Public school students to watch President’s taped speech Wednesday

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Upon reviewing that the content of President Barack Obama’s education speech to school children was “relevant and appropriate,” Superintendent Harry La Cava said today he will allow Indian River County School District students to view the address during first period on Wednesday. The announcement came shortly after the superintendent met with protestors and with a council of advisors and moments before the president began his speech.

“The Superintendent and his leadership team reviewed the transcript when it became available and agree that it is educationally relevant and appropriate for our students,” the school district said in a release Tuesday afternoon.

Parents who choose not to have their students watch the 18-minute address may either ask the school that their student not be in the classroom at that time or choose to drop their students off at school after the first period. Dr. La Cava met with the Gifford Pastoral Association Tuesday morning, around the time a protest was occurring outside the district offices. The group asked that he reverse his decision made last week not to show the speech aimed at students nationwide to encourage them to take responsibility for their education and stay in school.

“While, we believe that the speech is appropriate and relevant, we also believe that it would not be prudent to reverse the decision at this late date and broadcast the speech live, considering that we had already communicated to parents that we would not do so,” the district said in a released statement shortly after noon Tuesday. “Because of the timing of the release of the transcript, and the disruption to the school day if the decision was reversed now, we stand by our decision to tape the live broadcast and show it to our students on Wednesday, Sept. 9, like many school districts in the State of Florida and the nation are planning to do.”

The speech will be aired in its entirety during all first period classes, at every school. Every student will have the opportunity to view it at that time. For elementary students, the time will be 9:20 a.m. For middle school students, the time will be 8:10 a.m. For high school students, the time will be 7:40 a.m.

School officials had said that their policies required the district to review the speech prior to airing it in order to determine whether or not the content was relevant to the schools’ lesson plans.

They cited not having enough lead time to review the speech as the speech was not available to administrators until Monday, which was a federal holiday. However, the White House notified schools across the country on Wednesday, Sept. 2, that the president planned to address students at noon on Tuesday.

Even though White House officials did not have the speech’s script at that time, they did tell schools that the president’s message was one of encouragement in hopes of inspiring students to excel at school and set and attain their goals.

“Realizing that this is a controversial issue, and knowing that it is important to respect the viewpoints of the entire community, the Superintendent consulted with the School Board attorney, and decided in the best interest of all students and families, not to broadcast the speech live on Tuesday, but instead, air it on Wednesday,” the school district said. “It would also be broadcast on the Education Channel, Comcast Cable Channel 28.”

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