Should students take time out of class to watch Trump inauguration Friday?

President Donald Trump delivered on his pledge of more funding for school choice in his proposed budget. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

The online debate around whether schools should show students the inauguration of Donald Trump surprises me.

Where the national event is applicable to the class or where there’s a long tradition of having students watch a new president ascend, schools ought to show it. Allow an opt-out mechanism for parents who don’t want their children to watch. That seems to be the standard in metro Atlanta, according to an AJC story. (It is also what happened when President Obama took office.)

In classes where the inauguration is related content, Fulton Schools sent home a straightforward letter that stated:

On January 20, 2017, at 12:00 PM, President-Elect Donald Trump will be sworn in by Supreme Court’s Chief Justice John Roberts followed by Mr. Trump’s inaugural address.  The inauguration is a live historical event that serves as a starting point to discuss our election process and the role of government. The swearing-in ceremony and the Inaugural Address will be shown in your child’s [CLASS NAME] followed by a facilitated discussion about [STANDARDS ALIGNED TOPIC].

A parent may choose for his/her child to opt out of viewing and discussing the 58th Presidential Inauguration by signing and returning this form by [DATE].

As a rule, I am not a fan of students staring at TV screens in class as they often treat it as a signal learning has stopped and fun time has begun. When my teachers would darken the room for us to watch something historic or relevant, I had to fight to stay awake.

A Michigan teacher set off a talk radio brush fire when he declined to show the inauguration in his fourth-grade class, telling parents in an email:

Because I am concerned about my students and your children being exposed to language and behavior that is not in concert with the most conservative social and family values, I have decided to show the inauguration of Donald Trump this Friday, but we will not view Mr. Trump’s inauguration speech. I showed the speeches of Presidents Obama and Bush in 2009 and 2005, respectively, but I am anxious about showing Mr. Trump’s inaugural address, given his past inflammatory and degrading comments about minorities, women, and the disabled.

The Williamston, Mich., teacher asked the Trump team for a copy of the speech to ensure the language was child-friendly, but he never heard back, so he told parents, “I am also uneasy about Mr. Trump’s casual use of profanity, so I sought an assurance that as their teacher, I would not be exposing children to language that would not appear in G-or PG-rated movies.”

I asked local teachers and parents whether students should watch Friday and found entirely sensible responses, including:

  • Yes, because it is a history and civics lesson that students should witness.
  • If class time has previously been used to air the inaugurations, then yes. And as with any school activity (pep rallies, movies in class, etc.), students or parents should have the choice to opt out.
  • Especially for a U.S. history class
  • My eighth grader remembers watching it in kindergarten eight years ago. Whether you like the new president or not, a presidential inauguration is an important event in history.
  • I discuss with my own kids the option to protest in some non disruptive way (head down, turned around) if their teachers plan to show it and will be sending an email to their teachers letting them know I will support my kids’ choices to watch or not. Kids deserve to protest, too.
  • No matter who won – it’s a transition of power – a time of showing one president leaving and new one taking over. As long as the educator remains neutral, there is no reason not to watch.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

140 comments
dg417s
dg417s

With all the pro nationalist overtures in the speech, it would make a good lesson on the causes of World War I.

Harvey P.
Harvey P.

General studies students, Social studies students, History studies students, English studies students - Yes. Medical, Engineering, Physics students - No.  Keep concentration  on your study/work.

Annissa Roland
Annissa Roland

Yes. Students in school learn about our government, history, economy, etc. This is not a political event but rather one of the major tenants of our working democracy. The peaceful transfer of power from an election is democracy at its best. Regardless of the campaigning and punditry the new leader is to hold up the beliefs of this nation. High school students who will vote in the next presidential election especially should watch the process unfold and hear the new president's aspirations. Our schools should help those students who are eligible to register to vote. We want to raise and educate our children to be an informed and active citizenry.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

Maybe as a precursor to the Inauguration, they can give a primer on the Electoral College.  Seems to me that most Dimocrats forgot that lesson in school.


Don't think of it as the first day of President Trump, think of it as the last day of our affirmative action presidential experiment, i.e., the End of an Error.

DrProudBlackMan
DrProudBlackMan

@Lee_CPA2 "affirmative action presidential experiment"

?

No sir, he was elected and reelected. With a larger majority then Dump got. Eight years of having an African American president has left some of you bigoted saltines extremely butt hurt hasn't it?

Another comment
Another comment

My daughters Fulton County High school never sent or gave out any letter on the inaugural. I saw the news last night and asked her if she wanted to Opt out, she said yes.

Today when I picked her up, I only saw a couple of other sign outs. She said their would have been a lot more if people would have known before they were going to be forced to watch it, and their parents or those over 18 could opt out.

dg417s
dg417s

It was my planning period. I was making copies for next week. That being said, I will probably utilize some of his speech once I read it to engage students in discussion about the federal system that we are.

FritzA
FritzA

Eight years ago, I actually saw a North Fulton principal refuse to show Barack Obama's inauguration because he viewed it as pushing the Democratic party's agenda.  Good to see Fulton taking a more civics minded stance this time.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Donald Trump holds the same office that Thomas Jefferson once held.


Yes. And that is why today is such a sad day



Harvey P.
Harvey P.

@Hedley_Lammar  What did Thomas Jefferson ever do to upset your apple-cart? Have you got personal insight that will justify your ranting?

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 May as well go back to trying to scrub Christmas from the public consciousness.That's been a roaring success,hasn't it?


Christians arent the most inclusive bunch are they. The holidays are about them and their Religion


Everyone else can go to hell. Right ?

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

Ah, what a beautiful day it's gonna be......the sun is shining, high projected for today is 72 Degrees, no rain.  And, the most important thing.......I can sit in front of my 42" TV (I know, that's small, but it fits where I have to place it) and watch an event I have been waiting a long eight years to see, the inauguration of one Donald J. Trump, as the Forty-Fifth President of The United States of America.  It's going to be a glorious event, an event that SHOULD be shown in every classroom in America.  American People have the RIGHT to demonstrate on this day.....that's one of the freedoms that we, as Americans are priviliged to enjoy each and every day; however, to deny school age children the opportunity to see the Presidential Inauguration because of an ADULT'S????? dislike for President Trump is disgraceful; however, these people are not going to spoil MY BIG DAY.  I'm going to enjoy this moment like no other.  Ah, it's gonna feel good in Decatur.   :>)  OK, big smile Maureen.

Ann Templeton Poole
Ann Templeton Poole

It's history!!! Encouraging children not to watch seems to me to be displaying and modeling intolerance for others. Isn't the goal of our country to be tolerant of others?

Harvey P.
Harvey P.

I salute you, John Edward Brown.  Stand tall.  Make your comments known.  Be proud.

Astropig
Astropig

It doesn't matter which candidate you supported-this is real history.The teacher that cited "language" concerns is simply concocting a (not very plausible) lie to try to hide history from his students.This is stupid.They will see it anyway if they want to.In this day and age,it can be replayed endlessly from literally thousands of online websites.He may as well try to catch Niagara Falls in his hat.


May as well go back to trying to scrub Christmas from the public consciousness.That's been a roaring success,hasn't it?

Kevin Byrd
Kevin Byrd

I teach students who are terrified of this man....my class room tv will be OFF.

Nora Torres
Nora Torres

Paula Norton Moreland i totally agree with you. Teaching is about opening minds and horizons and about learning and discerning how and why to make choices. You are doing a disservice to this children by infusing your close mind into their time. Also you are not showing this children what this country is about.

Paula Norton Moreland
Paula Norton Moreland

What a shame that you wouldn't use this opportunity to show those kids, "terrified of this man" that he is our PRESIDENT and he will make America Great Again! \U0001f622 Glad you are NOT teaching my kids.

Nola Harlan
Nola Harlan

They are terrified because they have been told to be. He is our president and they need to learn he is not evil. It's your responsibility to help them learn that

Harvey P.
Harvey P.

What are you doing with a "class room tv"?  What happened to the days of marching to central assembly room / auditorium and watching community shared TV?

Michele Hines Haney
Michele Hines Haney

Ignoring reality doesn't make it go away. He is one of 44 men to EVER hold this office. It is historical and significant whether we like it or not.

Claude Johns
Claude Johns

Kids had to watch Obama's inauguration, so let them see what happens when a president fails, he is replaced.

Michele Hines Haney
Michele Hines Haney

There is a two term limit. Obama wasn't eligible to run again, but he won both times he was eligible to run.

Harvey P.
Harvey P.

Correction:  there is a 10 year limit.  If law is challenged, he could have run a third time, but we'd all have to endure election process again in 2 years instead of 4.

Monica Stevens
Monica Stevens

Yes. The inauguration is systemic to our democracy, whether or not we approve of the person who takes the oath. Placing so much emphasis on the actual person being sworn in gives that one person power he or she does not have. We, The People, have that power. Students should be required to view it only through a real-time lens, without commentators. C-SPAN, or another similar platform, should be required by administrators to offer a valid POV,

Harriet Frye
Harriet Frye

Only if the students are allowed to opt out. If this had happened to my kids, I would have let them make their own decision. But I wouldn't have wanted them to be forced to watch this travesty.

Kathy Brown
Kathy Brown

As we all know, it will be a local decision. Down here in Houston County Georgia, I kept my son home from school to watch it because, THE SCHOOL DISTRICT did NOT think that part of history was important either.

Taryn Zimmer
Taryn Zimmer

Mme. Hartz, I specifically remembered you turning it on for us to watch, thank you for letting us be part of that moment!

Doreen T Hartz
Doreen T Hartz

I felt my students should watch when I taught Social studies classes. I had them watch Obama's because you were watching an historical moment that was a significant 1st. Also, the students did not have the media access then that they do now. If they are interested, (and probably if they aren't) they can watch it on their devices on their own time because it doesn't dovetail with my French curriculum.

Olive Swan
Olive Swan

Kathy Brown, you are smarter than all the members of the school district put together

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

What are the values that we will instill in our young people, the next generation of Americans?


Will we confirm that the end justifies the means or, instead, will we teach them that there resides something in the soul of humankind which requires more than that.


Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is a man with a corrupted soul, imo.  I will not be watching his inaugural tomorrow nor his celebrations, thereafter.  I try to keep as much corruption from my spirit as possible.


Donald Trump's actions and words, which were so destructive and divisive to our nation throughout the Republican primaries and the general election, can never be forgotten but perhaps they can be forgiven. He owes this nation an apology for what he has done to wreak havoc in the emotional lives of so many Americans, and, if he does not check himself, I have no doubt that he will, also, be wreaking havoc in the physical lives of some Americans.


However, I believe that, through God's grace, every human being is able to be redeemed, and I hope that Donald Trump will seek redemption for how he has modeled himself for all Americans in order that he might become President of the United States of America.

Astropig
Astropig

@MaryElizabethSings


Donald Trump holds the same office that Thomas Jefferson once held. Denigrating President Trump also demeans the office that Jefferson occupied,and by extension,Jefferson.


Just a reminder.

Wendy D Lowe
Wendy D Lowe

YES! It's great for them to witness this event - no matter who is elected.

Kathy Brown
Kathy Brown

did they take a time out of class to watch Obama?

Akaila Beth
Akaila Beth

We showed a bit of the family arriving and him repeating the oath of office. No commentary

Barb Perry McWethy
Barb Perry McWethy

No. If there is no time for recess, art, and other things that are stripped away in the name of almighty testing the tv can be skipped.

Kelli Jeffries
Kelli Jeffries

They will have to YouTube it when they get home. I don't want to stir the pot because it is extremely racially divided. There are already so many impediments to teaching. Why add classroom tension as one more?

Holly Justice
Holly Justice

It's going to cause kids to argue over points and policy that they don't understand. Uneccessary drama. Also, history is now an ancillary subject- only reading and math is pushed now. I see job security for historians and scientists.

Dexter Porter
Dexter Porter

When President Obama was elected parents contacted schools and didn't want their kids watching it. Soooo

Evelyn Amaya Ortega
Evelyn Amaya Ortega

It's history. History, whether we like it or not, always provides lessons about the process, government and gives insight about the incoming administration. Absolutely watch and be prepared to objectively and smartly explain the events in historical context.

Chante Jones
Chante Jones

No, students shouldn't be allowed to watch a funeral live on TV!