President Obama to address school kids

September 4, 2009 5:38:58 PM PDT
On Tuesday, President Obama will address a different crowd -- school kids. The topic is about education and the importance of staying in school. Still, in some parts of the nation, and even here in the Bay Area, the president's speech is drawing criticism from some parents.

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Teachers in Danville and San Ramon have been told by the district it's up to them to decide if they want to show President Obama's speech in the classroom.

The decision by the San Ramon Valley School District was made after a few parents complained.

"They, by in large, don't want to have their children indoctrinated, is kind of the word we are hearing a lot. And we are giving them the option to keep their kids at home," said Terry Koehne with the San Ramon Valley School District.

The White House says the speech will focus on improving education in America.

The president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten, was on KGO's the "Ronn Owens Show." She stands behind the president.

"What he is saying to kids is that we want you to take responsibility for your own education too," said Weingarten.

But critics see it more as a political speech and inappropriate for kids.

"We don't believe in a lot of his policies and I really don't know what the discussion would be after the presentation in the classroom and I don't know how they would respond because of the things we discuss at home, so I wouldn't bring them," said parent Angela Bullard.

Overnight, it's turned into a prickly topic in Danville and other cities.

"I think Bush and previous presidents have talked to children about working hard and not taking drugs and being good students. I think that's one of the things a president should be doing," said parent Simon Cowie.

The speech is expected to last about 20 minutes. After that, teachers can download lesson plans from the Department of Education's website. By the way, those lesson plans have also toned down after criticism from a few parents.

For example, students were initially encouraged to write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. That's now been changed to write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.

The White House has promised to release a transcript of the president's speech 24 hours before it airs, to appease parents and school districts.

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