A suburban Texas school district finds itself in hot water over a decision involving a president and students. This complaint involves not just one president of the United States, but two.
The Arlington Independent School District did not show President Barack Obama’s much-ballyhooed back-to-school speech live yesterday, opting instead to tape it and make it available for use later. Students were allowed to take an excused half-day absence to watch the president’s speech at home or somewhere else off school grounds.
But when it comes to the 43rd commander-in-chief, former president George W. Bush, Arlington schools are taking a different tack: 28 5th grade classes are being bussed to Cowboys Stadium on Sept. 21, where Bush and former first lady Laura Bush will be among the speakers at an event launching the Super Bowl’s education program. The new stadium will be the site of the 2011 Super Bowl.
Bush, who was governor of Texas for six years before his two terms in the Oval Office, lives in nearby Dallas, where his presidential library is being built at Southern Methodist University.
The difference in reception of the two presidents has some locals angry. Pastor Dwight McKissic of Arlington’s Cornerstone Baptist church says the school district has some explaining to do.
Why is it appropriate for students to hear from former President Bush on Sept. 21 at the Cowboy[s] Stadium, but inappropriate for the current president to address students while they remain on school campuses?" McKissic asked. "Why is President Obama's message considered to be an intrusion on the school day, a disruptive and unplanned class activity, a message 'not deemed appropriate' for students to hear or a message regarded as 'something students should not be exposed to?' Yet it is accepted as an appropriate message for students to hear from unnamed Dallas Cowboys, business and community leaders?"
In a statement released last night, the school district says the trip to the stadium was planned months ago and all the parents of the involved students granted permission. Parents will be able to opt their students out of any showing of Obama’s speech in Arlington schools, the statement says, apparently equating the opt-out for the Obama’s speech with the opt-in required for the field trip that features Bush.
What do you think? Is there a double standard at work or are some people being overly sensitive?
A version of this news article first appeared in the District Dossier blog.