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Tue, Jan. 21

Districts let teachers decide if they will air Obama's 2nd back-to-school speech Tuesday

Local public school officials are leaving it up to teachers whether to watch President Barack Obama's back-to-school speech this morning, Sept. 14.

The president's first back-to-school speech in 2009, which encouraged students to study hard and stay in school, caused controversy throughout the country, as well as locally.

None of the three local school districts showed Obama's speech in 2009 because of concerns about the accompanying lesson plans, lack of technology to stream the speech live or district procedures regarding classroom speakers.

Not much has changed this year. Prescott, Chino Valley and Humboldt school districts will not stream the speech live.

However, teachers have the option to show the president's speech in their classrooms.

"Some PUSD teachers may be showing President Obama's speech in their classroom, if it directly correlates to curriculum and/or student learning," PUSD Superintendent Dave Smucker said. "To do so, they must receive principal approval. Parents may choose to opt out of having their children view the President's speech. If they do so, the child will receive an alternative appropriate lesson."

CVUSD Superintendent Duane Noggle told The Daily Courier he had not heard anything about Obama's speech.

However, Noggle indicated that if a teacher wants to, he or she "may use the speech as part of their lesson. We are not requiring it be shown nor are we denying its use as part of a lesson plan. Teachers will make the decision as to the appropriateness of inclusion in lesson planning."

At Kestrel High School, Principal Sue Foglia's American History and government teachers will show the speech as part of their lesson plan.

American History teacher Rick Derman said it is important for students "to know where we all come from. At the beginning of the year, I do a genealogy unit that shows students their families come from all over the country and the world. They may live in a small town in Arizona, but they are connected to the rest of the country."

According to Derman, many students are considering entering the military and "unless they understand the Constitution and the freedoms we enjoy, they are missing something."

Derman noted that part of becoming a responsible citizen is keeping up with current events and speeches.

"Today's event is tomorrow's history," he explained.

For some school districts, public and charter, the decision to stream the president's speech is a matter of available technology, or the lack of it.

At Mountain Oaks Charter School, Principal Cindy Roe said the school does not have the necessary equipment to show the speech to every class.

"Last year, the eighth graders watched the speech on two computers and we crowded as many other students into the classrooms as possible. We have no plans to show the speech school-wide. We don't have the technology; we don't have televisions," Roe said.

HUSD does not have the technology to "stream live the President's back-to-school address," reported Mariela Bean, the district's public relations director.

"Teachers who wish to do so may tape it and use it within the content of academic standards and student learning," she noted.

An employee at Prescott Valley Charter Schools indicated that the schools would not show the president's speech. The Daily Courier was unable to reach school officials for further comment.

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