Mailbag: Keep Obama speech out of the classroom

Parents, did you know that today, President Obama is planning on speaking to our children during school hours? Just like last year, the president is going to tell our children to study hard, stay in school and take responsibility for their education.

My question is, why is that the president's responsibility? Isn't that what we as parents do? And are we sure that is all the president is going to say?

Last year, you may remember that the president had a huge blow-back when the country learned he was planning to speak to the nation's children during school hours. The outcry from parents was a shock to this administration. This year, his plans to speak to our children have been very quiet.

When I learned of this, I immediately called Crescenta Valley High School and asked if the president's speech would be played for the students. I was informed that the decision to show his speech would be left to individual teachers. Teachers would make the decision based upon whether they thought this was historical, important or relevant to their classes, etc. I pointed out that there is nothing historical about the president speaking in this context.

No matter if a president is Democrat or Republican, a president has no place in a classroom, taking valuable teaching time away from students. Also, there is a danger of pushing political agendas. Presidential speeches should be watched as a family, so that discussions can be held together as a family afterward.

This is a sad statement of where our school system is today. Parents do not have a say in what happens in the classroom. Yes, students have the choice to go to another classroom of a teacher who chooses not to show the speech, but how many students will actually make that stand publicly?

As a parent, do I keep my child home and cause the school district to lose money? What will you do? How do we, as concerned citizens, let this and future administrations know that indoctrinating our children is unacceptable?

Debi Devens

La Crescenta

Take an active role in TV programming

Are you worried about your kids being exposed to too much violence in the media? You should be. More than half of Americans believe the media — TV, movies and video games — are too extreme and send harmful messages to children.

A recent Rasmussen poll found that almost 60% of American adults agree there is too much indecent content on TV and radio. Only half that number thought TV is OK the way it is. Respondents also agreed that depictions of sex and graphic violence are the biggest problems on TV today. Thirty-nine percent said the biggest problem on TV is violence, while 36% said sexual content. Americans are also concerned about violent video games, with more than half saying such games lead to more violence in society.

Who is to blame for the extreme content in entertainment? Twenty-five percent said the creators and writers of the TV shows are primarily responsible, while another 25% blamed television networks. And in a moment of honesty, 29% felt those who watch programs with objectionable content are most responsible.

The answer is clear: We should change our own viewing habits, but the entertainment industry should also provide us with better programming to watch.

Groups like the Parents Television Council are at the forefront of holding advertisers and the entertainment industry accountable for the programming they push into our homes. If you want to do more than wring your hands about all the bad things on TV today, the council provides a great way to make a difference.

Michele Mac Neal

La Crescenta

Editor's note: Neal is the director of the L.A./Foothills Chapter of the Parents Television Council.

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