Superintendent’s Politics with Obama’s School Speech

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    BLACK AMERICA WEB — A Texas school superintendent apologized Friday for his decision not to allow students to watch President Barack Obama’s recent back-toschool speech live while earlier consenting to busing about 500 students to see former President George W. Bush talk about a Super Bowl volunteer initiative.

    Arlington Independent School District Superintendent Jerry McCullough issued the apology, which has received mixed reactions in the community.

    The local NAACP president and some parents said the apology didn’t go far enough. A local minister, who had earlier criticized McCullough publicly, says now that he accepts the superintendent’s apology and can forgive him.

    “It’s discrimination,” Anthony Brown, a parent of a third grade student at Bebensee Elementary School, told BlackAmericaWeb.com. “I didn’t learn until watching the 10 o’clock news the Monday before the speech that it would not be shown. At that point, I couldn’t arrange to take off from work to make sure my child saw the speech, and so far we’ve only been able to watch snippets of the speech on the Internet.”

    Brown said he called the school board to complain, and he has also called the Arlington NAACP because he does not accept the explanation for tuning out Obama at school while busing students in the middle of the school day to see the former president.

    McCullough said there was no relationship between the decisions made about the Obama speech and the unrelated trip for students to a community kickoff for the 2011 Super Bowl, where Bush will be speaking on Sept. 21.

    “In retrospect, I can see how the district’s decisions concerning these two events could be seen as favoring one event over another,” McCullough said in a prepared statement posted on the school system’s website. “I made the decision to record President Obama’s speech and make it available to teachers for use at a later time.”

    “I realize that this does not take the place of watching the speech live, but I am encouraging teachers to use President Obama’s speech on the importance of education and personal responsibility as an educational resource in their classrooms when and how they deem most appropriate for their students,” he said.

    Rita Sibert, president of the Arlington NAACP, said she has received several calls from parents and teachers who are not pleased with the school district’s handling of the matter.

    “Some teachers, including a White teacher, called me and said it’s as if now the superintendent is placing the decision on showing the speech on them,” Sibert told BlackAmericaweb.com.

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