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Districts given option on Obama speech
President to give message to students during Tuesday talk

ATLANTA - Although President Barack Obama wants every student to hear a special back-to-school address next week, some might not get to watch it with their peers.

School districts all over the nation are determining whether they will allow their students to watch the speech. The Georgia Department of Education is giving local school districts the option to televise the speech.

Obama is expected to deliver a back-to-school address to students at noon Tuesday via the Web at www.whitehouse.gov/live/ and on C-Span that will last between 15 and 20 minutes.

According to a press release from the Georgia Department of Education, the White House and the U.S. Department of Education did not involve the Georgia DOE in the planning of the speech. Instead, they invited students to view the speech by letter that was sent directly to principals and local superintendents.

Nothing in state or federal law requires or prohibits a school from showing the speech, so the decision to show it will come from local school officials, according to the press release. The GaDOE did stress that students should have the option not to watch the video and if a school shows the speech, it is important to tie it to teaching standards.

Area school systems are allowing its schools to choose when they will broadcast the speech, saying they support many of the principals that Obama will talk about during the speech.

In Newton County, the public school system has said that it will show the speech later in the week.

"Because the time of the speech conflicts with our school lunch schedules, Newton County Schools will not broadcast the speech that day. Instead, the president's speech will be shown on Wednesday, Sept. 9. Each school will select its own viewing schedule," said Sherri Viniard, director of public relations at the Newton County School System. "The script to President Obama's speech will be posted on the Newton County School System Web site as soon as it is released so parents may review it in advance. The school system will also post a link to the video of President Obama's speech for easy access when it becomes available."

Rockdale County Public Schools also is encouraging its teachers and students to use the address as an extension of the social studies and current events curriculum.

"The Rockdale County Public School district supports the ... ideal of providing each student with the highest quality education and preparing them with the necessary skills to be successful in post secondary colleges and universities, career/technical programs and/or entering the world of work with an industry certification," said Richard Autry, chief academic officer at RCPS, in a letter to schools.

If a student does not see the video, students and parents still have the option to view it later. The speech will be available online after school hours at www.whitehouse.gov/mediaresources/.