Censoring President Obama: The sad sequel

A "special committee" of the Lake County school district has deemed that schoolchildren won't be harmed by listening to the live airing of a message from a sitting United States president. You know, the leader of the free world.

But parents who don't want their kids to hear what the president has to say can request that they do an "alternate activity."


Thank heavens! What would we do without committees to make these momentous judgments? We would be so lost and dismayed! The School Board has tentatively approved the policy.

In September,

President Barack Obama

gave a historic speech to schoolchildren, urging them to take responsibility for their education and to do their homework every night. He encouraged them to stop playing so many video games and explained that their choice of careers would be limited by their education.

He encouraged them to have courage and to stand up for other kids who are being bullied or teased. He advised them to ask questions when they don't understand something and to persevere in their studies.

Lake students didn't hear any of it on the day the president spoke. School-district officials banned the speech for a variety of lame reasons — supposedly there wasn't enough bandwidth for everyone to watch and the schools too tied up with "diagnostic readings and baseline assessments."


Time to apply logic

The truth is that a bunch of misguided


feared that Obama would use the opportunity to try to instill a "socialist" agenda into schoolchildren.

Consider the irony of the situation.

Instead, the president told students that they control their destiny, not that they should wait for some government flunky or committee to come tell them what to do. He told them to set goals, get a handle on where they are going in the future and work at it.

Could Obama have delivered a more "Republican" message?

Now, though, the irony has deepened.


The same group of misguided partisan politicos are claiming victory because a "special committee" of appointed government functionaries has made a decision that sort of goes their way — they can opt to keep their children out. If the decision had gone the other way, they'd be screaming that the committee isn't empowered to make decisions affecting their little darlings.

Once — just once — it would be nice to apply logic, if that won't confuse anyone too badly.

In September, it did not seem possible for Lake to look more like a bunch of uneducated hillbillies. But we've succeeded. (At least there's something we do well in the educational arena.)

No 'solution' necessary

In a school district where the overall rating has slipped from an A to a B and four of seven high schools are rated "D," board members created a committee of 10 appointees to meet about the issue of whether students should listen to speeches from the president of the United States and to come up with a recommendation on how to do it.

School Board member Cindy Barrow said she won't vote against the proposed policy next month because it came from a committee that was a truly representative of people from the community who were concerned.

She said she'd be disappointed if parents decided to keep their children from listening to a president. But, she said, she has seen "so much hatred out there" that a sort of pop-off valve was needed.

That's too bad, but it's not a reason for the School Board to cave into the kooks on the fringe.

The president is the president. Period. Regardless of whether it's

George Bush

, Barack Obama or Genghis Khan. Extremists shouldn't have a seat at the table of educational decision. This is a non-issue that needs no "solution," and the School Board should muster the courage to treat it as such.

Lauren Ritchie can be reached at

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