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Schools in Some Southern States Are Giving Parents an 'Opt-Out' for Children Not to Hear Obama's Address to Students

Outraged parent believes race is a factor.

President Obama is scheduled to give a nation-wide speech to schoolchildren on their first day back from summer vacation on September 7. The speech is billed as a national address to the students of America, however, conservatives have reacted by pressuring school districts to refrain from broadcasting the speech.

In response, schools in several southern states are giving parents an “opt-out” option for their children.

In Simpsonville, South Caroline, for example, the Bells Crossing Elementary school principal issued robocalls to parents telling them that letters would be sent home for them to sign if they did not want their children to watch the President’s speech.

An outraged parent, Chuck Hamilton, contacted Raw Story to complain about what he believes is a racist response to a African American president. “It is obvious to me that had this been Bush, or any other white Republican, the phone call and letter home would not have happened,” Hamilton wrote in an email.

But Bells Crossing Elementary School is not alone in its reaction to the President’s upcoming speech.

A call to the Greenville Country School Board confirmed that all schools in that district are receiving calls from their own principals and having letters sent home.

Susan Richards, a spokesperson for the Greenville Country School Board declined to answer questions as to why the board felt it necessary to take these measures. “You will have to speak to the Director of Communications, but he is not available right now.” A message was left for the Director, who has not responded.

Teacher at school embarrassed to hand out op-out materials

In an email exchange acquired by Raw Story, Mrs. Hamilton wrote to her child’s fifth grade teacher to express concern over the school’s actions. The Hamiltons have requested that the teacher’s information be kept private.

In response, the teacher expressed “embarrassment” over the way the whole matter has been handled:”

I wholeheartedly agree with you.  In fact, I was and still am embarrassed to pass out those notes or that it was even necessary to do so. Even if I didn’t agree with the policies of the leader of our country - his message isn’t intended to “brainwash the youth of America”  (being TOTALLY sarcastic….) but meant for a positive message in which I am guessing the speech he is going to give is similar to the one he gave his own children at the beginning of the school year.

Feel free to rant…..I have rants of my own~!

Even as teachers and parents express outrage at the school board’s response to the President’s speech, more documented cases are emerging across the country.

In North Carolina, the Dare County School Board is taking similar measures. Another concerned parent, who wishes to remain anonymous, contacted Raw Story about a newsletter item that was sent out and posted on the board’s web site:

According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, on Tuesday, September 8, at 12 noon, President Barack Obama will deliver a national address to encourage students to set high academic goals and to do their best to succeed in school.

Any parent who wishes for his/her children not to participate may “opt out” by contacting the school(s) where the children are enrolled. Principals will be contacting parents by various means, such as with forms, electronic mail, websites, or via an announcement on the educational television station. If parents have any questions, they should call the school(s) where the children attend.

The Dare County School Board did not return calls for comment.

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