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Some districts will let students opt out

By Melissa Correa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - Powhatan and Chesterfield public schools both decided not to air on the president's address. Chesterfield county school leaders say they took into consideration several issues, including comments from parents.

In a statement just released from Chesterfield County public schools, students will not watch the president's address which the White House says will emphasize the importance of education. However, if teachers wish, they can incorporate the speech into their curriculum at a later date.  

The district says the biggest issue was how the speech would affect first day of school activates. Comments from parents also played a role. Powhatan's decision was based on similar concerns

"If the schools not going to do it, I can always have my kids watch it on the internet, I'm sure it's on there," said Tom Ward, Powhatan parent.

"I guess it would kind of in a way, distract the kids but I mean it's a cool thing to kick off the year with," said Powhatan student Jordan Sharples.

Jordan Sharples follows the president's policies and was looking forward to watching the speech either on the White House's website or on C-Span.

"It's kind of a bummer," Jordan said.

Richmond public schools will allow students to watch the speech at noon on Tuesday.

"It is optional. It's not mandatory. We're leaving it up to the principal's discretion if they want to include this in their back to school activities," said Felicia Cosby, Richmond Public Schools.

"We encourage parents to send notification via their children to the school's principal," Cosby said.

That note, will allow students to opt out of watching the speech, and instead take part in another activity.  The White House has suggested teaching tools to compliment the speech. But critics say it's an attempt for the president to push his agenda on youngsters.

"Cause I just think that everyone in the country should be fine with what he does and we need to know what he's going to be doing," said Joshua Magill, Powhatan student.

Chesterfield County says its notified campuses and office managers of their decision. If parents have concerns, they should direct them to their child's principals.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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