Tosa students won't view Obama speech live

Sept. 4, 2009

Wauwatosa students won't view President Barack Obama's speech to schoolchildren live on Tuesday, but teachers may show the address at a later date, a school district spokesman said.

Teachers planning to show the speech will notify students' parents in advance, said spokesman Chris Preisler.

"(Superintendent) Dr. (Phil) Ertl has said the district will tape the broadcast so that teachers can view later to determine whether they want to use it or not in their classrooms," Preisler said in an e-mail. "If teachers choose to use it, parents/guardians will be notified prior to showing the video, and if parents/guardians do not want their child to view it, an alternate assignment will be found."

Wauwatosa is at least the second area school district to decide not to allow students to watch the speech live. The Elmbrook School District is taking the same step after school officials heard from parents who said they would pull their children out of class if the program aired.

The 15-20 minute speech, aimed at America's classrooms, will be shown live on television and online at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Education said the speech will be about working hard in school, setting educational goals and taking responsibility for learning.

Critics have argued that the speech and suggested accompanying activities represent an attempt to indoctrinate students. In response, some districts have agreed not to show the speech at all, or only to show it after school administrators can review the content.

For Wauwatosa, the decision had to do with how classroom time is used, Preisler said.

"Dr. Ertl made the decision based on student learning and how instructional time is utilized throughout the district. The decision to tape the video was made to make sure the school day and instructional time is not disrupted," he said. "If teachers feel the speech can add to the curriculum in their classroom they can integrate the video into their lessons."

For more information about the speech, including a link to the live Web cast, visit


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