Month: September 2009

School District will let kids listen to Obama

In a story covered by the New York Times my local school district has reversed course and will allow the innocent children in south Utah county to watch Obama’s speech. Never-mind the fact that students will be watching President Obama’s address over a week after it originally aired. No thanks to Superintendent Chris Sorensen for getting caught up in mass hysteria.

Posted by Paul

Nebo School District Response

Here is the response.  I am not surprised by the lack of procedure for such a decision, and I am unhappy about the outcome.

Hi Paul,

Thanks for your question. There is not a “set” criterion for an event such
as this.
A School Board is clearly within their authority to make decisions which
they believe are in the best interest of the district.

We have had such an outcry from literally hundreds of patrons concerned
about the showing of the welcome back to school talk that we were taken by
Had there been time to functionally inform parents of their choice to let
their kids view this or not, I believe that would have been done.
The choice to opt out would have been a valid option that would have met the
desires of parents on either side of the issue by allowing those who wanted
to see it to do so, and those who didn’t, to opt out. Logistically it would
have been a nightmare to do this adequately.

We truthfully didn’t receive an official announcement of this until last
night. The Board made the only decision they felt would be responsive to
both groups, with the understanding that anyone will be still able to view
the speech at home in various forms after the speech is given.

I would also tell you that independent of the decision, I personally would
have not blinked if my own kids watched the speech. But viewing it on my own
is a fair alternative.   But for good or bad, and many times for both,  A
Board must make a decision that they feel is responsible and fair. I believe
given the parameters of this situation they have done their best to do just

I certainly understand that there will not be much you will not agree with
concerning this reply, and I truly respect that.

I am adding a copy of the memo that we sent out to our schools.


Chris Sorensen


DATE:        September 3, 2009

TO:        Principals

FROM:    Supt. Sorensen

RE:        Video feed of President Obama speaking to school children.

State Superintendent Larry Shumway sent official word on September 2, 2009,
announcing “President Obama’s back-to-school message to school children.”
Supt. Shumway’s message says “the decision to watch (or not to watch) the
President’s speech should be made by each [district] LEA.  There is no
requirement from the USOE, the U.S. Department of Education, or from the
President that any student watch.”

Given the late timing of the announcement, Nebo District has decided that
district students will not participate in watching this speech at school.
The tight timeline presented two main concerns:
1)    With respect to parental responsibility, Nebo District would have
given parents the right to opt out of having their student watch this
speech.  This would have been difficult to appropriately accomplish in such
a short time.
2)    Adjusting for established school and class schedules, technology
availability, and previously planned activities on such short notice would
have created administrative and curriculum challenges for schools.

Parents who wish to watch the speech live next Tuesday can find it on C-SPAN
and on the internet at  We would encourage parents who
desire to have their student watch the speech outside of school time on the

Posted by Paul in Politics, US Politics, Utah Politics

Nebo School District Alternative Activities

This morning I was very shocked and surprised to see this story from KSL.  Aparently we can’t show a speech by the President in the United States without contraversy.

I wrote the following to Chris Sorensen, the district superintendent.  I look forward to a frank response.

I just spoke with Lana about the district’s decision not to show President Obama’s speech. She explained that the speech would not be shown because the district was unable to provide alternative activities and notification to the parents in time for the speech on Tuesday.

I find it very strange that we need to have alternative activities for a Presidential speech. It is not like this is an issue with moral implications. The simple fact that our community does not support the president politically is not a justification for such controversy. When I was attending Payson High School Chris Cannon spoke to students. No alternative activities were required during this speech.

I would like to know what the criterion are for an event requiring the district to provide alternative activities. Lana mentioned that permission is required for the maturation program (which I believe makes sense) but a Presidential speech will not have anything to do with sex.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.

Paul Dayton

Posted by Paul