As controversy over President Barack Obama's address to students last week flared up across the country, administrators in local districts left the decision to air or not to air the speech largely up to individual teachers.
"If people thought that it was appropriate to show it in their classrooms they could show it in their classrooms," said Mountain View-Los Altos High School District Superintendent Barry Groves.
Keith Moody, principal of Mountain View High School, estimated that around 150 students at his campus watched the address in class. He said they had no "special broadcast" or school-wide showing of the address.
Administrators in the Mountain View Whisman School District kept a similar policy for the Tuesday, Sept. 8 speech.
"Our district will not be taking a stand on Obama's address to school children," wrote Kathi Lilga, executive assistant to the superintendent, in an e-mail to the Voice. "We entrust our teachers to make the decision about the relevancy of this activity to our standards-based curriculum and if it is aligned with classroom, school and district goals."
"Some teachers elected to show it if it fit in the curriculum," said Principal Gretchen Jacobs of her staff at Graham Middle School.
Marcy Birnie, executive assistant to the superintendent of the Los Altos School District, said teachers were given the option to show the address or not. She said that because the U.S. Department of Education encouraged broadcasting of the speech, the district also recommended it. The decision, however, was ultimately made at the school level, she said.
Last week, Birnie reported that at most schools some or all of the students watched the address. She had not received reports from Almond or Oak schools.
Blach was the only school where the staff decided not to air the address at all on campus.
"We were all told as principals that it was suggested that you show it but there was no pressure that you had to show it," said Principal Leslie Crane. "I had a discussion with my staff and I shared with my staff that I was getting some pushback from parents that didn't want to participate in the showing. ... We decided we needed to stick with our curricular and instructional plans."
Crane noted that Blach students could see the speech on their own by recording it at home or watching it online. For that reason, she said, "I didn't think anything would be taken away from not experiencing it in the moment."
When the Voice asked in a follow-up question about the number and nature of complaints received, Crane said, "At this time I have no more comments about Obama's speech. I am moving forward."
Though most local and national coverage focused on the mostly conservative outcry heard before Tuesday's address, some parents voiced concern after the broadcast because their students didn't have the opportunity to watch it in school.
"It seems to me that people will always make the decision not to offend rabble-rousers," wrote Gwynne Young, a parent of two Huff students, in an e-mail to the Voice, "and in this situation, people who didn't want kids to listen to the president's speech were the rabble-rousers. Ergo, it was easier to choose not to air the speech."
"I think the district should have just aired the speech and have been done with it," Young said.