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Teachers given discretion about Obama address

By Staff | Sep 5, 2009

Estherville Lincoln Central teachers who want to have their class listen to President Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday will have the option to do so.

However, ELC superintendent Dick Magnuson said parents who don’t want their child(ren) to hear it may opt out of it.

“It’s up to the teacher’s discretion to listen to it,” he said. “But we’re not using any of the materials from the (U.S.) Department of Education.

“We look at it as a motivational issue-to motivate young kids to do well in school and graduate,” he said.

Magnuson said it’s not unusual for presidents to meet with children.

He noted that George Bush Sr. addressed school children. Also, George W. Bush was reading to children when the Sept. 11 attacks occurred.

The talk is scheduled to be 15 to 20 minutes.

The Spirit Lake School District is handling the situation similar to ELC.

High school principal Steve Ratzlaff said as an historical event, the speech is important to social studies classes, but there are no plans for the entire student body to view it.

“Individual teachers have the option to show and we will make students aware of the broadcast,” said Ratzlaff.

For parents who don’t want their children to view Obama, Ratzlaff said it’s always been a school policy to let them opt out of an activity they feel is not right for their child.

Instead they would be given an alternative assignment related to the activity, but they wouldn’t have to be where the speech is being viewed.

Calls to the Armstrong-Ringsted and Graettinger/Terril school districts on Friday indicated neither school had plans to listen to Obama.