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Posted at 11:55 AM ET, 09/11/2009

P.S.: Who Watched Obama's Back-to-School Speech

By Valerie Strauss

My colleague Nick Anderson on the national schools beat offers a postscript to the flap over President Obama's back-to-school speech:

There was much buzz beforehand about whether it was appropriate to show students the speech that Obama gave Tuesday at Wakefield High School. Conservatives complained (before seeing the innocuous advance text) that Obama would use the podium to score political points with captive, malleable young minds. Many parents around the country, on that pretext, kept their kids out of school Tuesday or requested they be kept out of class so that they wouldn't be forced to watch the telecast.

So how many schools actually showed the speech? We surveyed D.C. area school systems and found this:

In the District: "The vast majority of our schools watched the speech, at least 90%."

In Stafford County Va.: "As it was first day for our schools and lunch time in all of our schools, Stafford County chose to record the speech and show it at a later time to our students. It will be presented throughout the school system over the next few weeks in a variety of ways including in school-wide assemblies in the manner that best fits the individual school's needs. Any parent choosing to opt their child(ren) out of watching this speech must call the school so that alternative instructional activities may be planned for those students."

In Spotsylvania County Va.: "All schools in Spotsylvania County aired President Obama's speech live on Tuesday at noon."

In Arlington County Va. "It was available in all schools but we did not require central reporting so I have no way to know."

In Falls Church Va.: "Our school division did not disrupt its first-day schedule to show the speech live. However, students who were scheduled for lunch at the time of the speech were given the option of watching it live if they wanted to. Teachers were also advised that the speech would be posted on the White House Web site and were given the option of incorporating the speech and accompanying activities into lesson plans at another time."

In Fairfax County Va.: "No earthly clue. We left it up to our principals; some showed it live; many recorded it and showed it later. Some principals left the decision up to their teachers."

In Loudoun County Va.: "We'll be showing it sometime during the next week at every school. Truthfully, other than the media and a few advocacy groups, all interest in this has died in Loudoun."

In Prince George's County Md: No information available.

In Howard County Md. "No way to know. "

In Calvert County Md: "The video was shown in several classrooms in all four high schools during lunch. Students who wanted to listen to the speech attended. The video was not shown in any elementary or middle schools."

In Montgomery County Md.: "We didn't track this." .... But Anderson has it on excellent authority from two sources inside Chevy Chase Elementary School that it was shown to everyone there Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

By Valerie Strauss  | September 11, 2009; 11:55 AM ET
Categories:  Civics Education, D.C. Schools, Fairfax County Public Schools  | Tags:  Arlington Public Schools, Calvert County Schools, D.C. schools, Fairfax County Public Schools, Howard County schools, Montgomery County Schools, P.G. Schools, President Obama, back-to-school, education speech  
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