Oklahoma Schools Prepare For President Obama's Address To Students

Thursday, September 3rd 2009, 5:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Dan Bewley and Terry Hood, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- President Barack Obama's plan to address the country's school children has some groups worried about politics making their way into the classroom. 

Tulsa Public Schools' Superintendent, Dr. Keith Ballard, says parents who don't want their children to watch have every right to opt out. 

But he says the speech is a great chance for kids to hear the importance of an education. 

"We need everybody to say to the students education is terribly important and you need to stay with it," said Tulsa Public Schools superintendent Dr. Keith Ballard. 

Dr. Ballard says Tulsa Public Schools is ready for next weeks speech by President Obama to be broadcast live to schools across the country.

"It's an address, actually, to students, encouraging them to take their education seriously, become intellectually challenged, find their own challenges," said Christen McDermott, Social Studies Curriculum Specialist with Tulsa Public Schools.

The district has decided to incorporate the president's speech during some social studies classes at Central High School. 

But Dr. Ballard says parents can opt out of letting their children take part.

"This is a thirty minute exercise and if you don't want your child to participate in the exercise, ask for an alternate assignment," Dr. Keith Ballard said. 

As part of the speech the U.S. Department of Education has passed on suggestions for teachers to ask their students, such as "What can students do to help in our schools?" or "Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials?" or "What new ideas and actions is the president challenging me to think about?" 


The News On 6 checked with three other Tulsa area school districts. Union Public Schools reminds parents they can also opt out of any lesson plans.  Jenks Public Schools says it's only using the U.S. Department of Education suggestions as a guideline.  And Broken Arrow Public Schools is encouraging concerned parents to contact their child's school principal. 

Although this is not the first presidential address to school kids, Tulsa Public Schools is aware of some complaints that the speech will be a politicized school lesson.  But they say, students won't see it that way and instead, they'll be thankful the president spoke directly to them. 

"I think kids are a lot more balanced and keyed in to the community than we give them credit for," said Christen McDermott. 

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