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Columbia Public Schools to air Obama's student message Sept. 14

Wednesday, September 8, 2010 | 5:43 p.m. CDT; updated 6:24 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 8, 2010

COLUMBIA — Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Chris Belcher said Wednesday in a news release that President Barack Obama's speech to students next Tuesday will be made available in all the district's schools.

The speech may be shown live or may be taped and shown at a later date, depending on when the president delivers it, according to the release from Columbia Public Schools. Details had not yet been finalized by the White House, according to the release.

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As reported previously by the Missourian, President Obama spoke last fall to students across the country. Some conservatives criticized the president for deciding to speak directly to students, calling the speech an effort at indoctrination.

The Columbia school district received some phone calls from parents who had "questions or concerns" about the speech, Michelle Baumstark, the district's community relations coordinator, said at the time. Teachers were required to let parents know if they planned to show the speech to classes, and viewing was not mandatory.

Last year, six out of 21 of Chad Bass's fifth-grade class at Parkade Elementary School did not watch the speech. 

"I didn't receive complaints from parents, but the kids who didn't watch the speech just forgot to bring their permission slips home," he told the Missourian last year.

"We support the president talking about doing well in school," Belcher said in Wednesday's release. "We know this may be politicized, but as a public school district we believe it is important to provide the opportunity for students to hear the president's message."

Parents can choose to have their children participate in some other activity while the speech is being shown, according to the release.


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