Some Wake County students saw Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as 45th president of the United States after the decision was left up to teachers whether to show the ceremony.
Teachers were allowed to show the inauguration if it aligned with their students’ coursework, according to Lisa Luten a Wake schools spokeswoman. Similar decisions were made by school districts around the country in response to how to cap off the end of the politically polarizing election season.
The inauguration became a learning experience for some students.
Megan Hall, a fourth-grade teacher at Beaverdam Elementary School in Raleigh, tweeted several pictures of Friday’s inauguration activities, saying that students were learning about the peaceful transition of power.
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Krystal Smith, a third-grade teacher at Penny Road Elementary School in Cary, tweeted how students were learning about the inauguration while practicing reading skills.
Luten said Wake did not require teachers to get parental consent for their children to watch the inauguration. She said parents who have concerns should discuss it with their child’s teacher.
Jennifer Pittman, a Raleigh mother and Trump critic, questioned Wake on Twitter why there was wasn’t an opt-out option for the inauguration.
Pittman went on to tweet about what she said was a system-wide decision by Wake not to show Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2009.
The school system tweeted back that there was no system-wide decision in 2009 to allow or not allow the showing of the inauguration. Wake schools were closed on inauguration day on 2009 due to the snow.
What Pittman may have been referring to was the September 2009 controversy around a back-to-school speech given by President Obama. Critics charged that it would be politically motivated speech with then-N.C. Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer saying schools shouldn’t show the speech.
Wake’s 2009 response was that schools were allowed to air the speech if it jibed with the standard course of study and if parents were notified in advance. The result was many students didn’t see what turned out to be a conventional pep talk to students about setting goals, learning from their failures and taking responsibility for their education.
Flash forward to 2017, where the Washington Post reported that some districts in various states are sending out forms to parents allowing them to opt their children out of any inaugural-watching activity, and they are providing alternative activities during that time.
Pittman tweeted it was a double standard that consent wasn’t sought for students to view Trump’s inauguration.