Under pressure, Becker schools decide not to air Obama speech live


The Becker School District in central Minnesota’s Sherburne County will be joining schools in the Fergus Falls area in tape-delaying President Obama’s speech to students on Tuesday morning, according to a memo from superintendent Steven Dooley. In the memo, received by a teacher in the district and forwarded by a reader, Dooley acknowledges that the “political climate of the nation” as well as phone calls he received from district parents contributed to the decision. While Dooley didn’t overtly prohibit teachers from showing the speech, he wrote, “we need to be on the same page on this,” adding that Obama’s speech will be taped and “made available to buildings for showing at the appropriate time and after parents have been informed and offered and [sic] opportunity to opt out.”

“Late notice” of the president’s speech “makes preparation and parent notification difficult,” he wrote.

Dooley has not responded to the Minnesota Independent’s email and voicemail messages requesting comment.

While the Minnesota Association of School Administrators recommends against the first day of school being disrupted by Obama’s address, the Associated Press reports, the state’s biggest teachers union is urging teachers to show it. Education Minnesota president Tom Dooher issued a statement that, in part, reads, “The education of our students shouldn’t become a partisan pawn for those who are trying to score political points against the president. Politics is often just the issue of the day. Our students’ opportunities, or lack thereof, can impact them for a lifetime.”

Read the memo:

A late notice has arrived that President Obama will be addressing the nation’s school children at 11:00 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8th and while I welcome any public figures effort to inspire our children to study hard and do well in school, the political climate of the nation, and based on the phone calls I have received the community, is such that not everyone is in support of the President’s well meaning intentions.  So please be informed of the district’s position on the matter below.  We all need to be on the same page on this. The District Position on the Presidential Address:

The address will be taped and made available to buildings for showing at the appropriate time and after parents have been informed and offered and opportunity to opt out.


1.  Late notice makes preparation and parent notification difficult
2.  Broadcast time is during lunch hours creating a logistical problem
3.  This is, unfortunately, a politically charged event and without the aforementioned parent notification we could be alienating some parents and children.  Not the way we want to start the new school year.


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