Editor: When the La Mesa Spring Valley School Board voted to ban President Obama’s speech to school kids, two board members opposed the motion. One of them was Bill Baber, who as a Republican, voted his conscience. This helps demonstrate that extremist views are not held by all or even most Republicans.
by Bill Baber / September 16, 2009
As a La Mesa Spring Valley School Board Member, I voted to show the President’s live address Tuesday. I believe the Office of the President of the United States deserves respect, regardless of the person or party occupying that office. If the President’s speech inspired one student to greatness it was worth all this angst. Board Member Emma Turner also voted to show the live address. Our plan gave every parent the right to opt out. However, Members Halgren, Duff, and Winet disagreed with showing the speech live. And in our democratic representative form of government, their 3 votes trumped our 2 votes.
I read the speech before I voted and watched the speech live Tuesday and found it appropriate for our K – 8 students. I was confident President Obama knew how to communicate well with children… not only is he a gifted orator, but he has two school age daughters ! (Let’s keep our perspective, If we trust our President with our nuclear arsenal, we can trust him to talk to kindergarten students !!)
I have three kids in the district – none of them saw the speech live.
I showed them a recording of it on Wednesday. Two of them watched it in class on Thursday. My 8th grader did not see it in her school until a week later. That was sad because a “tape delayed” speech ruins the “community spirit” of the live broadcast.
We say the pledge of allegiance together at the start of every school board meeting as a community event. I believe the President’s speech was this type of community event that should have been viewed live. My position would have been the same if it was President Bush or Clinton or Reagan or FDR or Grover Cleveland… its the President!!
After the vote there was a public outcry and much criticism leveled against the majority …eventually Members Duff, Halgren, and Winet realized they denied our children a valid educational opportunity and each issued a public apology
Last night, I voted to accept their apologies as a first step toward healing this community wound.
I hope this unfortunate incident has not discouraged people who want to help improve our schools. We need to work together as a community for the best interest of our children. Thank you.