Sunday, September 6, 2009

Presidential Message

The president of my school's Parent Teacher Organization forwarded this note about a speech that the President of the United States of America planned to offer to our Nation’s schoolchildren to promote their success in school and of the unfortunate decision not to permit Longmeadow’s schoolchildren to hear the President’s words when spoken (if at all).

Surely success in school rests both with the communities that provide quality education to individual children and with the children themselves. Nonetheless, any message of encouragement to children as they start their school year is appropriate. When the message comes from the President of the United States of America, that message is all the more inspiring.

Although President Obama has a political-party designation (as have all Presidents in this Nation’s history), any President offering a message of support to students at the start of the school year should be considered the message of the Office, not of a party.

How sad that, in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, we find a school committee shielding schoolchildren from a historic moment – one that is intended for schoolchildren. I did not elect school-committee members to be the guardians of my children from OUR President. I find it outrageous that this is a controversy, and pathetic that the Longmeadow School Committee would pander to the pharisaical fringes of society and enable them to wield a heckler’s veto.

Although I lay this decision at the feet of the Longmeadow School Committee as of today, September 5, 2009, I cannot be sure that it is a product of their deliberation, for there are no posted minutes detailing the Committee’s consideration this matter. I must assume that a district-wide policy comes from our School Committee, and therefore I direct my outrage at them and encourage others to do the same.


Rebecca M. Townsend

Longmeadow, MA

-----Original Message-----
From: Donna Hutton <>

Sent: Fri, Sep 4, 2009 2:36 pm
Subject: RE: Obama's message

President Obama’s Address to School Children

At 12:00 p.m., Eastern Time (ET), September 8, 2009, President Barack Obama will deliver a national address to the students of America. During this special address, the president will speak directly to the nation’s children and youth about persisting and succeeding in school. The president will challenge students to work hard, set educational goals, and take responsibility for their learning.

The U.S. Department of Education invites students of all ages, teachers, and administrators to participate in this historic moment by watching the president deliver the address, which will be broadcast live on the White House Web site ( and on C-SPAN at 12:00 p.m., ET. After the original broadcast, downloadable video of the speech will be made available at as well as on and will provide archived and "on-demand" viewing options.

Unfortunately, this speech has generated considerable negative reaction from a variety of political groups and media outlets who have speculated about the content=2 0and/or intentions of the message. Parents are being encouraged to ask school principals not to air the speech or to "Make September 8th Parentally Approved Skip Day.” Since our focus is to keep “eyes on the child – learning” and we pride ourselves on making informed decisions, our district will be taping the President’s message for possible future viewing. As noted earlier, the summary released by the US Department of Education states that the special address will be about persisting and succeeding in school. Longmeadow school principals and teachers will view the video and decide the educational appropriateness of the message for different schools, subjects, and classrooms. Those decisions will be communicated to parents prior to any planned use of the video.

We invite you to view the President’s message and make your own informed decisions about its merit.


Donna L. Hutton
Acting Principal
Center Elementary School
Longmeadow, MA
Tel: 565-4290

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