I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Pro-Obama Speech Email and Response

Today I received the following email about President Obama's planned speech on Tuesday to the nation's students:

>>> 9/4/2009 3:29 PM >>>

Dear Superintendent Thomas and Mr. Bergosh:

I am very disheartened to learn that President Obama's address will not be shown in our public schools. Whether one agrees politically with President Obama or not he is still the democratically elected President of the United States of America. Both Presidents Bush addressed school children and I am sure that their addresses were watched by our school children. I am embarrassed by the districts partisan views and lack of respect for the office of the Presidency. I voted for you, Mr. Thomas, I will not make that mistake again.



My Response to this individual was the following:


Thanks for taking the time to email your concerns regarding the speech. I have fielded numerous calls and emails on this subject and I must say the entire issue has taken on a life of it's own--even on the national level.

I understand your concerns and I share them as a parent of an elementary, middle, and high schooler in this district. I believe that part of the problem with this whole thing is that the Department of Education rolled this idea out in very choppy fashion--and did not put local districts into the loop with adequate lead time to prepare and coordinate this event properly with parents.

I respect our President, Barack Obama, and I feel he is an extremely articulate and intelligent leader--however in this endeavor his advisors left him out to dry.

His advisors put together lesson plans with odd objectives including "writing letters to yourself to describe how you can help Barack Obama" among other unusual activities. At the time this "event" was scheduled, the Department of Education indicated that the text of Mr. Obama's 15-20 minute speech would not be circulated. (Since that time, the White House has changed their position on this and has stated that a copy of the remarks will be posted on the White House website on Monday--they have also altered the study guides)

And the Director of the Department of Education, Arne Duncan, did accurately describe the event on the DOE website as historic and unprecedented--because it is. George H.W. Bush in 1991 did speak to Junior and Senior High School Students from a Texas High School--but I'd be willing to bet that more than a few days notice was given to schools in that instance, the text of the speech was released in advance, and the event was not beemed into every classroom computer along with "study guides."

Reagan's address to N.C. high School Students at the White House in 1986 was not accompanied by "study guides" either, was not hyped up like this event, and was a two-way dialogue, question and answer session.

No, this Tuesday's event will be a little bit different.

So numerous bad decisions by others at the national have led to the perception that our district is somehow disrespecting the President; When in actuality we are respecting the Parents of children in this district by moving ahead cautiously.

Bottom line--this is an exciting, historic event, and I think every student should have the opportunity to watch, but we need to respect the wishes of those parents who do not want their children to participate--I think that is a fair way ahead.

By the way-I hope you were able to attend the XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX----The turnout was fantastic and the energy and enthusiasm level XXXXXXXXXXX was electric!


Jeff Bergosh

Jeff Bergosh
Escambia County School Board, Dist. 1

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