son does not have such a class at this hour.
I sincerely doubt that in the entire school year one hour of time dedicated to a discussion about education and civics with encouragement from the President of the United States of America would violate state law in any way or have the District fall short of its required TAKS teaching hours. If this is the case, the District leadership really is quite powerless, isn't it?
I am requesting that the School Board and Superintendent Herrick reconsider this decision. Are you making sure you are protecting your parents' rights to allow them to INclude their children in this activity of they wish? The leaders of DSISD have shuttled the responsibility not just down to the Principals of the various campuses, but all the way to the classroom teachers to deal with angry parents from both sides of this issue. This implication to the teachers is to avoid alleged controversy by not showing the speech. Under the current circumstances, this is a very weak display of leadership.
I want to include my child in this activity. I very strongly request that my child be included in this activity.
I would suggest any of the following accommodations be made in order to give fair time to parents that want to have their children participate in this event, listed in order of my preference.
- Have an assembly for the entire school body to hear and discuss President Obama's speech. Those parents wishing to exclude their children may retain their children in the assigned classes or in another assembly, perhaps to discuss civics and education for an hour without the influence of the President of the United States of America.
- Present the speech in each classroom, with those declining participation the same option as #1.
- Take those children whose parents directly request participation in the speech event to an assembly, perhaps in the library or computer lab to see the speech on the White House website. http://www.whitehouse.gov/...
This might be an opportunity to allow those parents interested in having their children participate to come to school and join in the discussion. That would eliminate the accusation made by some that parents would not know what is being presented in the speech.
- Allow individual students access to the speech in class, in the library, or the computer lab.
- Maintain the current policy in regards to this issue, and deny these children the opportunity to see this speech live and with other students to discuss these issues and educational priorities.
- Have my child see this speech outside of school time.
Option 6 is not acceptable. I find option 5 very problematic. Certain persons in the media have encouraged a boycott of school on the day of the speech. This could strike fear into the hearts of any School District that receives state and federal monies based on attendance. I feel that if option 5 is maintained that I would be forced to hold my child out of school until after the speech, so that he may participate in the live presentation. I for one will not be denied this opportunity because of a baseless accusation from the chair of the GOP party of Florida.
I will be forwarding this letter to the parents of every DSISD school child I am able to. I will copy this letter to Principal Hays. I will forward this letter to the Dripping Springs and Hays County Democrats and seek their support. I will forward this letter to the Dripping Springs Century-News, the Dripping Springs News Dispatch, the Austin American Statesman. It will be posted on Daily Kos, the largest political group blog in the USA, and it will be sent to the Huffington Post, another widely read national news and political blog. I will also forward this letter to the White House.
Please respond by Monday, September 7th. I will be reserving a space so as to invite other parents interested in sharing this important event live with their children. I need to know if such a space will be necessary. I imagine quite a number of parents might be interested in participating.
I understand that keeping my child out of school for three hours is a decision not to be taken lightly. I will not allow political expediency by the DSISD Schoolbord to deny my son the opportunity to hear the President of the United States of America give a speech about as important a subject as education, which after all, is Drippings Springs Independent School District's primary business and responsibility. The speech by the President of the United States of America, and the resulting civics and education discussion and follow up work suggested by the Department of Education will be a rich learning experience for any DSISD student wishing to participate, and I hope many will.
DSISD Board Phone 512.858.3002
Board members: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Superintendent Mard Herrick Phone 512.858.3002
School Principal Blake Hays Phone: 512.858.3400