Superintendent David S. Doty appreciates the attention the President of the United States is giving our schoolchildren and the attention that he is giving to the most important policy matter of our day. At the same time, the Superintendent has always been a strong advocate for protecting the rights of conscience of both children and parents, and believes that the District’s approach in this matter is appropriately sensitive to the wide variety of political sensitivities and viewpoints in this diverse District.
The District is distributing the following letter to all parents.
Sept. 2, 2009
On Tuesday, Sept. 8, President Barack Obama will deliver a speech to U.S. schoolchildren. It is to be broadcast live via the White House Web site, www.whitehouse.gov/live/ and on C-SPAN. The U.S. Department of Education reports that this is the first time an American president has spoken directly to schoolchildren about success in school. The Department provides the following information about the speech’s content:
“The President will challenge students to work hard, and take responsibility for their learning. He will also call for a shared responsibility and commitment on the part of students, parents and educators to ensure that every child in every school receives the best education possible so they can compete in the global economy for good jobs and live rewarding and productive lives as American citizens.”
Based on this description, Canyons School District believes this is a unique opportunity for students to hear from the President of the United States. Secondary schools are asked to provide the opportunity for students to view the address to the extent that it is technologically feasible and does not disrupt or substantially interfere with already scheduled educational activities. Parents are welcome to view the broadcast with children at school, and are encouraged to call their school to make arrangements. The U.S. Department of Education’s Web site provides additional information about the address at www.ed.gov/index.jhtml.
Due to district-wide elementary school testing, as well as technological infrastructure limitations in some elementary schools, the video will not be shown on Tuesday in elementary schools. Families wishing to view the address at home are encouraged to go to www.whitehouse.gov/live/ for information. Teachers who wish to show the video at a later date will notify parents in advance.
That said, the District also honors Utah State Board of Education Rule R277-105, which states: “A parent, a legal guardian of a student, or a secondary student may request a waiver of participation in any portion of the curriculum or school activity which the requesting party believes to be an infringement upon a right of conscience or the exercise of religious freedom ….”
For this reason, we provide you with the below form. Please fill out the form if you request a waiver of participation. Principals have been directed to provide an alternative educational activity for children whose parents or guardians do not wish to have them view the address.
Thank you for your attention to this matter and for partnering with us in the education of children.
Dr. David S. Doty, Superintendent