[The following is a letter to John Riley, school board director, Bloomsburg School District, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania}
Dear John Riley,
I am writing to implore you to reconsider the decision of the Bloomsburg School Board to not broadcast President Obama's address to children for the opening of the 2009 school year. Not only is he participating in long-standing tradition, not only is his message to stay in school, study, work hard, and to care about education precisely the right message, it is especially the right message now--when nothing but the best possible educations will insure a stable future for American citizens.
By refusing to broadcast his address, your school board has effectively conceded to the worst--most bullying, verbally malicious, and hate-mongering-- politics of the far right who would have you believe--and apparently does--that the president's speech is a partisan ploy to advance his party's agenda. It is not. You know that it is not. And no matter what excuses you might offer, say, that lesson plans are already fixed, the real motives are plainly transparent and no one with any sense is going to see this decision as anything other than pandering to a political agenda--or at least caving to one. Surely, you know better.
This is not just any speech. This is the president of the United State's speech. The refusal to broadcast it sends a message wholly contrary to your very mission as an institution of education. Your decision converts the school district from being a politically neutral center of education into a politically manipulable mouthpiece for a single ideologically saturated world view--and one that has so profoundly mischaracterized this president's participation in this tradition that to concede to it is, well, shameful.
Wendy Lynne Lee
Wendy Lynne Lee, Professor
Department of Philosophy
Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania
Bloomsburg, PA, USA 17815