Middletown School Superintendent Teaches Partisan Politics: President’s Address to Students Will Not Be Heard

The 10,200 students that attend the Middletown school system will not be able to see or hear live, President Obama’s Address to Students later today.
It seems that school system superintendent Karen Bilbao, has decided to play politics with the President’s address and will not broadcast the the event live during the school day according to a report that was published Friday in the Asbury Park Press.
When first contacted by the Asbury Park Press on Thursday Bilbao explained that it was kind of late notice and schools may not have broadcasting equipment in place for the President’s broadcast.
Now, if that was truly the real reason for not allowing the students of the Middletown school system to participate in this historic broadcast I could understand, but when parents contacted the Board of Education to inquire about the broadcast they were told something completely different.
Parents were told that the real reason why the president’s address would not be heard by the students of the district was because of community outcry.
Community outcry? Give me a break!
This is nothing more than partisen politics at it’s worse and a total disregard for the office of the President of the United States.
I would like to know exactly who and how many people called the BOE to voice a complaint against the president’s address being broadcasted to Middletown students. It’s outragouse to allow a few partisan, mis-informed people spoil such an important message as telling your kids how important it is to stay in school and get a quality education.
But I suppose that telling kids to stay in school in order to receive a quality education is not as important to Superintendent Bilbao as a few right-wing district parents are.
As a concession, Bilbao stated that the presidents broadcast will be availible tomorrow on the districts website for anyone who wished to see it, and if teachers wished, they could incorporate the address into classroom curriculums but that students would not be required to participate in the lessons.
Unbelievable.

8 Comments

Filed under Address to Students, Asbury Park Press, community outcry, Midddletown Board of Education, President Obama, Superintendent Karen Bilbao

8 responses to “Middletown School Superintendent Teaches Partisan Politics: President’s Address to Students Will Not Be Heard

  1. Anonymous

    Middletown BOE is crazy … and 2 recent events have boggled my mind:

    (1) This decision not to have the President's address aired. I am a republican & did not vote for Obama … nor do I approve of his performance thus far (even though I was/am pulling for him to be the leader most of the country hopes he can be). He is our President, though, and OF COURSE it is a good thing for him to address our country's students.
    (2) The board's decision to not allow discussion of any item that is not on the agenda before a meeting starts. Where is open government?? How can Pat Walsh speak out of both sides of her mouth regarding "open" government. Even the split township committee is better than this. Upon request from Mr. Short, didn't the mayor re-open an item for discussion after a vote … and allow a re-vote so that Mr. Short could change his "yes" vote to an "abstain". At least they allow discussion about items. BOE should reconsider this point!!

  2. Middletown Mike

    Anonymous,

    Thanks for the reply.

    I generally try and stay out of BOE politics because when all said and done they usually have the best interests of the children in mind.

    I agree with you about BOE discussion items there should be open discussions about of all items on or not on an agenda if people have real concerns about and issue. To stiffle discussion until a later date when BOE members are better prepared to answer questions is not right.

    But Republicans really need to get off of Pat Walsh's back.

    She is a hard worker and only has what's best for the kids in mind. If she was truly responsible for half of the things that she is accused of by republicans in this town it would be a travesty.

    Pat Walsh is 1 member of the board, there are 6 others that have jus as much, if not more, influence over proceedings as she has. It's time to get off her back!

    Patrick Short is a good man and an excellent committeeman. He will listen to your concerns and act on them when given a chance. He deserves your support in November.

  3. Anonymous

    Thank you for the response and dialogue, Mike.
    My take is that everyone needs to get off of everyone's back … on both sides of the aisle. I was not accusing Pat Walsh of doing anything egregious or malicious … and she is certainly not at fault for all of the things that are not right with the BOE. I was not trying to be "on her back" … just use an example.

    I guess my point is that people see things though the lens of their party. As an example, Pat Walsh is very quick to "lecture" the township committee about open government … yet she votes "yes" to this provision. If the TC enacted such a measure … I am sure she would have publically expressed "outrage" over the decision and accused them of wanting to control things behind closed doors.

    It seems like everything is used to frame a position for one side's perceived political advantage. Again, just as an example, it is disingenuous to say that someone like Pat Walsh "only has the best interest of the kids in mind" … or a Pat Short only has best interest of all Middletown residents in mind in all of his decisions … while those same people, at the same time, are saying that EVERYTHING the republicans do is about self interest / corruption / power / etc.

    One side is not all benevolent … while the other is all power hungry and corrupt. Either way you see it … or whatever lens you are looking through, it is unfair to say your side is all good while the other is all bad. There are agreeable … and disagreeable decisions and actions by individuals representing both sides of the aisle.

    Keep the dialogue going, Mike … Civil debate and discussion are a good thing … and it is OK to disagree and/or have different political positions on an issue … just as long as the lens you are looking through is not narrowed by partisan blinders.

  4. Middletown Mike

    Anonymous,

    You are absolutely correct and I agree with what you have written.

    I am not here to defend Pat Walsh or her voting record but neither one of us were involved in discussions about limiting the discussion of items not on the agenda. There are usually many reasons before hand that would lead to such a decision and I wouldn't assume here that I would know or agree with them. Be that as it may, I believe that there was only 1 desenting vote against it.

    With Patrick Short, I have seen first hand the games that the republicans play against him and Sean Byrnes. It is really a disgrace.

    When 1 party has been in total control for over 20 years, there are always abuses of power and misjudgment. The Middletown Republican Party is no exception. They do most thing out of self preservation and they have no new ideas of their own to make things better.

    Time and time again they take Short's or Brynes's ideas and recommendation and present them as their own.

    Very often (though you wouldn't know it) Short and Byrnes have reach out to the Republicans on the committee only to be rebuffed by the leader of partisan politics himself, Gerry Scharfenberger.

    Partisan politics need to end on all levels of government for the good of residents and dialogue like this helps the process.

    Thanks

  5. Anonymous

    The BOE has an obligation to see to it that our kids get a non partisan education and politics should never enter the picture.

    To begin a clear respect for the democratic (not as in party) form of government we are lucky enough to enjoy in this country and a respect for the person who serves as President of these United States should certainly be the order of the day,every day.

    This lame brained and ridiculous decision is to be abhorred by every citizen in this township.There are no excuses and when the wife of the former President and also the former House Speaker are forced to speak out….we know just how rotten politics has become in our country. Grow up everyone and recognize we live in a bi-partisan country and that is a reality even when we all disagree.

    Leave our children out of the dirty political discourse and educate them to make their own choices.The superintendent in Middletown should be ashamed of herself for what clearly appears to be a politically motivated decision.Who was she trying to please or was she intimidated as is the order of the day all to often in this community.

    Today's Asbury Park Press could not have done a better job in calling this whole shenanigan "partisan politics running amuck"

    Leave the BOE and Pat Short out of this discussion…..There are nine board members ,I believe,and Pat Short serves on the TC and he didn't make this very questionable decision !!!

    This residents children long ago graduated from this township's school system but I can tell you this whole scene made me very angry.The President had an excellent message and he is a great role model for ALL of our kids!!

    During the term of George Herbert Walker Bush the same message was delivered and the reaction was far different, Can't help but think just a bit of discrimination is afoot here.

  6. Middletown Mike

    Thank you,

    I agree.

  7. Anonymous

    I was the one who wrote the 1st 2 anon posts. I agree with the last poster that our President had an excellent message and he is a great role model for ALL of our kids!! I have said this from the get go and was very disappointed in this decision. To that poster, though, I never brought Pat Short into the BOE decision. Of course he was not responsible for that. Where did I say that? I was just giving commentary on our political climate and using a couple of examples. These situations happen on both sides.
    Couple of non-related points:
    (1) I am saddened by the lack of respect our country has for the office of the Presidency. This started to happen in the Clinton era during the Lewinski affair (when Clinton himself acted in a way that disrespected the office) … and certainly escalated during the Bush terms. It is one thing to disagree – but another to show disrespect to the individual and the office they hold (How can one shout out “liar” to the president during a Congressional address???)
    (2) To you last post, Mike, you talked about Short reaching out to republicans. Many see it that he was an obstructionists since day one – when he pushed to be named mayor during the 1st re-org. He should have gone at it like Barbara McMorrow did and actually try to work WITH the other party. I am not saying this is one sided here … but it is certainly not just him reaching across the table.
    (3) Democrats idea of partisanship is getting republicans to agree with them … without compromising their position in any way. (this was too big of a generalization. not intended as an accusation. sorry). Anyway, my point is that compromise is when BOTH sides make concessions.
    4) Mike, do you honestly believe that Corzine has been VERY GOOD for this state? I am actually very interested in your answer.

  8. Middletown Mike

    Anonymous #1

    You make good points but your comment about Short is way off. I don't know how much you are involved in Middletown GOP politics but I am very active with the Middletown Dems. I know first hand what Pat Short was put through.

    Pat Short was the first Dem elected in Middletown in 20 years when he won election in 2006 and the Republicans were in total shock! They didn't know how to deal with it.

    Tom Hall called him a week or so after the election and told him to not to rock the boat, sit a round,keep your mouth shout and learn from the others.

    Pat Short told Hall to take a hike that, that was not what he was elected for.

    Pat Short didn't want to be appointed mayor right out of the box because he thought he was the best qualified. He grandstanded to make a point about open government. The GOP already decided well before re-org. to have Scharfenberger made mayor. There were no discussions about it. The GOP had the new letter head already printed and ready to go on for the meeting, pre-signed by Scharfenberger!

    I can go on and on about what the GOP did to Short that first year, but I don't have room to print it.

    If you are serious and ask specifics I'll try and answer.

    As for Corzine, do I think that he has done a VERY GOOD job, not really I'd give him a c or c+ rating.

    I feel that the man has tried to do what is best for the state and deserves a second term.

    Christie would be close to a disaster for the state. He has no plans and will not address specifics when pressed. He is a failed Freeholder who paid off the Bush's for his position as a US Attorney.

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