Students with parental consent watch President Obama's back-to-school speech

By: Amanda Shotsky Email
By: Amanda Shotsky Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - Tuesday President Obama addressed the nation's students in a back to school speech.

District 51 provided 4th and 5th graders the opportunity to sit down and watch it, but not without a permission slip.

Almost 200 students packed into the library at Appleton Elementary School to watch Obama address the nation's schools.

He urged students to stay focused, dream big and accept each other for their differences.

Obama did the same thing at the start of the 2009 school year. One of the noticeable differences this year was the lack of controversy that had ignited last year after parents pulled their kids from classes, afraid that the President would be pushing a political agenda.

This year parents were given ample warning from District 51. The School Board says while the back to school speech is important it did not want to infringe on the rights of parents.

And there were parents who did decided to opt their kids out of the President's address. Their kids were placed in a separate classroom for the duration of the speech.


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  • by Mike Location: GJ on Sep 15, 2010 at 01:08 PM
    Leigh, The only thing we want as consumers is the truth. Not a version of the truth. Your story would have been much better had you stated that the district gave parents ample time to remove their children from being expected to watch the speach. I have lost more and more respect for this "news" station over the past year, however I find it very disturbing to see that you alter the facts in order to get the story that you want to report. Leigh, please understand that us truck driving, rednecks that you all look down on are have had enough smoke blown up our skirts and we are not going to take it anymore. I will be happy to continue to point out your stations as well as other news outlets less than factual reproting.
    • reply
      by Leigh Ashman on Sep 15, 2010 at 02:15 PM in reply to Mike
      Mike, I've apologized over and over, I've said we would hold an internal discussion (thank you for prompting it) and appreciated your comments. I've indicated you and I sit on the same side of the political aisle, I've tried to be fair and patient and kind. I fail to see how that's looking down on anyone. I don't care what you do for a living and would never presume to judge you by that even if you have judged me by what I do. I cannot make you happy despite my best efforts. It's a feeling I hate because I so strongly believe in delivering good customer service, but there's nothing else I can do. I appreciate that you offer your feedback to all the media outlets you disagree with, that's the great thing about the linear communication process model and one of the many reasons we offer our readers the opportunity to leave comments on our stories. We appreciate that words mean things and people interpret them differently. That potential for multiple interpretations means they're all technically correct. Since they're all technically correct, I don't see how it's a version of the truth, but I value your opinion. It's a challenge of the job but it also prompts healthy discussions with our valued readers. If you'd like to continue this one, please feel free to call me any time at 243.1111.
  • by Mike Location: GJ on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:05 PM
    Leigh, Ok so if you have to dumb it down so that the unwashed masses can undersand it, why not at least tell the truth. Your story states "District 51 provided 4th and 5th graders the opportunity to sit down and watch it, but not without a permission slip." You have already agreed that this is untrue as the district required parents to send in the "opt out" slip in order for the student to not have to sit through this speach. Why not just admit that you support Mr. Obama rather than reporting the facts.
    • reply
      by Leigh Ashman on Sep 15, 2010 at 12:29 PM in reply to Mike
      Mike, I obviously can't make you happy by explaining how our industry works. I'm sorry if you're offended, I hope our other viewers take a few moments to try and understand a different perspective and the constraints we work under. 11 News greatly values all of our viewers and wishes only to be clear and concise, there was no effort here to alter the facts. As for my political opinions, you couldn't be further from the truth. Which just goes to show you should never judge a book by it's cover. I've made no assumptions about you or your beliefs. I couldn't care less. Your comments only further the lesson all journalists learn early on (and believe me, it's a painful one since you are often wrongly attacked and accused) that everyone approaches each story with their own agenda and no matter how hard you try, you can't make everyone happy. As for me, your obvious dislike is something I will proudly bear since only a fool is loved by all. Best wishes. Here's to retaking Congress in November. Hope to see you at the polls.
  • by Mike Location: GJ on Sep 15, 2010 at 10:06 AM
    Leigh, Let me get this straight. You are telling me that the people of Mesa County are so dumb that we can not tell the difference between an " opt out" and an "opt in" permission slip. Let me spell it out to you, if I had not sent back the opt out slip, my child would have had to sit there and listen to Mr Obama's speach. However if they want to take my child off campus for an event then I have to give them my written permission to opt in. Pretty simple. We are not as dumb as you think we are.
    • reply
      by Leigh Ashman on Sep 15, 2010 at 11:02 AM in reply to Mike
      Mike, Never did I say we believe you or any of our other valued viewers/readers were dumb. Never. I did say we have to make it quick and easy to understand because we know we're often on in the background and our viewers aren't able to physically read what they're hearing unless they go to the effort of finding it online. It's a courtesy, not an insult to present information in the clearest possible way. We try not to use terms that require explanation if a more well-known substitute can be found. As always, it's debateable when we make a call like this and it will be discussed in our newsroom about whether or not to make that same decision in future. I would contact the School District to discuss their choice of sending home an opt in form rather than an opt out form, the initial bone of contention. I'm sure they would also like to hear your concerns and discuss them with you. Thank you for your feedback.
  • by Mike Location: GJ on Sep 15, 2010 at 06:55 AM
    I guess the media has a problem with telling the truth. District 51 did NOT send permission slips out to parents to allow their childern to watch the speach, the did send home an "opt out" form that had to be signed and returned to the school. I find it funny the way the media changes the truth. Maybe they should hire some real people to fact check their storys befor they go public with them.
    • reply
      by Leigh Ashman on Sep 15, 2010 at 07:53 AM in reply to Mike
      Hi Mike! Thanks for visiting nbc11news.com! Thank you also for your comments. You're right, there is technically a difference between 'opt out' and 'permission slips.' However, it is the role of the media to translate industry lingo into something quickly understood by a listening/viewing audience. Those who watched the story on our air (which is our main audience) do not have the luxury of going back and re-reading a sentence or phrase they didn't catch or understand like a newspaper reader would. We have to make it instantly understandable. In addition, broadcast journalists write and read in a conversational style you won't see in print journalism. That conversational style demands the simplification of words and terms. A permission slip is a much more generally known and quickly understood term than opt out form. One could argue opting out is a form of permission... but one could also argue the reporter could have changed it for her online version. Just wanted to give you a look at how we approach our stories and writing. Thanks again for visiting nbc11news.com!
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