Thursday, September 3, 2009

Round Rock (oops, Christian Academy) says "No thanks" to Obama's Kiddie Speech

Update: I posted what I thought was an email from Round Rock ISD, but is in fact from Round Rock Christian Academy, a private school in Round Rock:

Dear Parents,
We have had several questions asking whether our classes will view President Obama's speech that is intended for students across America. While I want our students to respect the office and the President, we feel this is a parent's decision whether or not they want their child to view this speech. Therefore, we will not be broadcasting this speech in our classrooms on Tuesday, September 8th.
Susan Owen

Leander ISD is bowing out (along with many ISDs in Texas), and unfortunately Round Rock ISD may still be showing the Obama speech. AISD has left it up to principals and teachers.

If you want to watch the speech with your kids, it will be available at CSPAN and

Gov Perry raises Federalism and parental rights concerns over the speech:
“While President Obama talking directly to school children could be a memorable moment in their young lives, I am troubled that local school boards and superintendents were not involved in the process. State law gives parents the discretion over whether they think this is appropriate for their children. I hope schools will provide a suitable alternative for students not participating in this event. I also hope that this is not an indication of the federal government further encroaching on states’ authority over education.”

The point on parental rights and failure to involve school boards is well taken. Showing the Obama speech in Texas classrooms without giving parents notice and opportunity to opt out is a violation of Texas law. A helpful school board member directed me here:

TX Education Code - Chapter 26 deals with parental rights.

26.001 - Parents are PARTNERS in their education and should be encouraged to actively participate in creating and implementing programs for their children. No opportunity for parental involvement has been offered.

26.006 - Access to teaching materials - parents haven't been given access to this speech to review it to determine if it's appropriate for their child. Teaching unreviewed materials is likely a violation of Texas law. Subsection (b) provides that the district must make the materials available for your review. Ask them to provide you with an advance copy of the speech! Make this request IN WRITING!

26.010 - Exemption from Instruction - parents must be given an opportunity to opt-out of any school activity that conflicts with the parent's religious or moral beliefs. You need to deliver a written statement -- and they'll have to pull your kid out of class. Suggest that they offer an alternative, like studying the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution!

As for RRISD, policy EMB - instruction of controversial issues - teachers must be well-informed of the areas being taught. Since the speech isn't available for teacher review, how can they be well-informed? Also requires that they are CERTAIN (emphasis on that word) that the material is appropriate. Again - how can they be CERTAIN?

TASB policy on controversial topics.
The bottom line is this: Given the logistics involved of handling parental requests on such short notice, and the failure of the Obama administration to provide text of the speech prior to ensure it is not controversial, it is likely that any school district that puts this speech in their classrooms without giving ample opportunity for parents to opt out will be violating Texas law!

And in the 'my how the tables turn' Dept, quote from the Democrats complaining about a 1991 speech:
“The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students,” House Majority Leader Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said. “And the president should be doing more about education than saying, ‘Lights, camera, action.’ “

UPDATE: AISD cops out - they won't show it district-wide but leave it to principals and teachers.


Freedom Ain't Free said...

So, Congressman Carter was correct tonight when he told us at the RNHA meeting that RRISD was still going to show Obama's speech live in classrooms.

You can really depend on those true conservatives in Congress, like Congressman John Carter, to shoot straight with you and be informed.

Anonymous said...

Yes, he was right. I am doubly disturbed. First that I was wrong in interpreting what Round Rock school that came from and put out bad info, and second that my kids are now in this situation which - as I show above is likely a VIOLATION of state law!

They have NOT informed me as a parent of this and given me the oppty to have my kids opt out.