Schools across Wisconsin could broadcast a video message on education from President Obama Tuesday. The speech has drawn fire because the White House included educational materials urging kids to make suggestions to help the president. That idea was later scrapped, but critics accused the Democrat Obama of trying to indoctrinate youngsters.
Concerned parents have been calling their school districts and the office State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater). Spokesman Mike Mikalsen says Representative Nass is concerned about parents’ rights and whether students can opt out of the discussion.
Janesville School Officials say teachers may show the speech in class but only if parents are notified, so children can opt out.
Elmbrook Superintendent Matt Gibson says most parents that contacted him say they’d keep their kids home if the address was shown live. Gibson says he would archive the address and teachers can show it in their classrooms later.
Milwaukee school spokeswoman Rosanne Saint Aubin says Obama will put out a positive message that will encourage kids to stay in school. She says teachers will decide for themselves whether to show it live.
In Green Bay, parents can let their kids opt-out of the speech and teachers can archive it and show it later if they choose. Meanwhile, Madison school officials say they’ll let kids leave their classrooms without a penalty if they don’t want to watch it.
The White House claims the address is focused exclusively encouraging children to stay and excel in school. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs says the criticism reflects “silly season.”
Beth Wheelock-WCLO contributed to this report