Schools deal with hype around speech


The hype surrounding President Barack Obama’s address to students nationwide today did little to change
the daily routine at schools around Wood County.
In many cases, local high schools had neither the plans — nor the technology — to show the address.
But Perrysburg School District gave a limited number of teachers the option to show Obama’s address,
which was at noon via Web broadcast.
Superintendent Tom Hosler had his opinion posted on the district’s Web site — as well as the full text of
the president’s speech — and made recommendations to building principals leading up to today’s
controversial back-to-school address to students.
Teachers in grades 1-5 could show Obama’s speech if they wanted, but only social studies teachers in
grades 6-12 could do so.
“We didn’t want to come in and tell the teachers they had to do it or not,” Hosler said this morning.
Parents were given the option to have their students removed from a class where the address was going to
be shown, he added.
Hosler added that he had several parents call, concerned that the president was trying to indoctrinate
their children.
He tried to put it in perspective for them. “We’ve been trying to indoctrinate kids to put their names on
the top of homework assignment for years, and we’re just not that good,” he stated with more than a
touch of humor. To think students will remember Obama’s address in five or six years, and vote a certain
way — he said he didn’t think parents needed to be concerned.
Bowling Green High School Principal Jeff Dever sent an e-mail to parents pointing out that while he
didn’t consider this a controversial topic, he had a number of inquiries to the contrary.
“I have instructed those teachers who plan to view the speech to exempt those students who do not wish to
view the speech and give those students a parallel assignment,” Dever wrote. “Please talk to your
student and make your own choice.”
There was no plan to show to speech to the entire student body, nor were students able to get out of
class to watch the speech. There are only two cable outlets in the schools, with one in the teacher’s
“I think that viewing the speech may benefit students, (however) I do not want to do anything to alienate
the beliefs held by some of our families,” Dever concluded.
Obama’s back-to-school address, from a high school in Arlington, Va., touched on teachers’ responsibility
to push students to learn, parents’ responsibility to make sure their children stay on track, and the
government’s responsibility to support schools and set high standards.
At Penta Career Center in Perrysburg, “We’re going to be taping that then having that available to
teachers” to show to their classes at a later date, if they want, said high school Director Jeff Kurtz
this morning.
Students whose teachers planned to show the tape could choose to opt out of the class during that time,
he added.
He said he had a few telephone calls from parents asking what the school’s plans were.
According to Lake High School Principal Marty Schloegl, four or five parents called asking about the
school’s plans, but “it comes down to, we really don’t have the capabilities with our technology up
Students at Lake who want to watch the address will have to do so at home, same for Eastwood students and
even Northwood students, who aren’t in school today because of a teacher in-service.
At Otsego High School, Principal Ray Graves expected the three televisions in the Commons lunch area to
be tuned to SportsCenter at noon. The school librarian planned to tape the broadcast, he said, in case
teachers wanted to add it to their lesson plans. Students would be able to opt out of watching it in
that instance, Graves added.

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