On Labor Day Weekend, 2004, Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School was teeming with enthusiastic teens who launched into a cheering frenzy when President George and Laura Bush, along with their twin daughters, stepped into the school's two auditoriums. Bush went on to deliver a predictable campaign speech and win the election.

But yesterday, the district, which caters to several predominantly white, upper-middle-class neighborhoods, blocked President Obama's speech, the message of which was to work hard and stay in school.

Prior to the speech's airing, the district posted a message on its website questioning whether the speech's content would fit into school curriculum. That message has since been taken down and replaced with a brief paragraph describing the speech and a note adding, "Brecksville-Broadview Heights Schools did not watch the address live."

Superintendent Thomas Diringer was unclear about why the speech was blocked. This morning he said the district made the decision in order to keep the kids out of a politically charged event. He called the block "unfortunate." Then he said the district did not have sufficient time to review the address and ensure it would mesh with the current curriculum. (The roughly 2,500-word speech was released the day before, and from the time it was announced was described as a message about the importance of education.)

So which is it, Diringer, politics or curriculum?

Whatever the reasons behind the block, it tacitly agreed with the radical conservatives who'd raised hell about "indoctrination," and endorsed their agenda. So much for shielding students from a (supposedly) politically charged event. — Erin O'Brien

Erin blogs regularly at

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