St. Paul school named for Obamas did not show Obama’s speech today


Students at a St. Paul school recently renamed for President and First Lady Obama did not see the president’s address to the nation’s school children today. The plan is to show it later in the week.

Like other schools in the St. Paul district, Tuesday was the first day back for students at what used to be Webster Magnet Elementary. New pencils, new clothes, new teachers … and a new school name: Barack and Michele Obama Service Learning Elementary.

At the end of last school year, the St. Paul school board voted to rename Webster after the Obamas, not quite four months into the president’s term. (The one vote against the name change came from Tom Conlon, the board’s lone Republican member, who has since resigned.)

So last week when ire began to be heard from some quarters in Minnesota and across the country over the president’s plan to speak to students, the Minnesota Independent was curious about plans for the speech at Barack and Michele Obama Service Learning Elementary.

Principal Lori Simon didn’t return messages, but today district spokesman Howie Padilla called with news that although some schools showed Obama’s speech live this morning or replayed it on tape this afternoon, Barack and Michele Obama Service Learning Elementary was not one of those schools.

As at Minneapolis Public Schools, the decision of whether and when to show the speech was left to principals and teachers in St. Paul schools, Padilla said. (A typical example may be Paul and Sheila Wellstone Elementary, where a receptionist told MnIndy that people in the school office weren’t sure which teachers had opted to use the speech in class.)

And also as in Minneapolis, viewing via the internet was discouraged for fear of swamping the St. Paul district’s servers, Padilla said.


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