Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Tue, Jan. 21

Editorial: Current culture clouds big speech

Well, local school superintendents in Prescott, Chino Valley and the Humboldt Unified School District in Prescott Valley have decided they're not going to air President Barack Obama's Tuesday address to American school students.

And fur is flying on every front about it.

A poll taken Friday indicates that 60 percent of Americans agree with the superintendents' decision not to air the speech.

Many others are saying it's a partisan move, some say it's racist, and everyone is invoking the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

The whole affair seems to be generating more heat than light, and that seems to result from the country's totally polarized political climate. Everything the president or the loyal opposition does these days has at least a perceived political component if not a substantive one.

Whether the President's address at one time included political advocacy, we'll never know. They are going to release the text Monday night before the Tuesday speech, but the furor started Wednesday. If it had any objectionable material in it, and we're not making an accusation - just stating a fact - it certainly would be gone by Monday night.

The lesson plan that came with speech is public knowledge and is available on dCourier.com. Although one could construe it to seek adulation for Obama, the more disturbing aspect is the fact it has little to do with enhancing understanding of the office or critical thinking - not to mention that the White House would presume to drop this in overworked teachers' laps. It's also a bit difficult to produce anything that serves as a one-size-fits-all for kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

Yes, the White House says it's completely voluntary, but the mere fact it comes from the White House carries an imperative note.

The First Amendment argument carries to a point, but school superintendents have an obligation to prescreen material they present to the students - even if it comes from the president. And in this day of cyberspace, no one is going to miss out on the speech if they didn't get it at school.

We certainly have much ado, but we'll have to wait until Monday night to see what it's all about.

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