Only Some Md. Schools Allow Obama to Talk Directly to Students - Southern Maryland Headline News

Only Some Md. Schools Allow Obama to Talk Directly to Students


By LAURA GURFEIN

WASHINGTON (Sept. 9, 2009)—President Obama delivered a nationwide speech to students Tuesday stressing the importance of education, but only some Maryland students were able to listen.

"At the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world, and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities," the president said from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va.

In Talbot County, administrators wanted that message to come through loud and clear.

"If at any time the president wants to encourage students to stay in school, then they should hear it," said Pam Heaston, assistant superintendent for instruction for Talbot County Public Schools.

"All (Talbot County) schools were going to have at least some classes watching," Heaston continued.

In Worcester County, at least one elementary school parent even came to the classroom to watch the speech, said Barbara Witherow, Worcester County Public Schools public relations coordinator.

In contrast, Washington County Public Schools did not have any access to the live broadcast due to scheduling conflicts, according to its Web site. However, the speech will be accessible through each school's library and linked to the school system Web site, the message said.

Washington County Public Schools officials referred inquiries to communications officer Richard Wright, who did not respond to phone calls.

Several county school systems let each school decide whether students would watch the speech live, evaluating its timing and relevance to curricula.

For Baltimore County Public School students who could not watch the live broadcast, the speech was recorded for the district's on-demand video system, a computerized video library accessible by all county schools, said spokeswoman Kara Calder.

While it was not mandatory to watch the speech, the school system wanted to have "a number of logistical ways to access the speech," Calder said. Teachers can use the recorded speech later to coordinate with their lesson plans as they choose.

The Howard County Public School System also let individual schools determine the importance of the speech in their classes, according to HCPSS spokeswoman Patti Caplan.

"Some elected to tape the speech and use it later in their lessons," said Caplan.

Caplan also mentioned that the timing of the speech made it difficult for the schools to arrange a viewing since many students were at lunch.

When the president speech was announced the first week of September, many parents were critical, saying Obama would push his political agenda on their children, according to published reports. Many parents threatened to keep their children out of school if the speech was aired in classrooms.

The president's prepared remarks were made available on the White House Web site on Monday.

Capital News Service contributed to this report.

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