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Curious About President Obama's School Speech

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It is a controversial start to the school year.

Some parents are upset about a plan by President Obama to talk directly to students on the first day back to school next Tuesday.

Diane of Salem, N.H., expressed her Curiosity, asking:

“Why isn’t the school sending home permission slips for parents to sign?”

We called almost two dozen school districts in the Boston area to inquire about their plans for Tuesday. Many superintendents told us since it is the first day of school, it will be very hard to watch the president’s speech live at noontime.

In fact, most said the president will be competing for the kids’ attention at that hour. Some suggested they will tape it and show it at a later date.

School Superintendent Stephen Mills says his classrooms in Acton are equipped so students can watch the president at noon on Tuesday on C-SPAN. But he says he will leave that decision to individual classroom teachers.

The message is directed at students in grades K-12.

“It is actually a good test for citizens and more importantly parents as to how much they respect and trust their kids’ classroom teacher,” Mills said.

Given the controversy Mills says parents can request that their kids not watch. But one mom we spoke to says she hopes her son will watch.

“We teach the kids that the president is chief citizen,” Kirsten Kunz said. “So in that role, I think that it is good that he engage the young people.”

The state Board of Education sent an e-mail to superintendents across Massachusetts suggesting local districts make individual decisions about the broadcast, but at the same time encouraged educators that the chief executive’s message had value either live or taped.

While the hallways in Acton were quiet this Friday before the holiday weekend, the president’s “back to school” speech has some conservatives screaming and suggesting that Obama is just pushing his own agenda on kids.

Nonetheless, high school students we caught up with on the campus tennis courts say they want to hear what he has to say.

“I think we should. We elected this man to run the country whether you support him or not we should hear what he has to say,” one said.

“I think some parents object because they think he is going implant his ideas into our heads but we are old enough to make our own decisions,” said another.

Originally, President Obama was going to ask kids to write him letters suggesting ways they could help him. But now he will just encourage students to write down their short-term and long-term goals.

In addition to C-SPAN, the president’s speech will also be available live on the White House web site at noon on Tuesday.

© MMX, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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