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Obama’s Back-to-School Speech Greets Some Students

Audio

Aired 9/8/09

It's the first day of a new school year for many San Diego County students. Some of them will be greeted by a back-to-school message from President Barack Obama. Others will not.

— It's the first day of a new school year for many San Diego County students. KPBS Reporter Ana Tintocalis says some of them will be greeted by a back-to-school message from President Barack Obama. Others will not.

President Obama's 20-minute televised message stresses the importance of education and encourages students to do their best. But the speech, and the suggested classroom assignment that goes with it, have been criticized as a form of propaganda.

Most San Diego County districts have responded by allowing parents to pull their kids out of classrooms where the speech is shown.

Lisa Petrillo is a parent in the Poway Unified School District where a group of parents were upset over that decision. She says the speech should be treated like all the other moments in U.S. history.

"We watched the (NASA) space launches of which there were quite a lot. We saw major speech addresses. There would only be one TV in the whole school, back in those days, and so we all watched collectively. And I think these are the kind of things that weave a tighter social fabric," Petrillo said.

In a written letter to parents, Poway Unified School Superintendent Don Phillips says the decision to watch the address should be up to families -- not the school district -- in the comfort of their own homes.

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