School districts in Southern Colorado are considering their options on whether or not to participate in President Barack Obama's controversial nationally televised address to students next week.
The White House and the education department are encouraging schools to show the president's speech in their classes as it airs live next Tuesday on C-SPAN and the White House website. Students are also requested to write essays about the speech.
Critics call the speech indoctrination, and argue that the classroom isn't the place for a policy speech.
Administrators in Harrison District 2, and Colorado Springs District 11 are discussing today how they plan to approach the presidents request. No official plans have been made, but it's been suggested that parents and students will have the option to not participate.
Greg Sinn, spokesperson for Pueblo City Schools says each school in the district will have the discretion to air the speech or not. He added that it will not be mandatory that students participate.
Sinn further called the speech a "terrific opportunity for students." "For the first time in history the President will speaking directly to students," Sinn said.
However, principals of schools in Pueblo County's District 70 have been instructed not change their regular classroom content to accommodate the president.
"If parents and kids want to hear the speech they can do it at home later on," said assistant superintendent Ed Smith.
Elementary schools are scheduled to be closed in Academy District 20 on Tuesday. Spokesperson Nannette Anderson said administrators are working to finalize plans on how they will handle the speech for their middle and high school students.
Dr. Mary Guinn, deputy superintendent of Falcon School District 49, says each principal in their district will have the discretion of whether to show the speech or not.
"We are asking that if they decide to show the speech that students be given an option not to participate and that parents be notified," Guinn added.
Widefield District 3 communications director James Drew says it's their intention to have a regular school day next Tuesday but that teachers will have the option to show the speech so long as it is relevant to planned classroom activities.
Teachers in District 3 who plan to show the speech will be asked to send home a note to parents and provide an opt out option for students. Students who choose to opt out will be given an academically appropriate activity.
Drew added that many Widefield schools may end up not showing the speech live simply because of technical set backs. Not every classroom has a TV with cable, satellite or internet service. He says the district plans to make archive recordings of the speech and to make the DVD available to students to use during non-instructional time.