Superintendent Vicki Thomas held a press conference this afternoon to make clarifications about Friday’s announcement that the Fayetteville School District would not be showing the President’s education speech scheduled for tomorrow.
“To be absolutely clear, the Fayetteville School District is not prohibiting the viewing of the Presidential address to students on Tuesday,” said Thomas.
Thomas apologized and said that she understood that her original announcement might have some school stakeholders confused or upset. “Please be assured that my initial statements were not a reaction to any political agenda or censorship issue,” she said.
The decision, she said, was based solely on logistics, adding that the District does not have the capability to simultaneously broadcast the address to all students.
“While we are not providing a school-wide viewing, we will fully support our teachers in having their classes view the address,” she said. Thomas said that District officials will be working with principals to make sure that any student who wishes to view the live address will be able to do so by moving to a room with a television. “We are going to make every effort to show it to the school children, absolutely,” she said.
While Thomas did not know exactly how many televisions would be showing the address, she said she hoped that the majority of classrooms would be making the speech available to students. “There will be strong encouragement to show it,” she added.
The school District is currently seeking a 4.9-mill increase in property taxes in order to fund the construction of a new Fayetteville High School. When asked if she thought her original statement will have a negative impact on the upcoming millage election, Superintendent Thomas said she hoped it would not. “It was certainly not my intent to create an issue for the District or for parents to have concern,” she said, noting that the children are the most important part when considering funding for a new high school. “I would hope that a single decision would not hold hostage the students’ future in this district,” she added.
As with all video presentations, the District has an opt-out provision for a parent of a student who does not wish their child to view the speech. “If a parent wishes to exercise this option, I ask you to please have your child bring a note tomorrow and give it to the teacher,” said Thomas.
The address will be broadcast live at 11am CST tomorrow morning from Wakefield High School in Arlington, Va., and will air on C-SPAN on TV and on the White House website.