School Board Member: Why I voted against the ban on Obama’s speech

by on September 16, 2009 · 7 comments

in Civil Rights, Education, Media, San Diego

La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board meeting, September 15, 2009.

La Mesa-Spring Valley School Board meeting, September 15, 2009. Bill Baber is seated on the far right. Rick Winet (in red shirt) sits in the middle of the board table.

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.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

butch September 16, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Mr. Baber,

Thank you for your comments. It is refreshing to finally hear someone voice what I have been thinking lately: that we need to work together as a community for the best interest of — not just our children — but for the community and country as a whole. All too often lately it seems that most people are divided on everything. If all people could learn to be a little flexible in their beliefs and to have a civil, rational discourse with those who may not hold the same values, I believe our community and our country would be in a far better place.


annagrace September 16, 2009 at 2:05 pm

Bill- a big thanks for taking the time to express your position on this issue. My question is was the board’s Labor Day meeting legal? Aren’t there rules about public noticing etc? What about the Brown Act?

I love your comment–“If we can trust out President with our nuclear arsenal, we can trust him to talk to kindergarten students.” Right on.


jon September 16, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I know this is completely off-topic, but every one of those damn board members has a single-use plastic bottle sitting in front of them! I count 8 board members. If each one of them drinks only 2 bottles each day, that’s 5840 plastic bottles in our landfills every year. From just one small group of board members at one school in Spring Valley, CA. I hate seeing that. It’s the same damn thing in every business meeting I go to in my own daily life.

The future just called, and your kids are all upset that your convenience-driven plastic fantastic lifestyle killed the planet long after your catfight over Obama’s speech was over.

Okay, I feel better now. Feel free to keep discussing the issue at hand. ;)


Shawn Conrad September 16, 2009 at 2:36 pm

What have future generations ever done for us?


jon September 16, 2009 at 2:42 pm

That’s actually a pretty good, if somewhat nonlinear, point Shawn. And funny. So when are you gonna take the mic at OB Comedy???


lane tobias September 16, 2009 at 3:06 pm

voices of reason are so hard to come by these days ….but this definitely gets it.


lane tobias September 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

excuse me- this GUY definitely gets it


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