Ky. Dems object to students skipping president's speech

jbrammer@herald-leader.comSeptember 5, 2009 

FRANKFORT — Two Democratic state representative from Louisville — Jim Wayne and Darryl T. Owens — expressed opposition Friday to state Education Commissioner Terry Holliday's decision to allow students to skip President Obama's speech next week to the nation's schoolchildren.

Obama is to speak to students in a broadcast and webcast at noon Tuesday about the importance of education.

After several parents objected, Holliday directed schools to provide alternative activities for those students.

"Our commissioner should support teachers who decide their students will benefit from hearing a message from the president about studying hard and staying in school," Wayne said in a statement.

"We shouldn't be afraid to let students know that their nation's leaders value their success in school."

Lisa Gross, a spokeswoman for Holliday, said it has been precedent for the state Department of Education to support school districts that have "opt-out" policies.

"The commissioner had heard that some parents may pull their children out of school on Tuesday because of the president's speech," she said.

"In lieu of that, he suggested alternative activities for them at the schools."

Owens said the president is not making a political speech. "He's simply urging students to value their opportunity to learn and set high goals for themselves — a message we should be supporting.

"The only politics involved come from those spreading misinformation about the nature of the address."

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