Red Wing, Z-M won't broadcast Obama speech liveGoodhue County school leaders aren't concerned that President Barack Obama's upcoming education speech will involve political undertones.
By: Mike Longaecker, The Republican Eagle
Goodhue County school leaders aren't concerned that President Barack Obama's upcoming education speech will involve political undertones.
But that doesn't mean all administrators will allow the speech to play live in classrooms, as the president wants.
Obama will address the nation's students at 11 a.m. Tuesday. The White House says the message will center on urging students to take personal responsibility for their education and setting goals.
School officials in Red Wing and in Zumbrota-Mazeppa schools will be recording the speech and screening it before students can watch.
Red Wing Supt. Stan Slessor said that despite what he expects to be "a pretty darn good message for kids," he is requiring principals to tape the speech before teachers can play it.
Some parents have called with concerns that the speech will involve a political message, he said.
"There is a certain political division in this country," Slessor said. "Some will be welcoming, some will be skeptical."
The timing of the speech, Slessor said - it falls on Day 1 for most Minnesota schools - makes accommodating the event difficult. He said principals will have discretion over replaying the speech after it's been screened.
At the Zumbrota-Mazeppa School District, the speech will be recorded to disc. Staff may be able to show it at a later date, Supt. Richard Meyerhofer said.
If they do, staff must give advance notice to parents, he said, noting he also has heard concerns from parents. Like Slessor, Meyerhofer doubted the content of the speech will be controversial, but said he based the decision on recommendations from associations representing superintendents and school boards.
"Unfortunately we have to worry that it turns into a political football game," Meyerhofer said.
Students in Goodhue, Lake City and Cannon Falls will be able to watch the speech live if they wish.
Lake City Supt. Craig Junker said he is not under the impression the speech will present a political agenda, but plans to review an advance copy on Monday.
"We don't think there's any kind of indoctrination here of liberal values," he said.
Still, Junker said he understands how accommodating the speech will be difficult for many schools on their first of the school year.
"That's asking a lot for schools, quite frankly," he said. Lake City started classes one week ahead of other Minnesota schools.
Lake City teachers can choose whether or not to televise the speech in classrooms, he said.
Goodhue students in grades 7 through 12 will be allowed to watch the speech, Supt. Bob Bangtson said. There will be an "opt-out" room for students who object, he said.
The speech will be available to all Cannon Falls students, Supt. Todd Sesker said. It will be taped, too.
"We believe it's a classroom decision and we will not be censoring a legitimate instructional choice," he said.
If teachers choose to replay the speech later on, Cannon Falls teachers must notify parents ahead of time, he said.