President Obama's Speech Sparks Protest at ECISD

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

ODESSA - Odessa parents picked up signs and protested on Thursday - all over President Obama's planned Internet speech to students. They don't want the school district to show it fearing the kids will be exposed to a liberal agenda, but not everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Opponents say it's just plain un-American to try and silence the speech.

About 20 protesters hit the pavement at the ECISD administration building on Thursday morning speaking out against Obama's coming address to school children. At the center of it all are questions about freedom and a heated debate on what's behind the message.

"We think they are trying to rally the children to their liberal cause to make them puppets and Obama is like the piper and he is leading the people," Protestor, George Bushong, said. "The people have forgotten what America is all about."

They came with signs, shirts, and a word for Ector County school leaders asking them not to show Mr. Obama's classroom speech next Tuesday on the importance of education.

"I don't want my kids exposed to that without a rebuttle being there for them to know that not everybody thinks that way," Protestor, Elizabeth Wooldridge, said. "I don't want them to be exposed to any more socialism than what they already are in the schools."

About an hour into the protest, one voice spoke out.

"I think it's criminal the way he's being attacked," Gene Collins, who supports Mr. Obama's Speech, said.

He supports the President's message and an opportunity for students to hear from the Country's leader.

"I think that's deplorable," Collins said. "I think it's Un-American. I think the President who was elected by a majority of Americans, should from time to time, speak to those who are learning. I think it's a great learning experience. I hope ECISD looks at it like that."

While the crowd argued, about five ECISD officers kept a close watch and for the most part, Thursday's protest was peaceful.

"We're bound by our duty to make sure that everyone is safe and to make sure there aren't any problems," Lt. Mark Rowden, with the Ector County ISD Police, said. "That's what we're here for for the protection of everybody involved."

The protesting families tell NewsWest 9, they plan to take their children out of school the entire day to avoid any chance their kids will hear the speech.

"We're just citizens trying to preserve freedom in America," Woolridge said.

So far, the Stanton School District is the only one who reported they will not show the speech. NewsWest 9 spoke with Ector County administrators and they say there is no change in the plans next week. Obama's speech is not mandatory for students. If parents want to opt out, they can contact the school's principal to make other arrangements.